This is the usual annual Appropriation Bill and I do not think there is any necessity for me to delay members of the House by explaining it. It provides, as Senators know, for the authorisation of payment from the Central Fund of the balance of the amount granted to meet the cost of supply services for the current financial year and it appropriates to the proper supply services the sums granted by Dáil Éireann and not yet appropriated.
Appropriation Bill, 1946, ( Certified Money Bill )— Second and Subsequent Stages
As the Minister says, this is the usual Appropriation Bill. One of its usual features is that it is a bigger Bill than that of last year. Every such Bill since 1932 has been bigger than that of the year before. This Bill authorises payment of the necessary moneys for the supply services. In this House, I think that we should endeavour, instead of discussing details of Estimates, to deal with some particular point or some matter of general importance. The sum, taken in toto for the year, is a very big one. It can be said, in defence of the size of the sum, that the national income has been increasing and that the revenue is what might be described as "buoyant." Whether that is a matter upon which we should congratulate ourselves—the state of the revenue and the very big sum we are spending— time alone can tell. In spite of the largeness of the sum and in spite of the smooth manner in which it can, apparently, be collected and borne, a great many of the problems which we at one time thought could be solved by an Irish State and an Irish Government have not been solved. I should like to mention some of them and make some observations on one of them in which I have a particular interest.
It was thought at one time that an Irish State could give us a more contented and an increasing rural population. On the contrary, the rural population is falling and those who remain, apart entirely from economic circumstances, are less contented. It was thought also that we could stem the tide of emigration but that has not proved possible. It was thought—and this is the matter on which I should like to speak—that we could frame a system of education specially suited to our needs, that we could live in continuity with our ancient traditions, revive the Irish language and have, as well as a contented peasantry, contented teachers. I recollect the head of the present Government, the Taoiseach, saying at University College, in 1921, when, as head of the Government at that time, he was made Chancellor of the National University, that, in respect of the universities, the niggardliness of the foreigner would be replaced by the generosity of the Gael. As a matter of fact, though I am not going into this matter to-day, the foreigner showed himself more generous towards universities than did the Gael. It may very well be—in this House we might discuss these matters on principles rather than on purely political lines—that the defect is not so much in any particular Government as in our circumstances. It may be that we have not realised the hopes we had from control of our own finances simply because of certain circumstances outside our own control. For example, I think it is quite clear, from a discussion we had here on place names last week, that some of us still over-estimate the power of a Parliament and Government to solve problems. That power is not as great as we thought it would be. This country is not as remote as we thought it was, and every day it is becoming less and less remote. We are entangled in the affairs of our nearest neighbour and also in the economic affairs of countries very remote from us. We have no power whatever over the decision of the Canadian Parliament and Government in regard to the Canadian dollar, but their decision affects out Irish trade and may affect Irish conditions.
I would like to make a suggestion to the Minister, as a new Minister for Finance, and as a person who is an enthusiast and who has some understanding of the problem. I would like to say what I have to say entirely without apportioning any blame to the Minister or any of his predecessors in any Party. One of the things which will be of great importance in the future, as it always has been in the past, is education. We have had the advantage that one of the things which divides people on educational matters in other countries does not divide us at all, that is, the question of religious teaching, in regard to which we have a system which works smoothly and satisfactorily. However, we have a problem which must be solved before we can decide what we are going to do about education. It is the problem of Irish in the schools and Irish as a teaching medium. If I were asked to relate that to this Bill, I would point out that the Minister this year is increasing the grant to parents who speak Irish to their children in the Gaeltacht from £2 to £5 per child.
I realise that the Minister's motive is absolutely sound and I give him credit for it. If the idea of the £2 grant was a sound idea, then quite clearly there is every reason for making that £2 into £5 in 1946. However, what strikes me about it is that, if anybody had told me in 1922, at the threshold of an Irish State, that in 25 years' time it would still be necessary to give a grant in Irish-speaking districts, in order to have Irish spoken to children, I would have scoffed at it. I would have said then, as I would to some extent say now, that this is a sign of very grave danger and indicates, to put it in its mildest form, that the hopes we cherished then are very far indeed from realization. Perhaps it is interesting to know the history of things that happened. My recollection of the grant for the Gaeltacht is that it was Cathal Brugha who first thought of it. I remember discussing it with him in his house either in 1919 or 1920. At that time I was against this grant, as I felt that Irish would have to survive as the natural language and that the very notion of paying people to speak it—which is what this means—was a sign of very great weakness. We had a very interesting discussion, and one of the arguments used against me was a very sound one.
Dáil Éireann had just been set up in 1919 and had a certain amount of money, but the Dáil in 1919, 1920 and 1921 had very little control over economic forces—the present Dáil has much more control and has had it ever since 1922—and in those circumstances, as we could not do other things, it was suggested we ought to give this grant. The grant was given then and continued for a few years. It was given in 1921 and I think I remember, as Minister for Education, making application for it in 1922.
The circumstances now are radically different. It would appear now that, in spite of Government fostering for the last 25 years, in spite of an endeavour to inculcate a national spirit in the schools, in spite of the teaching of Irish in the schools, in spite of special courses and inspectors' visits to various schools, we are still in the difficulty that the transmission of the language as a natural medium from parents to child is still in serious danger. That should make us pause and think. I suggest that the Minister should consider this grant carefully. I am not saying that from any desire to save money on this particular purpose, but in order to see that the purpose for which the money is being spent is being accomplished. Irish has been taught in the schools for the last 25 years. Certain economic advantages have been given. Preference has been given for positions to people who knew a certain amount of Irish. I would like to put just a note of interrogation there and ask whether what is being done in the schools—with very great effort, immense labour and extraordinary enthusiasm by a number of people— has shown to be correct the belief we had at one time, that the two great influences—the schools and economic pressure—could, in fact, save the Irish language. For example, the area of the Gaeltacht has declined. The decline has been made slower in certain places, but I think it would be true to say that not one single half parish, not one single town and area of any size, has been reconquered for the Irish language. The decay has been slowed up, but it goes steadily on. The war just over has increased the difficulty. A friend of mine, who knows one parish in Connemara extraordinarily well, said that there is not a single house there that has not had a boy or girl in England.
The Irish language stands upon two legs. One is the Gaeltacht—the preservation of an area in which Irish is spoken naturally. I do not know if the Minister for Education was properly reported when he was reported as saying that he felt the success of the Irish language did not depend upon the survival of the Gaeltacht. It seems to me that it most certainly does. I would suggest that the other leg is an interest in the Irish language for its own sake, apart altogether from any economic advantage.
If that disappears, then there is no hope for the Irish language, and, so far as my observation carries me, and I have, I think, pretty substantial opportunities for observation, observing families—I have seen families growing up since 1922—observing Irish colleges, and observing a great many people, I find no evidence of an increase of that kind in the development of the Irish language for its own sake, independently, altogether, of economic considerations. Let me take examples.
The Minister and the Minister's immediate predecessor, and the Minister up to 1932, belonged to different Parties. We are all interested in the Irish language. All made an effort, including the present Minister, to learn the Irish language after they had left school. All found in the Irish language a discovery, a joy and a kind of exaltation, a gate into a field which gave them very considerable pleasure of an intellectual character. The Irish language now is under State aegis and State control, and it has become very largely a hum-drum exercise in the schools, a matter of rules and grammar and irregular verbs and examinations.
I should say, here, that Irish is a very difficult language. It is not recognised, of course, by a great many people that it is such a difficult language, but I think we all realise that what we are endeavouring to do is to impart a bit of it to everybody, and I wonder whether that is a good policy. I confess, at once, and I would like to make it absolutely clear that I would have backed that policy in 1922, and did, in fact, back it, but, to-day, I see myself in grave difficulties. I do not know whether we can remedy that situation.
You must remember that the main bulk of the work has to be done in the national schools, catering for 90 per cent. of our school-going population, and the slower witted children, a fairly considerable percentage of them, succeed in learning very little in spite of immense enthusiasm and great labour put into the work by teachers of various kinds all over the country. What we are endeavouring to do is to ensure that everybody will know a small amount of the language, and to spread the use of the language as widely as we can in everyday life.
But, the results are very disappointing, particularly the results of the attempt to inspire a desire among the people to know more Irish, and more about Irish, and to know what is behind Irish. These results are still more disappointing.
I feel, Sir—I have said it before here—that the whole question of what we are doing educationally in and about the Irish language, including teaching through the medium of Irish. should be examined. That is not to say that I want an impartial examination—every impartial examination means an examination by people who are quite cold on the subject.
In the Dáil, I think General Mulcahy mentioned examination by what he referred to as "practical enthusiasts"— by people who want certain aims to be accomplished, but who understand the Irish language and the difficulties of it. The fact that we are not getting that examination is due to quite understandable mental laziness. That is to say, the attitude is: "A certain thing is happening, let it keep on happening, do not question it."
If we are to accomplish what we set out to accomplish, one must have some inquiry, and I think the whole policy of the supporters of the language and the policy of the Minister for Education is very largely wrong. The Minister, for example, had a report submitted to him from the national teachers on the question of teaching in the schools through the medium of Irish. He entirely ignored that report until it was forced on his attention, and it was discussed here in an enthusiastic moment.
The Minister, if I remember rightly, said that those who could not teach through the medium of Irish were either unenthusiastic about the language, or not competent in it. If that is so, we have no hope of succeeding. I do not want to delay too long on this matter, but I would like the Minister, without prejudice, and without saying that everything we did is right—just as the Government say now that everything done in 1922, 1924 and 1928 is right—whether in fact the Irish language has been advanced in any way by giving preference to people looking for posts who have a knowledge of the language.
I think it is very doubtful—not in certain cases, of course. If you want to get people to spread the language and to use it in the Irish-speaking districts, I am afraid that in certain cases they will have to be paid for it, because we all know that some people conceal their knowledge of the language to avoid being sent to remote stations in remote areas. Whether there is any use in conducting examinations all over the country and giving preference to the persons best qualified, though this means certain technical and other deficiencies— whether it has brought about an improvement in the Irish language position is very doubtful.
I speak as one quite prepared to submit to certain decreases in temporary efficiency, if I saw hope of our ultimate aims being achieved. I feel that little has been achieved up to the present, and this is why I urge that the whole matter should be considered. It is not a simple matter, a matter which can be decided by political speech making, or by appeals to rhetoric, to Patrick, Brigid and Columcille. Those appeals were useful to encourage people and to arouse enthusiasm when the British were here, but they cannot be applied successfully to this problem to-day.
As to examinations, I would like to say that I have spoken to inspectors, national teachers, secondary teachers and other people, who have taught in all kinds of places, and I find a very considerable volume of opinion which believes that what we are doing is not bringing us along the right road. Anyhow, I have my own experience, and I have experience of children reared and grown to manhood since 1922. I do not know any cases—perhaps, Sir, one should not go so far or be superlative—where the children have anything like the knowledge their fathers had, or the enthusiasm which was shown in other days by both their fathers and their mothers.
I do not say that it is all the fault of Fianna Fáil—I want to put it on a different basis. I want to say that after 25 years we should be able to see where we are going, whether we are not going too fast in some directions and too slow in others. But, I feel that one of the things in which we are going too slowly is the matter of folklore. A Folklore Commission was established, and a great deal of good work was done. That work has now been held up because the expenses of 1946 bear no relation to 1938 and there can be no doubt that the collection of our national traditions is indispensable to the understanding of ourselves, and indispensable in the proper and adequate presentation of the Irish language in the schools.
Above all things what the pupils in the schools do not get is any understanding of what it is: that there is behind the Irish language what one might call both a historic literature and a folk culture. I think that for that reason the whole matter is one that ought to be discussed. I have not any patience, I am afraid, with the person who tells me that because a certain amount of teaching through the medium of Irish is going on that it must be continued and must be increased without any reference to what is actually accomplished. To some extent, we are taking elaborate precautions to put a fancy roof on an edifice which has very, very shaky foundations indeed. We may be spending money foolishly in one direction and not spending enough in another direction. I was enthusiastically in favour of Irish publications through a special department like the Gúm. That department has got into the position in which a good many worthless books are being produced. It takes years to produce a good book. In fact, whether books are good or useful, it takes years to produce them, but a great many of the books which are being produced are of no value whatever. On that there is just one thing that I would like to put to the Minister. He has himself learned Irish without any economic object as a great many of us did long ago. In this particular matter he is giving this £5 grant. That is an earnest of his desire to help in a particular way. It seems to me a proper thing to do. I would like him to give these matters consideration and have an investigation of them not by people who are coldly impartial about the Irish language but by people who are enthusiastic about it and who have practical knowledge. This is not a political problem or a problem that can be solved by speech-making. It is a problem that can be solved only by hard thinking and by educational and other experience. As a matter of fact, it is not a problem for which one can find any analogy. There is hardly any analogy at all between our problem and other problems.
There is one other thing that I would like to say to the Minister. The Taoiseach recently said in the Dáil that steps should be taken to raise the school-leaving age. I do not know whether he meant that steps were being taken. Some steps in that direction have been taken in Limerick and in Cork. I am wondering whether the Taoiseach meant that it should be a general step. If so, it would be welcomed, and it seems to me that it ought to be taken at the same time that this step ought to be taken, namely, that the teachers ought to be given a general education rather than the kind of education that they get in the training colleges. For many years I have been firmly convinced that the proper kind of training for national teachers, as well as for others, is to give them an ordinary university degree. When they get that they can, perhaps, do some specialised training, but, above all, they should have contacts not merely with people who are going to engage in teaching but with other classes of students: with professional students, with art students and with every type of student that one will find in a university. I think that such contacts and such a process of learning would be of very great value to them, and that it would reflect itself in the work they would do later.
One of the main supports for any work for education and for the Irish language is the primary teacher. I would like to suggest to the Minister that without any regard to the past and without any regard to what people said publicly an effort should even now be made to end the dispute between the primary teachers and the Government. I spoke on this matter on the 21st March on the Central Fund Bill. I said then that I would not like either side to win. I would like to repeat that now. One of the things that is going to militate against the Irish language revival and against proper educational work in the country is soured and discontented teachers who have been humiliated. I suggest to the Minister that there must be something that he could do which would end this dispute without the absolute and object humiliation of the national teachers. Strikes are very rarely caused by the things which are put up on the banners when the pickets are out. Strikes nearly always arise and are the culminating point in circumstances that have been going on for a long time.
I think that one of the things in the case of the teachers is—apart from money—the general feeling of being asked to do something which is very difficult to do about the Irish language and the grading system. It seems to me that if an inquiry into the grading system was promised it would go a long way towards settling the present dispute. I am not briefed by the teachers and I have not consulted them any more than I did when speaking in the Seanad on the 21st March last on the second day of the strike. I said then—the reference is Column 1032 of the Seanad Debates, 21st March, 1946—that the better the terms which could be got for the teachers the better work they could give and the more smoothly everything would go. I continued:
"I suggest to the Minister for Finance that he should take a personal step in that matter, and that if he does he will bring considerable credit to himself, and will not lose caste, or face or prestige. On the contrary, he will bring credit to himself and he will have served the best interests of the country."
I suggested then that those interests could be better served at that particular moment before the strike had gone very far. I would like to make the suggestion again to the Minister, from the point of view of the Irish language and of the children who are quite innocent so far as the dispute is concerned. I know, of course, that the answer can be made to that, that the teachers can go back. We are all human beings, and we have all been through a considerable number of disputes of various kinds, some of them very grievous ones. One of the things that people do not like doing, and that Irishmen above all do not like doing, and that is to humiliate themselves. I do suggest to the Minister that, with an enormous Budget, a buoyant revenue and a good Parliamentary majority—and all these things are important—he could easily afford to allow the teachers' strike to end without the abject humiliation of the teachers. I suggest that if he were to do that he would be doing a good day's work for education, for the future of the Irish language and for himself. We could all applaud it. I do not want to suggest methods, but I do suggest one, and that is an inquiry into the grading system against which the teachers rail, and about which I have not made up my mind.
But since it does not obtain in Northern Ireland or in England there is a case for inquiring into it here. If that inquiry were made it would go a considerable distance, I believe, to settle the differences and the difficulties in which the teachers find themselves. I would like to suggest to the Minister that, without any bias in favour of the status quo, he should look at the position into which education and the Irish language have got after 25 years' experience. I agree with him that after 25 years the matter is one which does call not for radical changes perhaps, but for an inquiry with a view to determining whether, in fact, the whole of us—and in this matter the Minister and myself are almost exactly, I think, in the same boat from the point of view of our aims—have achieved what we set out to achieve. If we have not then we must change our methods. I suggest that without any bias in favour of a particular method we must discover what the right way of going about this great problem is.
Is trua liom a rá nach n-aontaím le cuid dar luaigh an Seanadóir Ó hAodha. Tá mé neamhréiteach go cinnte le cuid mhaith dhe. Is baol liom go bhfuil cuid mhaith dá dhóchas caillte, nach gcreideann sé go bhfuil aon rud i gceart maidir le gnó athbheochaint na Gaeilge ná leis na beartanna atá déanta chuige sin. Ní réitím leis an meid a dúirt sé. Ní dóigh liomsa gur aon droch-bheart an beart seo atá i gceist, an méadú a dhein an tAire Airgeadais ar an deontas san ó £2 go dtí £5. Is dóigh liomsa go bhfuil cuid mhaith céille ann agus go bhfuil cuid mhaith ionmholta ann. An t-aon locht amhain atá agamsa ar an scéim ná go bhfuil sé teoranta don Ghaeltacht nó don Bhreac-Ghaeltacht. B'áil liomsa go leanfaí ar fuid an tíre dhe, agus go dtuigfí—agus is tábhachtach an pointe é seo—gur céim onóra nó céim molta, nó aithint onóra, é dos na daoine a thuigeann a ndualgas don chlainn ar thaobh na Gaeilge. B'fhéidir nach airgead an rud is éifeachtaí chun é sin a thaispeaint, ach ní foláir comhartha éigin a bheith ann chun a chur in iúl do gach duine —agus go mórmhór dos na daoine a bhfuil clann óg acu agus go bhfuil an Ghaeilge ag na tuismitheoirí féin—a thábhachtaí atá sé an Ghaeilge sin a thabhairt dá gclainn in a ndiaidh.
Mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Ó hAodha —agus réitím leis ins an chuid sin dá chaint—is don cheist sin go mba chóir don Rialtas aire a thabhairt. Pé cúis atá leis níl an aire sin dá thabhairt mar ba cóir a bheith. Níl an gríosa ná an tiomáint ar siúl a mhúinfeadh dóibh an dualgas atá ortha san go bhfuil an Ghaeilge acu a dheimhniú go mbeidh sí slán ag na daoine óga in a ndiaidh. Ní dóigh liom gur aon dearmad é an comhartha sin £5 a thabhairt dos na daoine. Is comhartha é, b'fhéidir, a thuigeann siad níos fearr ná aon chaint á moladh.
Is fearr a thuig-fidís £5.
Is dóigh liom nach bhfuil aon dul as agus gur gá é a dheanamh. Is rud fónta é agus molaim don Aire an scéim sin do leathnú ar fud na tíre. Is dóigh liom gur mó is ionmholta go labharfaí Gaeilge i lár na hÉireann, ins na cathracha agus ins na bailtí móra, idir tuismightheoirí agus a gclann. Dá mbeadh an nós san ar siúl aon uair amháin, is tábhachtach an rud é. Is eol dom go bhfuil an nós san ar siúl ag daoine fá lathair.
Dála Mhichíl Uí Aodha, cuir i gcás.
Molaim é —agus dála cuid mhaith eile daoine den cineál san. Is dóigh liom gur ceart gríosadh níos mó a dhéanamh. Níl aon gníomh níos tábhachtái nó níos eifeachtái ar son na Gaeilge ná líon-tighe agus leanaí óga a thógáil le Gaeilge ar an tinteán. Nuair iaraim ar an Aire ceist leathnú an deontais sin a scrúdú, ní cúis imní nó aragóint atá im aigne.
