This Appropriation Bill is in the usual stereotyped form. Section 1 authorises the issue from the Central Fund of the balance of the amount granted to meet the cost of the Supply Services in the current financial year. Section 4 appropriates to the appropriate Supply Service the sums granted by the Dáil and remaining unappropriated. There is a special section this year which deals with an excess Vote. There is also the usual general borrowing provision to be made and that is found in Section 3.
Appropriation Bill, 1949 (Certified Money Bill)—Second Stage.
I am sure that the statement made by the Minister for Finance must be the briefest statement on record that we have had in the presentation of a Bill of this kind. The Minister stated briefly that the Bill provides the funds for the Supply Services and that it also gives the Minister for Finance power to borrow a sum of over £45,000,000. I am sure Senators will agree with me when I say that we would like to have had some explanation as to when, how and for what purpose the £45,000,000 which is going to be borrowed will be utilised. We are quite aware of the purpose of providing money for our Supply Services because all that is set out in the Schedule to the Bill. Apart from that, there is still something more important, something that the public at large are entitled to have, and that is a more explicit statement from the Minister.
When discussing the Finance Bill here some few weeks ago, I put a few questions to the Minister. I asked the Minister then was there provision made out of the British pool of dollars to enable this country to make dollar purchases. I also asked for information as to whether goods and machinery which could be purchased from the sterling area are now, as a result of the Marshall Aid, being purchased through moneys loaned to this country under that Marshall Aid. I have a feeling from what I see in the country that there are goods being imported under Marshall Aid for which no valid reason can be advanced. We have machinery imported which could be purchased in the sterling areas and we have also goods of other kinds, which could not be classified as essentials in the promotion of increased production, or, in fact, necessary for the life of the nation.
On the last day, when we were drawing attention to the difficult position, we pointed out that while the Minister for Finance was dealing with the Finance Bill, there were in another State a number of Finance Ministers gathered together to discuss a situation that might have more serious repercussions on this country than any Finance Bill that the Minister here could put before us. On that day, while the Minister was speaking in the Seanad, another Minister from this country, taking upon himself the functions of the Minister for Finance, gave expression to various points of view. We would like to have from our own Minister here, who is the responsible Minister, a very definite statement as to whether the views expressed by the Minister for External Affairs at that particular conference in Paris are in keeping with the views of our Minister for Finance.
On that occasion the Minister expressed the view that it may not be in the national interest to dwell too largely on the subject of Marshall Aid. The Taoiseach when dealing with his Estimate in the Dáil gave expression to something of the same nature. After the Dáil adjourned the Minister for Finance went to Donegal and, from the hills of Donegal, he issues a warning to the people of Ireland, a warning that should be issued, if it was necessary to do so, from his Ministerial seat in Dáil Eireann before they adjourned, or, if that statement was not issued by him in the Dáil, it should at least have been issued by the Taoiseach. The members of this House are disappointed and, in the circumstances, I hope the Minister will avail of his closing statement to give the people more details about this grave position that is threatening. He might also let us know what steps are being taken to meet such a situation.
We have imports of many commodities, commodities which could be curtailed, bearing in mind that they are purchased under Marshall Aid and they have to be paid for. Of course, if we accept the views put forward by the Minister for Agriculture here on the last day, that we might never hope to repay and if such a position arises it will not matter very much to us because we will probably be in the Siberian mines or some such place—if that is the approach of the Minister, well and good. The time has arrived when the Government should give more information to the public on this important matter, and particularly in connection with the imports of articles which, if not produced here, could at least have been purchased in the sterling area where repayment is not as difficult.
One of our big purchases will be wheat. We must purchase a certain amount in Canada or in the United States.
Or in the Argentine.
Or in the Argentine. Whether we are compelled to purchase it in the Argentine or in Canada, the important thing is that we should have it, and where we should seek to get it is in the land of Ireland first before we go to Canada or America or the Argentine.
I am glad to see, in regard to many matters to which the Minister and his colleagues in the past were so much opposed, that they have now come to view them from a different light. As regards wheat, would the Minister be able to give the House any indication as to when the Commission of Inquiry appointed by the Government to inquire into the subsidies paid at that time—and termed exorbitant—to the millers in order to keep the prices of bread and flour at its present price, will report? The Attorney-General was appointed as the Chairman of that inquiry and many months have passed. It could not be such a difficult problem. We would like to have from the Minister some indication when the inquiry will report and some idea whether the statements made in the past, that the millers were lining their pockets out of subsidies paid so foolishly by the previous Government, were correct. Are we to take it that, having held the inquiry and gone into the question in detail, it has been found out, as in many other instances, that the statement had no foundation and that it is much better to leave everything as it was?
I would like to have from the Minister, either to-day or to-morrow, on the other stages of this Bill, information about the amount of wheat milled into what we might term white flour. We would like to know the losses incurred in the milling of that white flour and whether it is the opinion of the Government now—certainly it is not the opinion of the people—that this should continue. We are purchasing wheat for dollars and we are tightening up in the rationing of ordinary bread and, while we are curtailing the supplies of bread to our people, we are in such a position that we can manufacture at a loss to the community, in so far as it entails a greater expenditure of dollars in order to purchase increased supplies of wheat to make white flour for a certain section of the people. We are one of the very few nations of Europe where there is rationing of bread and other commodities.
There is another matter that is causing concern to a section of our people, and that is the threatened closing down of the Great Northern Railway. This is a matter that affects quite a considerable section of people on this side of the Border and we would like to have some information as to the steps the Government propose to take to prevent the closing down. We had a statement made early in December that it was proposed to nationalise the railways of this country. As a result of that we had an announcement ordering the closing down of dealings in railway stocks and shares. Nothing has happened except that a Bill has been introduced. The Minister, on many occasions, has given to the public his views on nationalisation. We would like to know if he has changed his mind in that particular direction, as he changed his mind in so many other directions recently.
We were also promised a comprehensive social security scheme and a White Paper outlining the terms of that scheme before the Adjournment of the Dáil. We have not seen the White Paper yet. In view of the statement the Minister made in Donegal, I would like to put a serious question to him at this stage: in his opinion, is this the most opportune time to introduce either a White Paper or a comprehensive social insurance scheme? If he thinks it is, then the sooner it is introduced the better.
Would the Senator say what the Minister said in Donegal about social security? Did he allude to it at all?
No, he did not. If the Senator wishes I have here a copy of the speech made by the Minister in Donegal, reported in a very worthy journal called the Irish Independent.
What did he say about social security?
"A warning of a possible crisis ahead in this country in company with other non-dollar areas arising out of the supply and repayment of Marshall Aid."
I suppose the Irish Press did not report the Minister's speech at all, did it?
I shall make my speech in my own way. I will come back to social security if you wish.
No, perish the thought!
There is a more serious problem than that of social security. I refer to the problem created in that part of Ireland to which we should direct particular attention. I refer to the problem of the Gaeltacht areas. As a result of Government action, there is increased unemployment in those areas. There is increased emigration from those areas. Those twin evils have been brought about in no small degree as a result of the stoppage of hand-won turf and as a result of the withdrawal of the road grant, a withdrawal amounting to £2,000,000. Allied to all that is the mishandling—there is no other term for it—of the hand-woven tweed industry. When the hand-won turf scheme was dropped a definite assurance was given by the Government that the employment would be found for those who were disemployed as a result of the stoppage of this scheme. It was said that employment would be given on the roads. When that became too difficult, it was said that employment would be found for them in draining rivers and so on. We passed a particular Bill through this House dealing with such schemes. Senator Baxter criticised because some amendments were put down to that particular Bill. I refer to the Local Authority (Works) Bill. That is the Government's latest effort to provide employment for the people in the Gaeltacht areas.
You only gave that Bill to us last week, and now you want work done under it.
£2,000,000 was withdrawn from the road grants. The sum made available under the Works Bill is £1,000,000. Examining it from that angle alone the employment content is cut by 100 per cent. Adding insult to injury is the fact that this latest effort of the Government will be of no avail in the districts to which I refer. Certain figures were given here. I think I quoted them last week. They were taken from a statement made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He said that 40,000 people emigrated in the past 12 months. A considerable number of those emigrants come from the Gaeltacht areas of Connemara, Donegal and Mayo. The only step the Government has taken in an effort to curb emigration is to set up a commission. We have heard very little about this commission since it was set up; we do not know when it will report. The only conclusion we can draw is that by the time it does present its report the problem of emigration will have solved itself because there will be no one left to emigrate.
With true generosity the Government has tried to help those who are forced to emigrate by making a new regulation whereby the cost of an exit permit is raised from 12/6 to £1. That is an additional 7/6 into the coffers of the Minister for External Affairs, the Minister who is so anxiously looking after the welfare of those people abroad. We find, too, that when a person proposes to emigrate to America now—and these are not the work-shy to whom the Minister for Industry and Commerce referred on another occasion, nor the halt, nor the lazy because they must have a medical certificate as to fitness—he must pay £5 for a medical certificate. At that price the members of the medical profession will be very much in favour of emigration.
The tweed industry should be one of the most important assets in the Gaeltacht areas. Yet, the Minister for Lands tells us that there is £100,000 worth of hand-woven tweed stored in some building under his control. I think the Minister for Industry and Commerce told us here recently that it is almost impossible to get Irish goods into any foreign country. There is a lesson to be learned from all that. I am glad that those people who were so violent in their opposition to tariffs and quotas in the past have now come to realise the importance of them to Irish Industry. I am sure the Minister for Lands has made untiring efforts to dispose of this tweed in America, or elsewhere.
When was that tweed manufactured?
It does not matter when it was manufactured.
It certainly does.
The Senator has just reminded me of another point. As a result of an agreement made by the present Government with the British Government, it was agreed that the parcel post should stop, and substituted therefor would be trading through the ordinary channels. I am sure the Minister for Finance will be able to give Senator Baxter the exact figures with regard to the parcel post in relation to Irish tweed, if he wishes to have them, during the last seven or eight years. I am sure the Minister will be able to give him the value of that export. It is as a result of the agreement made with the British Government that the present situation has arisen.
The only means we have of repaying our dollar debt to America is by increasing our tourist industry. What has the Minister done in that direction since this time last year? Speaking on this Bill last year, in connection with the tourist board charged with encouraging tourist industry in this country, the Minister said:—
"... it is still there lingering on, and I would like to have a decision taken that would put it out of agony or give it a chance to look forward to the future."
Now 12 months have passed. I do not know whether the board is still lingering on in agony or whether a chance is being given to it to look forward to the future. I do know that some changes have been made, changes in the directors and the chairman. I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that we have had substituted as chairman of the Irish Tourist Board a person who, to my mind, never had any knowledge of the tourist industry and never took any part in the development of that industry. As a result of that person's transfer from the position of county manager of Kerry to the position of chairman of the Irish Tourist Board, the people of South Kerry are relieved of his good services, for which I understand they are well pleased, and are compelled to pay an additional £400 per annum as travelling expenses to his deputy until such time as he takes the tourist board out of agony. During the last few months the only activities in which the board was engaged, since this new appointment, were the disposal of tourist hotels. I have no doubt that the Minister, in his reply, will give expression to the view that in his opinion it should never have been started and that he is glad they have been disposed of but what do we find? What was the price received? What was the price received for Ballinahinch Castle which in 1914 cost £35,000 and who are the people to whom it was sold? What were the steps taken before the sale was made?
Does the Senator not know the steps that were taken?
We have been warned by the officers of the European Recovery Programme that it is essential for our people to develop the tourist industry and that in particular our hotels should be developed. There was also the question of establishing an air service, but we cannot do anything about that now. "There is the problem of adapting our hotels to the requirements of American tourists and this problem must be undertaken without delay". That is the advice given by the people who have to administer the European Recovery Programme. What has the Government done in the last 12 months to point out to hoteliers in this country what the American requirements are? What have they done to develop the tourist industry except just to change the personnel of the board? These are matters on which many Senators would like to have some information. Serious damage had already been done to this industry by the statements of many members of the present Government Party before they became members of that Party, particularly during the general election campaign.
There is another matter to which I think it right to refer at this stage, and that is the ever-growing burden of local rates. I think we cannot bring sufficiently forcibly home to the Government, and particularly to the Minister for Finance, the seriousness of this question and its effects on business and on the people as a whole. We have seen, particularly during the past 12 months—and this affects members on the other side of the House as well as members on this side —that almost every piece of legislation passed through this House, in one way or another, imposed some burden on the ratepayers that should be met from Central Funds. We have even seen legislation passed providing that charges originally met from the Central Fund should be passed on to the rates.
In the very near future we are going to be up against a very serious problem. I am sure Senator Baxter will be very pleased to hear that under the Public Health Act of 1946 provision was made that any increased cost arising out of public health would be met from the Central Fund until such time as the cost would reach a fifty-fifty ratio. At the rate increases are being made, it will not be very long until that point is reached, and while local authorities now may be extending services of one kind or another and granting increases to employees of one kind or another, because for the moment they know that the cost of these extensions and increases will be met from the Central Fund, one day in the very near future they will reach the fifty-fifty ratio, and after that the rates will have to bear the whole cost of these extensions and increases as the case may be. I drew the attention of the Minister to this question of rates more than once because I find it has, and will have, a serious effect on the development of the country and on business as a whole. While the Minister may not agree, I repeat that I would much prefer to see any additions of this kind imposed in the form of taxation rather than in the form of rates, because it is much easier to raise the cost of these services in taxes than by way of rates, and the burden is felt much less by the people as a whole.
We have been very pleased to notice in recent weeks that there has been a change of attitude by the Government on many matters. We have seen a noticeable change since the Minister spoke here this time 12 months, almost to the day, on the Appropriation Bill. At that particular date some references were made to regrets expressed at the decision to abandon the short-wave station. We always welcome converts and we are glad to see that the Minister and his colleagues have been converted and now realise the great benefits that a short-wave station and other means of broadcasting public announcements would be to this country. We also welcome their conversion on the matter of turf production, but it has come a little bit late. We saw introduced in the Dáil, almost at a time when Deputies had vacated their seats for the recess, a Bill making provision for increased turf production. It is regrettable, too, that the Government did not make that decision before they abandoned the hand-won turf scheme, because then they would have workers to work the scheme and we would have had much less unemployment than we have had during the last 12 months. However, it is good to see even now that the Government are prepared to recognise that they have made a mistake, that they are prepared to undo that mistake and to go back on what they have said in the past.
In conclusion, I should like to draw attention to one or two other matters. We have heard very much about the agreement made last year with the British Government in relation to exports of cattle, eggs, poultry and one thing or other. I think Senators will have seen that quite recently provision was made for paying an increased price for eggs to British and Six-County producers. At a meeting held some time ago in O'Connell Street suggestions were made by the Taoiseach that we were going to hit these people in more places than one. Now I find that, not alone are we prepared to give them goods at a reasonable price, but we are also prepared to subsidise them. At the present time we have the position that, while the English producer of eggs is getting 4/1 per dozen, the Irish producer is only getting 2/6 a dozen for eggs which are sent to England, so that the Irish producer is subsidising the British consumer, if you like, to the extent of the difference between 2/6 and 4/1. Senator Baxter may smile.
It does not make sense to me. That is all I can say about it.
It is a long time ago since Senator Baxter had any sense.
According to your standards.
We have the same thing arising in relation to farmers' butter. I am sure the Minister when replying will tell us that everything is being done to increase employment and to increase production, and he will surely not pass without making reference to the enactment of the Land Reclamation Bill. I think we might better term that Bill as an attempt to provide employment on the land rather than to increase production because, as I stated on the Second Reading, it does not attempt to do any such thing.
Legislation may not be criticised on the Appropriation Bill.
I will submit to your ruling, but I have an idea there is money provided here in some place for giving effect to that Bill. After all, it is a big sum.
That Bill has been passed and may not be discussed again.
Provision is made here for the raising of £45,000,000. I have an idea that £4,000,000 of that at least will go towards land reclamation. As a matter of fact, an Estimate was passed in the Dáil last week for £1,000,000 of it. If the Cathaoirleach does not wish me to make any further reference to it, I shall only say once again that it is not a Bill to encourage immediate agricultural production. In place of encouraging the man who made good use of his land and produced the food to feed the people during the emergency, it is rather a Bill to provide for those people who, through one cause or another, did not make full use of their land and allowed their land to get into such a condition that the Irish people, with money borrowed from America which has to be repaid— if it is ever repaid—must now put the land into a state of production for them.
During the last year or so I have gained a very great admiration for the last speaker. His persistence, the good knowledge which he has of his Party's point of view on every subject, and the skill with which he puts it forward command one's admiration. But I admired him more than ever to-day because, knowing something about every subject—and it is possible to discuss almost everything under this Bill—he has been moderate and has not taken a great deal of time. I should love to follow him on a small number of matters which he referred to and about which I know something. But as I feel it is rather a mistake on this Bill to attempt to deal with everything, and as the Senator did not deal with everything, I propose to confine my remarks almost entirely to matters which were discussed in the other House on the Vote for the Department of External Affairs. I am doing so because I think there is not enough attention given to that Department and to its importance.
At the outset I want to say that I think we may well be proud of the manner in which the officials of this understaffed Department have dealt with the many important problems which have arisen during the past year or two. I am satisfied that we have in this Department a hardworking, courteous and competent staff, whose services to this country are not appreciated by the people as much as they should be. In the past, some of our political leaders have rather discouraged any active interest on the part of the people generally in international problems, and an idea has grown up that small nations like Ireland cannot exert any real influence outside their own countries. The tendency has been to regard the activities of the Department of External Affairs as relatively unimportant, with the result that comparatively little interest is taken in the Council of Europe, in the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, the Atlantic Pact, the United Nations Organisation and other international movements with which we are deeply concerned whether we like it or not.
It is pretty generally recognised that we are vitally interested in international monetary problems, but it is not so generally recognised that our future existence as an independent State may depend on the success or failure of some of these international efforts.
I believe that the present Minister for External Affairs has done a great deal to create interest among the people generally in international problems, and I believe the majority of the people recognise that he is a good Minister and has done very well during his short period of office. I was very much surprised to see that he was criticised from the Opposition side of the Dáil because of the statement made by him for the consideration of the Council of Ministers of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation. I read very carefully the summary of this statement that was issued, and I must say that I found myself in agreement with almost everything which he said. In my opinion he was quite right when he pointed out the problem which had arisen through increased production in Europe without increased multilateral trading or proper means of distribution.
Speaking at the International Labour Conference in 1934 I pointed out that there were millions of people in the world who had not the bare necessities of life and that these millions were the potential consumers of commodities which the trade and industry of the world was both able and willing to provide if only some economic method of distribution could be found. Essentially the problem is the same to-day, but it has been accentuated by a disastrous world war. I felt very pleased as an Irishman when I read that the representative of our Government had drawn special attention to the fact that the present mechanism of exchange and distribution is an obstacle to European, and, indeed, to world recovery. No country, however large and powerful, can by itself achieve world recovery or secure the proper distribution of the world's wealth. International co-operation is essential. To secure this I would be willing to agree to some sacrifice, but I am convinced that Ireland stands to gain rather than to lose by closer co-operation amongst the nations of Europe and of America.
Only a short time ago many people were afraid of the Minister for External Affairs because he was regarded as an extreme nationalist. It is, to say the least of it, interesting to see him criticised in the Dáil for being too international in his outlook. Personally, I do not see any inconsistency in a nationalist being an internationalist. On the contrary, I believe that nationalism and internationalism should go hand in hand. A strong individualist who is ready and willing to work with others makes the best type of citizen. In the same way the most useful internationalists are those who believe in their own country and in the contribution it can make to world affairs.
I was very pleased with the speeches made in the Dáil by both the Minister for External Affairs and the Leader of the Opposition with reference to the Council of Europe. I am glad that the Opposition will be adequately represented in our delegation to the meeting of the assembly at Strasbourg, and I hope that all the members of our delegation will regard themselves as representatives of Ireland rather than representatives of Irish Parties. I do not suggest for one moment that there should not be complete freedom for our delegates to express the truth as they see it, but I hope that the members of the Irish delegation will consult together. To my mind, it is of the utmost importance to the future of Europe that the first meeting of the Consultative Assembly should be a success.
I agree with the Minister and with Mr. de Valera that the statute of the Council of Europe is faulty in many respects. Like them, I wish it had been possible to go further. But the meeting at Strasbourg is a start and it is to be hoped that it will pave the way for further united action amongst the countries of Europe who accept the principles on which it is based. I would like to draw the attention of the House to the preamble to the statute which I consider to be of importance. It draws attention to the spiritual and moral values which are the common heritage of the peoples and which are the true source of individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy. There are European countries who could accept this ideal who will not be at Strasbourg, and I hope that the Consultative Assembly will recommend that these countries be invited to join. I would like to see all the countries which participate in the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation invited to join. There can be no really effective European union without Germany. Under the provisions of the statute, Western Germany could become an associate member of the Council of Europe, and I believe that it would be a definite encouragement to the democratic movement in Germany if Western Germany were to be invited to join even in this limited capacity. As Senators probably know, an associate member can attend and take part in the meetings of the assembly but cannot be a member of the Committee of Ministers. Germany cannot become a member of the Committee of Ministers until it again becomes an independent nation.
