Summer Time Order, 1949—Motion.

On behalf of Senator M. Hayes, I move:—

That Seanad Eireann hereby approves of the Summer Time Order, 1949, made by the Minister for Justice under the Summer Time Act, 1925 (No. 8 of 1925).

I have not much to say about this Order on this occasion. I said all that could reasonably be said when it was last before the House. I should explain that this Order adds a few days at the beginning of the normal summer time period and a number of days at the end. If this Order was not moved, summer time would come into operation on April 10th of this year and would expire on October 2nd. The Order brings summer time into operation on April 3rd and it will expire on October 30th, so that there are eight added days at the beginning and about 28 days at the end of the period. That is all the extension. If this Order is not made it would mean that railway companies, particularly the Great Northern Railway, would require a new timetable, which would cause a good deal of inconvenience. The position is the same regarding shipping. I am satisfied that the Order is in the best interests of everyone connected with agriculture as well as with business and I ask the House to approve of it.

When summer time was discussed on a previous occasion the Minister promised to look up the report of the commission that sat in 1941, which made certain recommendations, which he found he could not then look favourably upon. I do not object to summer time but I objected to extending it as much as 25 minutes. As to the objection by the railway and shipping companies, Britain and Northern Ireland had double summer time during the war, while we had single summer time. I am still opposed to the taking away of the 25 minutes. If the Minister recommended that the 25 minutes should be taken off the present arrangement, it would be a gesture to agriculturists of half an hour and similarly to industrialists and everyone would be happy. I am opposed to the present proposal, but I hope the Minister will not lose sight of the half promise he made to consider the recommendation of the commission.

Nobody will object to the extension of summer time that the Minister has asked for. I think many farmers would approve of an extension to May as being more suitable for them. I have no fault to find with the Minister's remarks. He left the question to the lower House and on looking at the voting it could be seen that the Taoiseach, the ex-Taoiseach, Ministers and ex-Ministers were included in the big majority, the voting being 76 in favour of the motion and 36 against. We cannot complain that the Minister was not acting democratically. He put the case before the Dáil and is abiding by majority rule. I have still to protest but not against the motion as it stands. The scheme was brought in to implement the recommendations of a committee that sat in 1941 to inquire into what action should be taken about summer time. Their recommendation was that we should add half an hour, go back to Irish time and adopt that as summer time. It would be very much to the advantage of farmers if that recommendation was carried out. Some people may say that half an hour would not matter but half an hour would be very useful to farmers when harvesting or hay making with sunshine. Looking at the voting in the Dáil one has to come to the conclusion that the outlook of Deputies, and I think a majority of Senators, where farmers' business interferes with the pleasures of those in the towns and cities, is to-chuck the farmers. I suppose I cannot discuss the Act now.

The Senator can discuss the motion but not the Act.

If I get any support I will introduce a Bill to carry out the recommendation of the committee that inquired into summer time. I am not against this motion, but I cannot vote for it.

After doleful speakers criticised the Bill, I think it should be placed on record that many people welcome this proposal. I certainly do. While I am loath to criticise those who speak for farmers, I think people in the country, just as much as those in the cities, welcome summer time. The country as a whole is looking forward to summer time. I doubt if in the lifetime of any of us such a boon has been conferred on humanity as this summer time legislation. As the Minister stated, the pros and cons have been reiterated, but I want to put it on record that I think a big section of the community welcomes this proposal.

I was opposed to this proposal since its institution and I am still opposed to it.

Some years ago, I was a member of a harvest bureau and the chief complaint made by the farmers was that the people in Dublin put back the clocks to the old time without considering the farming community. In the town in which I was living, all the buses were an hour late in bringing people out to work in the country, and, as a member of the bureau, I got several complaints from farmers about the inconsiderate action of the people in the city in going away from the new time so early and bringing men out late. I think the other aspect ought to be considered—the saving to the country in the matter of imported fuel and the benefit to the health of the people in the cities and towns in enabling them to get out to play games in the summer time. These are two great benefits and the small inconvenience which can be caused to the farmer—and it has never been proved that any real inconvenience has been caused by the introduction of this measure—is outweighed by the great advantage to the health of the people and the saving effected for the country. Some people have asked why it is necessary for the Minister to come here every year with this proposal. Personally, I like to see him coming here on such an occasion, because he heralds the approach of summer and all the benefits that come with it.

I do not like the extension of summer which is being provided for. It may be all right in April, but it is being carried too far into October. I do not think it should be extended so far into October. This is the second time we have done this, and, while it might be desirable that the same time should apply in both countries, on account of the trade relations which exist, it would have been well if negotiations had taken place and if the British authorities had been got to end their summer time period at an earlier date. It is carrying the thing too far to extend it so far into October.

While I am in entire agreement with the Minister and with the proposal in the Bill, I want to point out that there is a general consensus of opinion amongst the agricultural community in favour of the abolition of summer time; but while I know that there is formidable opposition against it, there is a whole lot to be said on both sides. One Senator spoke of the chance which it gave young people to engage in games and so on—all very healthy recreation, I admit—but there is another side to the picture. Young children, particularly in areas formerly known as slum areas, are in many cases suffering from various diseases, the diseases contracted by young people, because of the late hours they keep by reason of summer time, and the mothers of these young people tell social workers that they cannot get their children to go to bed at night while their elders are out, which leads in many cases to grave illnesses amongst the children.

It is very easy to condemn the farmer because he seeks to have this Act abolished, but the farmers were great men, white-haired boys, when they were working harder than ever they worked during the emergency. I think that many of us are too city-minded, and it might do Senators a lot of good if they met the farmers in their own bailiewicks from time to time and got to understand their problems. It is acknowledged that agriculture is our main industry. We have been calling for extra efforts on the part of farmers for some time back, and we will continue to call upon them for these extra efforts, and it is no encouragement to these farmers to be told that they are looking for too much or that the country is doing too much for them. No doubt, to-day, the farmer is infinitely better off than he was for many years, but none of us can tell how long that state of affairs will continue, and nobody can say at what moment we may have to call on them to produce more again. I deprecate any references of that character to the farming community. All of us in this House, whether from cities and towns or rural areas, spring from the farming community, and I deprecate any remarks from Senators, Deputies, or any other public men, decrying the work of the agriculturists. That is the one thing which brought me to my feet—I would not have spoken on this matter otherwise.

There is one thing which must be borne in mind in discussing this Bill: we are not considering the relative merits of summer time and winter time. We are considering a practical thing.

The Chair has given a lot of latitude.

And I, of course, am not criticising the Chair. The point I want to make is that if we do not adopt this proposal we aggravate the evils of Partition. This little country is divided badly enough, but the position will be much worse if we are to have two sets of time. We had it before, and I think it is a reasonable gesture on the part of the Minister to suggest that we should sacrifice eight days of winter time in April and 28 days in October, so that, at least in thought, the country will be one in the matter of time.

Question put and agreed to.