Maidir leis an gceist a bhí in aigne an tSeanadórá Ó hAodha i dtaobh coinníoll ar dhaoine a ceaptar i gcóir postanna poiblí, ní dóigh liom go bhfuil sé ar aigne an tSeanadóra go mbéadh sé sásta go dtoghfaí doine don seirbhís poiblí agus gan Gaeilge acu. Ba uafásach an machtnamh é, dá mbeadh sé sásta leis sin. Tá gach rud déanta anois chun bheith cinnte go mbéidh Gaeilge ag na daoine sin. Is rud fíor réasúnta agus éifeachtach é agus isé an locht beag a bhfaghaim-se ar an socrú san ná an locht so: tar éis na daoine sin a ghlacadh isteadh sa seirbhís phoiblí, tar éis aire a thabhairt go mbeadh Gaeilge mhaith acu, tar éis scrúdú orthu i gceann dhá bhlian chun a dheimhniú nach bhfuil laghdú ar a gcuid eolais ar an nGaeilge, isé an donas ná baintear feidhm as an nGaeilge ag na daoine sin mar ba chóir. Nuair ná úsáideann siad an Ghaeilge ins an seirbhís, cad é an mhaith é an coinníoll sin a bheith ann in aon chor? Chídhtear daoine óga ag teacht isteach ins an seirbhís phoiblí agus leis na blianta ó thainig siad isteach go dtí seo ní bhaineann siad feidhm ar bith as an teanga. Nár mhithid don Rialtas a shocrú ná dean-faí aon chuid den gnó san Roinn Oideachais ach trí Ghaeilge? Ní bhíonn an Roinn sin ach ag plé le hoidí scoile, le daoine go bhfuil oideachas maith acu, le bainisteoirí, le scoláirí agus le daoine eile atá ag éileamh scolaireachtaí. Ba chóir go mbéadh de mhisneach anois ag an Rialtas a ordú gur Gaeilge amháin a bhéadh ar siúl feasta ag Roinn an Oideachais—agus tosnú mar sin. Ba thábhachtái i bhfad é, dá mb'é an Roinn Airgeadais a bheadh ag tosnú agus ag tabhairt na deagh-chomhairle do sna Ranna eile.
Níor luaidh an Seanadóir Ó hAodha na fáthanna ná fuil an Ghaeilge i reim mar ba chóir a bheith—na fáthanna go bhfuil anois againn na mílte daoine sa seirbhís phoiblí agus gan an teanga á labhairt acu. Isé an fáth ná go bhfuil lucht ceannais ilgnéithe agus gnóthaí na tíre Gallda fós. Chomh fada agus tá sé sin amhlaidh, is beag an mhaitheas d'aon duine bheith ad iarraidh Gaeilge a chur i bhfeidhm.
Tá rud éigin lag i ngnó na Ranna poiblí, i gcúrsaí gnótha agus ins an eaglais, agus tá orainn an rud marbh abheochaint agus a chur i ngníomh, leis an iarracht mhór ionmholta atá ar siúl ag an Rialtas. Tig leis an Rialtas cuid den obair a dhéanamh agus tá sé sin á dhéanamh acu ins na bun-scoileanna, ins na meánscoileanna agus b'fhéidir go mbeadh sé go maith dá mbeadh an réim chéanna ag an Gaeilge ins na hIolscoileanna, ionnas go mbeadh an áit sin ina chríoch dos na scoileanna eile.
Teastaíonn níos mó ná an t-ordú chuige sin.
Teastaíonn. Tá na hIolscoileanna riartha in aghaidh na Gaeilge le 350 blian, agus dá thoradh sin tá sé Gallda fós. Táimid anois ag plé ceist na Gaeilge ag féachaint conus í athbheóchaint. Ba choir na hIolscoileanna do Ghaelú agus níl aon dul as.
Labhair an Seanadóir Ó hAodha i dtaobh na múinteóirí agus réitím le cuid mhaith des na nithe adúirt sé fán gceist sin. Tá sé ráite ná fuair na múinteoirí scoile an moladh ná an traoslú a bhí tuillte acu ar a chuid oibre ar son na Gaeilge, ach is mó a fuaireadar cáineadh. Ní raibh sé de nós ag an Aire dul go dtí áit a mbéadh fear gaisce agus é a mholadh go poiblí, as ucht an obair mhaith a dhein sé. Ní bhíonn ann ach ceisteanna scrúdú-cháin, na rollaí d'iniúchadh, an clár ama d'fheiscint agus cuntas d'fháil ar chéad mionrud. Is trua liom go bhfuil an stailc ar siúl agus stop ar oideachais ins an gcathair seo. Ní heol dom cad é an slí as. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil máistreacht ar an scéal ag an Aire agus ag an Rialtas. Is dóibh sin atá bheith fial-aigeanta ins an scéal agus a rá: "Táimid tuirseach den rud seo agus cuirimís deireadh leis." Gheobhaidh siad réiteach ins an tslí sin.
Ba thubaisteach an rud é dá dtiocfaidh na múinteoirí scoile thar n-ais míshásta agus cráite. Ní bhfaighfear aon éileamh, ní bhfaighfear deachroidhe agus lán-toil chun obair na scoile do dhéanamh. Teastaíonn uaim-se agus teastaíonn ón Rialtas go mbéadh na múinteoirí sin chomh dian dáiríribh agus lán-chroíúil ar obair na Gaeilge agus ba chóir dóibh a bheith in aon cheist eile. Ba mhaith an rud é, pé rud a thárla nó a thárlóidh, go ndéanfadh an tAire socrú faoin gceist, le deamhéinn, ní hamháin do na múin-teoirí i mBaile Átha Cliath ach na múinteoirí ar fud na tíre.
Ní fhéadfaimis gan bheith sásta go b'feictear san Seanad gurb í ceist na Gaeilge an cheist is tábhachtái gur ceart dúinn díriú uirthi agus an Bille seo a bheith ós ár gcómhair. Bhí mé níos sásta leis an dóigh a phléigh an Seanadóir Ó hAodha an scéal cé nach n-aontaím le go leor dá ndúirt sé. Deireann sé féin go ndúirt sé na rudaí ceanna ó am go ham cheana. B'fhéidir sin, ach má dúirt, is baolach nach ar an mbealach céanna a dúirt sé iad.
Shíleas ar an óráid a thug sé go bhfuil iarracht den éadóchas air. Níl sé sásta leis an dul ar aghaidh atá déanta againn. Is dona leis nár éirigh linn an méid a chuireamar romhainn i 1920 a thabhairt i gcrích go dtí seo. Is dona liom féin é chómh maith ach má chuimhnímid ar na hathruithe atá tagtha sa saol idir an dá linn, is dóigh liom go gcaithfimid admháil go bhfuil mórán dul chun cinn déanta againn. Is saol an-shímplí a bhí ann i 1920 agus 1922. Dá bhfanadh an saol sochair, gan athruithe móra a theacht air mar do tháinig, is beag nach bhfuil sé cinnte go n-eireodh linn an oiread a dhéanamh agus a chuireamar romhainn. Dála scéal seo na Gaeilge, sé an cás céanna é.
Thainig athruithe móra ar an saol agus ar an ábhar sin tá deacrachta le scoitheadh againn nach raibh coinne againn leo. Ar an gcaoi céanna, caithfimid bheith ullamh ar nithe áirithe a déanamh ar mhaithe leis na teangaidh nar chuimhníomar orthu, nár cheapamar go mbéadh gá leo, tríocha blian o shoin. Bíodh deontas seo na Gaeilge a bhí i gceist annseo indiú i gcás. Tá an Seanadóir Ó hAodha in aimhras ar a thairbhe. Tá sé sásta ligean leis le súil go dtiocfaidh tairbhe dá bhárr. Ach lochtaíonn sé é mar gheall air go bhfuil sé i gcoinne daoine a mhealladh, le airgead, leis an teangaidh a labhairt. Is dóigh liomsa nach bhfuil dóthain machtnaimh déanta ag daoine ar chuspóir an deontais. Ní dóigh liom gur fíor a rá gur cúiteamh do thuismitheoirí é an deontas ar an teangadh a labhairt. Is cinnte gur cuid den chúis atá leis an deontas seo na tuismitheoirí a mhealladh leis an teangaidh a choinneáil ar bun lena gclainn. Ach ní hé an chúis go hiomlán é.
Tá mé cinnte go raibh sé ar intinn ag an Rialtas, nuair a bhí ceist an deontais á scrúdú acu, go bhfuil deachrachta ag baint leis an saol sa nGaeltacht agus sa mbreac-Ghaeltacht nach mbaineann leis an gcuid eile den tír. Níl an t-oideachas le fáil sa nGaeltacht chómh réidh agus atá i n-áiteacha eile. Bíonn aistear fada idir na scoltacha agus níl an meán-oideachas le fáil comhgarach. Má chuidíonn an deóntas le cuid de na deacrachta seo a shárú, ní mheasaim go mbéidh locht ag daoine reasúnta air. Ach ní é sin an t-aon chúis amháin gur tugadh an deontas. Is cuid den chúis é ach sin an méid.
D'fhéadfaí a rá gur leis na túismith-eóirí a mhealladh na páistí a choinneáil ar an mbunscoil a tugadh an deóntas. Is cinnte gur cuid tábhachtach den chúis é ar ar tugadh é. An té a dhéanfas machtnamh air, agus na nithe seo atá luaite agam a chur san áireamh, ní fhéadfadh sé gan aontú gur beartas ionmholta é deontas na Gaeilge a bheith á íoc. Is maith liom go bhfuil an deontas ann agus molaim an Rialtas as ucht é árdú go dtí £5. Tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh dea-thoradh air.
Ós ag caint ar an nGaeltacht atá mé, ba mhaith liom tagairt a dhéanamh do phointe eile. Ba mhaith liom go mbéadh deis thar mar tá ann cheana ag cailíní óga piocúla postaí feiliúnacha d'fáil. Ba mhaith liom moladh a dhéanamh. Ag cuid dena coistí oideachais gairme beatha, tá scéimeanna le cailíní a thoghadh as na scoltacha agus iad a chur go dtí ospidéal áirithe i mBaile Átha Cliath le traenáil speisialta fháil mar banaltraí linbh. Ach is beag dena scoláir-eachta seo atá ann. Dúirt an Seanadóir Ó hAodha go raibh sé in amhras a raibh an speís ag na daoine sa teangaidh ba mhaith linn a bheith acu. Níl fhios agam an bhfuil fios ag an Aire é, chómh luath agus a bhíonn na cailíní oilte, go mbíonn na táinte tuismitheoirí ag iarraidh iad fháil. D'fheilfeadh sé scéim éigin a cheapadh le cuid mhór de na banaltraí seo a chur ar fáil. Ba mhaith é ó thaobh na Gaeltachta agus ba mhaith é mar slíghe leis an teangaidh a thabhairt ar ais ar fuid na Galltachta. Rinneadh tagairt do mhúineadh na Gaeilge agus múineadh trí Ghaeilge. Aontáim leis an Seanadóir Ó hAodha nach leor múineadh na Gaeilge leis an teangaidh a thabhairt ar ais. Ach ag an am céanna, is dóigh liom gurb ceann den na lochtaí atá ar an scéal, nach bhfuil dóthain Gaeilge á múineadh sna scoltacha. Níl fhios agam go cruinn cé mhéad bun-scoltacha atá sa tír.
Timpeall 6,000. As an 6,000 scoil sin, níl an Ghaeilge á húsáid mar ghnáth-theanga theagaisc ach i dtimpeall 500 acu. Cuir an Ghaeltacht, an bhreac-Ghaeltacht agus an Ghalltacht le chéile agus ní múintear an clár scoile trí Ghaeilge ach i dtuairim 500 scoil. Úsáidtear an Ghaeilge mar ghnáth-urlabhra sna bunranganna sa gcuid is mó de na scoltacha, ach tabhair é seo fé deara, go n-iompaítear ar an mBéarla chómh luath agus fhagas na scoláirí an 2ú nó an 3ú rang. Más mian an teangaidh a thabhairt ar ais ni mór an teanga d'úsáid i bhfad níos mó sna scoltacha ná mar déantar. Is le linn do na scol-áirí bheith óg a chaitheas siad an cleachtadh d'fháil in úsáid na teangadh. Má tá siad le leanúint di agus má tá sé le bheith ar a gcumas gnáth-cheisteanna an tsaoil a phlé i nGaeilge ní mór an cleachtú a thabhairt dóibh sa scoil. Muna ndéantar sin is fánach bheith ag súil go labhróidh siad an teangaidh tar éis dóibh an scoil fhágáil.
Sna bun-scoltacha tugtar áird go maith ar labhairt na Gaeilge. Ba chóir feasta comhoibriú éigin a thabhairt isteach idir na scoltacha de gach cineál agus le sin a dhéanamh ba chóir aire fá leith a thabhairt do labhairt na teangadh sna scoltacha eile, meánscoltacha, ceárd-scoltacha agus mar sin de.
I dtaca leis an nGaeltacht de, ba chóir is dóigh liom caighdeán eile ar fad a bheith againn don Bhéarla—má táthar le leanúint á múineadh. Ba chóir, dar liom, i bhfad níos mó aire a thabhairt don Béarla liteartha. Dá ndéantaí sin, ní dóigh liom go gcuirfeadh an Béarla isteach ar an nGaeilge agus ina cheann sin cuirfí in áirithe gur Béarla cheart glan a bhéadh ag na daoine an uair ba gá dóibh feidhm a bhaint as.
Ba mhaith liom fhios bheith agam cén fáth atá leis an moill mhór atá ar theacs-leabhra d'fhoilsiú i nGaeilge. Tá gá mór leis na leabhra seo agus sílim go bhfuil roinnt mhaith scríofa cheana agus daoine ullamh tuilleadh acu a scríobh. De réir mar thuigim tháinig stop ar an obair tamall ó shoin. Níl fhios agam an iad na clódóirí nó ce hiad is cionntsiocar leis an moill. Tá súil agam go n-ionnsóidh an tAire Airgeadais an scéal seo. Tá gá leis na leabhra agus tá an mhoill ag déanamh dochair.
Tá mé ar aon intinn leis an Seabhach sa méid a dúirt sé i dtaobh na Gaeilge agus na postanna poiblí. Ní leor an teanga bheith ag duine le haghaidh postanna; ní mór féachaint chuige na daoine a gheobhas na posta poiblí, gur daoine iad a bhéas sásta an teanga a labhairt agus a bhéas sásta cuidiú le í a thabhairt ar ais. Níl aon mhaith a rá nach féidir daoine cáilithe d'fháil le haghaidh na bpostaí seo agus an Ghaeilge go maith acu. Tá cuid mhaith acu ann go háirithe. Níl fhios agam a bhfuil aon fheabhas ar mhodh toghtha na ndaoine i gcóir na mpostanna poiblí thar mar bhí roinnt blian ó shoin. Muna bhfuil, is dearmad mór é daoine a chur ar na Búird Cheapacháin nach bhfuil i ndon an teanga a thuigsint agus nach bhfuil in úil ar an obair a dhéanamh i nGaeilge. Is cinnte go bhfuil imeasc dochtúirí, lucht dlí, lucht dána agus éargna go leor daoine le fáil a fhéadfadh obair na mBórd seo a dhéanamh i nGaeilge. Go dtí go ndéantar obair na mBórd seo i nGaeilge, ní cuirfear tábhacht na teangan ina lúi i gceart ar lucht iarrtha na bpostanna.
Tá ní amhaín eile, agus ós rud é go bhfuil sé sa bhfaisiún inniú trácht air, ba mhaith liom focal nó dhó a rá ina thaobh. Is dona liom, ar nós gach aoinne, an stailc seo atá ar bun ag na múinteoírí, ní ceart í bheith ann agus níl gá í bheith ann. Tugadh tairgsintí do na múinteóirí: ní bhfuaireadar gach dár iarradar. Ach ní miste liom é seo a rá, agus tá sé in am é a rá, go raibh na tearmaí a tairgeadh chomh réasúnta sin nár ghá agus nár cheart do na múinteoírí dul ar stailc dá gcionn. Bhí tairgsint amhaín ann, agus is dóigh liom nár tugadh dóthain áirde uirthi, sé an ceann é go mbéadh an tAire sásta an cheist ar fad d'ath-breithniú i gcionn 3 bhlian. Is mór an ní é sin, agus nuair a chuimhníos duine ar an scéal ar fad is doiligh dó a thuigsint cé an fáth nár lean múinteóirí Baile Atha Cliath dá gcuid oibre agus idir an dá linn iarracht a dhéanamh ar a gcúis i dtaobh na nithe nár réitíodh d'ullmhú.
Is ceist an-mhór agus an-chasta í ceist na grádála.
Is fíor sin.
Is ceist í nach féidir a scrúdú agus a réiteach taobh istigh de chúpla mí. Is ceist an-mhór agus an-achrannach í, páigh chothrom a íoc le fir agus le mná. Ní maith liomsa aon difríocht a bheith idir fir agus mná sna nithe seo ach ní foláir dom admháil gur ceist í nach mbéidh sé furasta réiteach shásúil d'fhail uirthi gan mór-chuid staidéir agus fiosrucháin.
Tá an ceart agat, ach nach ceart tosnú anois?
Pe ar bith uair a tosnofar air, admhófar gur scéal an-mhór ar fad é.
Ar an gcaoi chéanna, is deacair tarrgaireacht chruinn a dhéanamh i dtaobh cúrsaí geilleagair agus i dtaobh fiúch-ais nó luach an airgid san am atá le teacht. Is léir ar chaoi ar bith nach bhfuil dóthain údair ag na múinteóirí leanúint don stailc seo a thuilleamh. Níl fúm tada eile a rá i dtaobh na ceiste fá láthair. Níl aon olc ag an Rialtas do na múinteoirí; ní dearnadh agus tá mé cinnte nach ndéanfar faillí ina gcúis. Ní ísliú céime ná gradam do na múin-teoírí dul ar ais ag obair, go mór mór má cuimhníthear ar na deacrachta atá luaite agam. Tá súil agam go rach-aidh siad ar ais agus nach fada go bhfuighmid réiteach sasúil ar an gceist go leir.
If any other member of the House is inclined to continue the discussion along these lines, I would be prepared to give way because I think it is more valuable that we should get the subject thrashed out as fully as possible. I wish, however, to address myself to another aspect of our national policy.
I would like to say, at the outset, that, generally speaking, I desire to subscribe to the point of view expressed by some Senators with regard to the stocktaking of the position in which we find ourselves, in regard to the progress of the restoration of the language. Most of us agree that we should restore the language in the country. I cannot speak, either as a teacher or professor, or as a competent Irish speaker, but I can speak as a parent who was and is enthusiastic about the restoration of the language, and in that capacity I have considerable experience.
I am not alone in this in regard to that type of experience, and I have a very definite feeling now that in this, as indeed in other matters, we should assume that we are grown up and conscious of our ability to look at our problems straight in the face—the problems we are pursuing—and to consider, if there is a better way, the manner in which we should try to operate.
On a previous occasion, I raised the subject with this Minister, and to a somewhat greater extent, in the presence of his predecessor, I availed myself of the opportunity to give my view about Government policy in regard to agriculture. I have said this before, and I feel the same to-day, that there is very considerable satisfaction in having in the Minister for Finance someone who has appreciation of the value of agriculture in our national economy. That being the case, one feels that when one attempts to address oneself to what is regarded as the weakness of our policy in relation to agriculture, there should be considerable intelligent appreciation of what many of us are attempting to drive home
May I say, Sir, that if I were satisfied about the policy of the Government in relation to agriculture I would have no more hesitation in standing up and applauding it, than I had at the time that the Minister for Industry and Commerce introduced his Turf Development Bill a short time ago? In this matter of agricultural development, there is no room for the narrow point of view, and if the nation is to get anywhere, the people charged with the responsibility of directing their own minds, and the people's minds, and the minds of the Government towards what is best to do for the country, then the people as a whole must be prepared, when they see the Government in error, to draw attention to that fact, just as they must be prepared equally to support the Government's policy when it is required, and when they regard it as doing what is sound and effective.
Over a number of years, we have done a great deal of talking about agriculture and we have done a great deal towards attempting what should be our policy in the future. Before me, I have three White Papers in regard to three different inquiries. One relates to guaranteed market prices for dairy produce. Another deals with the reorganisation of the pigs and bacon industry and the last one concerns policy in regard to crops, pastures, fertilisers and feeding stuffs. In so far as they go, these are supposed to embody Government agricultural policy.