The significance of the creation of a European Consultative Assembly is not, I think, generally recognised in this country. The assembly has no powers other than that of recommendation, but it will consist of representatives of all parties except Communists from the countries represented. This is a striking experiment in free discussion. That there is a widespread desire for closer union in Europe cannot be disputed. It remains to be seen how far and to what extent that desire for united action will be expressed at Strasbourg. In the past, international or inter-European problems have been discussed between representatives of Governments, and usually these were in private. Now, representatives of the people are to be given an opportunity to discuss inter-European affairs in public. I hope that this will not mean that all the time will be taken up debating the differences which undoubtedly exist between many countries in Europe. It would be a tragedy if every country were to regard the meeting at Strasbourg simply as an opportunity for airing its own difficulties. It is to be hoped that at the first meeting of the assembly, the delegates will seek to find the points of agreement on which united action might be recommended which would be for the good of all, and which would bring the countries of Europe closer together. The agenda will be fixed by the Committee of Ministers. It has not yet been announced. Personally, I hope that the Committee of Ministers will not use its powers unduly to restrict freedom of discussion in the assembly, which should have considerable latitude in the settlement of its own agenda. I think the assembly should have its own secretary-general distinct from the secretary-general of the Council of Ministers which would give it an increased degree of independence. There are so many subjects of urgent importance which the assembly will wish to discuss that it may be difficult to find time for everything at the first meeting of the assembly, but I hope that time will be found for a debate on the ways in which respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms can be secured. As stated in the statute, the Council of Europe is founded on the basic principle that each member must accept the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights.
The Council of the European Movement has I believe prepared a draft convention dealing with this subject which may provide a useful basis for discussion. It proposes the creation of a European court of human rights before which nationals of any State member of the council could appear. All the rights which it is proposed should be accepted as basic are already in our own Constitution, so there would be very little likelihood of any of our citizens having to appear before such a court. It is only natural therefore that we should be interested in the proposal if a practical way can be found for enforcing the decisions of a European court.
I wish it had been possible to include members of the Six-County Parliament in the Irish delegation. It would be good to see them interested in European union. If we cannot work together in solving Irish problems, we might make a start by tackling European problems together.
I have also been wondering whether the idea underlying the Consultative Assembly could not be applied to our own country. The countries joining the Council of Europe have not committed themselves to any joint action. They agree that joint action is desirable in principle but are not committed to further action except by agreement. Would it not be a good idea to set up a council of Ireland which would be attended by delegates chosen from all Parties of the Oireachtas and by delegates from all Parties in the Six-County Parliament? It would have no powers except that of recommendation and it would commit neither side. Like the Council of Europe its function would be to discuss common problems and to explore the possibilities of joint action. I do not suggest for one moment that this would solve the problem of Partition. It should not, I think, even be regarded as a first step but simply as a practical way in which elected representatives on each side of the Border could get to know each other and see to what extent co-operation is possible without prejudice to the opinions held by any member of the proposed council of Ireland on the question of Partition.
I noticed that the question of Partition was referred to by most of the speakers in the Dáil during the debate on the Estimate for External Affairs. In 1947 during the debate on the Appropriation Bill in this House, I spoke at some length on this subject and I received quite a number of expressions of agreement from both sides of the Border. I still stand by the general proposals I made then, though some of them would have to be modified owing to changed conditions since 1947. I noticed on reading the Dáil debates that there was a general tendency to criticise each other on the question of Partition. I doubt very much if this serves any useful purpose. There is complete unity of objective but there is not agreement as to the methods which should be adopted. To my mind this is all to the good. The causes which underlie Partition and the evils which have resulted are many and varied. I do not approve of dogmatic statements as to how it should be ended. Sooner or later I am convinced that there will be a conference to discuss how a united Ireland can best be achieved. We should not enter any such conference with our hands tied. We should be prepared to consider any serious suggestion as to the ways and means. Personally, I believe the majority of the people would agree to proposals which might not of themselves be ideal if they believed such proposals would lead to the ultimate ending of Partition. The Taoiseach and the Minister for External Affairs and others have done their part in raising this question to the international level. They have undoubtedly succeeded to a considerable extent.
When I was abroad recently I found an interest in the problem which I had never found before. Personally, I agree with almost everything I have heard the Taoiseach say with regard to the wrong of the Partition of Ireland, and if it were possible to have the issue between the United Kingdom and ourselves tried before an impartial international tribunal I believe we could win our case. This is not the only country in Europe where there is a minority problem. These problems should, I believe, be solved by international agreement as to the just and proper rights of minorities. I am not without hope that the Council of Europe may be able, in time, to agree on principles which should be applied to minorities in all the States which have joined the council, though I admit there would be difficulties. The principle that a large and powerful State has the right or duty to hold a portion of another State in order to meet the wishes of a minority will never, I am certain, be accepted internationally.
While I approve generally of the efforts of the Government to have Partition settled on an international level, I do not believe that this is sufficient or that it should be the only line of action. Perhaps the greatest evils of the Partition of Ireland have been, firstly, that it has widened the gulf between the 800,000 or so Unionists in the North and the rest of the people in Ireland and, secondly, that it has created an acutely discontented minority in the Six Counties which feels that it is unjustly cut off from the country which it loves and to which it owes allegiance.
It seems to me that Partition is a problem which has many aspects. While as between ourselves and Great Britain it is an international dispute, it should be remembered that as between the people of the Six Counties and ourselves it is an internal problem.
Even if the Border were removed to-morrow, we would still have the problem of creating goodwill and finding methods by which the people in the northern counties, all of them, could be persuaded to become loyal citizens of the State. I therefore believe that while we are trying to end Partition by international action, we should at the same time, seek continuously for methods by which we could co-operate with both the majority and minority on the other side of the Border. We should be careful, of course, to avoid any action which might cause resentment or ill-will. One of the most serious consequences of the foolish phrasing of the Act recently passed by the British Parliament is that it has been taken by some people in the North as a promise that Great Britain will back them up no matter how unreasonable they may be. This has undoubtedly made approaches from this side much more difficult, but having made a national protest I do not think we should allow ourselves to be unduly influenced by a phrase in a British Act which could be repealed any day. Let us remember that we already co-operate with our fellow-countrymen in the North in many ways. None of the churches or religious denominations in Ireland has been or wants to be partitioned. There is a good deal of co-operation in the field of sport and there are many other ways in which Irishmen from both the North and the South work together.
To my personal knowledge there are quite a number of people amongst those who form the majority in the Six Counties who are profoundly dissatisfied with the present position. They recognise that Partition must end some day and even if they think the time has not yet arrived, they are willing to co-operate in preparing for the day when the Border will disappear. I believe that we can help these people greatly by a reasonable attitude on our part. Let us endeavour to act consistently with our conviction that the only legitimate boundary for Ireland is the sea. This means that we desire the prosperity of the whole of Ireland including the Six Counties. I want to suggest that part of our vigorous campaign against Partition should be the removal of any cause of irritation which can be removed by unilateral action on our part.
First of all, I would like to see an announcement by the Government that it will not encourage any industrial development in the Twenty-Six Counties which would seriously compete with any important industry in the Six Counties. Where there happens to be an industry in the Six Counties which, either alone or together with the present production in the Twenty-Six Counties, could supply the whole of Ireland, I think it would be foolish to protect any new industry here which would compete and which might, therefore, create a new economic interest in the maintenance of the Border. I do not, of course, suggest that we should interfere with private enterprise. If anyone wants to start a new industry here, they should know that some day the Border will disappear and, if that does not lessen their interest, then it is their own lookout, but it is a very different matter from the Government protecting such industries.
Next, I think that where there is a protective duty on goods imported into this country we should provide a special preferential tariff for goods which are certified to have been manufactured in the Six Counties.
On a point of order. Is it in order for a Senator to read his speech without the permission of the House?
I have, it is true, read some of the more important portions of my speech, but not all of it.
The Press has been supplied with a copy of it, I understand.
The Senator may proceed.
I suggest that we should provide a special preferential tariff for goods which it has been certified have been made in the Six Counties. To my mind, the more trade we do with the north-east the more they will understand us and we them. I recognise that this proposal might involve some change in our trade treaties with Great Britain and possibly Canada, but I do not think that that would be an insuperable barrier.
Our Control of Manufactures Act should be amended so as to make it easy for citizens of the Six Counties to take part in industrial development on this side of the Border. The more money that people in the Six Counties have invested here the more they will be interested in our prosperity and the less they will like the Border.
It has always seemed to me strange and somewhat absurd that we should state in our Constitution that our national territory is the whole of Ireland, and then proceed by legislation to provide that residents in one part of Ireland are not to be regarded as Irish nationals when they invest their money in another part of the national territory. That is the present position. I also think that co-operation between manufacturers in the Six Counties and in the Twenty-Six Counties should be encouraged actively where it is possible. I think if goods have to be sent outside the Twenty-Six Counties to be finished after they have been made here, they should be sent to the North in preference to Great Britain, if it can be done. I need not go into the details. There are many ways in which there could be closer co-operation.
I would also like to see a persistent and continuous effort on our side to secure co-operation especially between Government Departments. At first we are almost certain to meet with refusal by the Government of the Six Counties but even if this occurs I think we should keep trying. By doing so we will strengthen those people in the North, both majority and minority, who desire to see friendly co-operation. At the same time, we will prove our sincerity to the people of Britain and the rest of the world.
I would like to see the Minister for Agriculture, for instance, inviting the Minister for Agriculture in Northern Ireland to a conference every year for the purpose of consultation and seeing how far agricultural policy in the whole of Ireland could be co-ordinated and made uniform where agreement is possible. The Ministers for Industry and Commerce, Education and Health and others might perhaps seek similar conferences, and if and when these began to meet with some success, as I believe after a time they would, the idea might be extended to almost every Department of Government.
There is, I believe, at the present time, a certain amount of co-operation between Departmental officials, and this is all to the good. But it is not enough. I think we should seek meetings between Ministers. If, as is possible, our invitations are not accepted, we should keep on issuing invitations with the same degree of persistence as we intend to apply to the problem of making the people of Britain and other countries aware of the wrong of Partition.
I have heard it argued that to recognise the Government of Northern Ireland, even as a de facto Government, would mean a tacit acquiescence in Partition. My answer to that argument is that we do acquiesce in Partition by keeping our customs posts on the Border and by putting up notices which lead visitors to believe that they are entering the Republic of Ireland when they cross the Border, although we claim that the national territory is the whole of Ireland.
Senator Stanford recently stated in this House that the people who belong to the religious minority in the Twenty-Six Counties want to see a united Ireland, but do not agree with the means which are or may be employed to end Partition. I believe he was right when he said that this minority sincerely desires the end of Partition, but I think that he was only expressing part of the truth when he suggested that they do not agree with the means that are or may be employed.
In point of fact, I said "some of the means", as well as I remember.
I will not dispute that. I was not trying to make a point of disagreement with the Senator. I think that when I have completed what I want to say there will not be very much disagreement between us. In my opinion, there are many steps which could and should be taken which would command their support. I cannot help feeling that we who belong to the religious minority have largely failed in our duty because we have had no policy at all in relation to the ending of the Border. It is not enough to say we desire Irish unity and criticise what others are doing. Since I listened to Senator Stanford's speech I have been wondering whether as a minority here closely allied in the religious sphere to the majority in the Six Counties, we have not a special responsibility in this matter. We—I speak as one of the minority—are loyal citizens of the State. We recognise to the full that both in law and in practice we receive all the just rights of minorities. Surely it is our duty to take a hand in the solution of this problem by actively advocating co-operation and by trying to show our co-religionists in the North that they too should be willing to make some contribution towards Irish unity.
I was present at the Congress of Europe at The Hague last year and since then I have been in touch with many of those who are working actively for European union. What impressed me most was the extent to which people of widely divergent points of view are prepared to make sacrifices in the hope that it may prevent another war and combat the spread of Communism.
Is it too much to hope that the same kind of willingness to make sacrifices can be found in Ireland, both North and South? It is perhaps inevitable that under present circumstances our public men feel it their duty to point out the things we believe to be wrong inside the Six Counties. I think we should at the same time draw attention to the things we have in common.
The people of the Six Counties are just as opposed to Communism as we are—they appreciate as we do the danger of another war and what it might mean. They desire close friendship with Britain and with the States of the Commonwealth. So do we. Above all, they share with us the conviction that spiritual and moral values are more important than any political considerations and that the supreme duty of the State as of the individual is to do the Will of God.
It is because I believe that the things which unite us are greater and more important than those which divide us that I advocate a policy of actively, openly and vigorously seeking co-operation with the North and I am convinced that this is an essential factor in the creation of a united Ireland. It need not and should not weaken our efforts on an international level to end Partition.
Lest there should be any misunderstanding, I should perhaps make it clear that the views I have expressed are entirely my own. I have not discussed them with any member of this or the other House.
As this is a most important debate, I do not want to take up the time of the House. There are many more speakers more qualified to speak on this Bill than I, but I want to refer to two or three points which are constantly before my mind. When the Coalition Government took over, they embarked on a very big scheme of economy. My idea of the word "economy" always was, and still is, wise spending, whether it be personal economy, family economy or the economy of the nation. Some of the so-called economies have been so disastrous that we look upon them with great sorrow. Take the question of Irish. The amount of money that was spent on certain work for the Irish language was only a drop in the ocean in relation to a Budget of many million pounds. It was somewhere around £17,000, which is a small sum, but which was a big sum in relation to the good work it was doing.
Publications in Irish, including text-books—above all, text-books in Irish for secondary schools—are very necessary. The good work of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaelige has been cut down. I am afraid all this is having a bad effect on the ordinary people, who begin to think that Irish does not matter. I feel that there must be some sinister influence behind this, as the amount of money saved is very small, only a few thousand pounds. Then there is the £1,000 for national film production. That is not for Irish directly, but it was to create films of a national character and Irish films were included. It would be very well if any money could be spent to stem the tide of rubbish—I would not like to use a stronger word—coming into this country, which is weakening the whole moral fibre of our young people. The Government did a bad day's work when they cut the money for anything connected with Irish language and Irish culture.
I understand that a stamp has been designed to celebrate the passing of the Act some months ago to repeal the External Relations Act. I believe the stamp has not yet seen the light of day and I hope it never will. I have been told that it is to be printed in Irish and English. If that be true it is a most retrograde step. Never since the State was founded has that occurred. Immediately on the foundation of the State, the British stamps were overprinted in Irish. Can you imagine in any country people putting the name of their country in their own language and in a foreign language? Only that this step is so tragic, it would be ludicrous. I do not know if this be true, and I have not seen the stamp, but if it does come to light, I certainly never will buy one or use one on a letter. It is an insult to the country and an insult to the language.
Coming to more everyday affairs, I object to what is known amongst the ordinary people as "the Government black market", that is, two prices for butter, two prices for sugar and, I understand, retailers are expecting two prices for tea. It is the same butter, sugar and tea in each case. This seems to be catering for the more wealthy people. I never bought any white flour. I never yet, nor will, I hope, eat anything made of white flour. I am not the only one. I know families in Rathfarnham and other places where never an ounce of white flour is allowed to get in. Some people enjoy it as a luxury, if it is a luxury, but those who see what is at the back of it will not use it.
There is no use in talking about our Constellations and our lost industries, all resulting in the mass emigration of 40,000 of our people. When I was a child, I used to feel and say, though I used to be laughed at, that in the case of anyone I really cared about I would prefer to see them dead than emigrating. There is something of that in my mind yet. It is terrible to see them going away—not only individuals, but families of six, eight and ten children, with father and mother, going to foreign countries. Some of them will come back; there was a great trek home from Britain in 1946 and 1947. The tide will turn again and more of them will come back from England and Scotland. But will they ever come back from America, Australia, or South Africa? Very, very few of them. A few of those who have gone over when young may come back when most of us have passed away, to have another look at Ireland. The older people may come back just to see the old land and in their hearts they will echo in their own simple way:—
"Glory to God, but there it is,
The dawn on the hills of Ireland."
When they come in at Cóbh, they will see something more important and more glorious still than the dawn—they will see what the generations of their forefathers longed to see and did not see—our Flag flying on the ports, where it was raised on a glorious day in 1938. For the present, however, they and their families are lost to the country. We are passing through a tragic time and may God shorten that time for us.
We had Senator Hawkins at some length in a peculiarly critical frame of mind on this Bill. Senator Douglas complimented him on his industry and his apparent knowledge on a variety of subjects, but to me he seemed to do no more than express a few glib superficialities on the policy as a whole. His knowledge of the problems confronting the Government and the country were, apparently, no better than his examination of the Bill and his criticism of what the Minister and his colleagues are doing. He started by indicating his disagreement with Ministerial policy on machinery imports. I took it he was discussing the situation with regard to the shortage of dollars and had that topic before his mind when he said that we were importing machinery to-day which could be purchased in the sterling area. However, he left it at that and I do not know what point he was making or what he wanted the Minister to do. I do not know whether he had the view that we should not import machinery, or of what kind of machinery he was thinking. Was it agricultural machinery or industrial equipment, what country is it coming from and what is its purpose, is the same type of machinery available elsewhere, and so on? When we have criticism from somebody on the Front Bench on the other side of the House, it ought to be of an analytical character and ought to be constructive. We ought to be clear as to what is in the Senator's mind, so that we might put some real value on the ideas to which he gives expression.
I would like to give the Senator a chance to define further what exactly he was trying to point out. He spoke about our purchases of wheat and our policy in that regard and said we should get our wheat from the land of Ireland. I am not against getting our wheat from the land of Ireland, in so far as that is feasible and is a practical proposition for us. The Senator could have given some such opinion or advice in the days when the predecessor of the present Minister was in office. He could have advised Deputy Lemass when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce about the purchase of foreign wheat and the lack of wisdom in such a policy; he could have told him to get the farmers of Ireland to grow on the land of Ireland the wheat which he purchased at such a fabulous figure from the Argentine. The Senator has enough knowledge, however, of what was attempted in the days of Fianna Fáil with regard to the growing of wheat to have some reasoned opinion about it at present.
I agree that it ought to be the Government's policy to get as much wheat as they possibly can from the land of Ireland but there are two ways to get it. The first is the way the Senator's colleagues attempted in the past which in my judgment was a failure and was bound to be a failure because it revealed a complete lack of understanding and appreciation of the difficulties confronting farmers in this country who attempted to grow wheat. It compelled farmers to grow wheat; a minimum area on practically every farm in the country and every intelligent farmer knew that that was not good farm policy. I think the Senator's colleagues must have appreciated that fact towards the end of their régime but it took a good many years of futile effort to discover that fallacy in the policy. The Minister for Finance could force our own Minister for Agriculture to do the same if he wanted to. He could create such a position with regard to the provision of dollars for the purchase of wheat as to compel the Minister for Agriculture to adumbrate some such foolish policy, but the farmers of the country will not stand for that if they have a shred of independence left. There is the other method, a more profitable method than the approach of Fianna Fáil, that is, to pay the farmers the highest possible price to grow wheat. In that policy our present Government are much better than their predecessors——
Who fixed the present price?
The Minister for Finance.
The present Minister for Agriculture. He definitely did.
He definitely did not.
He raised it since we came into the Government.
You all see the difficulty of an approach to a major problem with that sort of mind.
Senators know that the present price of wheat was fixed in November, 1947.
It was not.
The present price of wheat was announced by the present Minister for Agriculture when he came into office and it was not announced till then. That is correct because I know all about it and had discussions with the Minister before the price was announced. We were paid 55/- but there were not many people who had wheat of a standard to bring in 55/-. The price to-day is 62/6 and it is a much more profitable proposition to attempt to grow wheat under the present Government than under their predecessors. I think that is the approach which should be made to this problem.
The Senator went on with a number of grouses about the unwisdom of the policy of manufacturing white flour from some of our wheat. He said that people in the country were complaining about this. I do not know who they are. I go up and down the country as much as anybody and frankly and honestly I never heard a word about it. Like Senator Miss Pearse, no white flour comes into my house and we are quite satisfied with the brand which is available to the people of the country and which is subsidised. That is good enough for my home. I do not hear any jealous words from my wife or the members of my family about other people who buy the other flour. It is more costly and if they want to buy it I do not see the harm in letting them have it. I think the Senator made a complete misrepresentation of the situation.