I can only confess my very considerable disappointment at the colourless nature of these reports, the lack of emphasis in these documents on the important vital things in relation to agricultural development. Reading through these reports, one has got the idea that the Government, whether it be the Government as a whole or otherwise—I must address myself to the Government as a whole— are not quite sure where they want to go or the road on which they want to travel, in relation to agricultural development in this country.
There is a weakness and a frailty in all these documents that indicates clearly that we are not sure whether we should accept the first, second, or third report of the Emergency Committee which inquired into agriculture and its future, some time ago. Such reports are available to all.
In my opinion, our agricultural policy differs from our industrial policy in that particular way, that as far as industry is concerned, at least there is a definite aim. There may be errors of judgment, there may be mistakes and miscalculations, even over-enthusiasm, but that is just what is not happening in regard to agriculture.
It cannot be too strongly emphasised that the foundations of the country are sound only when the main industry has a basis that we know will withstand whatever pressure that national progress can put upon it in the future. At present, none of us can be satisfied with it, and if we could be clear what the Government meant, we could be more enthusiastic about giving them backing, but I confess there is no aspect of Government policy which has caused me greater misgivings than this one about agriculture. The first point I would like to make is this: there is no evidence that the Government has attempted to emphasise, as strongly as they should, the importance of what Dr. Kennedy introduced in the second minority report.
There is no evidence that it is clear in the Government's mind that agricultural policy should be directed towards the maximum and most economic utilisation of the land in the service of farming and the community as a whole. That should be definitely and positively stated, but nowhere in these documents which I have here is there any evidence of that, and it is because there is not that evidence that there is not the courage about the future which would make for success.
You have to inspire your producers with the belief that you know the idea you are pursuing; that you know what you are going to do. Why is there this lack of enthusiasm? Why is there this want of courage? I do not know. I would like to hear the Minister on this.
I cannot forget the feeling that the Government are not quite sure about what they want to do. Let me draw the attention of the House to this fact: the three reports submitted to this Government as a result of this inquiry vary essentially in certain respects. One report, the first minority report, seemed to me to be phrased in such a way as to suggest that there was no necessity to develop to the full or no necessity to plan to realise to the full our soil resources. The majority report and second minority report felt differently. Is that the Government point of view? I want to have that from the Minister, because until we get that position clarified, we do not know where we stand.
Does the Government feel that our soil resources are being used to the full or is it felt that if they are, there will not be a consuming public to purchase our products? The sooner we get straightened on that question the better. I would like to draw attention to the reports of the conferences at Hot Springs and the later conference at Quebec, all of which emphasise what Sir John Orr reports that never in human history was there enough food for the people of the world—never in human history.
Even before the war when the world was saturated with all good things, both America and Britain, two of the wealthiest nations in the world, had considerable proportions of their people underfed. In fact, in America 25 per cent. of the population of that great country were not getting sufficient nutrients to maintain their physical standards. Their nutritional levels could not be regarded as anything like adequate in so far as food was concerned.
I want to hear the Minister on that because the policy which this country must shape for itself for the future is a policy based on the full utilisation of our soil resources. What does that mean? We have here a population of 3,000,000 and we have 10,000,000, 11,000,000 or perhaps 12,000,000 acres of arable land. That represents one person to every four acres. I should like to draw the attention of the House and the Minister to this fact that, in Dr. Kennedy's minority report, he gives us some very interesting information. He states, first, that:—
"A policy based primarily on the home market cannot be regarded as a policy for agriculture. I have made a calculation of the area of land necessary to feed the existing population without imports of food for man or beast. The calculations are based on the following assumptions of crop yields: wheat, 20 cwts. per statute acre; barley, 20 cwts. per statute acre; oats, 25 cwts. per statute acre; potatoes, 12 tons per statute acre; grass (or other fodder crops), 2,400 lbs. of starch equivalent per acre. With land raised to a high level of fertility, the assumptions of crop yields are submitted as quite reasonable. Indeed, in view of facts presented later in this report the assumptions for grass yields must be regarded as conservative. The conclusion is that the area required would be about 3,500,000 acres, or somewhat less than one-third of what is supposed to be the total agricultural acreage, so that on the most extreme assumptions of food self-sufficiency, if the land is to be used efficiently, it is beside the point to make comparisons between the relative merits of growing wheat and beet for human consumption and producing cattle, dairy, pig and poultry products for export."
There he gives us a calculation of how much of the land of this country is necessary to feed the people and the animals we require. What about the rest, and how do we propose to use the rest? Is Government policy influenced by the consideration that, by using the rest to the full, we would not be able to sell the products? If that be so, something must be done about it. I suggest that the Government itself must undertake the responsibility of ensuring that our land be utilised to the full, and, next, that we will be able to sell the products. In that regard, obviously and clearly, international arrangements must be arrived at which will provide a profitable market for the products of our surplus land. I have no doubt this can be done, and I hope that the Government will now take action in collaboration with other food-exporting countries in the world, joining with them to ensure that the farmers who are producing more and can produce much more than our own people can consume, will be able to sell that food profitably.
That can only be done in discussion with the representatives of other food-producing countries It means that we must make contact with Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, the Argentine and probably Denmark. These are the main food-exporting countries of the world. Up to this, we have been played off, one against the other, with disastrous consequences to the food producers, but with more disastrous consequences to the consumers of food in the world, and when the history of these times comes to be written, the men who played us off, one against the other, will be found to have a terrible crime against humanity to answer for, because they have done much to lower the production of the land in every country, and to reduce the farmers to the straitened circumstances which have left the populace of the world without the food they so badly need to-day.
International co-operation is essential, and, I believe, more essential for us than any other country. The grain of the Western Continent for 30 or 40 years has been pitched in here against us, and into the European Continent. They have raped the soil of the Western Continent and have sent the produce to Europe at prices against which our farmers could not stand. The net result has been disastrous for the American Continent, for the soil of America, and equally disastrous for the American farmers.
I do not want to pursue that line any further, except to express my definite conviction that it is important—indeed, vital—for the people of this nation to have such relations with other food-producing and exporting countries as will ensure that a price level for producers of food will be maintained which will enable them to keep in production, which will ensure that the situation which obtained in the past will be completely altered and that the land of the world will, in so far as we can make a contribution to it, produce sufficient food so that all the people of the world will be adequately fed.
When we come to the problem of the full utilisation of our soil resources, we must ask how we propose to ensure this. I look in vain—and I say it with regret—in Government policy for any indication of how it is to be achieved. The latest document which we have got is that on Government policy in regard to crops, pastures, fertilisers and feeding stuffs. There is certainly nothing very revolutionary in it and if the Government are not attempting to do anything revolutionary, I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to some things happening elsewhere.
We have to make up our minds as to the way in which we will use our land so that the yield per acre will be the greatest possible. I have given figures of the total area we need to cultivate in order to feed ourselves. There is, then, the balance. Having got as far as that, I want to draw the attention of the House to something done quite recently in the Six Counties with regard to the cultivation of grass. I do not know whether we are as stupid or as foolish on the point as we were some years ago, but I know that many people in this country become very disturbed when you talk about the cultivation of grass. They will speak—or, at any rate, they have done so—of the grass and the bullock in such scathing and contemptuous language as to make people believe that both are the least desirable things that a man could own or have.
Anybody with enough grass and bullocks to-day would be able to make a marvellous contribution to the order and peace of society, and it is some time since I stressed that point in this House—before the war and during the war. On land in the Minister's native province, which the Minister probably knows—if he does not know the farm, he knows the owners—an experiment has been carried out over two or three years which, in a way, may be revolutionary in its consequence for the people if they will just take note of it. There has been a publication by the British Grassland Association which deals practically entirely with this experiment. It has been reported on by Mr. P.A. Linehan, a Cork man, and Mr. G. Lowe, two officials of the Northern Ministry of Agriculture. Mr. Linehan is a son of the late Senator Linehan, who was so long a member of this House. This is what has been established on a farm belonging to Messrs. McGuckian, outside the town of Antrim. In the spring of 1944, 66 acres were ploughed.
Soil tests were carried out and it was discovered that in order to rectify soil deficiencies they had first to apply three tons of ground limestone per acre. They got that soil into a healthy condition and on the ploughed land they sowed grass. Towards the end of the following year there was some grazing on the land. On the 23rd March, on these 66 odd acres, 100 bullocks, 8¼ cwts., were put on to graze. Senator Counihan is not in the House but there are Senators here who can appreciate what it means to put 100 bullocks on 66 acres on the 23rd March anywhere, and this was in County Antrim, not in Kerry.
Yes. Those bullocks were grazed. The area was divided into two plots, approximately 33 acres each. They were grazed on them alternately. On July 2nd, 52 of the bullocks were sold to the Northern Ministry and I think they weighed over 11½ cwts. The others were removed to other pasture and were sold in a few weeks. The vital point in that is: It is calculated that the average production of our grasslands is probably in the neighbourhood of 1,000 lbs. of starch equivalent per acre. On this lot a certain small area was protected during each grazing period with a sort of iron crate. I saw this plot; I am not speaking merely from what I have read. The grass in this plot was cut after each grazing period, weighed and tested in the laboratory, and so on. The completed experiment revealed that the production per acre was 2,755 lbs. of starch equivalent. I want to take the House a little further because I feel it is the kernel of our whole plan for agriculture and up to the present at any rate it has not been faced. In Eastern Canada, in a region of fairly high rainfall but with a very severe winter, yields of 2,940 lbs. starch equivalent have been obtained. I am quoting from Dr. Kennedy's Report.
In Germany it was estimated that the average yield of 20,000,000 acres of permanent pasture was not greater than 1,100 to 1,300 lbs. starch equivalent but in certain experiments carried out in Germany the yields were over 4,400 lbs. In New Zealand yields of over 9,000 lbs. of dry matter or more than 5,000 lbs. starch equivalent have been obtained in the dairy sections. Just think of that. See what they can do in Eastern Canada, in Germany and see what they have done on a farm in County Antrim.
Dr. Kennedy's report contains a quotation from a book by Stapledon and Davies, Ley Farming. I want to stress this point very specially in view of the attitude in the country to tillage and in view of the belief that tillage is absolutely essential to increased production and the best utilisation of the land. This is what Stapledon and Davies say:—
"A well-constituted young ley will produce over the first four or five years of its life an average annual output of from two to four tons per acre of dry matter. We have actually obtained yields of over three tons from leys in the Welsh hills. The dry matter of grass, on the basis of a yield of three tons, if properly utilised, in terms of grazing will provide at least 60 per cent. starch equivalent and 12 per cent. protein equivalent representing 36 cwt. (4,032 lbs.) starch equivalent and 7.2 cwt. protein equivalent."
Listen to this:
"This compares with about 2½ cwt. of protein equivalent and 24 cwt. starch equivalent given by a 27 cwt. oat crop."
There are a great many acres of land in this country that will not give anything like 27 cwt. of oats per acre. There you have one instance representing the equivalent of 36 cwts. of starch and 7.2 of protein as against 2½ cwt. of protein and 24 cwt. of starch.
"Twenty tons per acre of swedes would provide, say, 3 cwt. of protein and 30 cwt. of starch——"
and that again is less than the grass.
"A similar weight of kale might give 35 cwt. of starch and perhaps five cwt. of protein equivalent."
I realise it is not so easy to take in a mass of figures like these, especially for Senators who may not be able fully to grasp the technical significance of these figures, but I want to impress on the House and, if I can, on the Minister, that our approach to our farming policy is not based on the fundamental consideration, namely, the full utilisation of our soil resources.
I come now to the White Paper on crops and pastures where it refers to tillage:
"The intention is to reduce the tillage quota, as soon as world conditions warrant it, to a level which, while not imposing an unreasonable burden on any class of occupier, would ensure the widespread maintenance of tillage technique and a general adoption of proper rotations. The present arrangement, under which first year's grass is allowed to count as cultivation to the extent of one-fourth of the quota, will be continued."
The first point I want to draw attention to is this:—Inherent in that statement is the belief that tillage crops are going to give better yields than anything else and there is the quite definite and explicit statement that the present arrangement under which first year's grass is allowed to count as cultivation to the extent of one-fourth will be continued. That is a fallacy. It is a great shame. If the farmer is to be encouraged to cultivate his land in such a way as to get maximum yields and, if by putting 80 per cent. of his tillage under grass he would get heavier yields, he must be encouraged to do that, in the national interest. I know it can be claimed that we have made certain experiments down here in this regard. From the reports in the Department's Journal for March, 1945, we learned that experiments had been carried out at the Department's farms at Athenry and elsewhere. The conclusion to be drawn from those reports was that what succeeded elsewhere was not a success here. I put it as mildly as that.
The figures regarding increases in the weight of cattle fed on two plots—a plot of young grass and a plot of old grass manured—would indicate that it was more profitable to add nutrients to the old grass and not cultivate it than it was to do what has been achieved in the north by Mr. McGuckian and what has been achieved in New Zealand, Germany, the Welsh Hills, Canada and other places. In these reports, I saw no evidence of what, to me, was a fundamental if the scheme was to succeed at all—that soil tests were made before the experiments were commenced. I know myself that, under the aegis of our committees of agriculture, experiments have been carried out and that the experiments, according to the reports, have failed. What astonishes me is that those concerned seem to be quite satisfied that they have failed, instead of trying to discover the cause of their failure, knowing the success which has attained this policy elsewhere. If our technicians have not gone and seen what others have achieved, I suggest that they should do so, and, having seen that, that they should try to discover what was faulty in their own methods and why it was that their plan failed. We are going to be left by the wayside if we allow a new technique in agriculture to get ahead of us in other countries by years. If anybody said that we could increase our stock-carrying capacity by 100 per cent., it would be said that he should be locked up. I have given figures of what has been achieved on that farm in County Antrim. I saw the farm and we have much better soil here. Mr. Michael Murphy, of Cork University, did some interesting experiments in North Cork and, I think, portion of East Limerick for three or four years in succession. It was possible to measure the starch equivalent of production in the area and, taking that with general agricultural output, measure the position. That has been done and it gives a 1,000 lbs. of starch equivalent per acre, while in the north it is 2,700 lbs. With our present output, we are carrying 4,000,000 head of cattle. Suppose we could increase our output by more than 100 per cent., can people visualise our carrying 8,000,000 head of cattle? If that could be done, see what it would mean in increased production on the land, in the building up of the soil, in the making of homesteads and many other incidental things.
We have not really got a policy and I am discouraged by the failure on the part of the Ministry to face up to this problem. There are many other aspects of this plan to which I should like to address myself but I have kept the House a fairly long time already. I do hope that that aspect of agriculture will be given more consideration. I know that our technical people have been short of facilities and equipment. They ought to be given the facilities and equipment and there should be no niggardliness on our part. Lack of imagination will be no excuse for failure in the future. I have endeavoured to discuss this aspect of the problem on many occasions. I am not speaking as one in the wilderness. Any intelligent individual who addresses himself to the question of our agricultural policy is convinced of what I say. I have discussed this matter with many people in the country and outside it and I have tried to make myself conversant with what other people are thinking and saying. Recently, two New Zealanders came over here from the Primary Producers' Conference in London. They came across here to see what the country was like. They went to the best land in the country and their comment was: "Magnificent land but very bad grass."
As regards the reorganisation of the pig and bacon industry, a question was asked in the other House recently. I hope the Government genuinely desire the reorganisation and development of the pig and bacon industry. If they do, they will not get it by legislation based on the plan enunciated in the White Paper. That contains only the seeds of failure. The industry, organised on those lines, will be a hybrid. It will be neither private enterprise nor public enterprise. If the Ministry want an increase of the pig population and the pig output, there is only one way of effecting it—that is, to put the responsibility, from the point of view of production and processing, on the cooperatively organised farmers. If that be done, you will begin to get somewhere. If the farmers feel that they are charged with the responsibility of making this industry a success, they will produce the pigs and process them in their own factories. They will realise that they are no longer going to be exploited. Until you rid them of that idea, they will not, no matter how you encourage them, go back into pigs. Some people tell me that this cannot be achieved. Senator Sir John Keane is in the House. It is many years since he and others established a co-operative factory in Waterford. I was associated with the farmers' organisation then. Look at that factory now.
There is evidence elsewhere of the capacity of the farmers to build up and handle this business. That is the only way you will restore confidence. Our bacon industry can be made a very flourishing branch of our agricultural production. It would give very considerable employment and would provide a tremendous amount of valuable products for export—products which would be welcomed in virtually every country. These are aspects of our agricultural policy which were strongly in my mind and I hope the Minister will be able to say something satisfactory about them in his reply.
This is a Bill about which it is impossible for the House to do anything, but, in compensation for that, it is possible without violating the rules of order to talk about nearly every subject.
One topic I should like to raise is the remuneration of the higher grades of the Civil Service. Senators will remember that recently they received a very useful and well documented report of an "Inquiry into the present rates of remuneration of the higher grades of the Civil Service, and a comparison of such remuneration with similar figures in the past as well as with actual purchasing power and with changes in the amount and distribution of national income." I have not had time fully to study the report but I am impressed by the authorship of it. It is prepared by Professor Duncan, F.T.C.D., and Mr. W.J.L. Ryan. It is a document that we should take very seriously.
It is contrary to the precepts of Scripture—"to muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn"—but I feel that the Minister has perhaps yielded to that temptation in his dealings with the higher Civil Service. I am sure he would be the first to recognise the great value to the State and to Ministers rendered by the Civil Service in general and by the higher grades in particular. We have had some very recent examples of the valuable contribution to the education of the public mind which has been made by the higher grades of the Civil Service. Unfortunately there are only about 600 civil servants who get more than £550 per year, and only a little more than 100 who get over £1,000 a year. Consequently, in terms of democratic influence they count for little or nothing and their votes are entirely negligible.
From the point of view of justice and equity, it is doubtful whether they have received a fair deal in recent years and, from the point of view of public welfare, it is eminently desirable that we should do everything to maintain the present high standard of the Civil Service and, if possible, to increase it. With the present purchasing power of the incomes of the higher grades, it is doubtful whether those grades would continue to attract the best type of candidate. I want to put on record two quotations from this report. One is:
"We conclude by a re-stating of our opinion that the incomes of higher civil servants are not keeping pace with those of the rest of the community, that the higher Civil Service as a class is losing ground in relation to other classes and occupations, and that even the restoration of the full cost-of-living bonus would not restore the 1938 position of the higher Civil Service. That result cannot be achieved without an upward revision of basic salary scales."
In an accompanying leaflet it is stated:
"The inadequacy of the existing bonus arrangements in compensating for the increase in the cost of living since 1914 is illustrated by calculating the 1914 equivalent of the total remuneration on certain basic scales. This calculation reveals that the present remuneration of an officer on £500 basic is equivalent to £273 in 1914; £650 basic is equivalent to £332 in 1914; and £800 is equivalent to £387 in 1914."
If we want the best brains in the Civil Service or elsewhere we shall have to pay for them.
I come to another matter which has been suggested by other speeches made in the course of this debate; that is the general relations between public and private enterprise, with particular reference to which I want to make a suggestion. It seems to me a desirable way in which public enterprise could be extended. In most countries I suppose it would be admitted that there are certain departments of economic activity which should be exclusively the concern of public enterprise and certain others which should be the exclusive concern of private enterprise. As regards a number of departments in between, it is a matter of controversy in many countries whether they should be in the sphere of public or private enterprise. I think it would be correct also, as a matter of experience as well of theory, to say that public enterprise can be exercised in such a way as to thwart and distort desirable forms of private enterprise. Equally, I think it is agreed that public enterprise can be worked in such a way as to evoke and stimulate desirable forms of private enterprise.
I want to suggest one or two ways in which such public enterprise can be used with good results in stimulating private enterprise, especially in that particular form of enterprise which concerns agricultural production. I do not want to add to what has been said so eloquently already by Senator Baxter in that direction, except to say that I think what he says is primarily the job of the farmers themselves and that the function of the Government should be to do everything they can, by propaganda and education, to stimulate such efforts on the part of the farmers and do nothing which would impede such efforts. During the tillage campaign many large and small farmers had to till who never tilled before. Many of them were short of equipment which was difficult to obtain in a time of scarcity. Those people had either to let their land in conacre to other people to till—in which case the land did not profit from a long-term point of view—or they had to hire machinery from contractors who did their tillage for them. I think in many cases much of the profit went to the contractors and not to the unfortunate farmers. The need for power machinery is great in agricultural production and especially in long-term agricultural improvements. That is being realised more and more as time goes on. There is still a serious scarcity of power machinery to fulfil the needs of individual farmers and others.