We are one of the few countries, the Senator says, that has to put up with bread rationing. All I can say is that I think most of the people of the country can get sufficient bread and thanks be to God we can get sufficient other foods as well while many people in other countries cannot. The quantities available since the present Government came into office have been considerably increased. The amount of butter and bacon available to-day is much greater than before this Government took office. I do not want to give them all the credit for that, but certainly the situation has not disimproved and the most critical opponents have to make them that concession.
The Senator talked about the situation with regard to the Great Northern Railways and the promises which were made by the Government about nationalisation of our own railway system. He wanted to know what has happened and said that nothing had happened except that a Bill had been introduced. I would refer to the hold up of dealings on the stock exchange but since then an announcement has been made by the Minister about the situation in which stock holders will find themselves on the passing of the legislation. I do not know if dealings are now taking place on the stock exchange, but the position in that regard has been clarified. I am not going to say what the responsibilities of our Government are with regard to the Great Northern Railway but I am concerned about its future. It is the system that serves my county as far as there is any railway serving the county at all, but we will have to appreciate the fact that the Great Northern Railway in the main serves Ulster, largely the Six Counties, and we are not the main body of citizens of the 32 Counties who are concerned with its future. Other people are more interested and must be more interested than we.
The major share of responsibility falls on the people who are at the moment governing the Six Counties. I am quite certain that the future of the Great Northern Railway cannot be settled without us. It can only be settled in a conference between representatives of the railway itself, representatives of the Government of the Six Counties and of the Government of the Republic of Ireland. We hope that reason and a spirit of compromise on the part of the people who are concerned with the future of the Great Northern Railway will make it possible to reach an agreement that will ensure the continuance of the system in a satisfactory fashion, but I do not think that the Government down here should be rushed into committing themselves in regard to any policy for its future. I do not think that any responsible citizen ought to press them for a statement of policy Other people have to clarify their attitude to it first.
The Senator addressed himself to the question of the hand-won turf and we have the old song over again. He talked about unemployment and said that the only measure taken to meet the situation was the Works Bill which we passed. Apparently he is in the frame of mind to expect marvellous things as a result of the Bill, which was held up by his Party in this and the other House for as long as possible to prevent the Minister doing the good things which could have been done during all these months had it been passed. It is an extraordinary mind that will criticise the Minister on the one hand for not doing things and withhold the powers on the other.
The question of people emigrating is tragic, but it is nothing new. We have addressed ourselves to the question in this House on a previous occasion and I gave figures which are on the record and which indicate that during the war and during the régime of Fianna Fáil the number of emigrants was much greater than it is to-day. It is something we all deplore, but, as I pointed out on that occasion, the boys and girls who are leaving the country to-day are leaving it, not because of the immediate situation at all, but for reasons that were created years back during the régime of Fianna Fáil. A mentality was created ten years ago with regard to life on the land and the standard of living on the land that had disastrous consequences from the point of view of the people we desire to keep in the country living on the land.
That attitude of mind is not easily eradicated. We need not dwell longer on that problem. If Senator Hawkins and people like him want to make a contribution towards a solution of it, let him and his colleagues in the other House, instead of trying to hold up legislation which would provide employment for people, help this Government when they do the right thing by trying to provide employment for the people. When that employment is provided by the Government, let them then go down the country and boost it. Let them tell the boys and girls who want to go away that it is a shame for them to do so when there is work for them in their own country. Let them tell those boys and girls that, if they remain at home and work half as hard here as they have to do in another country, they will be able to provide a higher standard of living both for themselves and others in their own country. That is the kind of contribution that, I think, Senator Hawkins and those who think with him could make towards a solution of this particular problem.
The Senator also talked about the quantities of woollen goods which are in the hands of the Government so far as the Gaeltacht industries are concerned. He says these goods are there, that they cannot be sold and have not been sold. I queried him when he made that statement and asked when these goods were manufactured. I think I heard something about those goods during the Donegal election. What I heard was that very large quantities of them were manufactured under the Fianna Fáil régime, that they had since been on the hands of the people and that a market could not be found for them. Apparently, a solution for that problem has not been found yet. If we manufacture products which cannot be sold in another country, or if the position be that the price at which we want to sell them is too high for potential buyers, then we have to face that situation as we have to face the same situation in regard to every other field of endeavour. It is important that we should realise that fact.
The Senator addressed himself to one question on which I find myself in very considerable agreement with him. He referred to the growing burden of local taxation. He said that every piece of legislation passed by the Oireachtas is adding more to the rates. I agree with him but at the same time I regret that he did not discover that until so late in life. Is it not a pity that, during the 16 years his Party was in office, he did not express that sort of criticism to the then Government? If he had, perhaps they would have done something about it, and he would have done something to hold back the kind of progressive decline that we experienced under their régime—the danger that was in their policy so far as the local ratepayers were concerned. There is no doubt whatever that the level of taxation on agricultural land has reached such a high point to-day that it is causing alarm to all of us who have anything to do with local administration. Local taxation to-day is higher than it has ever been. The fact that we have that situation is, in my opinion, due to a very considerable extent to this, that legislation was passed by the last Government which put managers in charge of local administration all over the country. I have had a good deal of experience of that, and I have made a study of the situation. Those managers are in control of the situation which confronts us to-day. Most of them do not know where they are going to stop. They simply go on and on spending without any regard whatever as to whether or not the local people can afford to pay. The machinery for spending is in their hands. I suggest that that is something which will have to be revised at the earliest possible moment. Something will have to be done to put a stop to these increases in local expenditure.
The Senator also spoke about the health services growing at such a pace that, in a very short time, the fifty-fifty position, visualised in the Health Act, will be reached. He said that the local rates will have to bear the further increases in the health services. I suggest to the Senator that there is something contradictory in that kind of argument. Will he tell us why was the Health Act passed if there was not the desire and intention of improving our health services? Is the Senator critical of the improvement which the present Minister for Health has brought about in our health services? I suggest to him that you cannot have these improvements without spending money. It was inevitable that there would have to be increased expenditure under the health services because of the improved services which the Minister is providing. I know that is true. I know, too, that a point will be reached, if there are further extensions of these services, when local taxation will be called upon to bear some part of the burden.
I suppose that, in a way, one ought not to take too much notice of the kind of criticism which the Senator and his colleagues feel called upon to make on a measure of this kind, but is it not time, if they set out to criticise the faults which they see in Government policy, that they would attempt to say something constructive? The Senator said that we are subsidising the English consumer to eat our eggs. I think he made a statement to that effect. He said that the British producers are getting 4/1 a dozen for their eggs while Irish eggs are being sold at 2/6 a dozen and that therefore we are subsidising the English consumer. Well, I do not know. If we cannot consume all the eggs we produce, and if there is a surplus available for export, we simply have to sell them somewhere. We can offer that surplus to the whole world, but if we find that the English purchaser is the best that we can get, then we have to sell to him at 2/6 a dozen—if that is the best price that we can get for them from anybody.
The Senator is aware that we were getting 3/- a dozen for them.
That is another of your distortions. We were getting 3/-, but because of the complete inability of the predecessor of the present Minister for Agriculture to appreciate the considerably increased production which our poultry industry was capable of under the stimulus of a good price, he accepted a lump sum which he thought would enable the Irish producers of eggs to sell their products at 3/- a dozen until 1950. But it then transpired that the fund out of which that price was coming was being eaten into at such a pace that, before the end of 1949, the price of eggs would probably have been under 2/- a dozen. The present Minister for Agriculture saw that situation arising, and, like the man he is, he faced up to it and went and made a new agreement which carried us into 1951.
Of course, it might have been delightful, politically, as far as the Senator and his colleagues are concerned, if the present Minister for Agriculture simply sat still and did nothing about making the new agreement until the fund which Deputy Smith, the then Minister, had secured on a miscalculation of the potential productive capacity of the Irish poultry industry had been completely consumed. Had the present Minister for Agriculture waited until that situation developed there would, of course, have been a sudden drop in the price which Irish producers would get for their eggs to about 1/6 a dozen. In that situation Senator Hawkins and his colleagues would go through the country and point to the failure of the present Minister. Of course, they would never tell the people that the failure was due to the Minister's predecessor in office. Neither would they say anything about the increase that was possible in the productive capacity of the poultry industry, an increase which brought about that particular situation, or that the present Minister's predecessor had not provided for that increase. I challenge the Senator and his colleagues honestly to state in this House how much longer we would have been able to get the 3/- a dozen on the present output of our hens?
Up to 1950, the date of the agreement.
Not at all; you were going to get it if the fund lasted, but it could not last even to the end of 1949. The Senator knows that and it is time that these misrepresentations ceased. By their attitude Senators are not helping the farmers, and politically they are not helping the Fianna Fáil Party.
Whatever worry you may have about the farmers, do not worry about the Fianna Fáil Party.
They are worried enough about themselves.
There is one aspect of our policy to which I should like to draw the Minister's attention. Senator Douglas referred at some length to Partition. One does not have to subscribe to everything that Senator Douglas said, or to the way he said it, yet one must agree that it is of very great value to have someone like Senator Douglas, address himself to this problem, which is many-sided, complex and difficult. He said that we ought to avail of every opportunity we get for closer contact with the people in the Six Counties. There need not be any sacrifice of principle; there need not be any conceding of rights to these people, but it is important for us, in so far as any progress or betterment for our citizens may be involved in having contact or making approaches to the people in the Six Counties, that we should not hesitate.
There is a problem which is of considerable concern for the farming community over a considerable area of our State and over County Fermanagh as well, and that is, the drainage of the River Erne. Reference was made to this in Stormont a day or two ago. I think it was made by a member of the Senate. He said that considerable progress had been made as a result of the joint efforts of the two Governments. I do not know how much there was in that, but I am aware that over wide areas in Cavan, Leitrim and Longford there is a drainage problem which involves the catchment area of the Erne which empties into Lough Erne and which is a matter of very great interest for the people in Fermanagh.
There is a very complex legal situation existing there. An extravagant High Court action was fought out here some years ago, involving the expenditure of thousands of pounds. The whole situation is very obscure and unsatisfactory and it is a situation that requires to be clarified. I know that many people in the Six Counties and in County Fermanagh are concerned that, in so far as it is possible for the Government and the people interested here to co-operate in having something done with reference to this drainage, which concerns the two States, action would be taken here to clear up the situation. I urge the Government to concentrate on that matter. They must, from the point of view of their own citizens, give it serious attention.
I want to compliment the Minister on his willingness and preparedness to help the Minister for Agriculture in making plans for the fuller development of agriculture. Our whole future depends on it. It is vital for the nation to have a proper sense of values and to put first things first. The difficulties of exporting agricultural products are well known. The competition in industrial products everywhere in the world is becoming more acute. We see the difficulties that confront the British, because of their high prices, in exporting products. It is a lesson to us. I do not know what our ability is to adjust ourselves to that situation and to export industrial products. We require foreign exchange in order to procure the things we cannot produce for ourselves. The one medium that will provide us with that suitable exchange is the produce of our fields.
The fuller development of our agriculture and our industry is essential to national progress. The Minister and his colleagues are going along the right lines, but our farmers in certain respects are somewhat hesitant and doubtful about the future. It is not that they are doubtful of their own Government or the capacity, wisdom and vision of the Government, but there is the feeling, quite a natural feeling and anybody who knows anything about the world situation in agriculture is aware of it, that we are not far from the day when there may be considerable difficulty in cashing agricultural products.
This year again they have an immense grain harvest on the American Continent. It is true, despite all that was said by Fianna Fáil in the spring of this year—and a lot of what they did say was highly detrimental to farmers—that the output from our tillage fields this year will be higher than the yield last year. I suggest that the yield from our wheat fields per acre will be the best ever.
But that is happening in other countries, too, and we are moving to the time when we are likely to see the pressure of surpluses influencing prices. If that situation comes too quickly on the world it will have disastrous consequences for us. We might find ourselves with considerable surpluses. It is not too hard to reach the point when we will have surpluses. It is not hard to reach the point when we could give the people too much butter or too much bacon, and yet we want our farmers to continue keeping pigs and cows and to continue aiming at a better output. If, at the same time, butter from Australia, cheese from Canada, bacon from Denmark, and other produce from Holland and France all pour into the same market, we must ask ourselves what will the consequences be for our own farmers.
Organised farmers hold the view that it is essential for world stability to have stability in agricultural prices. They hold the view that the higher agricultural incomes go the more stable the position of industrial communities, because the people in industry have a market for the goods they produce. I think that is sound. It is instability in the economic field that breeds the sort of discontent that makes for war, and the best guarantee of peace, in the opinion of people who have given close and intimate study to this question, is to maintain stability in prices in world agriculture.
It is here I want to urge on the Government that, in so far as we are members of the Food and Agriculture Conference of the United Nations, and are affiliated to that body, our efforts there should be to ensure that instead of farmers in different countries being forced into a position of competing one against the other so as to bring down food prices and agricultural prices generally, the policy of our representatives should be to maintain stable agricultural prices at such a level as will leave some profit for the producer.
I do not like that opinion which conceives that the lower the price of maize meal here the better it is for us. There is no doubt that a low price for maize may be temporarily good for the man who is feeding pigs or cattle but, in the long run, low prices for maize mean low incomes for the farmers in the Argentine, in the United States of America and in Canada. Low incomes mean less capacity to purchase industrial products whether these are manufactured in their own country or exported from Great Britain. That, in turn, will react upon us and upon world economy generally. In the last analysis, therefore, the people who stand for stability in agricultural prices make a major contribution to stability in world economy.
The Minister for Finance is a man of considerable vision and a man with a knowledge of economics that cannot be described as parochial. I urge upon him that he will use his influence in the Cabinet to ensure that where representatives of this country are invited to discuss at conferences abroad problems relating to the prices of agricultural products, the argument is always advanced by them that it is essential for world peace that agricultural prices should be maintained in a stable condition and at a reasonably high level. In so far as we are exporters of agricultural products that will influence our agricultural incomes and, therefore, our national income. It will influence our standard of living. Small though we may be, I believe that our point of view at these conferences is one which commands considerable respect because the men whom we send to these conferences are men of unusual intellectual calibre. They are men who command the attention of representatives of other countries larger than our own. I do not believe we could find any greater ability than is shown by the representatives we are privileged to send abroad from this Government to represent the Republic of Ireland.
Tá mé mí-shásta le dhá rud. Tá mé mí-shásta leis an nós atá dá chleachtadh ag an Aire nuair a thagann sé isteach ins Seanad —Bille a chaitheámh ós ár gcóir agus a rá linn, beagnach, tóg nó fág. Caithfidh an tAire teacht ós ár gcóir. Faoin dlí, caithfidh sé údarás an tSeanaid d'fháil i gcóir pé'r bith airgead a bhíonn sé a iarraidh agus sílim gurb é is lú is gann dó a dhéanamh, nuair a thagann sé ós ár gcóir, iarracht a dhéanamh ar léargus a thabhairt dúinn ar chúrsaí gnótha na tíre mar chítear dó iad de bharr na deise atá aige staidéar a dhéanamh orthu mar Aire.
Nuair bhí an tAire ina Theachta I nDáil Éireann chaintíodh sé go minic agus chaintíodh sé ar feadh i bhfad. Do bhíodh an-tuairm aige faoi céard a bhí bun os cionn, cén chaoi a bhféadfaí é leigheas, agus mar sin de, ach, ó rinneadh Aire de, go háirithe chomh fada is a bhaineann leis an Seanad, shílfeá go bhfuil sé ag cailliúint deis labhartha.
Má abrann an tAire Airgeadais an rud céanna a dúirt an tAire Talmhaíochta linn cúpla uair le goirid, "má theastaíonn uaibh mo thuairim léig imeachta na Dála", b'fhéidir go bhfuil rud éigin le rá ar a shon sin. Más in é tuairim an Aire, go mba cheart dúinn a chuid óráideacha ins an Dáil a léamh agus glacadh leo mar fhocal deíreannach uaídh ag na ceisteanna, bíodh sé mar sin, ach ní dóigh liom gur nós ceart é. Sílim go dtuilleann an Seanad níos fearr ná é sin uaidh.
An dara cúis chasaoide atá agam inniu—agus ní thaithníonn liom é luadh go poiblí—sé an chúis é sin Seanadóirí teacht isteach agus a gcuid óráideacha ullamh acu agus iad a léamh focal ar fhocal ón lámh-scríbhinn. Labhair mé air seo cheana agus dúirt mé gur cheap mé nach nós maith é. Más maith le daoine cáipéis d'ullmhú taobh amu agus iad a thabhairt do Sheanadóirí le teacht isteach anseo agus iad a léamh, sílim go mba rud é nach mbeadh ionmholta, sílim go mba rud é nach mbeimís i bhfad á dhéanamh go mbeimís an-mhí-shásta leis. Is dóigh liom ar ócáidí faoi leith go bhfeileann sé do Sheanadóirí ráiteasaí a scríobh agus iad a léamh ach, mar nós, tá sé ag éirí ro-choitianta agus ní-thaithníonn sé liom. Maidir le abhar an ráitis a léamh, beidh rud éigin le rá agam faoi ar ball.
Ní thaitníonn liom rud atá ráite agam cheana a rá arís. Níl fúm cur síos a dhéanamh go mion ar rud atá ráite agam cheana. Is dóigh liom gurb é mo dhualgas agus dualgas Seanadóirí i gcoitinne a mheabhrú don Rialtas, tríd an Aire Airgeadais, an chaoi a bhfuil cliste orthu agus an chaoi a bhfuil ag cliseadh orthu na geallúintí a thugadar don phobal a chólíonadh.
Do gealladh go laghdófaí cánacha. Ceart go leor, tá iarracht déanta ar chánacha a laghdú i gcásanna áirithe, mar shompla, 6d. bainte den cháin ioncaim, ach cáin a laghdú i gcás amháin agus cáin a mhéadú, bíodh an méid sin le tabhairt faoi deara go hoscailte nó faoi cheilt, is ceist eile ar fad í.
An Bille atá ós ár gcóir i mbliana le haghaidh airgeadais na tíre, ní laghdú é ar an méid a bhí dá ghearradh ins na blianta roimhe, ach is méadú é.
Go gealladh go laghdófaí an costas maireachtála. An abrófar liom ná le duine ar bith go bhfuil an costas maireachtála go fírinneach laghdaithe ag muintir na tíre seo?
Do gealladh dhúinn go mbeadh obair le fáil ag gach duine. Do gealladh dúinn go gcuirfí deireadh le díomhaointeas, le ceal oibre ins an tír. A ndearnadh é? Nach amhlaidh go bhfuil sé méadaithe? Meireach an méid daoine atá imithe as an tír ó tháinig an Rialtas seo isteach, do bheadh an scéal go rí-dhona ar fad. Ní deas an rud é a rá, ach shílfeá ar shlí gur ádhmharaí an tsaoil é gur ghluais an oiread as an tír agus a ghluais.
Do gealladh dhúinn go stopfaí an imirce. Mar dúirt an Seanadóir Nic Phiarais, chonnacamar an lá, agus ba mhaith an lá é, i n-áit daoine ag imeacht gurb é an chaoi a rabhadar ag filleadh. Ceileadh é sin ar an bpobal. Is minic nuair bhí mé ag éisteacht le daoine eile agus iad ag caint ar chomh dona agus bhí an imirce gur mheabhraigh mé dhóibh go gcaithfeadh go raibh athrú ar an scéal. Duine a bheadh ina sheasamh ar phort nó stáisiún, d'fheicfeadh bád nó d'fheicfeadh traen ag dul amach, agus iad lán le daoine, chonnaic sé báid agus traenacha ag teacht isteach lán freisin gíd narbh fhéidir na figiúirí fháil mar chruthú air. Ní féidir a rá nach raibh athrú ar fónamh tagaithe ar an scéal i 1947 ach in ionad stop a chur le imirce is amhlaidh, trí pholasaí an Rialtas, gur méadaíodh uirthi agus, mar dúirt mé nuair bhí mé ag caint anseo cheana, na daoine a bhí ag imeacht le cúpla bliain anuas ní le paidir agus le súil filleadh ar ais atá siad ag imeacht ach tá siad ag imeacht agus eascaine á dhéanamh acu ar na daoine atá ciontach lena n-imeacht.