In England during the war period agricultural committees did a grand job acquiring the ownership of power machinery and hiring it out on reasonable terms to farmers who had no access to any other machinery of that kind. It is a pity that we have not developed a similar idea in connection with the functions of the county committees of agriculture. I would like to see the Minister deliberately financing those committees to enable them to buy such power machinery, so as to help farmers in their own counties at rates which should be economic and which would also serve to compete with rates currently charged by private contractors. The kind of machinery I have in mind is not only tractors but the various things that tractors operate, harvesting machinery, for example, and even, perhaps, combine harvester threshers.
There are also certain power machines like bulldozers which could be used in cleaning away those banks which ought not to be there and make some small fields into big fields, and there are also machines which can be used for digging drains with remarkable rapidity. We are aware that there is a great need for additional drainage in many farms throughout the country. There are also mole drainers which could be used on many farms with beneficial results. Indeed there are many farms which would be greatly benefited by the use of a mole drainer on them for even half a day.
I hope the Minister will consider favourably financing agricultural committees with a view to obtaining these useful kinds of power machinery with a view to hiring them out at economic rates to farmers in the counties most in need of them, and preventing them from being exploited by the existing owners of power machinery.
Another matter has recently been brought to my attention which illustrates where public enterprise could stimulate the best kind of private enterprise. In north County Dublin, there is a fertile area of land very well farmed and with a high proportion of tillage and also a high proportion of people going in for dairy farming. The Minister should have some sympathy with the problems of the dairy farmer, because the way of life of the dairy farmer is not entirely unknown to him, and he will realise that one of the principal factors in the production of a plentiful supply of milk is plenty of water.
I am not thinking of it from the point of view of the cynical customer, but rather from the point of view of the honest producer who knows that he will not get all the milk he would otherwise get without plenty of water for his cows. In north County Dublin, a well-endowed neighbourhood in other respects, water is scarce, and it has been suggested that it would be quite feasible to bring Vartry water to the neighbourhood of Swords or Cloghran. From a reservoir in that neighbourhood, the water would run down by gravity to the dairy farmers and I believe they would be very glad to meet the rates which would pay the capital cost of bringing the water from the Swords neighbourhood. I do not know how much it would cost, but whether it would cost much or little, it is something that should be kept in mind as soon as labour and materials are available. I think that all that would have a salutary effect on the increase of production of milk, and on agricultural and horticultural production generally in north County Dublin.
The question of White Papers has been very exhaustively dealt with by Senators Baxter and Johnston, but I feel that discussions of that kind would be more appropriate if they came before us on motions. The Minister for Finance is not responsible for agriculture, and it would be more effective if Senators Baxter and Johnston put down motions for which we would have the Minister for Agriculture present.
The Minister for Finance seemed to be concerned about the amount of profits which accrued to farmers in the last four or five years. He does not know what they are going to do with the money and he has very kindly given us advice about our extra profits. I want to tell the Minister that the Minister should not depend on mere statistics for the last five years. The Minister's statistics show that we have had £97,000,000 production by the farming community. According to the statistics for 1931, it was £65,000,000 which meant a lot more in profit for the farmers than the £97,000,000 of 1945, when you take the cost of production and the extra charges and expenses in producing those quantities of goods. You will find on examining the figures 1930-31 was a very much better year than 1945. If the Minister spoke about the returns for 1935-36, when production went down to £43,000,000, and said that we were a lot better off than during that year I would agree, but we are definitely better off now than we were for some time. Farmers have made some money within the last four, five or six years but there are no extra profits made, and I can assure the Minister that farmers now have not sufficient money to stock their lands or carry on improvements.
The Minister talked about cheap money for farmers for construction and stocking. I would like to know what is his idea of cheap money? Is it the 4½ per cent. which we have to pay to the Agricultural Credit Corporation? On a ten-year loan, you are paying back principal and interest at the rate of about 13 per cent. It is not so easy for farmers to find that rate.
I have here a copy of the Agricultural Credit Corporation report and I see that there is something like £200,000 in it owned by the banks, for which the corporation have to pay 5 per cent. The public hold only something like £7,000 of that money. Why cannot the Government take over that £200,000 at 5 per cent. if they are able to get money at 2½ per cent.? I cannot understand why they will not do it. The difference of 2½ per cent. would be a great one for the farmers and would be of much advantage in the development of agriculture.
I can see that it is true that the banks have a hold on nearly everything when I look at the list of directors of the Agricultural Credit Corporation. Three of the directors of the corporation are either bank directors or managers of banks. Can it be said that these officials are there in the interests of agriculture? I cannot say it when I look at the composition of the directors. The corporation cannot do anything without the permission of the bank.
Of course, what I say here will not make any difference in the banks—I do not know. Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Summerfield had a discussion the other day, and a difference, which pleased me a great deal. I reckon that the banks and the manufacturers are the two greatest racketeers in this country, and when the representatives of those rackets fall out, there is a possibility that we will get some measure of justice for our own.
Senator Sir John Keane, 12 months ago, when discussing some matter—I had always thought he was a representative of agriculture—turned on me and said that farmers were getting away too softly with income-tax.
He thought we were being given too great facilities in being assessed only under Schedules A and B. Then, the manufacturers were the white-haired boys, but his conscience must have pricked him since, because he now advocates that we should go back to the old position in which we had a Tariff Commission. When he mentioned the Tariff Commission, Senator Summerfield got up on his hind legs to suggest that, if the Tariff Commission were re-established, their position would be entirely destroyed, and he went on to talk of the splendid men who established these industries which provided more money than they knew how to spend, as stated by one of his colleagues the other day. He had no use for money, he said, except to spend it on the development of the arts, science and sport. The farmers are not in that position, although the Minister is concerned about the great profits they are making. I assure the Minister that farmers have not yet sufficient to stock their lands, not to mind going in for structural improvements.
We have had a good deal of discussion about inflation, but there is no inflation in the prices the farmers are getting for their produce. The principal articles of our production are controlled by the Government, and in many cases the producers complain that they are not getting the cost of production. Beet, wheat, and milk are controlled by the Government and meat is also controlled, because it is controlled in the British market and in respect of anything of which we have a surplus for export, the export price controls it. For that reason, I feel that the Minister is misled in speaking of these extraordinary profits which the farmers have made.
I want to put in a plea that he should devise some means of reducing the interest rate on money lent to farmers by the Agricultural Credit Corporation, and I urge also that the Agricultural Credit Corporation should be more liberal in giving out that money. I know that Senator Sir John Keane will not agree with it, nor, I suppose, will Senator Summerfield, but Senator Summerfield, before making his speech on agriculture, should have looked up his facts.
He says that, since the Government came into power, they had stopped the production of bullocks and had prevented the export of men. The fact of the matter is that since all this splitting up and division of land took place—Senator Duffy will be able to confirm this statement—we have almost 100,000 fewer people gainfully employed in agriculture now than we had when all this ranching, according to Senator Summerfield, was going on. I am surprised at Senator Summerfield, whom we all recognise as a representative Senator, making these statements which cause a certain amount of unrest in the country. I do not think it is fair for Senator Summerfield or anybody else to make these false and erratic statements, without trying to find out what are the facts.
My first feeling is a feeling of wonder as to where on earth I made the speech which we have heard quoted so extensively. I have yet to mention the word "bullock" in this House. I made a one-line reference to ranches in a recent speech and if a one-line reference of that kind is to earn for me all the criticism to which we have listened from Senator Counihan, I shall have to be more careful in future. Is it not an extraordinary thing that, after 2½ hours of debate, we have yet to hear one reference to the fact that this Appropriation Bill calls on the Irish citizens to provide a sum of £53,716,664?
To me, it is far more important than whether I said a certain thing at a certain time or not. There was a time when a Budget which called for £1,000,000 a week from the taxpayers would have given rise to sensational headlines, but we have now got so used to such stupendous figures that they are no longer shocking.
Fianna Fáil were in opposition then.
We have had a discussion largely in Irish, some of which I was able to follow—I am sorry I was not able to follow all of it—as to whether, in fact, after 25 years, that portion of the national expenditure devoted to fostering Irish is producing good results. Like Senator Baxter and other Senators, I am a parent, but I am not only a parent but a grandparent, with children and grandchildren who have fluent Irish. I have no animosity towards Irish, but, after a quarter of a century, it would be well, now that we have to provide such colossal sums to run the State, to see whether that Department or the other Department is producing the results for which the money is provided. The Minister will not object to criticism of that kind. It is not hostile criticism. It is merely a matter of looking at the results produced, of deciding whether the money expended is producing results.
I propose also to do a little sniping at our friends the farmer representatives in so far as they speak in this House. Really, I admire their propaganda. We now have a chorus: "That is my story and I am sticking to it." We are told that the farmer is a poor man who is not making profits and who has not got very much hope. Senator Baxter made a long speech urging the Government to do this, that and the other for the farmer. The whole trend of his speech, or a considerable portion of it, was that the Government must do all these things. He wound up in relation to bacon by saying that if the Government would take its hands off bacon and put the full responsibility of producing bacon on the farmer, we would get results. To me, his speech was thoroughly inconsistent.
If the farmer can prove himself as efficient as we are asked to believe in the matter of the production of bacon, he could—and may I, as a layman, say that I think he should?—do most of the things Senator Baxter asks the Government to do for him. We know that they are all desirable and that many of them are necessary, but I think we hear too much about the helplessness of the farmer and what the State should do for him. Has the State not done a lot already? I say this again in no hostile spirit. The farmer to-day is subsidised.
In what way?
He has a guaranteed price.
That is not a subsidy. It is not even a proper price for his cost of production.
It is not the natural price, either. He has a guaranteed market, a sure market for some time to come. We do not envy him any of these things, but when men like Senator Baxter and Senator Counihan get up here and, on any and every occasion, pillory industry, and particularly manufacturing industry, as being racketeers, I say it is a word that should not be lightly used, and I say it is unfortunate that it has been used. It is no more true to say of industry generally that it consists of racketeers than it would be to say of the farmers that they are racketeers.
They would if they could.
To me, it is more important that we have to look the big bleak fact in the face that all of us, whether farmer, industrialist or any other section of the community, in the aggregate have to provide more than £1,000,000 per week. We must sympathise with the Minister who comes before us and asks for our comments on that demand. He has already given an indication that he is a realist and faces up to facts. He has promised a certain amelioration this year. I am looking forward to next year when, with more normal conditions, I hope he will be able to give us more reliefs. In the meantime, I hope that this continual sniping at the unfortunate manufacturer will cease.
We have covered a great deal of ground in this debate—from agriculture and stock-raising to profiteering and racketeering and the regrets of a number of people that they are not all in on the ground floor. I do not desire to traverse that ground. I will keep myself within very narrow limits. There are only two matters to which I desire to refer. The first is what I think is a matter of very grave concern to the people of Dublin, the prolonged strike of national teachers in this city. In this Bill we are providing for the Office of the Minister for Education £235,000 and in addition we are providing for Primary Education a total sum of roughly £4,250,000. Yet during one-third of the present year the whole of the national schools of Dublin have been closed and the children who should be attending them are walking the streets or getting into any mischief that children are likely to fall into when they are not restrained and when there is no effort being made to discipline or teach them.
When I am dealing with this matter I do not want anybody to assume that what I have to say has any political significance and, therefore, I do not propose to discuss the merits of the strike itself. As a matter of fact, in an article written and published recently in the Irish School Weekly, Dr. O'Connell, General Secretary to the National Teachers' Organisation, makes this point. He wrote:
"It must be obvious to any person who gives the matter serious thought that the subject of education which, of all others, should be above and beyond Party politics cannot be seriously discussed in an atmosphere permeated with Party politics."
He was referring in that statement to the discussion which took place in the Dáil during the consideration of the Vote for the Department of Education. I agree with his point of view. As a matter of fact, those with whom I am associated, many years ago pressed on the Government—not merely this Government but on their predecessors— that the subject of education should be taken right out of the arena of politics altogether and should become the concern of a council of education composed of people appointed for their competence to deal with educational matters. I adhere to that view and, therefore, I shall not express any view as to whether the teachers are justified in their demands or whether the Government are justified in refusing these demands. I plead entirely the interests of the children who are permitted to wander round the street of Dublin without school, without education, without discipline, without any of the attention which children require in their formative years.
Three, four or five thousand children who have come to the age of 14 years ceased going to school last March when the Dublin schools were closed down. These children will never return to school. They have finished their education. That is the end of it. Normally, many of them, probably the great majority, would have remained at school for another year but, having been away for a period of four months and it is likely that they will be away for another four months, I should imagine that these children who have reached the age of 14 in the present year will never return to the primary schools. That is a serious matter.
We have been talking about raising the school-leaving age to 15 or 16 while, at the same time, we are ensuring that the children who have reached the age of 14 in 1946 may never again go to school and those who have reached the age of 13 in 1946 may never again go to school. I consider that is a very serious matter and want to express my agreement with what Senator Hayes said very early on, repeating, I think, what he said in March, that this is not an instance in which we desire to see the teachers beat the Government nor do we want to see the Government beat the teachers.
That is my approach to the matter. I approach it from the angle that, outside the family circle, outside the home, the primary school teacher is the greatest influence in this country. To his charge is committed the education and the guidance, including the moral guidance, of more than 70 per cent. of the children of the country. For the great majority of the children of the working classes the national school is the only university we provide. It is, therefore, a matter of very serious concern for the working-class families of Dublin whether this strike is to be brought to an early conclusion or whether it is permitted to drag itself out until by sheer exhaustion the teachers are forced back to the schools. Because, that is what is involved. The Government will not become exhausted. They have all the powers of a Government to sustain them. The teachers, with less resources, could become exhausted but is that going to be a good thing? Is it going to be a good thing for the education of this country if the teachers of Dublin are to go back to their jobs resentful and bitter, with a hatred in their hearts of the system which forced them into this situation? In my view, it would be a bad thing that that should happen, and it is a bad thing that a Government should sit back and see this resentment growing and know what its consequences are likely to be without taking every step, day and night, to bring this unfortunate strike to a conclusion.
One of the things that surprises me somewhat is the fact that, notwithstanding the hardships which they are exposed to by the continuance of the strike, the parents of the school-going children of Dublin have expressed no resentment of the attitude of the teachers. On the contrary, at public meeting attended and addressed by parents of school-going children the attitude was, not to blame the Government so much, certainly not to blame the teachers, but to implore both sides to submit the points at issue to arbitration.
The purpose of a meeting of parents held in Whitehall—the report is published in the Irish School Weekly of June 22nd—is described as “to help to bring about a just and amicable settlement of the teachers' strike in the educational interests of their children and the future welfare of the teachers.” That is the attitude of a parents' meeting in Dublin. There were a number of other such meetings of which the Department of Education are likely to be well informed. At all these meetings, one finds the same note—a desire to see a settlement of the strike which will not be humiliating to the teachers. At the meeting to which I have referred, a resolution was passed “demanding that the Government reconsider its attitude towards the offer of mediation made by his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin.” I wonder if there is any ground for opposition to the suggestion, on either ethical or practical grounds, that this is, obviously, a matter in which the Archbishop of Dublin might be expected to be deeply interested, a matter in which his good offices ought to be availed of by the Government and the teachers.
The teachers are, after all, in a rather unique position in relation to the Government. They are paid by the State, but they are not employed by the State. They are employed by the school manager in each case. So far as the Catholic schools are concerned, the manager and employer is the parish priest and he, in turn, is responsible to the Archbishop. Does it not seem reasonable, if we desire to be reasonable in these matters, that the question of mediation by his Grace should be seriously considered by the Government whose representative here this afternoon is the Minister for Finance?
I think that the House ought strongly to express the view that, in the interests of the children, in the interest of the future men and women of Dublin, every possible effort should be made by the Government to secure an early termination of the dispute and that, towards that end, the immediate, practical thing to do is to invite the Archbishop to renew his efforts at mediation. I urge that very strongly and I do so particularly because the Government are at this moment promoting in the other House a measure dealing with industrial disputes— disputes which may arise between private employers and their employees and, indeed, between public utilities, very largely financed by the State, and their employees.
For instance, under the Industrial Relations Bill, it is provided that the employees of the Electricity Supply Board may have recourse to a labour court which is being established. I take it that the employees of Córas Iompair Eireann, the Sea Fisheries Association and other public utilities financed either wholly or mainly by the Government will be entitled to go to the labour court and have their differences adjusted, irrespective of the consequences to the public finances or to the economic set-up of the country. What, may I ask, distinguishes the case of the primary school teachers from that of the employees of the Electricity Supply Board? The position held by the directors of the Electricity Supply Board in relation to the employees of that corporation corresponds almost identically to the relationship which exists between the clerical managers and the teachers in the national schools. I ask the House to ponder that fact and to agree with me that this is a matter in which all members of this House may reasonably join, without any suggestion of political consideration, in asking the Government to reconsider the position and to secure that, before the school holidays expire, an effort will be made to secure a successful termination of the dispute, so that the children may resume their place in the schools when they open in September. That is all I desire to say on that point.
The other point with which I intended to deal arises, more or less, out of a suggestion made in June when we were last discussing economic condition and monetory theory. On the occasion of the Second Reading debate on the Finance Bill, the Minister for Finance made this statement in response to something I had said:
"I do not propose to enter into a debate with Senator Duffy on the question of parity with sterling. I asked Senator Duffy on a previous occasion if he had a proposition to put up in regard to the link with sterling to put it up and I should examine it."
I appreciate the manner in which the Minister approached the subject and I should like this evening to say a few words on that matter and to bring the discussion somewhat further than the stage it reached on the last occasion.
I move the adjournment of the debate.
Before we adjourned, I referred to the speech which the Minister made here on June 18th during the Second Reading of the Finance Bill and drew attention to the fact that on that occasion he said if I had a proposition in regard to the link with sterling to put it up and he should examine it. But I gather from a perusal of his speech that he was thinking entirely in terms of appreciating the value of our money in relation to that of Britain or depreciating the value of our money. It seems to me that he missed altogether the idea that one need not have a fixed rate of exchange with a foreign currency and if I made myself clear on the last occasion I intended to suggest a relationship with sterling which would not in fact be fixed.
In this connection, I would like to draw the Minister's attention to a statement made by the Swedish Finance Minister in which this point is made. Mr. Wigforss, the Swedish Minister of Finance, has stated in the book That Swedish Budget, that:—
"the basic requirements of this policy is a free currency. An expansionist credit policy cannot be carried through if the condition for monetary policy is that of a fixed rate of exchange or an internal price level fixed in its relationship to that of other countries where possibly a different monetary system prevails."
I would commend that opinion to the Minister because I think it is fundamental. It seems to me that if we are to continue to relate our currency to British currency, that is to sterling, on any fixed exchange rate, whether it is parity, whether it is depressed, or in fact in any fixed relation, we are entirely at the mercy of the authorities which control monetary policy in Britain. I am rather anxious that the Minister would clarify his attitude in this matter because he made a statement on the last occasion that rather disturbed me having regard to his policy generally which I think is very unsatisfactory so far as providing money for local authorities at lower rates of interest is concerned. I would draw attention to this statement with which the Minister concluded his speech on June 18th. It is reported at column 2280 of the Official Debates. Referring to our sterling balances in Britain, he said:—
"They admit they owe us a sum of money. We have not stopped this money from coming in. Personally I am prepared to take all I can get of it."
I am at a loss to know what the Minister desires we should understand by this statement. Does he mean that he is satisfied so long as Irish workers in Great Britain continue to send their families telegraph money orders or postal orders or bank notes? If he does, it would appear to me that what we are doing is encouraging our people to emigrate and encouraging them to issue to their relatives and friends in Ireland money claims against commodities produced in this country, commodities that are very often scarce. We are getting nothing in exchange for the labour that our people will provide for British industry over and above the proportion of this labour paid for in coal and steel and cotton and the other commodities we must import.