Fógraíodh le linn an Toghcháin go bhfoilseofaí a lán eolais ar an "corruption" a bhí ar bun i measc lucht an Rialtais. Tá mise i gcoinne drochiompair is cuma cé aige a bheadh sé. Ní ceart rud nach bhfuil fíor a rá faoi aon duine. Ní ceart tagairt a dhéanamh do character duine ar bith. Tá fhios ag Dia go ndearnadh iarracht go mion agus go minie ins an Dáil ar dochar do dhéanamh do chlú, do cháil agus do character daoine a bhí na hEireannaigh maithe ionmholta agus gur cruithaíodh gur bréag a bhí ag lucht a masluithe. Má tá eolas ann gur ghoid daoine aon rud, go ndearna siad gadaíocht, go ndearna siad claonchasadh, ó tharla go bhfuil an cumhacht ag an Rialtas, ba cheart dóibh teacht amach leis an bhfianaise air nó éirí as bheith ag caitheamh masla le daoine agus ag leanúint den pholasaí sin le dochar a dhéanamh do character na ndaoine nach bhfuil ar aon intinn polaitíochta leo. Tá an oiread rudaí eile ann ba mhaith liom a chur i gcuimhne don Aire ach ní dhéanfaidh mé ach cúpla smpla a luadh. Bhí scéim oibrithe amach le haghaidh foraoiseacha ins an tír seo. Tá fhios againn go léir na deacrachtaí a bhí ann le linn a chogaidh, tá cuid mór acu ar ceal anois. An méid cainte a bhíodh ann i dtaobh na scéimeanna móra foraoiseacha, tá sí imithe in éag. Cuireann sé i gcuimhne dhom cuid de na daoine a bhíodh i gcónaí ag caint mar gheall ar Chómhcumannachas. Bhíodh siad ag cur cómhchumannachais i leith daoine eile ach, an túisce a fuair siad cumhacht ins an Rialtas rinne siad dearmad glan ar na habhair chasaoide a bhíodh ar suíl acu le linn na mblianta roimhe sin.
Rinne an Seanadóir Ó hEacháin tagairt do scéim na haerscéalaíochta. Sílim gurbh é an tAire Airgeadais, thar aon Aire eile, a ba chóir míniú a thabhairt dúinn i dtaobh athrú aigne an Rialtais i gcás na scéimeanna sin. Tá siad tagtha faoi athrú aigne i dtaobh mórán rudaí agus creidim, má leanann siad mar Rialtas ar feadh bliain eile, go n-athróidh siad a n-aigne i dtaobh mórán rudaí eile a bhfuil siad ag fáil locht orthu i láthair na huaire.
Ní dóigh liom go mba cheart an ócáid seo a scaoileadh thart gan tagairt éigin a dhéanamh do na cánacha atá ar na daoine faoi cheilt. Níl aon dabht nach cáin ar mhuintir na tíre seo an t-ardú ar stampaí poist a gearradh i rith na bliana seo caite. Déarfaidh an tAire nach bhfuil sé féin ag fáil an airgid. Déarfaidh an tAire gur i gciste an Phosta atá an t-airgead ag dul. Déarfaidh an tAire gur chun ardú páighe a thabhairt do lucht an Phosta atá sé ag dul. Tá a fhios sin againn. Tá fhios againn gur isteach i gciste an Phosta atá an t-airgead ag dul. Támuid go léir ar aon aigne gur cóir go bhfuigheadh lucht an Phosta Cothrom na Féinne chomh maith le daoine eile —agus nílimse a rá go bhfuil lucht an Phosta ag fáil Cothrom na Féinne, go háirithe na daoine atá ag obair faoin tuaith. Is cuma cad a deireann an tAire, is cáin í seo ar na daoine, bíodh nach bhfuil ach £300,000 nó £400,000 inti.
Rinneadh tagairt don phlúr geal. Rinneadh tagairt don luach dúbailte ar tae agus ar shiúicre. Níl aon dabht nach cáin é ar na daoine agus, maidir leis an Rialtas seo a bhíodh chomh hárd-ghlórach tamall beag ó shoin i dtaobh "pip-squeaks", sílim gurab í polasaí an Rialtas seo anois na cigírí go léir a chur ag obair ar fud na tíre féachaint an é an plúr geal atá na daoine a úsáid i gcásanna áirithe in ionad an ghnáth phlúir. Nílim ag fáil aon locht ar sin. Más é an dlí é nach dtugtar cead úsáid a bhaint as an ngnáth-phlúr i gcásanna áirithe, bíodh sé amhlaidh. Ach, nach íontach an t-athrú aigne é ar thaobh an Rialtais i dtaobh tairbhe, fóntacht agus éifeacht na gcigirí?
Rinne mé tagairt cheana don iallach atá curtha ar na scoileanna gairm-oidis úsáid a bhaint as an bplúr geal in ionad an ghnáth-phlúir. Níl fhios agam cé mhéad a gheobhfaidh an tAire as i riocht cánach. Sílim gur suarach an beart é sin. Sílim gur dona an beart é sin. Táimid ag múineadh do na cailiní óga an chaoi le feidhm a bhaint as na gnáth rudaí. Táimid ag múineadh dóibh conas freastal a dhéanamh ar a muintir féin agus conas feidhm a bhaint as na rudaí atá go maith agus na rudaí atá le moladh. I dtreo is go bhfuighidh an tAire beagáinín airgid as mbreis, do bhí ar na scoltacha gairm-oidis na ceadúnais a fuair siad chun an gnáth phlúr a cheannach a chur thar n-ais agus, in a ionad sin, an plúr geal a cheannach. Bhí an ceart ag an Seanadóir Nic Phiarais nuair a dúirt sí gur dona ar fad an rud seo ag an Rialtas dhá luach a bheith i bhfeidhm agus go mba chóir dóibh éirí as.
Ní miste, is doigh liom, a rá gur cáin í ar na daoine an milliún punt atá á ghearradh anois ar an lucht oibre agus ar na máistrí ar na stampaí Arachais. I mbliain iomlán beidh sé milliún punt. Do míníodh do na daoine sin, arís agus arís eile, na téarmaí íontacha a gheobhadh siad ón Rialtas seo. Do míníodh dóibh nach tada aon rud lehais na scéimeanna nua a bheadh ag an Rialtas nua nuair a cuirfí in oifig iad. Mar sin féin, tá bliain imithe thart anois agus gan na scéimeanna sin a chur ós comhair an phobail. Tá rudaí ann ar féidir leis an Rialtas a dhéanamh uathu féin ach tá ceisteanna eile ann agus sílim go mba chóir iad a phlé leis na daoine ar dtús agus an beart a dhéanamh ina dhiaidh sin. Ceann amháin de na ceisteanna an cheist sin agus sílim gur chóir í a phlé i dtosach báire agus an beart a dhéanamh in a dhiaidh. Is cuma cén tslí a dearctar ar an scéal, is ionann an cháin ar an stampí sin agus cáin sa mbreis ar na daoine. Tá mórán rudaí eile den tsórd céanna. Is cánacha iad a gearrtar faoi cheilt. Ní thagann siad isteach agus ní déantar iad a phlé mar chánacha ach, is cuma cad a deirtear, sa deireadh caithfear iad a chur isteach san áireamh nuair a bheimid ag tagairt do chostas an Rialtais ins an tír.
Ba mhaith liom tagairt a dhéanamh go háirithe, do cheist an imirce. Do thracht mé uirthi cheana. Dúirt mé, ar an ócáid deireannach abhí mé ag tagairt don cheist, go raibh me mí-shásta le imeachtaí an Chomisiúin, agus ba mhaith liom focal a rá faoin scéal sin anois. Do bunaíodh an Comisiún seo i dtosach mí Aibreáin sa mbliain 1948. Na hAirí go léir atá ins an Rialtas atá ann faoi láthaír, do bhí an-eolas acu, le blianta, ar cheist seo na himirce. Bhí fhios acu conas deireadh a chur léi. Bhí fhíos acu an chaoi a bhí sé ag goiliúint ar an tír. Bhí fhios acu chomh costasach is a bhí sí ar an tír. Fé mar dúirt mé, ní raibh ann ach an t-údarás a thabhaírt dóibh agus chuirfidís na scéimeanna i bhfeidhim a stopfadh an imirce ar an bpointe. Bhí mé ag breathnú inniu ar, fé mar a déarfá, údarás an Choimisiúin agus ar an ráiteas oifigiúil a fógraíodh in éindigh leis. Thug mé faoi ndeara go raibh an méid seo ráite tar éis an fógra go raibh an Coimisiún curtha ar bun, agus mar sin de—"The Commission will review the position re emigration, rural depopulation and other features of the rural problem”. Anois—“emigration and rural de-population”—má bhí aon cheist á phlé ag lucht an Rialtais le tamall fada roimh an toghchán bhí na ceisteanna sin orthu. Mar sin féin, an Rialtas a mba cheart dóibh uathu féin dul i mbun réiteach na deacrachta, d'éirigh siad as an gcúram a bhí orthu agus deagadar an cúram ar Choimisiún. Tá can locht seo agam ar an gCoimisiún sin. Thuigeadar chomh táchtach agus bhí an cheist, chomh práinneach agus bhí an cheíst. Dá mb'fhíor an chaint a bhí ar bun ag Airí an Rialtais, shílfeá go bhféadfaidís, i gcionn dhá cnó sé mhí nó bliain ar a mhéid, tuarascáil interim a chur ar fáil i dtaobh ceist seo na himirce. Má tá siad ag dul chun ceist a phlé i dtaobh cúrsaí daonra na tíre i gcionn míle blian nó 500, 100 nó 20 blian, caithfidís a gcuid ama leis sin ar a suaimhneas; ach ó thárla scéal na himirce a bheith chomh táchtach agus chomh práinneach agus a bhí, shílfeá, ar a laghad, go ndéanfaí iarracht ar treoir éigin a thabhairt dúinn ar réiteach na faidhbe, taobh istigh den mhéid seo ama.
Tá mé mí-shásta mar gheall air seo, freisin. Ball den Chomisiún seo—is dóigh liom go raibh fáil aige ar fhigiúirí agus ar eolas príobháideach, eolas a chuir Ranna Rialtais isteach go dtí an Comisiún—scríobh sé aiste in ar fhuagair sé go raibh deireadh le imirce ins an tír. Ba hamaideach an dréacht é—ní abród tada faoin té a scríobh é. Ar a laghad, shílfeá go mba cheart do Chathaoirleach an Choimisiúin, nó don Aire Leasa Shóisialaigh ráiteas éigin a chur amach i dtaobh na ceiste sin. Bhfuil an tAire agus an Rialtas tagaithe ar an tuairim nach ceist phráinneach í in aon chor? Shílfeá nach mbeadh siad in oifig ar feadh 24 uaire gan bheith ag iarraidh í a réiteach, ach anois tá bliain go leith ímithe agus ní chuireann sí isteach ar aon duine acu.
Thug an tAire píosa fada cainte uaidh an lá cheana, i dTír Chonaill. Béidir gurb é an dearcadh atá aige ar na nithe seo, go mbá cheart dó dul go cruinnithe Fhine Gael agus a thuairmí ar na ceisteanna seo go Iéir a thabhairt dóidh agus sinne a fhágáil gan eolas—chomh fada agus a bhaineas sé le oifigiúlacht an tSeanaid. Bhí sé ag caint ar chúrsaí idirnáisiúnta, cúrsaí airgid agus cúsaí geilleagair na hEireann. Ní abródh sé nach paraphrase réasúnta é seo ar an óráid, chomh fáda agus a bhaineánn leis an airgead:—
"Ireland had been sheltered from some of the worst effects of the war because of American benevolence through Marshall Aid. It may well be that, in the months ahead, a shock may be given to our plans."
An mbeadh sé as bealach a iarraidh ar an Aire míniú níos iomláine a thabhairt dúinn ar an gcaint sin? Tá a fhios againn go bhfuil sé socraithe go mbeidh comh—chomhairle ann go luath le Rialtas Shasana agus Airí Airgeadais Rialtaisí éagsúla. Béidir gur ceist í seo nach ceart í a phlé go poiblí. Níos mó ná uair amháin, nuair a thagair mé do cheisteanna áirithe, dúradh liom, ón taobh eile, go raibh mé "mischievous." Ní theastaíonn uaim a bheith mioscaiseach. Más rud é go ndeireann an tAire go bhfuil contúirt ann, agus gur fearr gan tada a rá in a thaobh go fóill, bíodh sé mar sin. Ach má tá imní ar dhaoine ar céard tá ag dul ag tuitim amach ins an am atá le teacht, ba cheart go n-inseodh sé don tír é, agus go mbainfeadh sé feidhm as an ocáid seo chun é dhéanamh.
Mhol mé níos mó ná uair amháin an chabhair atá Meiriocá sásta a thabhairt don Eoraip agus a thabhairt dúinn; agus tá mise lán tsásta leis. Ach, má thugaimid Cothrom na Féinne do gach duine agus do gach dream ar gach ocáid, sílim go gcaithfimid a admháil gurb é imeachtaí mhuintir na hEireann féin is mó a chosain sinn le linn an chogaidh atá caite. B'fhiú iomlán an scéil a thabhairt ansin.
Chuir mé ceist ar an Aire i dtaobh iasacht Mheiriocá. Dúirt sé go raibh an cheist ró-chasta, go mb'fhéidir é fhágáil i leath-taodh.
Bhí an tAire Talmhaíochta ag maíomh as an airgead a bhíomar a fháil ó Mheiriocá nuair a bhí sé ós comhair an tSeanaid le goirid. Chuir mé ceist nó dhó air. Is duine é an tAire Talmhaíochta gur doiligh aon rud a chreidiúint uaidh. Ní hionann é sin is a rá go bhfhuil mé ag iarraidh a rá gur bréagadóir é. Ní hea, ach deireann sé rudaí inniu agus a malairt amáireach agus níl aon duine i ndon iontaobh a bheith aige as. Níl fhios againn céard é an tuairim atá aige go buan agus céard é an tuairim a athrós sé ar ala na huaire. Cé mhéad airgid atá fáighte againn go dtí seo? Níl fhios agam, agus níor mhaith liom buille faoi thuairim a thabhairt air. Bhí figiuirí againn cúpla mí ó shoin ach h is cinnte go bhfuil na figiurí athraithe. Beidh ús le híoc againn ar an airgead. Sin í an cheist a chuir mé ar an Aire an uair dheiridh agus ar an Aire Talmhaíochta. Má thagann sé sa saol sa mbliaín 1952 nacn mbeidh muid ábalta dollaerí fháil ó Shasana, cén chaoi a bheas an scéal? Ba mhian leis an Aire Talmhaíochta a bheith fonmhóideach scigiúil an lá cheana. Dúirt sé muna mbeadh dollaerí againn nach bhfhéadfhadh muid iad a íoc. D'aontaigh mé leis; sin é an rud atá ag déanamh buartha dhom. Muna mbeidh na dollaerí againn, cén tuiscint atá ann idir Eire agus Meiriocá? Má fhághaim iasacht ón mbanc nach bhfuil mé ábalta a aisíoc nuair a thiocfas an t-am, is fíor nach féidir, mar adúirt an tAire Talmhaíochta, fuil a bhaint as turnap. Ní féidir airgead a bhaint as duine nach bhfhuil airgead aige, ach tríd is tríd bíonn redres ag an mbannc.
Ní gá dhom é sin sin a mheabhrú don Aire. Muna bhfhuil muid ábalta an scór a íoc de réir téarmaí atá socraithe agus foilsithe, muna bhfuil ar chumas Shasana an t-airgead a chur ar fáil dúinn, an nglanfar an scór idir muid agus Meiriocá? Is fíor go bhfuil Sasana ag fáil deontaise ó na Stáit Aontaithe; tá muide ag fáil iasachta. Tá muid ag fáil na hiasachta sin le earraí a chur ar fáil le haghaidh muintir Shasana. Go neamh-dhíreach, tá Sasana ag fáil buntáiste dollaerí via Eire. Is deontas cuid mhór den airgead atá Sasana a fháil go díreach ó Mheiriocá; an t-airgead atá muide a fháil is iasacht é. Sa tslí sin tá Sasana ag fáil deontaise uainne; tá sí ag fáil cuid d'iasacht Mheiriocá atá ag dul chugainn agus beidh sé aice i riocht deontaise. B'fhéidir nach bhfhuil an ceart agam sa tuairim sin. Muna bhfhuil, ba mhaith liom an sceál a léiriú. Ní domsa é; bheadh ionadh ar an Aire an méid daoine atá sa tír a chuireann an cheist chéanna agus an méid daoine a bhfuil imní orthu cén chaoi a bheas an scéal sna blianta atá romhainn muna n-eiríonn le Sasana dóthain airgid Mheiriocánaigh a fháil le cuid de a chur ar fáil dúinne.
Bhí an Seanadóir Douglas mí-shásta leis an Seanadóir Ó hEacháin gur labhair sé i dtaobh an oiread sin rudaí. Bhuel, tá níos mó ná rud amháin agamsa le labhairt air agus tá súil agam go mbeidh an Seanad foighdeach liom go labhród orthu. Shábháíl an Seanadóir Nic Phiarais cuid mhaith orm is an óraid a rinne sí cúpla nóiméad ó shoin. Níl aon duine, is dóigh liom, i nÉirinn is údarasaí ag labhairt ar cheist na Gaeilge ná an Seanadóir Nic Phiarais. Nuair atá polasaí an Rialtais ag déanamh imní di, ba cheart dúinne áird a thabhairt uirthi. Tá an ceart aice nuair a deireanna sí nach cosúlacht an-mhaith a lán atá ar bun i dtaobh na Gaeilge.
B'fhéidir nach bhfuil an ceart ag na daoine a deireann nach bhfuil an Rialtas seo dáiríre i dtaobh na Gaeilge; b'fhéidir go bhfuil siad chomh dáiríre le duine ar bith eile, ach is dóigh liom, taréis an méid imní atá ar dhaoine i dtaobh ceist na Gaeilge agus polasaí an Rialtais, gur cheart don Rialtas ráiteas éigin cruinn oifigiúil a chur amach i dtaobh an scéil go léir. Ní chuirfidh mé síos ar na nithe seo ina gceann is ina gceann. Tá fhios agam go rí-mhaith chomh táhachtach atá sé téacs-leabhra a bheith ann. Ní haon mhaith a bheith ag caint ar an nGaeilge a thabhairt ar ais muna bhfuil deis ag daoine a smaointe a nochtadh sa nGaeilge agus cúrsaí an tsaoil agus cúrsaí léinn a phlé i nGaeilge, agus is doiligh dóibh é sin a dheanamh go mbéidh teács-leabhra acu. Mar dhuine a bhfhuil fhios aige an trioblóid a bhíos sna meán scoileanna agus an trioblóid a bhíos san iolscoil, d'iarrfainn, d'impeoinn, ar an Aire áird faoi leith a thabhairt don taobh sin den scéal, agus má chreideann sé i naithbheochaint na Gaeilge, féachaint i ndiaidh an easnaimh sin maidir le téacs-leabhra ar an dá luaithe.
Theastaigh uaim rudaí a rá maidir le scéal na múinteoirí. Nuair a bhí Fianna Fáil i réim ghealladar do na múinteoirí, nuair a thug siad ardú dóibh, go bpléifí an scéal ath-uair i 1949, timcheail Aibreán nó Bealtaine.
Sílim go bhfuil sé in am an réiteach atá ar intinn ag an Rialtas do na múinteoirí a chur in iúl dóibh. Pointe ar leith a theastaigh uaim a mheabhrú don Aire: gur cheart don Rialtas féachaint chuige i gcás múinteora náisiúnta ar bith atá i ndon teagasc a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge, go mbeadh an ceart aige é sin a dhéanamh agus bonus a bheith le fáil aige as. Chuir sé scannradh orm nuair a chuala mé ó mhúinteoir le goirid—togha múinteora, múinteoir, ar m'eolas fhéin, chomh maith is atá sa tír—an méid a rinneadh le cosc a chur air. Bhí cigire ag iarraidh a chur ina luí air nach bhfhéadfadh sé tír-eolas ná unihríocht a mhúineadh trí Ghaeilge sa mbun-scoil. Tar éis gurbh éigin don chigire a admhachtáil gur sár-mhúinteoir é agus go raibh sár-obair, déanta aige sna habhair scríofa, dhiúltaigh sé árdmhare a thabhairt dó maidir le labhairt na Gaeilge. Bhí fhios agam a fheabhas maidir le labhairt dómaindir na Gaeilge mar casadh cuid de na scoláirí orm ag an ngairm-scoil. Chuir sé agóid isteach agus tháinic árd-chigire. B'éigin don árd-chigire a admhachtáil go raibh labhairt na Gaeilge ar fheabhas ag na scoláirí óga. Ba cheart breathnú isteach i gceist mar sin. Má tá múinteoir sásta—agus tá a lán acu sásta, buíochas le Dia—agus ábalta múineadh tré Ghaeilge, ba cheart go gceadófaí dóibh é dhéanamh, agus ní amháin sin, ba cheart go bhfuigheadh siad luach speisialta saothair de bharr a dhéanta.