Therefore, it seems to me that the Minister is accepting the British view that their currency must always have the same validity in Ireland as in Britain, that it has the same power in Ireland as in Britain to command goods. I think that is where he is fundamentally wrong, and where he is coming up against a proposition that the policy upon which that belief is based cannot in fact attempt to get rid of unemployment, or to promote a policy of full employment for this country.
The Bank of England issues sterling to British nationals. These nationals come into Ireland as tourists or business people or in any other capacity. They come into this country and buy shops or farms or factories, and carry into Ireland currency notes. It does not matter whether it be cheques or currency notes—it is all the same—they bring in paper tokens, and these paper tokens are handed in to our commercial banks which in turn can demand from the Central Bank, Irish bank notes, Irish currency notes, to an unlimited extent, so that in fact the Central Bank—unlike every other Central Bank in the world—has no authority whatever over the volume of money in circulation in this country. In fact the volume will depend entirely on the amount of money which our nationals or visitors to this country desire to bring in in the form of paper demands These demands are honoured; they are honoured in food, raw materials, farms, shops—in any commodity that the owner cares to demand.
I cannot see how the Minister is going to avoid that so long as he takes the view expressed by him on June 18th, that he would not stop this so-called money from coming in and that, personally, he is prepared to take all of it he can get. In other words, the Minister considers that this country is going to be rich and prosperous if he permits an unlimited inflow of paper demands for the goods and services which we provide without any guarantee that these are going to be honoured by the British in the form of goods, raw materials or otherwise. That is what we are up against, and that is the explanation of the phenomenal growth during the emergency period of our external assets.
We piled up at least £150,000,000 of external balances during the past five or six years. These balances are really unsatisfied demands lying to our credit in Britain, and they are likely to be unsatisfied so long as there is a shortage of commodities in Britain, requiring the British industrialists, the British Government in the long run, to retain for home use or for export the commodities, raw materials, coal, cotton and machinery which are in short supply in England, because—bear this in mind—for all practical purposes the British economy to-day is a controlled economy. The British Government will determine whether goods produced in British factories are to be sold in the home market or exported. There is no temptation to export to us goods in exchange for our produce because Britain can obtain all the exportable goods we produce without giving us a ton of coal in exchange.
We are dependent entirely on the goodwill of the British Government as to whether or not we will get coal, steel, cotton, or any raw material or manufactured article. The essential thing for Britain is to sell commodities like coal, steel, and cotton to Continental countries, or to countries outside the sterling area, where she will obtain foreign exchange. That is the sensible thing for Britain to do, and we have no reason to find fault if she does. What we in this House have reason to find fault with is the failure of our Government to act in relation to currency transactions in the wise and sensible manner in which the British Government is acting to-day.
I do not want to go into the other aspects of this question of the inflow of paper currency. One might very easily relate it to the question of inflation referred to by other speakers, but it is so obvious that this inflow is bound to have inflationary tendencies, where there is no price control, that it is merely wearying the House to urge or to argue it. There is another aspect, however. We may have, as a result of the coming into this country of large sums of sterling, a very largely expanding volume of money, without getting rid of unemployment. In a country like Britain, like France, or like Belgium, it will be generally conceded that, if there is a large volume of unemployment, there is an insufficiency of currency in circulation; but we here can have unlimited currency in circulation, we can have £50,000,000 in circulation, so long as it is in the possession of private individuals and owned by the commercial banks, without having the slightest effect on the volume of unemployment.
The Minister commenced his career in an excellent manner. He has taken one bold step in relation to interest rates which, I think, will commend his activities to the majority of the members of the House, and the purpose of my contribution this evening is not to criticise what he has done but to urge him to proceed to the logical conclusion which one must draw from the policy he has initiated.
I was looking into the figures he mentioned in regard to interest rates on the previous day. I do not propose to go over them now; I merely want to draw attention to what this reduction in interest rates represents in relation to house rents, or what it should represent if somebody does not try to corner the market. Money advanced to local authorities for houses at 4½ per cent. would mean a charge of 7/4 per week on a £350 house. I understand that the cost of building a council house in rural areas is £350.
A labourer's cottage in rural Ireland costs at present approximately £350. The cost of money in that case would be 7/4 per week. At the rate now proposed by the Minister—2½ per cent., spread over a period of 50 years—the cost of money would be 4/8 per week. In the case of a city council house costing £700, the charges for the use of money would be reduced from 14/7 per week to 9/4 per week. These are very substantial gains if they are passed on to the tenant. Of course, we have no guarantee that they will. We have no guarantee that the subsidy will not be intercepted or that the local authority will not try to muscle in and reduce the contribution from the rates. I am assuming that the full advantage of the new policy inaugurated by the Minister will be passed on to tenants, and, if that happens, there should be a reduction in rent of 5/3 in the case of a city house and 2/8 in the case of a rural house, per week.
That is very substantial, and I am anxious that the Minister should again consider the matter we discussed on the last occasion. I do not want him to do what he said he was prepared to do—to examine a proposition that we should appreciate our money as against sterling, or a proposition that we should depreciate it. What I am anxious is that he should consider a situation in which there would be no fixed relationship, that the value of our currency would be determined by what it can buy here in Ireland. That is the value of national currency anywhere except in this country. The value of the dollar in relation to our money is determined by the amount of goods which the dollar will buy, not in Dublin, but in New York. The value of the £ sterling in relation to any foreign currency is determined by what that £ sterling will buy in Britain, because eventually the currency must come home, and its purchasing power is determined by what it can purchase for the owner when it reaches home. That, I think, is obvious to everybody.
We know of countries which have appreciated their currencies and countries which have depreciated their currencies, both, strangely enough, within the British Commonwealth of Nations. New Zealand commenced by depreciating her currency by 10 per cent. and finished by depreciating it by 25 per cent., thus compelling Denmark and other countries selling agricultural produce in Britain to follow suit. We, of course, could not follow suit because we have no currency to depreciate. We have only British sterling. Canada has done the opposite in relation to the American dollar. She has appreciated her currency by 10 per cent, and I assume that, in taking that step, the Canadians consider they were doing a wise act in relation to Canadian economy. These two experiences, however, show that the evils which the Minister foresaw when he addressed the House on the subject have been met and faced, and, if they are evils, endured, in other countries. The New Zealand Government depreciated their currency in 1932. They have had 14 years in which to see the evil effects of that policy if it had revealed evil effects, but they have not changed their policy. It is still continued. The Canadians, of course, have taken their decision quite recently and it is very hard to say what its effect will be, but it is the opposite kind of decision to that taken by New Zealand. I do not propose to trouble the House further. I again ask the Minister to look at the subject from a new angle, the angle of our currency finding its own level without being tied on any fixed basis to the currency of any other country.
I hope the Minister is not going to make any change as a result of the financial policy advocated here. I think Mr. McElligott does his job fairly well. What I am concerned about is the discussion we had here on the Budget, when the Minister talked about the national cake. That is what I take issue with him on—the distribution of the national cake. We learn from reference made by the farmers, that they are not making money. Equally emphatic, we hear from the industrialists that they are not making money, and certainly Senator Johnston put up a very strong claim for the higher civil servants and pointed out the awful injustice they had to endure through the inadequacy of the bonus.
I intend to confine myself to the conditions of the workers of the country in general. The House has the figures, and I am sure they are correct, from Senator Professor Johnston as to the value of money If the higher civil servant has his income halved, surely the labourer, who is always pulling the devil by the tail, is in a very much worse predicament now, even with the bonus that the Government allowed him to receive. It is these people that I am mainly concerned about. These are the people that really matter. The producers, the distributors, and so on, are getting their share, and more than their share, of the prosperity existing in the country to-day. We have not made any very serious inroad on the number unemployed. The figures are there; they are alarming, and they may possibly be increased in the near future by the return of a large number of our people who went away to get better wages but certainly not better conditions. Better wages lured them, and will lure many more people if they get the opportunity of leaving the country.
Solutions of our problem have been offered. Senator Johnston, I think, rather advocated the intensification of the use of machinery in agriculture and pointed out that by the introduction of machines a certain number of men would be displaced.
I do not think I suggested that at all. I said it would add to the productive capacity of the farm but my experience is that in such cases workers are needed rather than displaced.
Yes. I am sorry if I took you up wrong but I was dealing with the attitude taken by the Senator on a former occasion. I will not proceed with that. I was very struck by the line taken by Senator Counihan, who had a great grievance against the banks. I am sure Senator Sir John Keane was very hurt by his remarks. The banks in the country are bursting with money. There is really no outlet for it. The bulk of that money is owned by the farmers of the country. There is no possible doubt about that.
There is the gravest doubt about it.
Of course, I do not profess——
But you have professed.
I do not profess to know as much about financial matters as you.
Senator Foran will address the Chair, please.
I know, but the Chair should call on the interrupters. As I said, the bulk of that money is owned by the farmers of the country.
Not at all.
Again, the Cathaoirleach might help me by calling some people to order. However, seeing that he will not, I will go on. Money is on deposit at 1 per cent. The banks lend it to the Agricultural Credit Corporation, according to Senator Counihan, at 5 per cent—the agriculturists' money. They are borrowing back then, apparently, at 4½ per cent. I do not know anything about finance, as I said.
But I am going on the statement made by Senator Counihan and I take it that he knew what he was talking about. That was his statement. To my mind, that is a very foolish policy. As I said, I do not know a whole lot about finance and I shall not go into the realms of it any further. I am going on the statements made here. I would suggest to the Minister that he should have a talk with the Minister for Defence because, in my opinion, the demobilisation and rehabilitation of the Army is not being handled in the way that would give the best results to the country. Everybody wants to support and help the men who came together and were prepared to defend this country in the emergency and, so far as I know, most people are willing to re-establish them in the employment which they left in order to join the Army. But the attitude adopted by the Minister for Defence is that these men must be employed under any circumstances, no matter how severe it is on the people who are already in employment. I have seen correspondence from the Department which was calculated to incite hostility and opposition where nobody wants hostility or opposition.
That matter should be gone into between the Department of Defence and the trades unions concerned because they have rights and they are going to maintain them. They are willing to co-operate and help in every way and it would be a wise move on the part of the Departments to change their policy somewhat and try to secure the goodwill and co-operation of the trades unions. In that way they will get good results for the men who are being demobilised from the Army without inflicting serious injury or injustice on the men who had to carry on the work while these people were in the Army.
I do not know that there is very much more to say. People do not believe that I have a practical knowledge of finance but I do know something about industry and I am surprised— and I am sure the Minister was surprised—to hear that neither the farmers nor the industrialists were making any money. So we are all in a bad way.
I understand that earlier to-day the attention of the Minister was called to a very remarkable report by Professor Duncan on the payment of higher civil servants which was circulated to us all this morning. Senator Johnston has already introduced the subject to the House. My excuse for not being here at the time was that I was devoting the afternoon, in the Library, to study and analysis of that particular report. Having gone through it very carefully, I think that it is one of the most remarkable economic reports upon the conditions of a relatively small section of the working community which has been made in this country or in any other. It is so closely condensed and so carefully supported by graphs and statistics that it would be hopeless to attempt further to summarise it to the House. But, in one sentence, one can make this approximation to its contents—that it shows that the higher civil servants are hopelessly underpaid in reference to the sums they received in 1914, in reference to the remuneration in other ranks, in reference to similar posts in outside countries and in reference to the wages which would be paid to persons of equal ability in the commercial world.
It shows, further, that it is in the highest posts that this very undesirable economy has been most effected, so that certain civil servants are receiving now only 22 per cent. more than they received in 1914, though the cost-of-living index now stands at about 195. Their real wages are about a half of what they were in 1914. It is exceedingly valuable also for its analysis of the Brennan Report. It shows that the conditions on which the Brennan Report relied, in recommending that pressure be kept on Civil Service salaries, were at the time partially erroneous and have since then been nullified by change. I am one of those who believe that in the Civil Service and elsewhere, you cannot have enough £2,000 a year men. By that, I mean not persons who are paid £2,000 but persons who are worth £2,000. The £2,000 a year man is the person who really gives more value to the community than anybody else. The tendency, if you prevent the upper posts in the Civil Service from being paid in proportion to their value, is to impair the whole efficiency of the Civil Service from top to bottom. It is not work that kills a man, it is responsibility. The higher civil servants have to bear an enormous measure of responsibility. People are not anxious to take that additional onus which, more often than people realise, means an additional shortening of their span, unless they get something in return, unless they get in return that very thing which, by its alleviation of surrounding circumstances, possibly by giving them opportunity for travel or leisure, enables them to bear the weight of their responsibility and to qualify themselves for bearing that responsibility by increased knowledge, wider outlook and greater confidence.
This, I suppose, is not a popular cause. The cause of the Civil Service, as a whole, never seems to be a popular cause, and the cause of the higher Civil Service ranks even lower in popularity. I was amazed recently to be told that I was a person who attacked civil servants. I have consistently defended and supported them in this House. It may be unpopular but I believe it is desperately important that we should encourage the very best men to go into the Civil Service as opposed to other walks of life, to go into the Irish Civil Service as opposed to the Civil Service in England and in other countries and to ensure that they should have before them such prospects of promotion to well-paid positions as will induce them to preserve their keenness and that continual study of problems which is necessary for any man if he is to be any good.
We have all got to keep on educating ourselves until the day we die. We may sometimes have to put cushions around us, if I may so express myself, so that we can concentrate upon the head work, research, learning and mental balance which are so necessary. Therefore, I do most earnestly, without going into any detail in connection with this very elaborate and conclusive report, ask the Minister, through the Chair, to give it his attention, to tell us what he thinks about it and, if possible, to promise us that he will take its lessons to heart and improve the position of the real keymen of the Government of this country.
We are now in the beginning of July—the beginning of the period when members of this House and of the other House who come from the country are anxious to get away in order that they may carry out what is more than ever to-day a national duty—the duty of harvesting the crops. In that position, we look at to-day's Order Paper and we see that there are down for consideration by the Oireachtas 13 Bills, of which at least nine must be passed before the Houses go into recess. I suggest that this Appropriation Bill, which provides money for every Government Department, is doing so under false pretences, to some extent, when that money is voted to a Government that is so unable to arrange its Parliamentary procedure that we are faced with the same position in July this year that we were faced with in July last year. Only one of two alternatives appears to be open to us—to sit at a period when people from the country are anxious to ensure that we shall have an adequate supply of food in the coming year and when those in the professions and in industry are trying, so to speak, to "double up" for their colleagues who are going for a well-earned holiday after a year of toil. That that position should be presented to us for the second time is preposterous. It shows either that there has been a slip-up or that there is not that consideration for the work of the Oireachtas that there should be—that there is not the consideration which is necessary for careful study of legislation. I am rather afraid that it is the second of those reasons which applies.
This method of conducting Parliamentary business must be allied to the other method of the Government of conducting State affairs—the method which has been referred to before now as the "dummy company method", by virtue of which Parliamentary control is avoided, by which the ways and means and, what we sometimes like to sneer at, the red tape of the Civil Service, are avoided. Whether the red tape is sneered at or not, it consists of regulations which were built up over the years to ensure that there would be that probity, that correctness, that publicity and that inherent honesty in public life which is so absolutely essential in the national life of any country. If we are going to put aside the Civil Service and say it is not suitable to deal with any industrial aspect, we must not do so lightly, without making certain that we are putting in its place something which will have the same effective check and will be equally effective in preserving the integrity of national life.
This question of the avoidance of Parliamentary control is not a new one. It was referred to, first of all, from diverse aspects in the Commission of Inquiry into Banking, Currency and Credit set up in 1938. The majority report of that commission commented on the manner in which these companies avoided detailed examination and supervision of State expenditure by the Minister for Finance on behalf of the Executive Council, the audit by the Comptroller and Auditor-General, the continuation, so to speak, of that audit, by the Committee of Public Accounts and the large degree of publicity in regard to Dáil Estimates, which were all designed to ensure that the moneys being expended by the State were being expended in the right and proper way. That commission included the chiefs of Departments of State itself and, in the Majority Report, it was stated, in paragraph 466:—
"There is much in the present arrangements which is incompatible with any proper system of Parliamentary control of State activities, and with the need for affording opportunity for adequate public understanding of what courses of action are pursued in this matter by the Government and with what financial results."
That commission was appointed; it sat and brought in its report; it came and went. The Government decided to set up another commission and they got a truly representative body of Irishmen to sit on the Commission on Vocational Organisation. That commission brought in a report dealing in even more detail and in even more critical terms with the method that has been adopted by this Government of avoiding parliamentary control.
This matter has been raised before. When it was raised, it was suggested by whatever Minister happened to be here at the particular time that it was altogether wrong to suggest that there could be any possibility of political patronage in such a method. Yet the Vocational Commission was perfectly concise when it stated in paragraph 683:—
"This method of administration is clearly fraught with great dangers to the prestige and integrity of democratic government."
One commission after another has referred to this matter. One commission after the other has been completely and absolutely ignored. Every day we see in every aspect of our life some new company brought in by or on behalf of the Government, adopting this method of avoiding the limitations, the controls, the effectiveness of the check provided by the ordinary working of parliamentary government. The time has come when we must seriously consider where this is leading us and whether it is not leading us far beyond our present anticipation.
Anyone who read what happened in other European countries must realise that the advent of totalitarianism was not brought about by one or two or a group of wicked men. Its foundation was laid by well-meaning people who believed sincerely that so long as they were there the powers they were taking would be utilised only in a reasonable and in a sound way. They thought there was no risk; they did not realise that by taking these powers they were creating a Frankenstein which was going to overwhelm them, that they were creating something they would not be able to control later when they wanted to do so.
That is the reason why I wish to make these few remarks on the Appropriation Bill. I wonder if we realise where we are going. In this discussion, I am not imputing Party political motives to anyone but I wonder if we realise that we are setting up a machine, a condition of things in which the Government here could be completely and absolutely dictatorial if it so desired and control the whole of our industrial and national life.
I tried to make out a list of those State activities which were being carried on in this way without any control by the Oireachtas over the details of their operation, that were being carried on at the behest and direction of a particular Minister. We have Bord na Móna. We have the Irish Tourist Board with its subsidiary companies, with the further tentacles it has put out in the shape of Fáilte Teoranta and the Tráigh Mor Development Company. We have the Dairy Disposals Company set up as a very temporary measure. I bring it in at once at an early stage as I want to make it clear that I am not making a Party attack. The Dairy Disposals Company was set up by the previous Government as a very temporary measure. It has gone on from 1928 to 1940. We have the Irish Sugar Company, Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta. We have the Irish Industrial Alcohol Company and the Minerals Company which has been set up since this present Seanad was elected—set up by the amalgamation of two previous mineral companies. We have Irish Shipping Limited, which was set up for one particular purpose and which branched out from that purpose recently to acquire a majority holding in the Insurance Corporation of Ireland, Limited. We have the Industrial Credit Company. We have Córas Iompair Éireann with the managing director appointed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. We have the Agricultural Credit Corporation, another example of a State or semi-State company. The list goes on—I do not propose to weary the House with it—of company after company in which the State is taking a directive line, in which the Government is in a position, if it so desires, to organise and control through and through and from the top the whole of our national economy, regardless of what Government is in power.
I suggest that this is not a healthy situation. I suggest that it is something that is going to build up a position in which it would be very easy, very easy indeed, for any group to get control of the State in the way that control was obtained in other countries. I want to be perfectly clear that it is the machine which I am objecting to in this discussion: not the operation of the machine. We have, I think, come to the position where we have increasing veneration for the State itself and too little veneration for the individual and the rights of the individual; too much admiration for power for power's sake and too much anxiety and admiration for bigness for bigness' sake particularly if it is in relation to the Tourist Board. There is too much desire to organise and regulate the daily lives of each and every individual and too little recollection that in a free State it is the freedom of the individual that really makes freedom worth while within the State. At some other time, perhaps, I may develop this somewhat in detail, because while we may be told that it is at variance with the Constitution and the collective responsibility of Ministers it is a little bit unfair that I should develop in detail on these lines with the Minister for Finance when it would be more proper that I should direct my remarks to the Tánaiste because it is mostly under the aegis of the Minister for Industry and Commerce that this system has evolved. It is a danger that we will have to face and a danger about which we will have to make up our minds if we are going to get it within proper parliamentary control. There is one thing I want to refer to to-day. It bears to some extent on what Senator Baxter and Senator Duffy have said. One of the things that is really worrying the people in the country, in the rural parts of Ireland, is the continuance of the flight from the land and the manner in which it can be, if not stopped, at least directed, so that it will not be difficult to obtain a proper return from the productivity of our soil.
In many parts of Ireland at the present time people are not sure whether they are going to be able to get adequate labour, at any price, to get in their harvest. They are not sure from where it is going to come and this situation, I frankly think, has arisen to a large extent as a result of the numbers of people leaving the country, going away, coming back on their holidays and coming back perhaps permanently, with a great deal of money to spend and looking for means of spending it in a way that is different from the tradition we have in our rural life. I am not a bit happy as to how the problem can be faced or solved, but I do think it is a problem that we will have to face and see how best we can get across, propaganda if you like, that here in Ireland there should be as good a living for anybody as there can be abroad and we will have to try to see how we can ensure that the people will believe that the "far-off hills" are not always green. If we do not, we are going to find ourselves in the same position as our farmers, if Senator Counihan will allow me, with money in the bank, some of them at any rate, and all of them with their soil vastly decreased in fertility. It is the soil of the land that has been the farmers' real bank in the past and will be his real bank in the future. We are going to find that there is a real dearth of people in rural Ireland and that the words of Goldsmith have as much truth to-day as when he wrote them:—
"Ill fares the land to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay."
I have very little to say. In fact I was not going to speak at all until I heard a statement from Senator Summerfield to the effect that the farmers had guaranteed prices. I want to say at the outset that that statement is entirely wrong. I am afraid that Senator Summerfield does not understand or appreciate the difficulties of farming.
The farmer has not a guarantee that his crops will grow. There is no guarantee for him against losses. I am afraid that no matter what Senator Summerfield may say in this connection, the position of the protected industrialist is in no way comparable to that of the struggling farmer because the farmer, from one end of the year to another, is struggling all the time. He works his land in the interest of the nation and cannot afford to take a holiday because his conscience would not allow him to be away from the farm for the necessary length of time. I am afraid that neither the Government nor a great many other people ever consider seriously the position of the farmers. The farmer is the backbone of the nation. Senator Kingsmill Moore spoke about a gentleman with £2,000 a year. I am not a bit interested in that gentleman with £2,000 a year because without him the nation would carry on but without the farmer the nation would starve. This all leads up to the point I want to raise—the question of the farm labourers. It is terrible to hear people advocating better conditions for people in receipt of £2,000 per year and not a word about men in receipt of £2 per week.
How many men are in receipt of £2,000 a year? And how long would £2,000 a year pay a man £2 a week. This is one point in which the Government of this country has failed to make any progress. I will agree that since the advent of the Fianna Fáil Government many great and useful things have been done, and for these things we give them full credit, but I consider that they have failed on one point.
Where they have failed is on the question of the absence of a proper standard of living for the farm labourer. I am not one of those who will suggest that the farmers have the banks full of money and can well afford to pay more to their labourers—that is an open question. There may be isolated cases of farmers who have a good deal of money in the banks, and there may be other people who have a good deal of money in them, but what I am raising now is the responsibility of the Government to go into the position of the farmer, and if the farmer is not in a position to give his worker a proper wage—I am not saying whether he is or not—it is the responsibility of the Government to see that the labourer receives the wage prescribed for him.
We have a document presented in connection with higher civil servants. Take the case of a farm labourer. Before the war he was in receipt of £1 a week which was considered very bad, but on this document presented by the Minister, the brains of the nation have reduced the farm labourer to 16/8 of his 1914 wage. Is not that correct?
Does anybody think that previous to 1914, 16/8 a week was something that a father and mother could exist on or rear a family? I have said that previously, and I will repeat it now, that I am not pleased with the present Agricultural Wages Board. I would ask the Minister for Finance to have the board scrapped, and to have appointed instead men or persons who will have the interests of the farmers and the interest of the farm labourers at heart as well as the interests of the nation. The future life of the nation depends on that investigation, because I can tell you that if something is not done you will very soon have nobody to work on the land.
At the present time you will not get a young man to go in as a farm labourer, and he is wise. He will tell you that he is wiser than his father was and that if his father was a fool he is not going to be one. Until you get men to tackle that question and produce a solution of it, I am afraid there is not much hope for agriculture. We are called upon to approve an expenditure of £53,000,000 but despite the expenditure of that huge sum, my candid opinion is that we are getting nowhere. If you travel on the train from the west of Ireland, you will find every train full with fine young people leaving this nation. I have often got into a discussion with these people, and they are not fools.
They know they are going to live in a foreign country and to live in practically starvation on the food they will get there, but nevertheless, they say that because they can get no employment in their own home places there is nothing for them but to emigrate. It is a sad state of affairs and in my opinion if any nation day by day allows those fine young men and women, the best in the nation and in the world, to leave it, I say the Government that is responsible has failed, no matter a curse what else they do.
We hear a good deal of talk about tourist development and all that. I do not know if it is a wise policy, and I am not against tourist development, but I do not know if it is a good thing for this nation that 1,000 people should come in as tourists at Dun Laoghaire to spend a fortnight in the country and leave a lot of paper money behind them, when the same boat takes out thousands of our people many of them never to return again.
I do not know if it is sound economy that we should spend part of this £53,000,000 in erecting luxury hotels for those tourists. Would it not be better to set up a commission to explore ways and means of getting employment for our own people in this country, producing real wealth? We have heard a discussion on how much is spent on the Irish language Now, I am in favour of the Irish language and I thank God to be able to say as a father that all my children are native Irish speakers, although I am not one myself. I am an advocate of the Irish language but what is the idea of the Irish language if it is to be of no use to our people?
What good is the Irish language in a factory in Lancashire where our people will not hear very polite English, never mind Irish? I think the Government could well consider now whether they have succeeded or failed. I believe the Fianna Fáil Government has been making a real and honest effort in the direction of progress but they have never got to the real kernel of the problem or considered what is going to be the position if we ever have another emergency. Recently we learned that some of our boys and girls are to be sent to France. Many of our boys and girls who left this country went to another country to make implements which might be used to destroy life, yet here, in this Catholic Christian State, we cannot give them employment which would produce betterment and happiness for them.
The whole system which produces these conditions is wrong. I do not care who is in charge of running the country—the system that allows that to continue is wrong. The peasant proprietor of Connaught who is the backbone of the nation both in the language and in the struggle for Irish freedom is in the position to-day that if we had no restrictions on emigration to foreign countries whole families of farmers would clear out and I am sure that a lot of the cause of it is that they can see one section in this nation too well off while the majority of the people are in poverty.
We have a system in this country which we have inherited from England and in the interests of our own people we must get rid of it. That is my way of looking at it according to the light of intelligence God has given me.
We are shown by these papers that a small section of our people get as much in a year as all the farm labourers in County Meath together. That is entirely wrong. However, I am not going to delay the House on that point, except to say that I appeal to the Minister to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board, as at present constituted, forthwith and to use his influence with the Minister for Agriculture to set up a board that will face a serious position and try to get a solution for it, and if the farmer is not fit to pay, then subsidise him to the extent that he would be fit.
With regard to the teachers' strike, I live convenient to the area in which more children are affected than in any part of the city, Cabra district. The teachers have put up a case which I think is very fair. Nobody should have to depend for his salary on what others do. One is either employed at a wage, or one is not. If a person does not do his best, he should be dismissed, and I appeal to the Minister to urge the Government to meet the teachers before the holidays are over. I hope also that the teachers will see their way to come some distance to meet the Government and that the dispute will be settled. It is hard enough in these built up areas to rear children when the schools are open, but the position is much more difficult when the children are not attending school, and, in the name of these parents who are responsible for these children, I appeal to the Minister to use his influence with the Minister for Education with a view to getting him to meet the teachers. So far as I can gather, there is very little between them. The strike must eventually be settled, and, if the Government think that they are winning a victory in beating the teachers on this matter, they are terribly mistaken, and will find that out later on.
Some Senators said that we can say a lot about this Bill and do very little. I should like to say that what I have to say is rather a mixed grill, and in such cases it might be desirable to offer, as it were, something in the nature of a hors d'æuvre. As a hors d'æuvre, I want to refer to a matter which I mentioned to the Minister on the Appropriation Bill this time 12 months—the matter of stray animals. Senators will say at once that this is a very big come down from the high plane we have been on for most of the evening, but to those living in the country it is rather a serious matter.
I mentioned last year that we had certain animals straying through the town which have defied the whole resources of the Government, the power of the Civic Guards and of the military. That position still holds. Some weeks after I made those remarks here, I got a letter from the Minister for Justice suggesting that there was really no substance in them and that the law was sufficiently powerful to enable the matter to be dealt with finally.
I consulted the local district justice and superintendent, and, after that consultation, it was decided that there was possibly a method of dealing with it under a more modern Act, the Road Traffic Act, than the Act quoted by the Minister.
The position up to the present has been that a fine of 2/- could be imposed. The owners of these animals could afford to pay that fine every week and still make a considerable profit. The result was that the people were persecuted and apparently nothing could be done. One prosecution was taken under the Road Traffic Act, but the curious thing is that the animals two days afterwards were seen parading the streets, and they can be seen parading the streets to-morrow, as if nothing had happened.
We have then cases of people deliberately breaking the locks of gates, sending in their animals in the middle of the night and removing them in the early morning. I had experience of that myself. That indicates a certain state of lawlessness in the country which should be put an end to. One obvious remedy is to increase the number of Civic Guards. The Guards will tell you that they have not got sufficient resources at the moment. If one wants to take action to deal with these cases, it appears that one must, personally or through one's men, lead the animals into the local pound. The Guards say that if the animals are found on private property, they are in no way responsible, and it means a considerable loss, because I understand one may become liable for the upkeep of these animals, and so on.
I ask the Minister to refer the matter again to the Minister for Justice with a view to getting something effective done. One suggested method of dealing with the problem is the provision of a special squad of Guards who could be sent to a particular town. They could stay there for a few days, spotting the cases, and then round up all the animals and owners and teach them a lesson. The squad could then proceed to some other town. That would not involve a permanent increase in the force. I suggest that as a possible way of dealing with the matter.
I have mentioned the word lawlessness, which naturally leads to the remarks made by Senator Hayes and, I think, by Senator O Siocfhradha regarding education. It seems to me that want of education has a good deal to do with this lawlessness which is very obvious in all parts of the country. Senator Hayes mentioned the raising of the school-leaving age. I understand that the Commission on Youth Unemployment will deal with that matter and, judging by his remarks, the Taoiseach is sympathetic to the idea of raising the school-leaving age. I want to suggest that if the educational machinery were used a little more extensively—not merely in the case of youths but in the case of adults —many of the objectionable features we observe throughout the country, including this lawlessness, juvenile delinquency and so on, might possibly be remedied.
Senator Summerfield objected to some of the remarks made with regard to people engaged in manufacturing industry. I do not doubt that, in many cases, the profits made were not unreasonable, having regard to the abnormal economic conditions and the change in the value of money, but there is no doubt in my mind that, even allowing for these considerations, abnormal profits have been made. Only yesterday, I was one of a party travelling in a certain conveyance, and I found that a man who has definitely made an enormous sum of money under the protection of tariffs, and who is now not quite satisfied with that way of making money, is breaking out into the building of dance halls. He has built several already and he will probably go into pictures later on. In local journals, even when paper was severely rationed, one found whole pages of advertisements of dances. That indicates an extraordinary condition, a very demoralised condition, of affairs. We seem to be unable to get beyond that particular form of amusement. I accidentally picked up the recently published book, The City of God, by Saint Augustine, in which he refers to conditions existing in Rome in the third century. I am very much afraid that our conditions are rapidly approaching those in Rome of which he complained so much.
In what way is this connected with our economic system? I suggest that there is gross extravagance in that connection but, on account of that extravagance, wages have to be increased, salaries have to be increased, in order that these extravagances may be indulged. Is that going to improve the country generally? Are we bound to allow it to continue? If I had my way, I would certainly put on a very substantial tax on admission to such places. It is really demoralising to find young boys and girls returning to their homes at two o'clock and three o'clock in the morning. That happens in any town you go to on every night in the week. To my own knowledge these young people return—very often they are domestic servants—at two and three in the morning. Therefore, we have a state of demoralisation. I wonder what is being done by the Minister for Education or by the Government generally about this matter.
We cannot discuss the question of education without considering the unfortunate position that exists at the moment in regard to the teachers' strike. I think it was Senator Duffy who suggested that his Grace the Archbishop should again be brought into the picture and requested to offer his services. Personally, I do not favour that solution. The Government has already turned down that suggestion. My own committee put it up at a very early stage, and put it up again and on each occasion the suggestion was turned down. It has been stated that the teachers are not civil servants and, that being so, the Government is not in the same position in relation to a settlement or to arbitration as they would be if the teachers' status were otherwise. I throw out this suggestion for what it is worth: Since it is not a question of civil servants, I suggest that, say, a small committee, a joint committee of this House and the other House should be set up and be asked to see what they can do in the matter of bringing the teachers and Government together.
I do not ask the Government to step down from its very high pedestal but if such a suggestion were adopted it might possibly lead to a settlement of some kind. The Government, with its resources, can hold out for an indefinite time. The teachers, I believe, could hold out also for an indefinite time because the funds that are supporting the teachers are subscribed by the teachers throughout the country. Thus you have an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. That type of impasse is not in accordance with modern ideas. There is a sort of feudal-like attitude adopted by the Government in this matter and it is certainly not in keeping with the spirit of the times. As an easy way out, I would ask the Minister seriously to consider the suggestion I have made as to the setting up of a joint committee and, if such committee would get in touch with the teachers, it might induce the teachers, perhaps, to modify portion of their demands. We all know the particular portion which is very objectionable from the Government's standpoint. Some compromise like that might possibly result. If the teachers are beaten back, it certainly will leave a mark that will not be effaced for a very long time and such a victory on the part of the Government would not be in conformity with the idea of education.
I want now to refer to the question of Irish that was raised by Senator Hayes and was subsequently spoken to at considerable length by Senator Sugrue. Personally, I do not at all like the subsidising of people to encourage them to speak Irish. It is a very demoralising, degrading thing. It is, undoubtedly, almost a surrender of principle. I do not know that it will do any great amount of good. Two or three years ago, I had occasion to visit Lettermore. A girl from that area was helping to teach my children Irish. We had sent her home on holidays. I met a native of the district and asked him in my elementary Irish did he speak English and he said "No".
I carried on a conversation in Irish for a while and suddenly he forgot himself and said: "Have you a match?" in the very best English. I had another experience not far from that place. My wife and I were trying to get postcards in a certain office. I asked the lady in charge if she knew English and she said "No." After a while she said: "You will get them on that shelf over there." I must have had a very suspicious appearance. To them I must have been something like an inspector and they were afraid that possibly it would get out that they were speaking English although apparently they knew it quite well. The tendency of these things is to encourage people to be somewhat deceitful and I think it is bad in principle.
I have been destructive, perhaps, in my criticism. I like when possible to be constructive also. I am inclined to agree with Senator Hayes when he said that perhaps there was too much attention given to the literary side of the language, grammar and all the rest, and perhaps too little to the spoken language. That is an old theory of mine and, as a matter of fact, I have submitted evidence on those lines to the Commission on Juvenile Employment. With the pressure on the staffs of national schools, the small number of teachers and the large number of grades, they cannot give that attention to the literary side which theoretically is necessary. If less attention were given to that matter and more attention to the oral language, the burden of the teachers would be less and better results would be achieved in a short time than we are getting at present.
Some years ago circumstances obliged me to arrange to reproduce to the extent possible the conditions to be observed in an Irish-speaking district. We had to reproduce in an artificial way that atmosphere and environment. I had been in Tralee some time before that when there was a week being given to all sorts of entertainment. It was an advertising idea. Songs were broadcast. We in Clonmel, if you like, imitated that idea though I can claim that I had thought of something similar long before. Instead of English we had Irish broadcast at all hours of the day and a considerable part of the night. We had the Angelus and Rosary recited in Irish and that was heard all over the town. We had phrases and old proverbs repeated at intervals and I do know that quite a large number of elderly people did pick up these phrases and became interested in the language. We extended the idea into clubs by means of loudspeakers, and so on.
We did not do all that without incurring some difficulties and dangers. We discovered that animals were likely to be frightened and we had one or two complaints about that. It might be of some interest, perhaps, to Senator O'Donovan to learn that a certain psychology of animals was discovered. We found that the songs were quite pleasing to the animals and did not cause any disturbance but that the Irish phrases seemed to have a rather bad effect. That might be due to the want of blás on the part of the person making the broadcast. That was a peculiar thing which we discovered.
When I desired to become a member of this House, one of my ambitions was to introduce a small Bill which would legalise work of that kind. Having got a little bit more experience I found that, not being attached to any big Party, mine was like a voice crying in the wilderness. Many of my proposals came to the ground and I abandoned that idea. If the Minister would think over the matter, he might come to the conclusion that a Bill on these lines would serve a useful purpose. This whole question of Irish is dividing the nation into two different sections, no matter how we look at it. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the place Irish occupies in securing appointments. There is very considerable anxiety about that and, while we render lip-service to the revival, there is a very large body of opinion— perhaps not vocal—which is de-definitely hostile to it. If there were a little broadcasting scheme, somewhat similar to that which I have outlined, in charge of a really capable experienced staff, and if that staff were sent around from town to town, with advance guards to ask the people of the different social grades and different political and religious views to come together in this national work, I think that results would be obtained very much more quickly and that these results would do much to reunite the two parts into which the nation is at present drifting.
I intended to deal with a number of other matters but, as I have spoken at length, I shall deal with only one of them. Returning to this educational theory, I should like to put a suggestion to the Minister which, I think, has already been given effect to a small extent. We have certain dramatic companies which have seasons in the Dublin theatres. These companies go at intervals to different provincial towns. That is a thing which should be encouraged. I know that one of these companies is losing between £2,000 and £3,000 per year and it would be unreasonable to expect that to continue. The company I have just mentioned produces plays in English. I do not see why something similar should not be done in connection with the production of plays in Irish, so as to raise the standard of Irish acting. Anything you do to improve education in one form or another will, of itself, replace or displace something inferior prevalent at the time. There is an old economic theory that you can replace one want by another. There is want of variety and interest on the part of the country people. It should be the duty of the Government to see that that want is satisfied in a way that will improve the character and the conditions of the people generally.
As has been pointed out, the discussion on this Bill can cover a variety of subjects. I propose to deal briefly with some issues of national importance, others of sectional importance and, perhaps, one or two which might be regarded as of personal interest. In this evening's papers, news is given in black type of an invitation to be issued to an agricultural mission from this country to visit England for a thorough talk on meat, butter and eggs. During the entire emergency and, indeed, at all times quite a large supply of those commodities went over to Britain. I am quite satisfied that, when the food situation was as serious in Britain as it is now, the regular supply of those commodities from Ireland was appreciated. It was, I think, during the discussion on the Appropriation Bill last year that Senator Baxter referred to the remarks made by Deputy McGilligan in the other House, as to what steps were being taken by the Government to liquidate the vast amount of sterling assets standing to the credit of this country in Britain. In other words, he wanted to know what was being done to get some return by way of goods which were not being produced in this country or which, if they were being produced, were in short supply. I am aware that, since this time last year, more liberal supplies of coal and petrol have been coming here but there is still quite a big shortage of essential commodities, such as wearing apparel and boots and shoes. If this mission which is to be invited to England reaches a successful settlement with the people on the other side, we shall all be anxious to learn if that will mean that in return for further supplies of essential foods from this country we shall receive merely more paper money. There is quite a large amount of such money in circulation here at present. Its circulation is restricted to certain classes. The result of that restriction is that wage earners who had been accustomed to go with their families to the seaside for an annual holiday are being, more or less, prevented from doing so because they cannot reach the high prices which visitors from across Channel are prepared to pay at these seaside resorts.
I do not wish my remarks to be taken as in any way objecting to those visitors. I do not want to be taken, either, as insinuating that there is any tendency in Great Britain to continue payment in paper for what we send over. But I do hope that the Government will continue to supplement the supply of materials which this country needs and that the supply of those goods will help to liquidate the vast amount of credit which we have in England at present and which is more or less frozen.