Rinneadh tagairt do chúrsaí rátaí. Tá rud amháin gur mhaith liom a mheabhrú don Aire, agus ba mhaith liom go geuirfeadh sé an cheist ós comhair rannóige na luachála. Má tá luacháil dá dhéanamh in áit ar bith sa tír agus má táthar leis an luacháil a ardú ar aon duine, ba cheart go n-inseofaí dó cén fáth a bhfuil an tardú dá dhéanamh. Is rí-dhóna an rud, má thagann cigire—agus na daoine as láthair b'fhéidir—ag déanamh seilbhéireachta, nach bhfuil fhios ag an duine ar leis an áit céard a thárla go dtí go bhfuighidh sé bille sa mbreis de bharr na luachála sé nó ocht mí ina dhiaidh. Ba cheart go n-inseofaí dó an méid atá i gceist agus an fáth atá leis. Ní hamháin sin, ach sílim go mba cheart don Aire—agus tá súil agam go bhfuil cead agam é a rá anois—smaoineamh ar faoiseamh éigin a thabhairt do dhaoine as ucht deisiúcháin a dhéanamh ar a gcuid tithe. Má chaitheann daoine airgead ag deisiú agus ag cur caoi ar a gcuid tithe ba cheart go bhfuighidís liúntas éigin faoin gcóras cáin ioncaim as a leitheide sin. Admhaimid i gcás lucht gnótha go mba cheart go bhfuighidís liúntas as dí-mheas ar a gcuid inneallra ar dheisiúchán agus a leitheide agus sílim nach mbeadh ann ach cothrom na Féinne go bhfuigheadh daoine a choinníos a dtithe go deas liúntas éigin de bharr a bheith chómh cúramach is a bhíonn siad.
Rinne mé iarracht spéis a bheith agam ins an bpáipéar a léigh an Seanadóir Douglas. Is dóigh gur thug sé cuid mhaith ama leis. Chaith sé na bouquets go fial agus go fairsing. Tá an-mhuinín aige as an Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha. Bíodh sin mar atá. Ba mhaith liom a mheabhrú don tSeanadóir Douglas nach inniu ná inné atá muid ag cur spéis i ngnóthaí eachtracha. Ba mhaith liom a mheabhrú dó nach inniu ná inné go bhfuil spéis againne i gcúrsa na hEorpa. B'fhéidir go bhfuil fhios ag an Seanadóir Douglas anois cén taobh ar a rabh an tAire Gnóthaí Eachtracha le linn an chogaidh. Nuair bhí muide sa tír seo ag iarraidh ar ár muintir féin airgead a chur ar fáil i gcóir na hEorpa agus bia a chur ar fáil i gcóir na hEorpa, tá fhios againn an campaign a bhí ar bun in ár gcoinne.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.
Bhí mé ag deanamh tagairt d'óráid an tSeanadóra Douglas, nó bhféidir go mba cheart dom a rá do pháipéar an tSeanadóra Douglas, nuair d'éiríomar as le haghaidh sosa. Rud a bhí mé a iarraidh chur in a luí ar an Seanadóir nach bhfuilmid neamh-shuimiúil ins na himeachtaí seo i dtaobh na hEorpa. Bhí mé ag meabhrú dó, direach tar éis an chogaidh an méid a rinneadh le fóirithint ar mhuintir na hEorpa agus bhí mé ag rá gur vótail Rialtas Fianna Fáil airgead le cuidiú le tíortha áirithe san Eoraip agus taobh amuigh den Eoraip. Rinne Rialtas Fianna Fáil a dhícheall roint bídh a chur ar fáil le haghaidh muintir na hEorpa agus an rud a bhí mé a rá nach cuimhneach liom gur scríobh an Seanadóir Douglas nó gur scríobh aon duine dá chomh-Theachtaí i gcoinne na himeachtaí agus na litreacha a bhí ar bun ar na páipéirí i gcoinne na hoibre a bhí ar bun ag Rialtas Fianna Fáil le cuidiú leis na tíortha hEorpacha agus tíortha nach iad.
Bhí an Seanadóir Douglas ar thaobh cúnamh a thabhairt dóibh.
Cad é an chúis gearáin atá ag an Seanadóir mar sin?
Is ionadh liom nár dhúirt an Seanadóir ins an am agus nár dhúirt sé inniu oiread is focal amháin i gcoinne na cainte a rinneadh ins an Dáil féin i gcoinne na cabhrach sin a chur ar fáil.
Bhí sé ar thaobh cabhair a thabhairt. Ba leor sin. Cad eile ba ghá a dhéanamh?
Is cuimhneach liom an t-am a raibh an Seanadóir agus an Seanadóir de Buitléir ag thabhairí cuntas dúinn ar a gcuid imeachtaí i gcomhdháil áirithe san Eoraip bliain ó shoin go dtáining an tAire Gnótha Eachtracha isteach ins an Seanad agus ba mbian leis sáiteoga a thabhairt dúinn ar an taobh seo mar gheall ar muidne bheith neamh-shuimiúil ar na himeachtaí seo san Eoraip. Mar dúramar ins an am agus mar adeirim anois, ba mhaith linn cuidiú le hiarracht ar bith dá ndeanfar le síochán agus có-oibriú a thabhairt ísteach i mease muintir na hEorpa agus imeasc muintir an domhain. Ní thógfadh aon duine orm má abraim go bhfuil mé in amhras roinnt faoi cad iad na himeachtaí sin. An tam san, dúramar, agus déarfainn anois é, nach dtaithníonn sé liom go bhfuil, mar shompla, Rialtas na Spáinne gearrtha amach ón gcomhairle a bhfuil brath acu a chur ar bun go luath. A leitheidí sin, cuireann sé muid in amhras ar bona fides na ndaoine atá i mbun na hiarrachta seo.
Dá mbeimis páirteach in a léithéidí, bhféidir go bhféadfaimis ceacht éigin a mhúineadh dóibh i dtaobh réasúin agus b'fhéidir go bhféadfaimis cur in a luí orthu go mba cheart dóibh bheith níos céillí i dtaobh na nithe seo go léir. Má bhímid páirteach ann, beidh cuid mhór le déanamh againn maidir leis na réiteachta a moltar. Ni thaithneoidh sé liom go ndéanfaí rud ar bith a laghdódh éifeacht, cumas, cumacht nó saoirse an Stáit seo tionscail a chur ar bun nó tionscail a láidriú. Nílimse an oiread sin le taobh nationalisation i dtaobh tionscail. Níl cás na hÉireann cosúil le cás aon tír eile. Ó thaobh an gheilleagar, bheadh a lán le rá ar son na scéme seo. Maidir linne anseo in Éirinn, caithfimid bheith cúramach nó déanfar aon réiteach a chuirfeadh sinn amú agus na difríochta speisialta a bhaineann linn. Má théimid isteach ann, agus is dócha go rachaidh, beidh dualgas trom ar theachtaí na tíre seo féachaint chuig cás sa hÉireann maidir le cúrsaí geilleagar, cultúir agus saíochta.
Do chaith an Seanadóir Douglas mórán ama ag caint faoi dheigilt na tíre. Marach chomh hachranach agus chomh tábhachtach is atá an scéil seo, bheadh ar duine gáire a dhéanamh an Seanadóir a chloisint ag caint faoi dheighilt na tíre. Do mhol sé an Rialtas faoin méid atá déanta acu. Do mhol sé an tAire Gnóthaí Eachtracha faoin méid atá déanta aige chun ceist deighilt na tíre a thabhairt ós comhair na náisiún eile. Nach bhfuil sé in am dó anois, agus nach bhfuil sé in am dúinn go léir, a rá leis an Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha agus lena chó Airí ins an Rialtas go mba chóir dóibh éirigh as an tseafóid i dtaobh deighilt na tíre agus rud éigin a dhéanamh? Nuair a bhí an toghchán ginerálta ar siúl agus le tamall maith roimhe sin, dúradar ag gach cruinniú a bhí ar súil acu go raibh plean acu chun deire a chur le deighilt na tíre. Anois, cad tá déanta acu ó Mhí Feabhra, 1948? An ndéarfadh aoinne liom go bhfuilmid níos comhgairí inniu do réiteach ceist deighilt na tíre ná mar a bhíomár dhá bhliain ó shoin? Cúpla mí ó shoin do bhí mór-chruinniú i lár na cathrach seo. Ón méid a bhí á rá ag an Taoiseach, cheapfadh duine go raibh sé ar bís, go rachadh sé abhaile agus go dtógfadh sé muscaed agus go rachadh sé amach agus troid agus comhrac a dhéanamh chun an rud seo do leigheas. Do bé an chuid is mó a rinneadh ná a iarraidh ar Fhianna Fáil dul isteach leo, agus có-chruinnithe a bheith ar siúl ar fud na tíre chun a chur in a luí ar na daoine an éagóir a bhí déanta i ndeighilt na tíre. Nach dicéille é mórán airgead a chaitheamh chun a chur in a luí ar dhaoine go bhfuil deighilt agus éagóir ann? Nach bhfuil sé in am rud éigin a dhéanamh mar gheall air? Dá mba rud é go raibh na daoine sin indáiríbh, dá mba rud é go raibh plean acu dhá bhliain ó shoin, nach bhfuil sé in am é a nochtadh?
Ní dúradar é sin. Ní dúradar go raibh aon phlean acu.
Deireann an Seanadóir Mícheál Ó hAodha ná dúirt siad go raibh plean acu. Tá fhios agam go maith go raibh siad ag masladh, i rith an toghcháin ghinearálta deiridh, an Taoiseach a bhí ann an uair sín mar gheall ar cás deighilt na tíre. Dúirt siad go raibh sé ag deanamh faillí ann, go raibh scéim acusan agus go mbeadh an cheist socraithe nuair a bheadh siad san i gcumhacht mar Rialtas. Anois deireann an Seanadóir Mícheál Ó hAodha nach bhfuil an ceart agam. Cromann sé a cheann. Tá an t-eolas aige faoi gach rud. Is féidir leis labhairt faoi na cruinnithe a raibh sé féin i láthair acu, agus faoi na hóráidí a chuala sé féin, ach is féidir liomsa labhairt faoin méid a chuala mé féin agus faoi na hargóintí a bhí agam le cuid de na cainteoirí sin faoin scéal. Teastaíonn ón Seanadóir Douglas bheith go dheas, ciúin, séimh agus gan aon rud a dhéanamh a chuirfeadh múisiam ar aoinne.
Níl an Seanadóir Douglas anseo ag éisteacht anois, ach nuair a bhí Éamon de Valera ag dul tríd an mBreatain Mhóir ag iarraidh éagóir deighilt na tíre a chur in iúl do mhuintir Shasana, tá a fhios againn an chaoi a d'fhreagair cuid de na daoine atá árd-ghlórach anois—agus cuid acu ins an bPárlaimint anois—agus an méid—an méid a rinneadh, leis, nuair a thugadar a gcuid pléascán imeasc muintir Shasana.
Níor dhein an Seanadóir Douglas é sin.
Nuair d'imigh Éamon de Valera ar fud an domhain ag innsint do dhaoine i gcein an éagóir a rinneadh i, deighilt na tíre, agus ag iarraidh cabhair d'fháil leis an scéal a réiteach, tá a fhios againn an meas a bhí ag an Aire Dlí agus Cirt air agus ar an obair mhór a bhí a dhéanamh aige. Cheapfá, ón Seanadóir Douglas agus a cháirde, nach ndearna dream ar bith eile faic faoi dheighilt na tíre go dtí gur tháiníg an dream seo isteach. An fíor nó bréag é nár lig an tIar-Thaoiseach ócáid thairis gan an éagóir seo a chur in iúl d'Airí ó thíortha eile nuair a bhí sé ag plé leo. Ar lig sé ócáid ar bith thairis go poiblí nó go príobháideach, gan a dhícheall a dhéanamh, le cur in iúl do dhaoine ar bhain sé leo, chomb mór agus bhí sé ina éagóir agus chomb riachtanach agus a bhí sé go socrófaí é, chun go mbeadh síochán ann idir Éire agus Sasana, nó chun go bhféadhfadh Éire a dualgas a chomhlíonadh i mease na náisiún— mar ba mhian léi agus mar b'fhéidir leí?
Labhair an Seanadóir Ó hEacháin anseo ar an airgead atá gá bhaint amach ar lucht imirce go dtí na Stáit Aontaithe. Caithfidh na daoine sin teacht go dtí Baile Átha Cliath— cuimhneoidh an Seanad go bhfuil an imirce ar bun i gcónaí—agus caithfidh siad costas taistil agus costas tithe ósta a íoc an fhaid agus tá siad sa gcathair; agus ansin caithfidh siad £5 an duine a íoc mar tháille le doctúir áirithe le scrúdú agus teastas, sul ligfear amach as an tír iad. Níl a fhios agam an méid duine d'imigh le bliain nó bliain go leith, ach sílim go bhfuil imithe go dtí na Stáit Aontaithe suas agus anuas le 17,500 duine. Níl a fhios agam an méid ar diúltaíodh teastas a thabhairt dóibh. Má mhéadaíonn tú 18,000 fá 5, sin £90,000. Sin ceann de na héagcóra atá dá ndéanamh ar lucht na himirce. Cén fáth nach féidir leo dul isteach go dtí ospidéal i nGaillimh nó i Luimneach, nó go dtí dochtúir príobháideach ansin, chun an teastas d'fháil uathu? Cuimhnigh ar £100,000 dá roinnt ar cheathrar dochtúirí i mBaile Átha Cliath.
£100,000 dá roinnt anseo idir ceathrar dochtúirí i mBaile Átha Cliath, in aon bhliain amháin! Ní fíor é sin.
Abróidh mé arís é. Dúirt mé go bhfuil suas agus anuas le 17,000 duine imithe go dtí na Stáit Aontaithe agus go gcaithfidh na daoine atá ag iarraidh dul táille £5 a íoc as ucht scrúdú dochtúra; go gcaithfidh go bhfuil daoine áirithe a thagann go Baile Átha Cliath nach bhfaghann an teastas sin. Abair go bhfuil 18,000 ann a íocas an £5 sin le haghaidh teastais dochtúra; méadaigh 18,000 fá chúig agus cé mhéad atá agat? Suas agus anuas le £100,000 ar theastais dochtúra.
Ar cheathrar dochtúir?
Deirtear gur bhfuil ceathrar dochtúir ar an bpanel.
Níl sé fíor ar aon chor go bhféadhfadh ceathrar dochtúir £100,000 a dhéanamh i mbliain amháin. Dícéille, amadántacht.
Leis an Aire atá mé ag caint tríd an gCathaoir.
Tá cead cainte againn go léir.
Níl fhios agam cén t-eolas cruinn beacht atá ag an Seanadóir Ó hAodha ar an gceist seo. Má tá eolas cruinn beacht aige, bíodh sé mar sin, ach caithfear a chur in úil dúinn go bhfuil an t-údarás aige agus an t-udarás na cúrsaí sin a mhíniú dúinne. Má abrann an tAire nach bhfuil na dochtúirí ag fáil an airgid sin; má abrann sé gur ceist í sin a bhaineann le Rialtais Mheiriocá, nach ceist í a bhaineann linne, ba mhaith liom a mholadh go n-iarrfadh an tAire Airgeadais ar an Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha an cheist go léir a chur ós comhair Rialtas Mheiriocá agus go n-iarrfaí orthu a bheith níos réasunaí maidir leis an gceist seo ná mar atá, dár linne.
Tá pointe amháin eile agam sul a suidhfead síos. Thug mé faoi deara le goirid go raibh díospóireacht sa Dáil faoi chúrsaí áirithe agus gur cheap an tAire Airgeadais gur cheart dó rud áirithe a rá i dtaobh cuid de Bhreithiúin na tíre. Ba mhaith liom a rá sul a shuíod síos gur dóigh liom gur rud an mhí-cheart an rud sin, gur dóigh liom nach rud é a rachas do leas na tíre go ndéanfadh an tAire, nó aon Aire eile, caint mar a rinne an tAire Airgeadais i dtaobh na mBreithiún. Tá súil agam, ó thárla go bhfuil tamall caite ó rinne sé an chaint sin, go bhfuil fhios aige chomh mí-cheart is a bhí sé a leithéid sin de chaint a dhéanamh. Tá súil agam go bhfhéachfar le deis éigin fháil an chaint sin a tharraint siar agus leithscéal a dhéan amh mar ba cheart le binse na mBreithiún.
It is obvious that the Appropriation Bill has been regarded as a free-for-all where practically every subject under the sun can be discussed. I am not going to fall for that temptation.
I intend to make a few observations on matters which have not been dealt with by previous speakers. In the first place I want to suggest to the Minister for Finance that it is high time, now that we have our political and economic freedom, that we scrapped the hand-me-down system of motor vehicle taxation we took over from John Bull. It is like all hand-me-down systems: it is a complete misfit as far as this country is concerned and, queerly enough, the country of its origin has already dropped it. The horse-power system of taxation on motor vehicles was deliberately designed by Britain to kill the big type of car in order to protect the type of vehicle then being manufactured in Britain, but because it suited England to introduce such a system here is no reason why that system should be retained so many years after its introduction. The Irish Motor Traders' Association submitted to the last Government, and it has again submitted to the present one, an alternative system of road taxation under which all motor vehicles would pay a merely nominal registration fee such as they had, queerly enough, in 1919 in Great Britain, and the rest of the revenue which it might be thought desirable to collect from the motor user would be got in——
Would these remarks not be more appropriate on the Finance Bill rather than on an Appropriation Bill?
Am I not entitled to speak on revenue? I think, with all respect, that this is far more relevant to the Bill than some of the matters which have been raised already.
The Finance Bill deals with motor vehicle taxation.
So many things have been discussed on this Bill that I am amazed to find that my remarks on this subject could be out of order.
This Bill provides the Minister with moneys required for the office of the Revenue Commissioners.
But the Senator is dealing with the question of motor taxation.
And this is an ancillary matter. I think the Senator is quite in order in dealing with it.
The Revenue Commissioners have nothing to do with motor taxation.
They have with the collection of duty on petrol and this is ancillary to it.
They have got to do with motor traders' profits. Maybe that would let the Senator in.
I think that is an unfair interjection by the Minister. I am not speaking for motor traders. I am speaking for motor users and I am suggesting that the revenue which it is thought desirable to collect from them could be more readily got by means of a tax on petrol. I think I have made my point, and I am quite content to pass from it, but frankly I am really surprised if this is one matter that is outside the scope of a debate which has already provoked so many wide comments.
Dealing with the viewpoint expressed by Senator Douglas, I want to say at once that I heartily endorse most of what he said in reference to the desirability of our maintaining the international contacts we have already established and of strengthening them. At this juncture, I want to say that I was delighted personally with the very effective speech made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce at the International Labour Conference in Geneva. He made a speech that was well worth listening to and it was very effective because of its propaganda value. The opportunity which these conferences provide of making contact with representatives of countries from all over the world, who let me say at once know very little about Ireland, is even more valuable. They knew very little about this country and they cared equally little, until we got an opportunity of meeting them and telling them of some of the real facts of the Irish situation. Therefore, with the words of commendation and praise that were expressed by Senator Douglas relating to the work of the Department of External Affairs I find myself in very considerable agreement. He mentioned the Council of Europe and the hopes which we all have of the results of its establishment. Surely it is pertinent to say following his words that the issue is simply this—a belief in fundamental human rights as against Communism. One can only wonder why, in the terms of certain questions in the Dáil recently, the civilised nations of the world do not grapple with these things in a more definite fashion by outlawing Communism altogether. It is a mortal disease attacking civilisation and it is idle to think that it can be cured by just playing with it and pretending that it does not exist.
There are one or two matters to which I would like to refer before sitting down. Reference was made to the short-wave station by Senator Douglas. Here again, I feel that it is something we should have had long ago and I hope it will soon be brought into active use. We are comparatively isolated and we have discovered, over a period of years, that views concerning this country filter through channels that are not always favourable to this country. If we are to get to the ears of the world, we shall have to do so by systems of communication which are uncontaminated by foreign sources. The short-wave station is the most effective way of doing that.
One other matter which Senator Douglas introduced was the question of what, for want of a better word, I would call tourism. It is a word I hate but I do not know of one that fits the situation any better. I have been always amazed, and to some degree disheartened, by talk of luxury hotels in this country. This country has no luxury hotels. Judged by American or continental standards we have not a single luxury hotel in the country but if this tourist business has the value that we think it has, and that we know it has, if it means the introduction into our economy of millions of valuable dollars that otherwise we would not get, we shall not retain the magnetic draw for that money very long, unless we face the ever-increasing continental competition and provide the amenities that the people with the dollars expect to get.