Some time ago, there was a Bill before this House which provided for the expenditure of substantial sums of money on the development of the amenities of certain tourist resorts. I regret that it was not possible for me to be present on the occasion. If it had been possible, I should, certainly, have tried to avail of the opportunity afforded to make, at least, an individual protest against the manner in which County Mayo was treated so far as that Bill was concerned.
As many members of this House are aware County Mayo has a variety of health resorts. We have not anything in the nature of Brighton or a Llan-dudno there but there are restful centres patronised by many people from all over the country and which attract many cross-Channel visitors annually. When money was being spent on developing the amenities for such visitors in practically every other centre, even all round Mayo, Mayo was by-passed. In the adjoining county of Sligo £60,000 was allocated to make conditions there more attractive for visitors. County Galway was allocated £46,000 between two centres, Ballina-hinch and Salthill. Bundoran was given £30,000 and Youghal £50,000. These, which are huge sums, will no doubt be spent very wisely in the areas concerned. My only objection is that in a county braced with the broad Atlantic with a variety of woodland, mountain and river scenery and with other attractions which appeal to visitors, no public money was allocated to be spent in developing existing amenities. Extra visitors would be brought to those centres if it were.
I hope it is not alleged or insinuated that the reason why Mayo was bypassed on this particular occasion was that the centres there are incapable of expansion. I do not blame the Minister whose Department is responsible but I blame those who advised him. They certainly are not Mayo-minded.
I wish now to refer to a personal matter, namely, the appalling tragedy that occurred at the Glen of Imaal some years ago, where many members of our National Army suffered loss in life and limb. The dependents of one of those men have been in contact with me for some time regarding the miserly allowance paid by the State. We hear and read eloquent tributes from time to time to the young men who rallied to the country's call during the emergency, men who left lucrative employment and joined the National Army or other services. We would like to feel that no return would be adequate to those who were so patriotic at that particular time when their services were so much needed. But when one of those men was blown to bits in the Glen of Imaal the State considered that £1 3s. 6d. a week was adequate compensation to the widow and three orphans deprived of their breadwinner. With the exception of a trivial gratuity paid some short time after the occurrence, that was considered a sufficient return for the life of one of those men to whom such eloquent tributes have been paid. There may be other cases. Having failed to soften the hearts of the responsible authorities after some correspondence on this matter. I am availing of this opportunity to bring it before the Minister. I can give him further particulars afterwards if necessary. They are with the Department of Defence at present.
In regard to the teachers' strike still at present unsettled in Dublin and as a result of which over 40,000 children are roaming uncontrolled through the streets, Senator Duffy has approached the issue in a detached manner and even if my association with the profession is more intimate I would like to approach it in a similar way and reiterate his remarks and those made earlier by Senator Hayes when the strike had just commenced. I do not wish a situation to develop into one where it can be solved only by a victory of the Government over the teachers or of the teachers over the Government. Something should be done very shortly before tempers get frayed and so bring the dispute to an amicable settlement. That I believe can be done easily. When all is said and done it is not all a matter of finance.
In 1938, 3/- out of every £ towards the public services was paid for education but in 1946 the amount is only ?. Finance is involved to a certain extent but there are other matters. The grading system which has been referred to frequently as a "degrading" system and which has been in operation here for the past 45 years, is one of the flaws which will have to be removed before anything in the nature of peace and ease can be introduced again into the teaching profession.
Senator Duffy remarked this evening that it was convincing testimony of the justice of the teachers' case that the parents in Dublin were asking for a settlement and without equivocation ranging themselves on the side of the teachers. It has been stated—and I have never yet seen it disproved—that the national teachers are responsible for the education of 90 per cent. of the children of Éire and that the national teachers in Dublin are responsible for the education of 90 per cent. of the Dublin children. The fact that the parents who are suffering as a result of the indiscipline which must prevail when children are not at school are prepared to place on record their approval of the fight being made and their endorsement of the claims of teachers for a settlement is the best evidence of the justice of the teachers' claims. It is certainly very peculiar that this Government, like its predecessor, definitely pledged to the Gaelicisation of education should continue to perpetuate a system introduced by Britain 45 years ago as a finance saving device. Britain introduced that system in Scotland but withdrew it after some time; it was in operation in Wales for a short time but they never tried it on their own people. Britain tried it on this country during her time here and since she left it has been continued by two successive native Governments. Through the operation of that particular grading system not more than 33? per cent. of the teaching profession can at any time reach the maximum salary.
Pádraic Pearse in his time referred to the education system of which this grading injustice is one of the worst features, as the "murder machine." Until this particular survival of the murder machine is definitely removed there will be neither peace nor ease in this country, so far as primary education is concerned. I do not like drawing comparisons in this House between the approach made by a Minister in another country with the approach made here to matters in which his particular Department is involved, but I have to refer, to an extent, to an incident which occurred at the last Congress of the National Union of Teachers in England when the Minister for Educatiton there speaking to the teachers at the congress stated during the course of her address: "We have our problems. Let us face them and settle them together." This Government has its problems too and I do not for a moment wish to suggest that education is the most serious problem, but I think it is fair to say that it is high time that this particular problem, this aspect of education, that this trouble that has developed with the teachers, should be faced and that both the Minister and the teachers should come together and try to settle the dispute. It should never have developed along the lines upon which it has developed during the past three or four months. The offer made by the Archbishop of Dublin as mediator is one that should not be lightly turned down. As other Senators stated, even though the State pays the teachers in the vast majority of the schools, the appointments are made by the managers and there is no doubt about it that both the managers in Dublin and the Managers' Association throughout Ireland have made no secret of the fact that they deplore the present struggle being carried on to the extent that it is and no effort being made to bring it to a termination. If the intention is to carry on and refuse to accept mediation or refuse to have the question submitted to a body that would be competent to give impartial findings in the matter, the fight, I am afraid, will go on. I do know that many teachers who, at the beginning, never favoured strike action and many who even voted against strike action are now even more determined than those who actually favoured the strike, that the fight must go on to a finish.
Nothing has been done up to the present that the teachers have any need to regret. There have been no incidents in connection with it and we hope there will not be any. Considering the facilities that exist for a settlement I think it is high time for the Minister for Education and the Government to agree to have the matter reopened. Senator Duffy pointed out that in legislation that is at present passing through the other House and that will come before us shortly an effort is being made by the Government to prevent strikes that would be certain to occur when the emergency is declared over and when the standstill wages Order goes by the board. I am quite satisfied that the Government is sincere in introducing this machinery and I am equally satisfied that they are pleased with the reception this particular measure got during the debate on the Second Stage, and with the very favourable Press it has got throughout the country, but I do say that while the Government stands adamantly against effecting any settlement with the teachers and that while no machinery is to be established by this legislation to give teachers, civil servants and employees of local authorities or agricultural labourers, an opportunity of submitting their grievances regarding wages or conditions of labour to mediation or arbitration the Government's sincerity to avert strikes is certainly open to doubt and will remain open to doubt until they put their own house in order.
After this long and rather wearisome debate I do not expect anybody to listen to me without considerable impatience but I hope to be very brief. There are one or two matters that I must talk about. The word "priority" is used a lot in these days of scarcities. I wish to put a high priority on one matter and that is the danger of a rise in prices. I think it is a very real danger and the main sufferers are going to be the people with moderate incomes, the salary classes and people living on fixed incomes from investments.
I know some of them are not regarded with very much popularity in the modern political world but they are citizens and they are bearing a very heavy burden and may have to bear heavier burdens and they are worthy of very careful consideration. While it might be an exaggeration to refer to the price-fixing machinery as we saw it during the emergency as being a complete failure, it certainly was a very substantial failure. At a very modest calculation I would say that £40,000,000 has been taken out of the consumers in profits made by corporations alone over pre-war figures. There have been, of course, very considerable profits made also by individuals, manufacturers and distributors and there has been a very considerable measure of profit made by the agricultural community. I do not want to reopen this matter now but I do feel that the Government should have very close regard to the necessity of at least pegging the price level where it is to-day. It is far too high already. There is very considerable anxiety. If, in the future, corporations profits tax is going to be removed it will take the Government all it can do to prevent the very dangerous trend of prices rising and inflation. How it can be done is another matter, one that I do not intend to go into now—how the Government is to prevent these high prices being made in a time of scarcity while supplies in any substantial quantities seem very remote. I want to say a few words too about Senator Baxter's speech. To my mind he led to no conclusion whatever. He accused the Government of a lack of policy in regard to agriculture. But what did the Senator want. The only logical conclusion that I could draw was one which he would not accept himself and that was that the land should be nationalised and something in the nature of collective farming introduced. So long as the farmers are allowed to own their land and remain free to work it anyway they want, I think you must expect slow development in agricultural technique.
These small holdings make for limited production. If we want to get full production let us collectivise the land, take machinery and bring factory methods to the land, altering the whole method of agricultural production as we know it, but I do not think Senator Baxter would be the first person to face a social economy under those circumstances. Finally, I want to say how strongly I support the remarks made by Senator Sweetman. I think that some inquiry should be made into this dangerous tendency to remove large bodies of Government spending from Parliamentary control. That inquiry in my opinion is long overdue, because there is a growing danger which the Government should resolutely examine in the near future.
The Minister and Sir John Keane have shown exemplary patience in listening to what has been a rather wearisome and not very useful and unreal debate. It was not up to the usual level of this House. A lot of the speakers did not mean to be real. Senator Sweetman always reminds me of the mischievous small boy with the sling, whose favourite recreation is to throw chunks of reports of commissions around the debate and to try to embarrass the Minister with them. I feel he does not mean to be taken seriously.
He talked about the important necessity of employment and the need for the development of our resources. I would ask Senator Sweetman how he could suggest any means of developing our bogs other than through the methods adopted by the establishment of Bord na Móna, and so it is with a great many of the boards that have come under the castigation of Senator Sweetman. I do not propose to weary the Minister or the House with a long dissertation on general policy. There are two or three Votes to which I would like to refer.
The first is Vote No. 26, Grants for Universities and Colleges, £190,130. The value of this Vote and I am sure Senator Hayes will agree with me, is largely lost by the conditions under which students are living. It is a question of very vital importance. Students from the country have difficulty in getting suitable places to stay. I think there should be some extension of the Vote to secure university halls and if necessary a further grant should be made for that purpose to university authorities.
I have often thought that in Galway it would be a splendid way for advancing the Irish language if there was a university hall where the students would speak Irish only. They could speak Irish under a Gasra. So far as the girls are concerned I feel quite sure that the nuns would make appropriate arrangements.
The next Vote I am interested in is No. 41, in so far as it is connected with hospitals and the conditions of nurses. Our position regarding nurses is becoming a serious one. The pay in England and the conditions under which they work there are inducing them to leave the country in large numbers, and the position is so really alarming that something must be done about it. I would advocate a pension scheme for nurses. I do not know if the Government can do very much more than it has done. I have been interested in the question of pensions for nurses for quite a long time and the co-operation of the nursing associations was not always forthcoming, but we must face the fact that something must be done if we are not to lose the services of our nurses.
The next Vote I am interested in is No. 46 which deals with superannuation of school teachers, and I plead once more with the Minister to consider the case of the old pensioned teachers whose salaries were appallingly small and whose pensions do not keep them up to an existence level. I know there is great apathy about pensions but I feel that a special case can be made for these old teachers who served the people well in the past and who are now reduced to dire poverty.
The question of raising the school age has been mentioned, and I hope the Government will give it serious attention, and if it is done in the case of girls I hope the concluding years will centre largely around domestic training. One can imagine the immense capital value to this country which would follow the giving of a thorough course in domestic training to all our girls. They would be trained to make the most of the money coming into the house, to provide proper food for their husbands and children. That I feel would add enormously to the happiness of the homes in the country.
We are always hearing about the condition of the farmers. Where would the farmers be if the girls are not trained to be farmers' wives? I am tired talking about this but I mention it again because I feel it is most important. You cannot make progress until you realise the important part the woman has to play on the farm. Not only has she to deal with the traditional eggs and butter, but she has to watch all the details of the household management. If we give the kind of education that takes girls away from an interest in the farm into schools where they are taught typing and shorthand to train them to look out for jobs in offices, it is going to be a very serious matter for the country. Women must be trained for what is their natural vocation and if one is trained for whatever work is to be done, one's happiness is greatly increased by knowing how to do the job efficiently. I think it would be money well spent if we raised the school-leaving age, and in the last year I would urge for girls that they would be largely trained in domestic activity.
I hope I will be the last speaker in this debate and not the least effective in raising some points of importance for the Minister for Finance. I would like to refer, first of all, to Vote 24, and to congratulate the Minister for Finance on the increase in this grant. This Vote deals with the increase in the grant for local authorities for the relief of rates on agricultural land and provides £1,270,989. I think that is a magnificent gesture towards the agricultural community for the year to come, but on the other hand there is just a fear in my mind that it is in anticipation of falling prices and failing opportunities. I hope I am wrong in the second part of that interpretation.
The other Vote relevant to agriculture is No. 29 and there is also No. 30. Vote No. 29 deals with the salaries of the Minister for Agriculture and the officers of the Department. It provides £978,000, and mind you, there is an Appropriation-in-Aid of £268,829 which reduces the expenses of the supply granted by that amount.
That is a very small sum for the Department of Agriculture and its various activities compared with the Votes for other Departments. A sum of £950,000 is provided for agricultural produce subsidies in Vote 30. I refer to that Vote because it was mentioned here that no subsidies were paid to agriculture. There is definitely £950,000 in the Estimates for that purpose, but that amount, though it might be adequate for this year, I fear, for the years to come, may be very inadequate. For a country which is mainly agricultural, these two Votes are inadequate and should be increased.
My subsequent remarks will be addressed to the items which would probably involve greater expenditure on the agricultural industry but which would tend immensely to increase productivity in that industry and to reduce the expense of that productivity. I refer to the matter which I raised the other day when the Minister for Local Government was here and which he said was not a matter primarily for his Department but for the Department of Agriculture. The Committee on Post-Emergency Agricultural Policy made four reports. The first dealt with the dairying industry, and something has already been done towards implementing the recommendations in that respect. The second report dealt with the poultry industry in respect of which I do not think that anything in particular has been done up to the present.
The third report dealt with veterinary services and nothing whatever has been done to implement the recommendations in that regard. I want to stress that, in my view and in the view of members of our profession, there is an immense field of progress waiting, so to speak, to be tilled by the proper application of veterinary science. Greater expenditure on behalf of the agricultural community in this respect is required, and my ideal would be a greater number of veterinary surgeons at the disposal of the farming community for the amelioration of their difficulties in the matter of livestock diseases and a greater number of agricultural instructors to co-operate with them, so that the two aspects of agriculture would be dealt with.
By means of these two services, we can unquestionably improve the productivity of our land and enhance the total wealth of the country, with resultant relief to the whole economy of the country. It is the one outstanding matter in respect to which greater productivity at lesser cost can be secured. The Minister who is here has his finger in the pie with regard to all these matters, and, speaking on behalf of the veterinary profession, I want to stress that we are disappointed that something has not been done long before now to implement that report.
The fourth report of this committee which was comprehensive has been implemented to some extent recently by the Minister for Agriculture and his proposals have been outlined in the White Paper circulated to us. I do not want to deal in detail with the recommendations of that committee, but I want to refer to the fact that a sum of £7,000 was voted last year for a Research Institute and no suitable farm was obtained. A sum of £12,000 is being voted this year, and, so far, nothing has been done with regard to securing a suitable farm. It may be said that a suitable farm has not been on the market or available, but one year has passed and the second is passing, without any satisfactory result.
I believe that too much stress is laid on this matter of veterinary research. What we want is to bring veterinary services to every member of the farming community. With the facilities available, even without the new research laboratory, much could be done, and satisfactorily done, by ordinary routine methods towards helping the farmer to eliminate disease from his livestock. There is no doubt that many of these diseases could be greatly reduced and ultimately eliminated.
Many epizootic infections have been cleared out of the country and we are now practically the cleanest country in the world in that respect. There are, however, other diseases which cause great hardship to farmers, and the implementation of these recommendations with regard to veterinary services would be of the greatest economic importance not only to the farming community but to every citizen.
We have had a discussion as between farmers and industrialists. The Vote for the Department of Industry and Commerce is far in excess of that for the Department of Agriculture. That might not mean that subsidies are granted through that Vote, but, at the same time, the activities of the Department of Industry and Commerce are necessitated by the industrial activity which has been pushed forward and undoubtedly much of the expense has been caused by this increased industrial activity. That Vote, amounting to £4,877,700, is enormously large compared with the Vote for Agriculture, and I want to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that the Vote for Agriculture, including subsidies towards agricultural production, is very small compared with the Votes which we are called on to pass for other Departments.
I do not wish to refer to matters which have been spoken to by other Senators, but I do want to make one remark relative to the repetition of the observations in regard to the difficulties of Dublin children during the teachers' strike. It is obvious to my mind that Dublin was chosen as the venue for the teachers' strike because there were so many children who would be affected by it in Dublin and that, naturally, the parents of those children would be greatly perturbed by the strike which caused their children to be kept at home or on the streets. The development of the argument now is not so much on behalf of the Dublin children but more to implement the weapon which was chosen by the teachers when they took Dublin City for the venue of the strike. It has not been said by anybody here this evening—most of the speakers referred to the strike from the point of view that the Government should do something, that the Government should do this or that—but I think the Government can do nothing so far as the financial question is concerned. Senator Ruane, as a matter of fact, referred to the fact that there was more than finance in it. My suggestion to the Senators who have spoken along the lines I have indicated would be to advise the teachers not to continue the strike on the question of finances but to appeal to the Government to treat with them on the other matters which they now seem to emphasise so strongly in connection with the dispute. In dealing with the matter on that line, I hope some progress will be made. I cannot see that there is any purpose served by sitting here and brow-beating the Government and suggesting that they should make some approaches when we are satisfied that no approach can be made as far as the question of finance is concerned. Other important matters can be dealt with in connection with the controversy and I think we could wisely make a recommendation that, in relation to the secondary matters, we ask and hope that the teachers could resume their magnificent calling and, as quickly as possible, forget the dispute that has been so disastrous for the Dublin children, certainly from what we have heard here this evening.
I again emphasise that it is a very important national matter, a matter for the Government, that the Department of Local Government and the Department of Agriculture should resolve their difficulties in connection with the post-war planning for veterinary services and that the report would be implemented, to the benefit of the community, as quickly as possible.
It is now almost 9.35 and the Minister may not have finished by ten o'clock. I suggest that the Minister should be allowed to conclude, no matter what time it may take, and that all stages of the Bill be given this evening.
We have no objection.
Agreed to take Committee and remaining stages to-day.
In regard to a number of the matters that have been raised here, I could not possibly give an authoritative reply on behalf of the Ministers concerned. All I can do is to bring to the attention of these Ministers the matters raised here which affect their Departments. There were, however, a couple of very large matters raised on which I propose to comment. Senator Hayes raised as a major issue on this debate the whole question of the State policy in regard to the Irish language, in regard to the Gaeltacht and the preservation of Irish as the spoken language in the Gaeltacht. The second question was how best to promote the speaking of Irish throughout the land. I agree with An Seabhac and with An Seanadóir Ua Buachalla in advising Senator Hayes not to lose hope in this matter. Senator Hayes, naturally, as a teacher and desirous of seeking quick results, and I am sure, having seen them under his guidance, wants to see the nation as a unit make the same progress as individuals under his control and guidance make at school or college. We cannot expect those quick results in regard to a whole nation. There is a big difference. We will have to use some factor of multiplication when we are calculating the years in which we might reasonably expect the individual nation to make progress and comparing it with the number of years in which an individual can make progress in the acquisition of a language. I know a certain lady who always says about a dog that is 10 years old that the dog is 70 years old. That is, that one year of a dog's life is equal to seven in the life of a human being. In this matter of education it may be that three, four or five years in the life of a nation is equal to one year in the life of an individual, that an individual can acquire a language in one-fifth or one-fourth of the time it would take a nation to do it. Looking back on my youth and comparing the opportunities for learning the language that exist to-day with the opportunities that then existed, comparing the ability of the people to speak the language and comparing the opportunities now and the opportunities then, I am not only not without hope but I am completely full of hope that we can do the job in a reasonable time, that is, if we take into consideration that the whole nation has to be moved and that it is much more difficult to give or to restore a language to a nation than it is in the case of a willing individual.