Within the past few months, I personally was in what was regarded as a first-class hotel in a certain part of Ireland. I shall not identify it further than that. I discovered that I had forgotten to put a piece of soap in my bag, but so had the hotel-keeper omitted to put a piece in my room —and this after rationing had ceased. I immediately protested and the soap was then provided. I put it to you that this is not a trivial matter and that tourists coming from abroad will not be so considerate as we are ourselves when they visit such hotels. Their first impression is likely to be their last and they will take that away with them and use it to our detriment. I do not intend to refer to other matters which have been introduced by various other speakers. There are a few other points to which I could have referred but I wish to make room for other Senators.
At this stage of the Parliamentary session, the bread-and-butter policy of the Government has been very fully discussed both in the Dáil and in this House. There is just one point on which I would like to say a few words and that is, the Government's policy on Æsthetic matters. Æsthetic matters enter into very many phases of our life and affect people in every walk of life from the richest to the poorest, so that I feel this is a question with which every citizen is concerned. Up to the advent of this Government there has been no sign of a co-ordinated policy on the fine arts or on the application of art to industry. There were a few attempts for which I shall give the previous Government full credit. I do not stand up here to speak in any critical manner about the last Government. I am merely talking about the whole matter as it has been dealt with from the inception of the State. I think it is a matter on which we should now begin to do something. It is sometimes argued that we have not done very much in this matter because we were so busy with other things—building up industries, etc.—but I maintain that that is really no excuse for neglecting these matters. When I was over in London recently I visited the exhibition of Viennese treasures which are on show there at present. We all know that Vienna is the capital of a country which was on the defeated side in the 1914-18 war and which was also on the losing side in the last war. I should like to quote from the introduction to the catalogue as to what happened following the 1914-18 war:
"The economic upheaval following the first world war had strong repercussions upon the entire artistic heritage of Europe. The Picture Gallery, and to a lesser extent the other collections, were therefore able to make considerable additions to their stock, some of them of high importance....Moreover, an almost completely new section of Austrian paintings of the 15th and early 16th centuries was added to the Gallery. These purchases were largely financed by the disposal of material from the depôt."
That, mark you, was a defeated nation trying to build itself up after the 1914-1918 war. Therefore there is no excuse for our being too busy. After the last war the place was very badly blitzed and, as you know, their capital city is still occupied by the Russians. As to what happened on this occasion, this is what it states:
"In view of the shortage of funds, materials and manpower obtaining in Austria, complete restoration will take considerable time. A beginning, however, has been made: the Egyptian and part of the Greek and Roman collections are accessible to the public, and recently it was possible to open the Collection of Coins and seven large rooms with a mixed exhibition of pictures, sculptures and art and craft. Moreover, changing selections from the Picture Gallery and the Belvedere have always been on view since December, 1945, in an apartment of the Imperial Palace."
They have been able to send on tour pictures and all sorts of objets d'art all over the Continent and to England. So much for our excuse that we have not had sufficient time to give any attention to our museums and galleries and to the cultural societies that we have. While I am in favour of cutting unnecessary and wasteful expenditure on prestige ventures—we have heard a lot about them—I feel that this is a prestige venture on which there should be no cutting of expenditure, in reason anyway. I am in favour of sensible saving of the taxpayers' money. We are proud to boast of the money we have spent on the development of agriculture and our industrial economy, all of which is very praiseworthy and quite right, but I feel that we should be rather ashamed of the way our collections of works of art and objects of archaeological interest of the very first importance have been neglected.
Senator Summerfield stated that Ireland is very little known in other countries, and perhaps that they care less about us. The only way you can be known in the world is by producing things and doing things of world importance. I claim that in our museums and in the National Gallery we have things of world importance and things which would make us renowned all over the world, and justly so. It is important that our Government should do something, not only about letting the world know about these things, but arranging them in order so that our own people can see them and benefit from them. I am sorry to say that, not only have our museums not been developed, but they have been neglected and stripped even of their normal staff. You have only to look at the Appropriation Accounts to see the comparatively small amount allowed for these institutions. You will find that some thousands of pounds actually are being saved by not filling positions. I think that is lamentable.
Whatever is spent on museums is well spent. It protects and saves our valuable property from deterioration and provides material for study, for education, and even for the pleasure of our people. It enhances our prestige and cultural standing in the world, and it stimulates the tourist trade by providing an attraction to visitors. Even this mundane consideration is very important. It is surprising the number of people who live in Dublin who have never been to the National Gallery or the National Museum. They regard these as musty sort of places. People have told me of going to Italy and seeing the wonderful Italian pictures and of seeing the wonderful Rembrandts in Holland. They do not seem to know that in Merrion Square we have many Rembrandts and a wonderful collection of Italian pictures. We have a first-class small collection that could take its place with any gallery in the world. Surely that is a matter that is not only worth fostering but publicising.
I had intended to go into this matter in a very full way. I was very glad to see, however, that the Taoiseach made a statement the other day in the Dáil which was a very welcome one and that he actually forestalls many of the things I was going to suggest. I am sure everybody has read what the Taoiseach proposes to do. It is proposed to ask Dr. Bodkin to go into this whole matter. I will not read all the items but just deal with one or two of the items which Dr. Bodkin is asked to consider and to make recommendations about. The first point he is asked to consider is: "The constitution and working of institutions concerned with the arts in Ireland, in particular the National Museum and the National Gallery." I have made some reference to the National Museum already and I will not say any more at this point, because I feel that this whole question is in very capable hands when Dr. Bodkin is inquiring about it. He has already written some letters to the Press on the subject, and I do not think I could add anything to what he has said. The situation which he saw prevailing some years ago still exists and if anything it has slightly deteriorated as regards the Museum. The second matter he is asked to comment on is: "Upon the facilities available in Ireland for education in the arts both from the historical and from the practical aspects, at elementary to professional levels..." That is very important, because our universities do not confer degrees in the history of art, as is done in many continental universities. If you wish to obtain such degrees you have to go abroad. There are many people here who would like to pursue an art education, but they are unable to do so.
The third matter Dr. Bodkin is to examine and report on is: "Upon the existing relations between the arts and industry in Ireland..." That is where the ordinary man in the street is interested in this subject. As I said before, æsthetics have something to do with everything, with manufacturing, with county council building schemes, etc. All these things come under the application of art to industry. Deputy Lemass made a start in regard to that in 1939 when he appointed an advisory committee on design in industry of which I had the honour of being a member. Unfortunately, having met on some 43 occasions and done quite a lot of work, that committee went into limbo, probably due to the outbreak of the war in 1939. However, a lot of very interesting information was gleaned about the application of art to industry in Ireland. I have no doubt Deputy Lemass has benefited by that, but the public heard nothing whatever about it. I should like to suggest that some similar advisory body might be established to advise on that subject. It is clear to everybody that there is a necessity for introducing some artistic merit into our industrial productions. I remember at one time hearing about the silversmith work done in Ireland right back to the 17th century. There was a fine silversmith art in this country but it has more or less petered out. We see reproductions of English or Celtic designs produced ad nauseam without any originality. Consequently, the Irish silversmith trade has practically faded out.
A similar situation existed prior to the last war in Sweden. There they introduced and applied art to the silver industry. When it was found that they were introducing completely new designs in the silver industry, they captured a very great market for Swedish silver. The same thing happened in the case of Swedish glass. It became as famous as Swedish silver, people taking the same pride in it as Irish people do in Waterford glass.
The Taoiseach mentioned that the Government had in mind the necessity of having a proper gallery of modern art established in Dublin. Our present so-called gallery of modern art is in danger of becoming a complete misnomer like the Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris. The pictures in our modern gallery of art are really becoming antiques and will have to be brought up to date.
May I make a brief reference en passant to the necessity of having some consideration given to æsthetic principles in building in this country? We are rapidly putting up the most ghastly buildings around the country which are becoming eyesores. In saying that I do not think I am exaggerating. They are of a most frightful character. There are one or two exceptions, but, speaking generally, one would think that the county council houses which are being built all over the country, were being built for spite. Even though the people who are to occupy them are not well off, that is no reason why those people should not be shown the finer side of life and be given decent houses to live in. I have discussed this question with architects. When I criticise this particular type of house, the answer I nearly always get is: “Oh, well, what can you expect for the money?” But that is not true, because even if you are going to spend only a small amount of money, that is no reason why the houses cannot be well designed and be æsthetically good. Any view to the contrary is an absolute fallacy.
Therefore, I think that one of the first things that we ought to do in all our building schemes is to have proper planning and lay-out. The actual planning of houses can be of æsthetic importance. Under our present building schemes you get serried rows of houses in Crumlin or in some of those other new areas which are a sort of repeat of Britain Street. I know one area in my own district in the country where you have as many as 30 or 40 houses built close together. The impression one gets is that the designers were trying to fit as much as possible into as little space as possible. In other words, there is no æsthetic approach at all in the case of any of these building schemes.
There is another point to be considered. In the case of building schemes undertaken by county councils it has been the general experience, I understand, that they find it very hard to get people to give land for those schemes. It is not because the people who are going to occupy these county council houses are poor but rather because the results of the type of building that is carried out are so ghastly that people living in good houses alongside them have decided to move away from them. I know that has happened in some cases. Many of those county council building schemes are an eyesore in the country.
My main object in rising was to say hear, hear to this action of the Taoiseach and of the Government and to give them every encouragement to carry on this good work. I should like to congratulate them on the thought they have given to this very necessary part of our national life. I look forward to a more enlightened expenditure of money on this gilt-edged cultural investment in the future.
As an urban dweller and an urban administrator in a small way, there are a few points which I would like the Minister for Finance to enlighten me on so far as the financing of urban housing schemes is concerned. I am sure other urban authorities are confronted with the same problem that is facing us in our area. We are building 100 houses at the present time. The houses are partly completed. We have obtained sanction to draw up to £155,000 from the bank. That is all right as far as it goes. The scheme has been in hands for about 12 months, and it will be another 12 months before it is finished. About half the sum of money that I have mentioned has been spent. If one takes an advance of £100,000 for two years at 4 per cent., that comes to approximately £8,000. If, instead of the rate of interest being 4 per cent. it was 2½ per cent. or 2¾ per cent. as was originally mentioned, that would mean a saving of about £3,000 to the local authority. With the charge at 4 per cent., that £3,000 will fall as a loss on the local authority, unless there is a refund by the Minister for Finance.
At what rate do you think the Government should lend?
I think that the Government loan should be made available immediately a scheme starts instead of giving the local authority sanction to borrow the money from the bank at 4 per cent.
What should the interest rate be?
Two and a half per cent. was the rate that was originally mentioned, or 2¾ per cent.
I cannot get it at that. People will not lend me money at 2¾ per cent.
Even at a loss?
That is your loss. Why should I carry your loss?
I think 2¾ per cent. was mentioned in some Act, and I do not know that the Act was repealed.
Not an Act.
The figure of 2¾ per cent. was given by the Minister for Local Government, not the present Minister but the previous Minister.
There is no statutory obligation to lend money at that rate.
Well, there was an understanding.
No Minister here ever got money at 2½ per cent.
I do not know, but they volunteered to offer it to local authorities at 2½ per cent. There is no question about that. I do not say it happened in your time, but just before it. Anyway, this 4 per cent. is being paid to the banks, so that our local authority is making a present of £3,000 to the bank on £100,000 over a two-year period. These are the facts. What I cannot understand is why we do not get the loan from the Government when the scheme starts. If that were done it would enable us to draw the money as we required it, instead of having to borrow from the bank. We have been reminded by successive Ministers that there is no shortage of money for building purposes.
There is any amount of it at 5 per cent. if you want it.
I could get the money on my own security, which is nil, at 5 per cent. Now there is something wrong, but the facts are as I have stated them. A charge of 4 per cent. on a building loan is entirely too high. The Minister has money for this purpose, and what I cannot understand is why he does not dole it out instead of asking local authorities to borrow from the banks.
I have not got it at 2½ per cent. Nobody ever got it at that rate here.
That was the intention when some of those housing schemes were started—that the local authorities were to get the money at 2½ per cent.
That was a promise, based on an assumption that money could be borrowed at that rate. The assumption was never tested and never realised.
Local authorities are labouring under a great disability at the present time by reason of having to hand over all that money—paying 4 per cent. on borrowed money—to the banks in connection with building schemes which are intended for the benefit of the community. They are profit-making concerns and I think the State should come in, even if it means a loss to the State, and subsidise housing, because it is the greatest necessity in all urban areas. We have been crying out for years about improving our slum areas and now is the time to get rid of them.
There are many grievances in urban areas with regard to revaluation. Revaluation is done mainly for the purpose of equalising the rates paid to the local authority by the citizens in the area of that authority. So far as that goes it is all right, but it brings several things in its wake. There is a charge fixed by the Electricity Supply Board on the valuation and that brings a further load on the occupier—that increase in his Electricity Supply Board charges. Again, an increased valuation means an increase for licensed premises. Where the licence is based on the valuation it is increased very considerably. As well as that, revaluation means an increase in property tax. These are three items in respect of which valuation means an increase.
The Senator is a member of a local authority?
Then, you are responsible for it.
Yes, you are. You start the ball rolling on valuation. You may not know it, but if you search your conscience you will find that the local authority starts the ball rolling.
Revaluation was intended to equalise the rates, never meaning that all the implications that I have mentioned would come in its wake.
If revaluation occurs, it is the local authority that starts it, and now you realise the results.
It is meant to equalise the rates payable by citizens on their valuation. They were never meant to subscribe to the Electricity Supply Board or to the inland revenue in respect of licences and property. I have given three instances where revaluation means an increase. Where any town is revalued these items should be excluded from any extra charge. I could tell you of certain towns where the valuations have been doubled.
No such thing has happened. Is the Senator going to mention some area?
I could mention my own town. About 12 years back the valuation of the town was increased by about 60 per cent. That happened in Ennis.
I wonder they did not hunt you out of it, Senator.
We had a commissioner there at the time, looking after our interests. I do not want to make too much of it, but these things deserve consideration. If the valuation is increased for a certain purpose, say to level up the rates of the town, the increased charges for the Electricity Supply Board and the Revenue Department, as I have indicated, should not follow in its wake. It is an extra tax and people are not supposed to be taxed by the State for anything like that. I hope the Minister will give this matter his serious consideration. When he comes to consider the sensible things I have said, I am sure he will pay particular attention to them.
For a number of years I have taken this opportunity of bringing before the House the grievances from which farmers suffer. I will gladly admit that most of those grievances have been eliminated under the inter-Party Government. The only complaint I will have to make in future will be that I have nothing to talk about, no grievance to bring forward Agricultural matters have been dealt with by Senator Baxter and other Senators and I will not continue the discussion on that subject. Anyway, the Minister for Finance is not the appropriate Minister with whom to discuss it.
I would like to refer to the practice of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in presenting Civic Guards with fountain pens and blackthorn sticks in recognition of the number of prosecutions and convictions they get in the public courts. I think it is a disgraceful procedure and I do not believe it pleases even the district justice. One justice who was presenting a fountain pen to a Civic Guard commented that he knew of several cases where Civic Guards had risked their lives protecting the property of citizens and the persons of citizens and that he never knew of any of them being presented even with a cigarette card.
Recently there was a very glaring case. A number of cattle coming from the Dublin market were passing through Prussia Street. One bullock got into a laneway and there was some difficulty in getting that animal out. The drover twisted its tail to try to get it out. Some old lady, a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, called a Civic Guard. I have no fault to find with the Civic Guard's evidence in the prosecution that followed. He said he saw the man twisting the bullock's tail. I do not know of a more humane way of getting a bullock out of a laneway than by giving a twist to its tail. It is really the most humane way to get it out. The district justice fined that man £1.
I ask the Minister to bring that case to the notice of the Minister for Justice and request him to get a report on it, and if he finds that the facts are as I have given them, that drover should be refunded his £1. The Minister should also prevent Civic Guards from accepting presents in recognition of the convictions that they get in the district courts. I think it is a sort of bribe to the Civic Guards to present them with those gifts simply because they are able to get a conviction in the courts.
A request was made to me by cattle exporters in the West of Ireland and in the Border counties. They are all feeling a bit nervous about the go-slow strikes in the ports of Derry and Belfast. As the Northern Government apparently intend to keep in step with the British Government, those exporters believe that the workers in Derry and Belfast will continue with the go-slow process. The exporters have asked me to try to induce this Government to get a through rate from the Western and the Border counties to the Twenty-Six County ports. I think if the Minister for Industry and Commerce tried, that could be arranged. It would be a great security for those people who are now sending their cattle to Belfast or Derry. They are very nervous lately about sending them through those ports, there has been such a lot of talk about strikes and the go-slow process. It would bring a certain amount of trade into our own ports, and we are well able to handle all the trade we have out of this country to Great Britain.
It has been said that in a democratic State there is much complaint and little suffering, whereas in a totalitarian State there is a lot of suffering but not much complaint. I trust the Minister will allow me to refer to complaints in a general way this evening. One is really a grievance rather than a complaint. We have now reached the stage of the "free-for-all" discussion and we are really preaching from other people's texts. I suffer from a disappointment as well as a grievance. I think it is time that the Government really did something for the æsthetics about which Senator McGuire spoke. I mean that they should do something for our poets, our writers and our musicians. I am perfectly serious in this. I know that immediately one speaks about poets, writers or musicians, there is a very natural recoil on the part of some people. I think it is time that we had some kind of civil list under which we could award pensions to some of our older painters, writers, musicians and poets.
Another thing I would like to see is a considerable reduction in the tax levied at present on musical instruments. We claim to be a very musical people. Not only have we our harp on our coinage but we also have it on certain badges and emblems. Yet, if one wishes to buy a harp, one must import it because one cannot buy it in this country. One must pay a very high sum for it to some other country. A Government which professes to encourage the arts should do something to make that important instrument more easily obtainable. Sometimes the Minister reaps where he does not sow and sometimes he sows where he does not reap. I think he might quite easily tax luxury advertisements. Such a tax could very easily be paid by these wealthy foreign firms.
Another matter to which I would like attention to be given is the making of some provision for our writers. That is a line which should be considered. It is, perhaps, too much to hope that there might be a special income-tax concession for those who write. The pen is mightier than the sword but, unless the pen gets some kind of ink to write with, it will not get very far. That is really a very short sermon on the text that Senator McGuire gave on the æsthetics. I believe something should be done for our artists, our writers, our painters, our musicians and so on. These are the people who stood to us in the past, right through the darkest periods of our history. They encouraged us and kept our hopes alive. Now that we have a brighter landscape before us, I think we should do something for them. There is very little reward for them unless they are drawn into Hollywood.
The second short sermon I would like to deliver is based on the very moving text given by Senator Miss Pearse this afternoon. I refer to our emigration problem. I come from a family that sent four uncles and three aunts out of the country. They never came back. Cousins and second cousins occasionally come over here now and inspect me as if I were a specimen, which, I suppose, I am. We have lost heavily in those families where wholesale emigration has taken place. I feel it is time that this problem should be considered because of the danger to which we are exposed as an insular republic, with a frontier washed by the sea, to which is added the continual attraction of the world at large. One can, of course, argue that we are a mother country and the children of a mother country must go all over the world. It is only right that they should go. The mother's children must leave the home. But we are exporting brains just as we are exporting other commodities. Not only are we exporting the wheat of the harvest, but we are exporting the seed corn also.
I speak as a university representative. Our chief trouble now is the difficulty of competing with foreign markets which are prepared to pay the highest prices in order to fill their university chairs. From time to time we are told, with a certain amount of pride by some Minister, that he has imported a great foreign expert to tell us how to grow potatoes, test eggs or perform some of the other operations of life. We ought to have those experts at home. We would have them at home if they had not been bought from us. This Government must face the challenge. There is a heavy loss through the emigration of certain selected people. They are compelled to go abroad because they are paid so much better abroad. Scientists must live, just as poets must live, though some people do not see the necessity for them. If a scientist or a poet is offered twice the salary he can get at home, the attraction will prove too strong and he will not stay at home. In the past we have to some extent taken advantage of his affection for his country because that has kept him at home despite the attractions offered. I think, however, that the time has come when we must make the attraction to remain at home a little more magnetic by means of slightly increased remuneration. We are not at the moment keeping our younger scientists at home. We shall not be able to keep them at home unless something concrete is done for them. The same applies to all the other professions.
With, regard to Senator McGuire's comment on art, there are actually art scholarships available. The late Sarah Purser founded one in both universities, but there are very few candidates offering for that scholarship. The reason is that they are attracted by commercial prizes elsewhere. These are important grievances and I would indeed be grateful if the Minister would give them consideration.
I feel that most of the ground has already been covered by the other Senators. There is one matter which seems to have been overlooked. To my mind, it is one of considerable importance. I do not think it is right that we should let this opportunity pass without paying tribute in public to the Irish jumping team which is carrying our flag so successfully at the moment in cross-Channel competitions. Included in that team are members of the Army Equitation School. I am sure that the House will agree that a good share of credit for our victories must go to that young Dublin girl, Miss Irish Kellett, who has certainly pulled her weight on the team.
Most people will agree that considerable progress has been made when one considers that during the war army jumping teams were practically eliminated in the other countries. In fact, practically all kinds of jumping teams disappeared. I claim some credit for keeping the Irish Army team in existence, or at least the nucleus of it, during the war period. At one time it almost looked as if we were approaching the end of the world. I heard otherwise sensible people state that no country would have a jumping team in existence after the war. Indeed, at that particular time no country knew whether it would be in existence after the war. At any rate, the team was kept together here and I think the results have been eminently satisfactory. Not alone must we pay tribute for the results so far achieved, but I think it is only right that before we adjourn we should wish that team "God speed" in the competitions during the rest of the week and in the months ahead. These are very important from the point of view of the horse-breeding industry here.
I have raised one particular matter consistently on this Bill over a long number of years. I repeat again that sufficient encouragement is not given to the horse-breeding industry. I am quite prepared to give credit where credit is due. I give credit publicly to the present Minister for Defence for the help he has given in connection with the Army jumping team since he took office last year. I would like, however, to go a little bit further and say that the general attitude towards the horse-breeding industry is not what it ought to be. We have admittedly a national stud stocked with good stock. Encouragement has been given to a very considerable extent to the breeding of thoroughbred horses. The same type of encouragement has not been given to the breeding of the hunter type of horse. While one section of our people may note with gratitude the fact that an Irish horse has won an important race in England, another big section takes a greater interest in the jumping competitions in England and elsewhere in which Irish horses are taking part. These horses, which have been described as our ambassadors of goodwill in so far as the horse-breeding industry is concerned, are not thoroughbred horses. At least 95 per cent. of those horses are half-bred; they are bred from mares working on Irish farms in every county in Ireland. The people who breed these are not getting the encouragement they ought to get.
I put up a scheme to the last Government for the purpose of developing a good class half-bred mare in this country. We know that when prices are high the farmers are tempted to sell their mares. In the last year or two many excellent mares which could have taken their place in any nomination show have been sold for meat. There is every indication that that is likely to continue and, if it does continue, we shall reach the stage where that particular type of horse, carrying our flag so successfully to-day in Olympia, will no longer be obtainable.
In the gradual swing-over to mechanisation there is a tendency to swing over to the tractor. Now a tractor is a very useful machine on a big farm but I do not think it is entirely sensible to swing over completely to mechanisation in agriculture. If we do that, we shall eliminate that particular type of mare which is responsible to-day for the magnificent jumpers that we have.
I believe that the horse-breeding industry is the second most important industry we have. While a good portion of our export trade consists in thoroughbreds, a very considerable proportion of it is also attributable to high-class hunters and jumpers. That particular horse, "Rusty", which is jumping so successfully at the moment in England, and which won the International Championship in Dublin, was bred from a working mare. Not alone that, but "Rusty" himself worked six days a week on an Irish farm for the first year after he was broken. That is the type of horse I urge the Government to develop in connection with the horse-breeding industry generally. I believe there is a swing in the other direction and it is regrettable that we find the Minister for Agriculture at the Royal Dublin Society's Show in May last year making this statement:
"Only for the sake of freedom, he would make it illegal for any man to plough the land of this country with horses and a plough."
That statement appeared in the Irish Press of May 7th—“Truth in the News”. I am quite sure that the Minister was not serious when he made that statement, but whether he was serious or not, such statements are anything but a help to the bloodstock-breeding industry. I can quite understand people who represent the tractor industry pointing out the numerous advantages of a tractor over the horse and plough, but we must realise that, were it not for the horses and ploughs during the last war, we would have been in a very difficult position. If we could be quite sure that the last war was a war to end all wars, there might be some sense in a swing over to mechanised farming and mechanised transport generally, but situated as we are here, I believe it is not a sane policy to allow our agriculture to go completely over to mechanised units. I believe we should give every possible encouragement to the man who is continuing to work on what might be regarded as the old-fashioned method of using a couple of horses and a plough to do his agricultural work.
What has the Senator in mind?
I have in mind a scheme whereby the best mares in the country would be bought by some central purchasing body—the Department of Agriculture, if you like—just as they buy the good stallions. The mares should then be sold out to farmers at a reasonable price, but the mares would be bound to be kept under contract until they had reached a certain age. In other words, it should not be converted into a regular business, with a farmer buying a mare at a reduced price through the Department and selling her again. The mares should be branded and sold to suitable farmers, with the idea that they would be used for breeding purposes and for work on the land. If there were some scheme of that kind, I believe it would do a whole lot to preserve the type of horse I have in mind, and, if some such scheme is not provided, I believe we will get to the stage at which this type of horse will not be obtainable.
I have been talking to many of the inspectors working through the country on the nomination schemes, the schemes whereby certain mares are inspected and passed as suitable for breeding purposes and whereby these mares, if they are passed, get the free service of what are called registered stallions. The position at present is, and has been for the past few years, that these inspectors go to the various mare shows, and, although they have authority to hand out 20 or 25 nominations, they find that there are not more than perhaps half a dozen mares which, in their opinion, would be suitable for breeding purposes. Suggestions have been made that the inspectors are too particular. I do not agree with that suggestion at all. We cannot depart from a policy of breeding from the best type of mare and what we should try to do is to bring about a situation in which the better type of mare will be kept in the country. Anything that can be done to encourage the horse-breeding industry is a step in the right direction.
I can quite understand that, when there is a change of Government, the new Government coming in must make some changes, if for no other reason than to justify things said in the past. I was very sorry, and I am quite sincere in saying it, to see the cavalry escort eliminated from the ceremonial parades. I think it is bad policy. It is a very foolish policy to bring about a situation here in which when we are receiving foreign diplomats and have a parade, we can do no better than parade through the streets of Dublin with motor cycles. There is nothing wrong with motor cycles and I have no objection whatever to them, but, if we are feting some diplomat, a diplomat from France, England, America or any other country, to which country we hope to sell a lot of horses, it would go much further in promoting our industry as a whole, if we maintained the cavalry escort.
I do not care what anybody says about expense. Everything in connection with the cavalry horses went back into the pockets of the Irish farmers, while everything spent in connection with the mechanised parade leaves the country. The people of the country generally, and even those people of this city who have practically never been outside the city, will stand and gaze in admiration at the cavalry escort passing through the city, but they will not stand to watch motor cycles. Everything we can possibly do should be done to encourage the breeding of horses of the hunter type as well as the thoroughbred type and anything the Government can do in that direction will be appreciated by the people.
Those who planned our Parliamentary procedure, I think, intended this Appropriation Bill as a safety valve through which the Seanad could, once a year, let off steam by talking about everything in heaven or on earth without much hope of achieving anything. If there is any hope of achieving anything by our talk to-day, the attention of the Minister, and, through him, of the Government, has been drawn to several very important matters. I have no intention of going over any of the ground already covered. I will come down to earth, from the heights to which Senator Douglas soared when he surveyed the affairs of Europe and looked at the future of the world and I will talk about things that are so close to us, so immediately under our noses, that we overlook them. I have frequently heard protests from well-meaning busybodies who try to interfere with shopkeepers doing their own work, about food not being kept in clean conditions, about having seen a fly standing on a loaf which was not wrapped and that sort of nonsense. Recently, I was shown a wrapped loaf in this city. The loaf was produced by a baker who is also a miller. If I am not mistaken, the millers are subsidised in the production of flour out of the taxes of this country. Yet that bread was wrapped in imported paper printed in England. That may seem a small thing but, if we overlook the small things, large grievances may arise from them even for a few individuals. Any printing or paper-making that we can keep in this country ought to be kept.
I have never heard the vocal busybodies protest against the foreign chain stores. I shall mention no names but any Senator can go into huge stores in this and other cities and can see ice cream, sweets and all sorts of edibles exposed for sale in an atmosphere laden with dust from the constant movement of thousands of people and where soap, soap powders, disinfectants and a thousand different things of all sorts of odours are on the counters. If there are to be attacks on the small shopkeepers, let us apply the principles of cleanliness to the big firms also.
Incidentally, two of these big firms, which make a considerable amount of money in this country by selling goods which are mainly imported goods—one of them in any case will always give preference to the foreign-made article rather than to the home-produced article—are importing charge hands from England and are displacing local labour. Although they do not dismiss the local man, they make it impossible for him to remain. They tell him that they will give him a job in Northern Ireland or Manchester knowing that the man lives here and cannot bring his family abroad.
All these things affect us. You can talk in a broad general way about unemployment but unemployment has to be considered sometimes in detail. It does not affect me as an individual whether the unemployment in the country is 4,000, 5,000 or 8,000 if I happen to have a job and the prospect of holding it, but I am concerned even if unemployment fell to 500 and I remain one of the unemployed. Whatever we can do to increase employment in the country and to see that those who are employed get a fair chance of retaining their work at a decent wage we should do.
I promised not to go over ground that was already covered but I would refer to the suggestion made by Senator Fearon that the tax should be taken off musical instruments. The need for doing that was brought home to me recently in a small village in rural Ireland where the local people were trying to provide their own amusement and where an attempt was made to start a band. They could with difficulty scrape up the money to buy the fifes but they are still saving up to buy the drums. The tax makes them very dear.
There is one other matter I would like to refer to. I think I mentioned it last year. That is no reason, I suppose, why I should not refer to it again. Senator Counihan has declared that the right of the cattle drover to twist the cow's tail should be maintained. Senator Quirke wants to see that nothing wrong is done to the horses. I appeal for another living thing. I am the devil's advocate again. It happens that they are very small devils, the so-called juvenile delinquents. Six thousand children are in the industrial schools and reformatories of this country. They are sent there at the rate of 1,000 a year. Nobody seems to care what becomes of them after they leave the Children's Court and nobody seems to care what becomes of them when they leave those institutions. The institutions are limited by the small grants that they get for the upkeep of the buildings and for the training and education of the children. Within the limits of their resources they are doing all they can but, although the last Government set up a commission of inquiry into industrial schools, which did bring about some very desirable reforms, the position is still in need of improvement and I suggest that the present Government should consider whether another inquiry of some sort ought not to be held into our treatment, not merely of the so-called juvenile delinquent, but of the child in this country generally. We had, I know, a Commission on Youth Unemployment. I have never seen their report, if they have made one.
I think the tendency to send young children to institutions should be curbed. Although the institutions in themselves are well managed and good, we must not forget that if a child is sent to an institution he is branded for life as a criminal. There is no use in imagining anything else. Any child who goes to an industrial school or reformatory has a job for the greater part of his life to live it down. It is not the fault of the school staffs. The very schools are misnamed. They are no longer industrial schools, they no longer do what they were set up to do. They were set up to teach habits of industry to children who had poor parents or no parents. To the credit of this House, I think that the first Bill which was introduced in the Seanad after the Treaty was a Bill to amend the existing Children's Act. It was a Bill of only a few lines which made it possible to commit children to industrial schools without branding them as criminals. Up to that any child who was deserted, an orphan or had no means of support, had to go through the form of begging so as to be branded a criminal. The Seanad altered that law and made the grounds of poverty alone sufficient. I think, however, that commission on any grounds is too freely indulged in. I saw a case reported in the papers recently where a little girl six years of age was brought up before the Children's Court for soliciting alms. That probably meant that she asked somebody for a penny and no more. She was sent to an industrial school for ten years, deprived of her freedom for ten years, sentenced as a convict would be sentenced, a child six years of age, for asking for a penny. I say that is not proper treatment for a child. It is not proper that she should be branded as a delinquent. That child is no delinquent, that child is no sinner and that child is no criminal, but you might make a delinquent of her. Other and older children are sent to the same school, children who have committed an offence and who, within the strict meaning of the term, are juvenile delinquents. They have done something for which they have to be punished, but an orphan child who has offended nobody, a child whom perhaps society has offended from the day of her birth, is sent to live in the same building and under the same conditions. Take the case of boys. Children are allowed off under the Probation of Offenders Act but subsequently show that they are determined if possible to indulge in a life of crime. You have in them real juvenile delinquents and potential criminals and they are treated in exactly the same way as an orphan child or a child whose parents are not able to support it. The system should be revised.
It seems that these schools no longer provide trades for the children and I will tell you the cause of this. One of the reasons is that no allowance is made for the employment of proper teachers of trades such as carpentary, painting and so on. If shops are set up the schools have to employ teachers and provide equipment and materials themselves. Where that has been done and when a child has reached the sixth standard in the school and complied with the Department of Education regulations at perhaps 13 years of age, he is sent for three years into one of the shops. He may have an aptitude for the trade he is learning and may come out at the end of three years a very good young half-trained carpenter, painter, shoemaker or tailor. When he leaves school at 16 without any means of support—presumably he was an orphan going into the school—he looks for a job. In this city and in other places established trades will not take a child of that kind as a third or fourth year improver. There are closed trades. I have been long identified with the trade union movement and have spent a good deal of time and effort fighting the cause of the workers, but there are times when one must fight the workers themselves and this is one. This is an issue on which I will fight them when I can. Those are the children of poor people, of labourers and tradesmen. They may be better qualified for a trade for which they have been trained than children who have never been to a school but there is no hope of any firm taking them on. Right of entry is confined to the sons of people who work in the place but if an exception is made and they are let in without being the son of a man in the trade they must begin at an apprentice's wage. An orphan leaving school at 16 cannot live on the first year's wages he would get as an a apprentice. The trade unions themselves are always clamouring for justice for the fathers and now they should consider justice for the sons. I know that that is not a popular thing to say to unions and I know that they have very good reasons for the system that has grown up to protect the workers, but something should be done for these children to allow them to start as second or third year apprentices with appropriate money so that they could live. Their time in the school is wasted unless they have spent a couple of years mending shoes or clothes and then with £5 they can set up in a back lane as cobblers or tailors and remain in a back lane for the rest of their lives.
These schools used to teach music, but all except one or two have given it up. You all know how popular the Artane Band is. The Artane children have been sent there by the police courts and branded by the newspapers as juvenile delinquents, but in nine cases out of ten they have committed no offence except the offence of being born poor. In the history of Artane, which I know fairly well, outstanding musicians have been produced. Music was the one thing to which an industrial schoolboy with a taste for it could turn with confidence. Some of the finest musicians in the British Army, some of the teachers of the British Army bands as well as the teachers of our own bands were Artane boys who started music in Artane. I know that the leader of the most expensive and most popular dance band in London before the war was an ex-Artane boy. I mention that to show that those children have talents and where they have talents they should be developed. They should not be kept from following their natural aptitudes because of the system that will deprive them of employment if they are trained or because of the lack of funds to teach them music in the schools.
I could deal with this at greater length, but I think that just to make reference to it in the way I have done may draw other people's attention and somewhere, sometime, get something done. I have no cut and dried plans but it would be no harm to do something more than has been done. I think we all agree that we have a moral responsibility towards those children and that we do not discharge our obligations by sending them to institutions where they are fed and clothed, then putting them out on the street when they are old enough to endure a little hardship. When we undertake to do the job their parents neglected to do or cannot do because they are dead we ought to do it as good parents would.
Immunised, possibly, to the shock that it takes £69 and a third millions to run this portion of the country, by contact with a number of previous Budgets and finding that this State seems to take £69 and a third millions in its stride, I approach the consideration of this year's Appropriation Bill somewhat in the spirit of Senator Counihan and the king in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera: "Give me this, give me that and nothing whatever to grumble at". In any case my particular grumble has been met. I hardly ever stood up to speak on a Finance Bill or an Appropriation Bill without pleading for the pensioned teachers and, thanks to the Minister, this matter has been improved. I only hope that the fiat will be found in the Paymaster General's Office in time to make itself felt in the payment orders that will go out at the end of this month. The sooner it is done the better.
Having done something for the pensioned teachers, I would ask the Minister and join with others who ask him, to do something for the teachers themselves. We have passed recently a Land Reclamation Bill and those who know anything about it say that it is money well spent, but there is another kind of reclamation more urgently needed, reclamation of our people by a proper system of education. The best way to do that is to have contented and efficient teachers. It is a platitude to say—and I am not going to talk platitudes at this late hour—that good teachers should be paid properly. I hope the Minister will go into the teachers' case and meet their just demands.
Almost as important is the matter of school buildings. It must have been brought to his notice how all through the country there are schools which are really a disgrace, and not only a disgrace but a sin to a certain extent, because when we passed the Compulsory Attendance Act we committed ourselves and took responsibility for the kind of schools at which we made it compulsory on those children to attend. If they lose their health by being forced into schools that are not adapted for the purpose and that are a real menace to health, the Oireachtas cannot escape blame for it. That is a matter which needs urgent attention.
On the same lines, I would like to remind the Minister of the plight of many of the students of our universities, who are forced by present conditions to exist in lodgings that make it almost impossible for them to study or preserve their health. I know this question of halls and hospitals for students is not primarily a matter for the Government, but I would suggest that, if the universities took it up, it is really high time that there should be conferences between the Government and possibly the religious Orders. The Orders might help in the solutions of the problem by running hostels, and the Government in a gracious mood might be convinced that it was to the national advantage to give grants for this purpose. I would make an appeal now to the Government to do anything possible in regard to that matter.
In Vote 58 there is a question of £262,600 for harbours and I would complete portion of what I am trying to say by dealing with the question of Galway Harbour, mentioning again what I said on the Finance Bill. The Minister is aware that, before the war, the Galway Harbour Bill was passed, but it consisted of schemes in two parts and only one part was finished when war broke out. That leaves us that we have in Galway a port on which a great deal of money has been spent—spent by the local authorities, there being a rate of 1/- in the £ on Galway City and 4d. in the £, I think, on the county, through which the deepening of the harbour was accomplished. The war came and the position now is that there are two docks. Dun Aengus dock is deep enough for any cargo carrying vessel but it is not wide enough to turn in. There is the Commercial Dock, which is wide enough but not deep enough. There is absolute necessity for the deepening of the Commercial Dock and for a communication between the two docks. There is also the matter of the gates, which are falling into ruin and must be repaired soon if the Commercial Dock is not to be put out of action altogether. A very strong deputation went from Galway asking for a grant to complete the work and make the Galway port what it ought to be. It is one of the great gateways and could be a magnificent source of income, not only to Galway itself and the hinterland, but to the Government, especially at this time when it would probably bring in many dollars. It is the gateway to the most enchanting scenery in Europe, to Lough Corrib with all its beauty, to Lough Mask with all its history, and to all the unexploited loveliness of the western world.
It would be a great matter for Ireland if people in need of a rest from America would come on the big steamers straight to Galway, where they would find good hotels to welcome them—not necessarily luxurious ones, but very suitable ones. It would solve a great many of our problems if we could attract those people by making the port more welcoming and more suitable for that purpose. I commend that point to the Minister.
Senator Miss Pearse raised the question I raised myself on an earlier Bill, the diminution of the grant to the Gaelic enterprise. The Minister was good enough to say he would look into it. I would like to furnish him with an argument that would appeal to him. He said a good deal of the money was spent in selling certain papers. I do not know of anything that is more calculated to help the progress of the language at this time than these particular papers. I read them myself every time they come, especially Indiu. It is a weekly paper and one of the most live papers published, full of news from all over the world. Young university men with great self-abnegation devote themselves to producing a paper they have every reason to be proud of.
I thought the university paper was a different one—Comhar.
It is very good, too —and Feasta. In fact, they are all extremely good and they show that the language can be a modern language, when it is handled by educated people who know other languages and who have something to talk about and who are familiar with sources of information from all over the world. That is due to these men, mostly university men, of whom we should be proud. They deserve the greatest help and sympathy, as they do it for the love of the thing. I would like the Minister to look into this and, certainly, if he does so he will find that these papers are very well worth the money spent on them.
A calculation has been made that if 5,000 people purchased either of these papers they would pay their way. You cannot get 5,000 people to buy them, in the whole country.
It is certainly a disgrace.
Yes, a disgrace.
I am very proud to have this opportunity to pay a tribute to the young men who have given such devotion, at great cost to themselves, to these papers, which are so valuable not only for their contents but for the enrichment of the language. It proves that the language, when properly used by educated people, is capable of doing the work of any other language.
Senator Fearon, I think, spoke of the difficulties of writers. One of the reasons for those difficulties at present is the embargo on Irish books and papers, imposed by the Board of Trade. That is a very serious matter and I should like the Minister to do anything he possibly can to bring it to an end.