It was with the hope of helping the survival of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht until the nation as a whole could speak the language that the additional grant has been given for those children in the Gaeltacht in respect of whom it can be proved that they use the language as their native language. That in itself would not save the Gaeltacht and would not save the Irish language and nobody has put it forward on that basis. It is one of the little helps. We hope that, with all that is being done for the preservation of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht and with what is being done outside the Gaeltacht to promote the speaking of the Irish language, that Irish will be restored as the spoken language of the people within a reasonable period of time.
In a couple of years more—five years by my calculation—about two-thirds of the people who will then be alive here, unless an atomic bomb hits us, will have learned Irish at school. I believe that if two-thirds of the people learn sufficient of the language to be able to do their ordinary business, if pushed, through the medium of the language, they will, if they feel that it is a patriotic duty for them so to do, have the facility of making Irish generally spoken throughout the country. One of the most important requirements for the restoration of Irish in the Galltacht is that there should be a public service ready and willing to use Irish as the official language. That state of affairs is very rapidly approaching completion. Senator O Buachalla spoke about some examinations at which it was thought the candidates could not use Irish as the medium of the examinations. In all the general service grades—there might be an exception in the case of an interview in relation to a particular post—any candidate who wishes to do the whole examination, with the exception of English, through the medium of Irish, can do so.
Including the interview?
A case came under my notice recently in which a question was raised regarding the interview. The particular board selected to do the interviewing would not be capable of judging the standard of the candidates if they used Irish as their language and, in order to meet the wishes of a particular candidate, the interview was carried on by interpretation. It is not always possible, in setting up boards, to ensure that the members will be able to carry out the work through the medium of the Irish language but, if a candidate wants that done, it will be done. We are rapidly reaching the time when all civil servants will be able to do their work through the medium of Irish. At present, there is no excuse for anybody failing to do his work with the Civil Service through the medium of Irish. There is a sufficient number of civil servants capable of dealing with any matter as efficiently in Irish as they could deal with it in English. I invite those who are interested in the promotion of Irish as the spoken and written language of the land—I hope that is the vast majority of the people —to use Irish in writing or speaking to members of the Civil Service. The Civil Service machine is ready to do its work through the medium of Irish. Naturally, there are a few older men who could not be expected to have a very good grasp of Irish but the younger men coming up know it very well, indeed.
"An Seabhac" suggested that, as a beginning, we should see that some Department did all its work through the medium of Irish. I see very practical objections to that. After all, the people who do not know Irish are entitled to get service and, if the Department of Education, dealing with a number of individuals throughout the country, insisted on using the Irish language at all times, some people who do not know Irish would be put to very grave inconvenience. What we have done in that regard is much more practical. In every Department of the State, there has been organised a section which does all its work, between themselves, through the medium of Irish. Before I leave that, I want to say that I hope the public will, from now on, make increasing use of the Irish language in dealing with the Civil Service. Even if the public do not write to them in Irish, civil servants will, I hope, continue to use Irish as the medium of their work. But it would be much more natural and beneficial in every way if civil servants who, like many of us, are interested in seeing Irish revived as the spoken language, were to receive letters in Irish and if people were to speak to them on the phone in Irish.
Another device is used to promote Irish in the Civil Service. It is not sufficient for a person to come in with a knowledge of Irish. If he does not use his knowledge, particularly during the few years after leaving school, it may be forgotten. There is a system of barriers to promotion unless candidates who entered the Civil Service with a knowledge of Irish can prove that, after so many years' service, they are able to do their ordinary Departmental work through the medium of Irish. That is the best test I know. In reply to Senator Hayes, I should say that there is no way of doing anything in a way which, everybody will agree, is the perfect way. Between the Governments, the teachers, the parents and the pupils, we have done a large amount of work in bringing forward Irish, which was dying fast, to the stage at which it is to-day. I can only judge from my own experience. In the town I know best, Dundalk, if you address any young person on the streets—particularly the boys—over eight years of age, they can carry on a conversation almost as naturally in Irish as in English. I have tried it out. It might be said that that was due to the number of A schools there, where Irish is used as the medium of instruction. Very often I try Irish on youngsters I meet throughout the country—and I do a fair bit of going around—and I always find that, when you get over their initial shyness, common to children whether English speaking or Irish speaking, when a stranger addresses them you find they would not go hungry or get lost for want of Irish.
If we continue, even along the present lines, I feel that we will reach the stage, in the next five years, when Irish can be used generally as the medium of communication between the people. One of the things we are a bit shy of— particularly as we grow a bit older and especially if we think ourselves important—is that we do not like to use a language if we make grammatical mistakes or mistakes in pronunciation. However, this generation will have to make that sacrifice if Irish is to be promoted. We will have to go back along the road our forefathers travelled when English was being introduced. It is not quite 100 years since the English that two-thirds of the people had was broken English that they learned at school. They were encouraged to speak English and eventually they have reached the stage where the people here speak as good English as in any other country in which English is spoken. If we are filled with hope and with the determination that we are going to do the job, it can be done. Within a normal period—if there is any norm in relation to such an abnormal thing as we are trying to do, the restoration of a language in a country in which it was almost dead—such a task can be accomplished. We can do it and, with the help of God, we will do it.
Senator Hayes said that the school-leaving age should be increased as quickly as possible. As he knows, the Government made an exploratory beginning in Cork on this matter. There are two sides to the question—the educational side and the economic side of the parents who want their children to be of some little help to them at 14 years of age. It would be a very expensive proceeding, for one thing, and a lot of people might say the State was interfering a little bit too much with the freedom of the individual by compelling them to continue up to 16 years of age. That is a good argument for a Minister for Finance to find.
There is, however, the fact that we do not put the children away from school. My advice to parents throughout the country, if they can do without the children's help on the farm or without the few shillings they would earn per week, is to keep them at school at least until they are 16. I am glad to say that the majority of parents are doing that and I hope the rest will do so even without compulsion on the part of the State.
Senator Ó Siocfhradha spoke of being generous to the school teachers and Senator Hayes said that every effort should be made to end the teachers' strike, without the teachers being humiliated. If there is one thing we do not want to do, it is to humiliate the teachers. We really went beyond the beyonds in making them an offer so that we could have a settlement with them. We made them an offer which we hoped they would accept willingly, as a sure sign of the goodwill of the Government towards them and to their profession. The Government and the State as a whole has been very tight with public funds during this war. It was generally agreed throughout the country that the best national policy was to hold down salaries and wages as tightly as possible, so that we might not face the need for deflation after the war of the expanded salaries and wages. Notwithstanding the fact that we hope salaries and wages will not rise any higher than the point they have reached at the moment, the Government took the decision to make what was indeed a very generous offer to the national teachers. Some of their salaries would go up by well over 60 per cent.—though not the whole of them, I admit. That was in the case of married teachers. We introduced, for the first time in relation to national teachers, the scheme of giving a married man a rather handsome allowance per year.
Immediately before the strike, the teachers asked the Government for its last word and the Government, after examining the question again, gave its last word. It was not its first word, remember. As far as I remember, the offer had been increased twice and finally when the teachers said to the Government "what is your last word?" we gave them our last word. We gave our final word as to what we thought it was right for us to ask the people to subscribe for the services of national education, annually, for the next three years. We indicated what in the Government's judgment it was right that the people should be asked to pay: that we were prepared to pay this for the next three years and that then it could be reargued whether, if the people could afford to pay more, it was to be assumed that they would pay more and if they could only pay less they would pay less. We said that we, as a Government, in order to get the goodwill of the teachers were prepared to make this offer to come into operation on the 1st September this year and the only doubt that I ever had about it was that we were taking a risk in starting a movement for increases in salaries which, if applied generally, the nation could not afford. I say to the Seanad that we were generous in the offer and that the people of this country are prepared to be generous to the national teachers. But we cannot afford to be over generous to anyone.
It is simply foolishness to be overgenerous because a man who is overgenerous very soon comes to the end of his tether, and if the State is over-generous, it, too, would come to the end of its tether. When all is said and done all we can do as a State, as a Government, as an Oireachtas, is to distribute, as best we can, the commodities and services that are in existence within the State and that can be purchased for other commodities and services sold abroad. If we give to the school teachers a bigger share somebody is going to go short; if we give to the farmers a bigger share somebody else is going to do with less; if we give to the higher civil servants increases, big increases, other portions of the community will have to get less. If we gave increases to the industrialists the rest of the community would have to do with less. We can only distribute what we can produce and what we can earn on foot of our sales and investments abroad. If we attempt to distribute more we must distribute our capital or go into debt. I think that would be a bad course, particularly at the present time. I do not mind spending a bit of capital if, by it, we could hope to improve our own lot or the lot of our children in the future. We could go on a spending spree for a few years if we followed out logically the arguments of some of our critics who would have us do so. We have £200,000,000 or £300,000,000 invested abroad and we could have a good time on it. Theoretically, we could do this, but we could not do it actually, at the moment, because of the world shortage of supplies. But if the goods were available and there was a free market we could very quickly get rid of, say, £300,000,000 or £400,000,000. We could also do it by using the capital we have at home. That would be another way. We could sell assets to foreigners here but some of the people who object very strongly to our having assets abroad would not want us to sell assets here. They would not let a foreigner in here at all.
I want to come back now to this particular point. We were generous to the teachers. We made them a very generous offer and I would like to say in relation to what Senator Duffy said that I do not want the teachers "to go back with a hatred of the system that forced them into the present situation". The system that, I think, forced them into the present situation, if I may be allowed to say so, was the bad organisation, internal organisation or structure, or the rules of the teachers' organisation itself. I do not know any other organisation that would have called a strike on the votes of less than the majority of the total members. Most organisations insist on having, on an issue of this kind, a vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the organisation in its favour. Immediately the strike was called a first notice was issued by the teachers' organisation. I remember seeing it in the paper. It was an advertisement comparing the rates of pay here with the rates of pay for teachers in Northern Ireland. The Minister for Education answered that. I had the figures prepared and I gave them to him and he pointed out shortly afterwards that in comparing the normal rates of pay in the North with the offered rates here and in saying that the offered scales were disadvantageous to the teachers here, they were leaving out a very vital factor and that was the proportion of these salaries the teachers had to spend on themselves.
It would be very easy for me as Minister to give out £10,000 if I got £9,999 back in tax, and it would be very easy for us to pay as big salaries as Northern Ireland if we got the same sum back in income-tax. The Minister for Education had to point out that taking income-tax and pension deductions into account here and in Northern Ireland—there is no pension deduction here now—and comparing the residual salaries with those in Northern Ireland after pension deductions of 5 per cent. and income-tax is paid, the teachers here, as a body, were better off and some of the married men very much better off, indeed.
Now, the teachers took the ballot on the plea that they were being worse treated, and they were so sure of that that they came out with advertisements a few days afterwards to tell the world that they were worse treated than the people in the North of Ireland. They have not made that plea since the fallacy of the argument was pointed out but the argument was put out through the country in order to get the strike going and I think that when everybody is saying to the Government that they should reconsider the situation, is it not time that the teachers themselves would reconsider the reasons upon which they based the strike? Should they not reconsider if the conditions upon which they based the strike existed after the Budget? They had the opportunity of doing that when income-tax was lowered. When the Budget increased their effective salaries greatly they had time to have another look at the situation, see their effective salaries and see how well off they were compared with other sections of the community.
I hope the teachers will be reasonable enough to see that they cannot go on in this present situation, that it would not be fair, for instance, to sacrifice the children in order to fight the Government in this regard. They might examine whether they should continue to sacrifice one small group of children in the whole country. After all, have not the Dublin children been sacrificed long enough, for two or three months? Why should not the teachers try some other part of the country and give the Dublin children a chance? They should not be making Dublin children give all the sacrifice.
That is too clever.
Another point on which I would make an appeal to them is this —that they are being unreasonably generous to the Minister for Finance. The Minister for Finance is saving £1,000 per day by their non-acceptance of the offer made to them and if they want to get a really good blow at him they should meet and reconsider the situation and take the money that has been offered to them now.
Would the Minister discuss grading after they had taken the money?
I do not think the Minister for Education has ever refused to discuss anything with the teachers at any time, and I do not think there is a Government in the world—we may, for political purposes and between ourselves occasionally call each other dictators or would-be dictators—but there is no Government in the world as accessible to individuals and groups as this Government.
Some Senators are saying "hear, hear" but the "hear, hears" are all on the one side of the House. That is not fair.
It is the truth of the matter and I concede this safely to the Minister for Education that never at any time has he refused to discuss any matter when the teachers said they wanted to see him, and indeed I do not think that any Minister has refused to see an important group or representatives of an important group representing either the workers or employers. I think the spokesmen of the trade unions would have that to say about the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Although he is a very busy man, he has at all times seen groups of trade unionists and manufacturers and, certainly, the Minister for Agriculture is never out to groups of farmers or even to an individual farmer if he has anything useful to say.
Could the Minister say that if the teachers were to reconsider their position that the whole problem might be discussed de novo on resuming teaching without compromising anything?
I am not going to promise the Senator anything. I again say in relation to this business that the situation has been in the past that the Minister for Education has never refused to see the teachers' representatives when they have asked to see him and I do not think if the teachers accepted the offer and went back and resumed their teaching that there would be any change in that regard.
If the teachers went back in the morning we would have to have an Act of Parliament to restore their pensions. It had to be pointed out to the teachers that one of the things they were doing by going on strike was that they were breaking their contract and I think they made arrangements even in Dublin that certain of the teachers who were nearing the completion of their years' services, were allowed to keep on teaching because they knew that if those individuals went out they were breaking their contract and the continuity of their service for pension purposes. If the teachers came back and the Government agreed we would have to restore their pension rights, but I do not think that the Government would make any particular difficulty about that. Of course, they would have to ask the Dáil to agree.
I want to get on to a couple of other matters because it is getting rather late. I would like to deal with the points raised by Senator Johnston about the higher civil servants. I think civil servants as a whole are reasonably remunerated by the people. The higher civil servants get a reasonable salary in relation to the rest of the community and the figures Senator Johnston gave about the number of civil servants who have over £550 a year are not quite accurate. He said there were only 600. In fact there are 2,017, when you take the bonus into account. He said there were only 100 civil servants getting over £1,000 a year. There are 214 getting over that figure.
In addition to the normal basic salary, a civil servant gets a bonus on the sliding scale normally and although the slide upwards was stopped, they got an additional emergency bonus during the war. I am quite prepared to admit that the emergency bonus did not mean as much to the higher civil servant as it did to the lower. Some of the very lowest civil servants on the lowest end of the scale with £100 basic salary got almost 50 per cent. of an increase on their salaries during the war. The higher civil servants got nothing like that, because 15/- would be a small percentage of £500 or £1,000. In addition to his salary, the civil servant, if he looks after his job at all, has almost automatic promotion. Civil servants have a good pension arrangement. They have annual sick leave and special leave on a very generous scale compared with the rest of the population. They work relatively short hours. They work only five-and-a-half days a week and they have short hours while working. They work under fairly comfortable conditions. Some of the Government offices might very well be improved, but civil servants work under reasonably comfortable conditions, and they have security of tenure. They are not afraid from day to day that the firm may close down and they may find themselves on the road looking for a job, with a houseful of children to keep and nothing to keep them with. On the whole, civil servants, both higher and lower, are getting a reasonable standard of living from our community, and this recent method of trying to secure a higher standard for the professional classes as a group would, I think, have very bad results, if it went too far.
There are members of certain professions who were on a sort of fixed salary for the last 20 years—some of them for 30 years—and through time these salaries should, I think, be adjusted in order to pay the men who have taken up these professions for the skill and responsibility which they undertook and which Senator Kings-mill Moore stressed; but those who have skill and experience and a certain amount of education must remember that a small group cannot combine as a professional class and beat the rest of the community. They may hurt it very severely. There is no doubt that modern life is so complex and interlocked that a small group of professional or skilled people can inflict very grave injury on the rest of the community, if they want to do so. We had an instance quite recently of a few sugar cooks holding up the entire production of sugar for the community and a few professional men in key positions could hold up the community, if they wanted selfishly to promote their own interests, irrespective of whether it suited the rest of the community or not.
I hope that neither the Civil Service nor the professional classes—teachers or anybody else—will make use of their organisations to promote their own interests, without having some regard for the interests of the rest of the community and that the teachers who want increased salaries will take into account the ability of the parents, who have children to feed and clothe, to subscribe to those salaries, for that is what parents are doing through State funds. The Government is not giving out of its own pocket to the teachers. It can only give to the teachers what it takes out of somebody else's pocket.
Senator Baxter made a speech which was very interesting. I suppose it was quite in order, in view of the fact that we are asking for money for the Department of Agriculture, and his suggestions will be brought to the attention of the Minister for Agriculture.
We never get him here. That is why I made it to you.
Talk to Senator Counihan. He will bring him here any day.
I do not think Senator Johnston's suggestion about the county committees of agriculture owning all the machinery would be a good idea. I think the co-operative society should do that job and they do it, very largely, in parts of the country. With regard to his suggestion about water for farms, the Government is quite prepared to give county councils assistance all the time for the extension of water schemes and I wish we had a system whereby water would be on tap on these farms.
The Minister should not misrepresent Senator Johnston. He spoke of water for dairy cows.
I know, but I should like to give it to every farm, if I could.
The more water, the more milk, he said.
I do not agree with Senator Counihan. There is no use in talking about the farmers not having made extra profits. There is no use trying to "cod" the people. He cannot "cod" the majority because the majority are farmers, and I would say that the best thing farmers could do with the money they have saved is to put it into their land. They will get more than 1 per cent. on it, I hope.
With regard to the Agricultural Credit Corporation to which he referred, I shall have a Bill before the Oireachtas in the autumn making further provision in relation to that body. Already the Agricultural Credit Corporation have paid off half a million pounds of the 5 per cent. stock outstanding. They have still another £200,000 which they propose to convert to a lower figure. The £500,000 5 per cent. stock was changed to 3 per cent.
I dealt already with this question of exchange and parity with sterling. I should like Senator Duffy to tell me what he wants to do, or what I am to tell the Bank of Ireland to pay in the morning for a British note—whether to pay 19/- Irish or 21/- Irish. He can get up here and tell the Minister to leave it fluid, but the person who has an Irish pound and wants British money for it and who, to-morrow morning, goes into the Central Bank or into one of the commercial banks wants to know how many British shillings he will get for it. I cannot get around that. If he is prepared to make a proposition that the person going into the Bank of Ireland to-morrow morning with an Irish pound should get 19/-British or 21/- British, I am prepared to discuss that question and its ramifications with him.
My suggestion was to allow the British £ to find its own level.
What is the level to be to-morrow morning? The people of the country are entitled to know to-morrow morning how much they will get. As the Senator is prepared to hold me responsible for parity or the exchange rate, I want him to advise me what he wants me to declare the £ to be worth to-morrow morning, when he has made up his mind on it. The other question that the Senator puts forward seems to me to apply more to exchange control than to exchange terms. He wants to prevent British money coming in here to buy goods or to buy land. That is exchange control because, supposing we made our £ worth two British pounds or 10/- to-morrow morning, whatever way you like, the British person who wanted to invest money here could still come in.
Senator Sir John Keane raised the price level question again. I think price level for the last two or three years has remained fairly steady and has gone down. It is lower than it was in December, 1943. I am hoping that, as time goes on, the situation will be improved. Senator Mrs. Concannon made a very good suggestion which I will pass on to the Minister for Education, in regard to the student halls. I doubt whether you could make the speaking of Irish a condition of residence in the hall. I do not know that such a rule would be effective. Senator O'Donovan is interested in agriculture and I will pass on his suggestion to the Minister for Agriculture.
I take it the first business to-morrow will be the Finance business, the Continuation of Compensation Schemes Bill?
May I inquire whether the Resolution on the Order Paper, No. 3, will be taken to-morrow as part of the Finance business?
I hope so. I do not think the Minister for Industry and Commerce will be able to get here to-morrow. So, we can take that business.
We will have the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to-morrow.
I do not want to interfere with the Minister for Local Government.
The Bills will have to get precedence to-morrow.
The Seanad adjourned at 10.35 p.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday, 10th July, 1946.