First of all, I should like to refer very briefly to what I regard as an important matter, mentioned this evening by Senator Counihan, that is to say the prevention of cruelty to animals. He mentioned a particular case where he considered that a man was fined for an act which was not cruelty. I know nothing of that particular case but, generally speaking, I think there is still in Ireland unfortunately, a considerable amount of cruelty to animals and, as a Christian country, we should do everything in our power to put an end to it. Personally, I think that the system of giving presents to the Gardai is quite a good system, because they have a very unpleasant and difficult job, and I think a little encouragement of that kind is desirable. If, however, anybody can think of a more satisfactory system of helping to prevent cruelty to animals, so much the better.
The next matter to which I should like to refer is one which has been raised by several Senators, not only in this but in other debates—that is the tendency of rates to increase considerably during the past few years. I think it is not sufficient just to deplore that tendency, but that it is necessary that we should try to make constructive proposals as to how the situation might possibly be remedied. Many Senators, on both sides of the House, have referred to this matter. Some have suggested that the Central Fund should pay for some of the services now being financed partly or entirely by the rates. That would entail additional taxation of some other kind, such as an increase in income-tax, or some other tax. I think this is a matter that is deserving of very careful consideration, because I would not say that it is desirable that many services at present paid for by the rates should be entirely paid for out of the Central Fund, unless there was some regulation stating that such relief must be given to the poorest types of ratepayers. I hold that while some ratepayers find it very difficult to pay their rates, there are other well-off ratepayers who can easily afford to pay. My suggestion therefore is that relief should be given to ratepayers with small incomes as far as is possible. I know that it is not practicable, under the present rating system, to segregate very accurately the ratepayers with small incomes, because ratepayers are segregated according to the valuation of their houses, their farms or their other property. That does not necessarily correspond with their incomes. There are cases where a man's income may be doubled, yet that makes no difference to the rates which he pays.
Again there are cases where a man's income may drop by 20 per cent. and yet he pays the same rates as previously. I think it would be much better if the amount which he paid varied according to his income and circumstances, but under the existing rating system, the best that could be done would be to give reductions to persons with small valuations, because, generally speaking, though not always, they are poorer than people with larger valuations. That could be done by increasing the grants from the Central Fund to the local authorities, on condition that these grants were used to relieve the burden of rates on persons with small valuations, and not used to reduce rates levied on well-off people who can well afford to pay them.
Where, it may be asked, should the additional funds come from to give such reductions to ratepayers with small incomes? I believe it would be of no benefit if these reductions were given by merely putting higher taxes on other people who have also small incomes. If reductions are given to ratepayers with small incomes, the money should be raised by higher taxation on people with substantial incomes. I believe there are many people in this country who have substantial incomes, who would be quite willing to pay more in taxes—persons with incomes of over £500 and over £1,000 a year, in income-tax, and with over £1,500 a year in surtax—provided they knew that the additional money which they paid did, in fact, go to benefit persons with small incomes and persons in need. Some people seem to assume that the vast majority of people in this country are selfish, that they are concerned only with endeavouring to relieve themselves of financial obligations and that they are not willing to pay more in taxes even if doing so would benefit the poorer sections of the community. That is a great mistake. I believe that there are many sincere conscientious Christian people in Ireland, who are not entirely selfish, and who would willingly pay their share to relieve the sufferings of others who are worse off than themselves, provided they were satisfied that the additional money which they paid in taxation was really being well spent. Naturally, and rightly I think, they would object to paying additional taxation, if the money was spent in a foolish or extravagant way. If the money was well spent, many of them would be willing to pay an additional amount. I know people who have actually done so, who have willingly paid more than they were legally bound to pay, for conscientious reasons. I admit there may not now be very many of such people, but I believe that many more people would respond if they were asked to do so and given the necessary encouragement.
Certain Senators also referred to the need for increased production in this country, especially increased production of socially desirable goods. They suggested, and I believe quite rightly, that there should be more material inducements to increased production. I believe that that should apply especially to people with very small incomes. It is not fair to expect a person with a small income to work a great deal harder, if he gets no financial encouragement whatever. I believe that it is no help or encouragement to such people to be lectured by well-off people, who too often speak on the lines that people with small incomes should work harder, and should be satisfied with the small wages which they receive. If the people who speak in this way practised what they preached, then I believe considerably more attention would be given to what they said. For a man with a very large income who himself works short hours, to tell people with small incomes that they should work much harder, only does harm—but if a man who works hard himself urges others in similar circumstances to do their fair share, it might do much good. I believe, moreover, that there should be much more encouragement given to people with small incomes by increasing their remuneration, but I do not think that the same system should apply to persons who have large incomes. Such people, I believe, should be encouraged to do more for the nation for conscientious reasons, because such people have quite large enough incomes already.
It is a great mistake to imagine that only people who are very highly paid work hard, or do efficient work. A large amount of very useful work is done, in every town and every rural district in this country, by people who do it voluntarily, for conscientious reasons. There are numbers of people who give a tremendous amount of their time to serving on local authorities, on committees of charitable institutions, and in numerous other ways, without any payment whatsoever, and I believe they do as good work, and, very often, do better work, than those who are paid a very high salary for working. So long as a person has a reasonable income, it is only right that he should gladly give a portion of his spare time, free of charge, to the service of his fellow-men. I believe, therefore, that there should be both moral and material inducements to encourage people to increase the production of socially desirable goods and to provide social services which are for the benefit of the community.
There is just one other point on which I should like to touch briefly. Some people have stated that in order to prevent rates and taxes increasing, there should be less money spent on public health services and social services. Personally, I believe that that would be a serious mistake. I think that more money should be spent on social services and public health services, and that this would be for the good of the whole community, and, moreover, that the majority of thoughtful people who could afford to do so would willingly pay a little extra, in taxes, provided they felt that the community was getting good value for the money expended.
Now against that argument, some people say that it would be better to leave the money in the pockets of the individual citizens to spend as they thought fit. In practice, however, I believe that, if that were done, there would be a good many people who would spend too much on unnecessary things which do not last long. They would spend more, for example, on amusements, drink, gambling, and things like that, and then they themselves would regret it when they became sick or old, and when they needed social services. There are many people who have not sufficient will power to put a certain amount of money aside every week for contingencies, even when they can afford to do so, and, therefore, I believe it would be for their own good, if a certain amount was put aside for them by the State, or by the local authority, and used for better health services and social services which would be for the benefit of the majority of the people.
I think it is necessary and desirable to say that, because there are some people, at the present time, saying that too much is being spent on social services and public health services. I believe that it would be for the good of the nation, both materially and morally, if more were spent in these ways, and I hope that more on these lines will be done in the near future.
Senator McGuire has referred to the neglect of cultural aspects in this country. Neglect is bad enough, but when mismanagement is added to neglect it makes things worse. Now I think that something like that prevails in Radio Eireann at the present time in regard to music. Some time ago an Irishman was appointed director and conductor of an orchestra in Radio Eireann and, apparently, he was very successful, probably too successful to be continued in that capacity. He was ordered to go abroad, ostensibly to learn his trade, I suppose, or to become more proficient or probably to offer his resignation. Now in the last 18 months we have had in Radio Éireann 12 foreigners as conductors. A foreign conductor who has an international status is a welcome and good thing, but not one of these 12, I understand, has any international reputation. The cost per annum of the foreigners is £2,000, according to an answer given to a question addressed to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs a week or so ago, and the cost of the native conductor, who did his work well, as the public will admit, was only £900, plus the wages of a typist. Foreigners do not pay income-tax, by the way, but a native has to pay income-tax. They are the only rich men I know in Ireland. I do not know where the rich men are of whom Senator Burke speaks. This Department costs the State £4,000, as against £900 when an Irish national was conductor and director.
During the administration of this Irishman as conductor and director, a permanent choir was established and the orchestra was increased from 26 to 80. It has further increased since he left, but that increase is due to the work that he put into the orchestra before he left. Fortnightly symphony concerts were given successfully in public for six years for the first time in our history. No public symphony concerts are given at the present time. It may be said that these were not successful. I submit they were always successful until the meddlers and mismanagers began to insist upon their being held in the summer as well as in the winter. In other words, the cobbler did not stick to his last and did not let the conductor who knew his business do his business. Music clubs were being established in the provincial centres and that might have become a movement of some importance. The additions to the orchestra were interviewed and selected and no mistakes were made.
Recently, a foreigner was engaged as first clarinet. A visiting conductor put him down to second place and put an Irishman in as first clarinet. Yet that foreigner is getting £2 a week more than the Irishman, who is more competent. Therefore I think that foreigners get a better show in the musical line than Irishmen. Apparently an Irishman will have to go abroad in order to be recognised. I suppose the late Sir Hamilton Harty would never have been heard of if he had remained in Ireland. It looks as if the same thing applies to his successors. This man who was so successful as a director and conductor was offered an engagement for six months and he accepted it on condition that the public concerts would be resumed. That was objected to by the meddlers.
The public symphony concerts were attended by about 1,500 people. At present you have to apply in advance for a ticket for one of these concerts; accommodation is provided for only 300, and the result is that the 300 seats are rarely filled. Out of the 1,500 seats formerly, 400 were given to patrons who paid only 1/-. Now there is no provision made for that type of people who enjoy good music. At present there is an acting musical director who is not required to conduct.
Now, the conductor in every other country in Europe is a permanent conductor, assisted by test conductors of international reputation. I should like to read an extract from the Liverpool Daily Post of 9th May last, which reads:
"The committee of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society has had under very careful consideration its future policy concerning the direction of its orchestra. It has reaffirmed its decision that a permanent conductor is essential if the orchestra is to achieve the standard of playing which the importance of the cultural activities of the city demands."
The present Minister for Posts and Telegraphs is not responsible, I suppose, for present conditions, as far as music is concerned, in Radio Eireann, but should they continue he must accept some responsibility. When the Estimate for his Department was before the Dáil some weeks ago, he said: "I am a layman and not an expert on music, and I must depend on the advice given to me by the officials appointed to advise me." Well, if he had experts on music to advise him that would be all right. I submit that he probably knows more about music— because he knows that he knows nothing—than those who pretend they know a lot and are experts and yet know less.
A circular was recently issued by the Federation of Musicians which indicated that there is great dissatisfaction amongst Irish musicians on this and on other matters. In that circular they point out that a permanent conductor should be appointed who would have an interest in the long-term development of music here, and who will view the orchestra from the point of view of continuity in training and try to develop a style of playing recognisable for an Irish orchestra. I think that if this orchestra were put under a board, such as that which controls the art gallery, it would be more satisfactory. At any rate, I suggest that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs should make a thorough investigation of this matter. If he does, I believe he will find a way of reestablishing a little of the old-fashioned harmony to replace these modern discords.
I should like to say, at the outset, that I thoroughly agree with, and would be anxious that the Minister would take notice of the statements made in connection with the Irish language by Senator Miss Pearse and Senator Mrs. Concannon. It is a tragedy, if what the Minister says is true, that there are only 5,000 people reading papers published in the Irish language.
Not even that number. If you could get 5,000 to buy them, these papers would pay their way, but you do not get half that number.
Well, even so, I, as an Irishman, endorse the statements made by the two lady Senators. Whatever we economise on it should not be on the Irish language. The Government should do everything it possibly can to revive the Irish language. I come from what is practically the Gaeltacht portion of the country, and it is not pleasant for me to have to say that I am not a fluent speaker of Irish. I can say this, however, that the children I see around me to-day are fluent speakers of Irish, and I defy contradiction of this that the good knowledge they have of Irish has not done any harm to their general education.
There was another statement made by Senator Miss Pearse with regard to the difference in prices with which I do not agree. I travel a good deal through the country and, as far as the present price of flour is concerned, I do not find anybody making any objection to it. Those who want a different quality of flour are prepared to pay the price for it. I go so far as to say that the majority of the Irish people approve of the difference in price. There is a sufficient quantity of rationed bread available for the people. That is supplied to them at a fixed price. In the case of tourists and others who come here, I do not see any reason why we should subsidise food for them. I think that the policy of the Government on this matter is a good one, and that, when the time comes, it will have the approval of the Irish people.
I do not agree with the present policy in regard to housing. If it is pursued by the Government then, so far as Dublin and the surrounding areas are concerned, they are only piling up trouble for themselves in the future. Personally, I feel that the whole idea of housing here is wrong. I am not saying that the Government are not generous in the help they are giving for housing. For example, the Dublin Corporation are about to acquire a great portion of north County Dublin for the erection of corporation houses. The children of the people who are to occupy those houses will, in the course of a number of years, have to be supplied with more houses, and so on. That will mean that there will have to be an extension of houses as far as Ashbourne. The whole system is, as I say, wrong and will mean the creation of slums.
My opinion is that the local authorities should erect houses for the workers and make them the owners of them. Houses should also be provided for newly-married couples. They should have the opportunity of starting off in life with a home of their own and should pay the full economic rent for it. As Senator Burke has said, it is unfortunately true that there are many young people not thrifty enough to save and be in a position to purchase a house when they are about to get married. It is my firm belief that the nation would gain eventually if people were made the owners of their own houses. People would not then be so anxious to put everything on the rates. It stands to reason that the owner of a house will take more pride in it than if he were merely paying a rent for it. If we keep on building thousands and thousands of houses we shall need to have thousands of tradesmen available to keep those houses in repair, whereas, if the occupiers were the owners, that responsibility would fall on themselves and so the nation would be saved the huge amount of money that goes in the cost of repairs. I think that such an approach to the housing problem would make our people better citizens.
I would ask the Minister to think seriously on that question. I am convinced that if we continue the present method we shall never solve the housing question in this country. I hold that it is a bad policy to give a house to a person, to repair it for him and subsidise it. It is a degrading system. I hold that people should be made the owners of their houses and be held responsible for keeping their own homes in a proper state of repair. I am satisfied, as an Irishman, that 97 per cent. of the Irish people, if they were given that opportunity, would make a grand job of their own homes.
As well as that, the cost of erection of houses is a very serious matter. I have returned from a meeting of a housing committee in County Dublin and I have been told that for a simple labourer's cottage the lowest tender is £1,400. There is something very wrong there. These types of cottages were erected some years ago for less than £300. Whatever difference there may be in the cost of materials and in wages, it could not possibly make up for the difference in those figures.
I am sorry to have to say it as a trade unionist, but tradesmen have a big responsibility. Like Senator Séamus O'Farrell, I feel there is a section of the tradesmen in this country who are not doing their duty as citizens. I do not believe we should have closed trades. I wonder why it is that, as regards the carpentry and other trades, if a man has a son who has a taste for one of those trades he cannot enter any of them because his father was not engaged in that particular trade. I would like if somebody would impress on the heads of the trade unions how unfair this system is. I wonder would they like it if it applied to any of their own children who might be anxious to enter a particular trade and who would be refused entry because the father was not engaged in that trade? I feel satisfied that the majority of them would resent it.
They are permitting a grave injustice in not allowing apprentices into these trades other than the sons of tradesmen. If they would permit more apprentices, we would have more tradesmen, and eventually we would have more and cheaper houses. It is, unfortunately, a fact that a small section of the community is allowed to get away with that. I know that what I am saying is not a popular thing for a Labour man to say, but the fact remains that a small section is allowed to get away with it, and that is going far away from the Proclamation of 1916, which guaranteed equal rights for all our citizens. Some of those people I speak about pose as great Irishmen.
I hope the Minister will bear in mind what I have said about houses and recommend to local authorities that they should start out seriously to provide homes for couples who are about to commence their married lives. People will say that we should deal with the large families first. I submit that you can keep on dealing with them but, if you do, the housing problem will never be solved.
So far as the Government's general policy is concerned, I think they are making an honest effort. I feel that the majority of the Irish people are of the opinion that in all the circumstances the Government are making an honest effort to develop our resources in accordance with the wishes of the majority. The Government are anxious to help sections within the nation that are least able to help themselves. I refer particularly to widows and orphans, blind persons and those who are not in a position to help themselves. The Government have done that within their short term of office without increasing taxation. On the contrary, they have actually reduced taxation.
There was a terrible uproar here at the time Cumann na nGaedheal took the shilling off the old age pensioners —and rightly so. I believe that was more or less the cause of putting them out of office. But a couple of years ago, without a word, more than a shilling was taken off the old age pensioners. Everybody will agree that the only comfort most old age pensioners have is the few ounces of tobacco. I am quite certain that no person will begrudge that to them. Nevertheless, the Government of the day, by increasing the price of the ounce of tobacco, took much more than a shilling off the old age pensioners. This Government succeeded in reducing the tax and in that way they gave those few shillings back to the pensioners.
As well as that, they have increased the pensions, although I am not quite satisfied that they have increased them as much as they might. When they went as high as 17/6 they could have given the additional half-crown and they would have the approval of every section of our people if they made the pension £1. I am sorry they stopped short of that amount by half a crown. If I happened to be the Minister for Finance, instead of giving the 6d. reduction in income-tax, I would have made the old age pension £1. In my humble opinion, the half-crown to the old age pensioners would be much more appreciated than the 6d. relief given to the income-tax payer.
I am very interested in turf. I never could understand why imported coal should go into Connaught, unless for industrial purposes. Turf is a native fuel in Connaught and the people there use it extensively. I go so far as to say that I would not allow coal in there. I know that turf is an economic fuel. That may not be so in Dublin, but it is in the turf-producing areas and its production should be encouraged. When turf production was at its peak the money was retained in the country. It gave great employment and stopped emigration. Unfortunately, there are numbers of our people still emigrating, though they are not as numerous as in years gone by. These people should get employment at home and turf production might be encouraged as one industry which would keep many of them here. It is hard to establish an industry in the West. You will never build a nation up on emigration and doles. These people should be given employment at a decent wage and they would be engaged producing something for the betterment of this nation, even though it may cost the nation something.
I wonder if the Government could do something to remedy a rather serious matter—that is, the profiteering that is allowed in relation to certain commodities? For instance, last week and this week in Dublin potatoes are being retailed at very high prices. The farmer who produces the potatoes is getting what I will admit is a decent price—£24 a ton. Nevertheless, last week in Dublin the shopkeepers who had merely to retail the potatoes charged £40 a ton. That is too much of a difference. While I agree that the business people should be allowed a reasonable profit on all transactions so that they may be able to pay decent wages to their employees, I think in this instance the charge is excessive. I am sure the Minister's officials are well aware that the market price in Dublin for Queens was £24 a ton and the potatoes were retailed at 5/- a stone.
Possibly on the south side they may be cheaper because there we have a producer-consumer market. On the north side they were definitely 5/- per stone. To-day they are 4/- per stone. I hold that £8 per ton retail is too great a margin of profit. The people who are paying that profit are the ordinary workers. Such a margin should not be allowed. I do not object to high prices provided that they go to those people most entitled to them. I do not object to a high price being paid to the primary producer, the farmer who takes the risk of cultivating his land, who has to pay labour and who takes a chance on the crop being a failure. The farmer takes a great risk. Sometimes his crops are a failure. Last year he had to sell his potatoes at £4 and £5 a ton. I would not begrudge him a good price for his produce. I am glad that he is getting a good price now. I think it is unfair, however, that a farmer gets £24 a ton for his potatoes and somebody else makes a profit of £16 on that ton of potatoes when retailing it on the same day. This is the second occasion on which I have raised this matter. I hold that the price differential as between the producer and the retailer is too great.
Senator Hawkins spoke about eggs. I think he should ponder over that subject. I am certainly satisfied that the Minister for Agriculture has done well for the egg producers in the long run as far as price is concerned. It is only commonsense that if there is a certain allocation and a large quantity of eggs is produced over and above that figure, the Minister has done well in agreeing to take a certain price over a certain period. I think the agreement with Britain with regard to eggs is quite a good one. I am not so pleased with that part of the agreement which deals with cattle. I am giving now my own personal opinion. I am not speaking for any Party.
You must have got out of poultry.
The price is guaranteed for a certain period and anybody must agree that, because it is a long period, the Minister was wise in taking the particular step he did. I think the continental buyer of cattle who is prepared to give a good price should not be kept out of the market. At one time we were very anxious to have the continental buyer. He was giving a good price and through competition he was forcing the other buyer to give a good price also. It is my experience, and I say this without prejudice, that the British as buyers will always give a bad price to the Irish if there is no competition. Their idea seems to be to give a bad price for what is produced in this country.
Why should they give a good price for eggs if they give a bad price for cattle?
It is the way you look at it. I do not say they are giving a good price for eggs. I say the Minister made a good agreement—a far better agreement than his predecessor made. In the long run the Irish housewife who goes in for poultry will be better off. What good would it be to her if this year she received 3/- per dozen for eggs and next year she only got 9d.? In the long run the bargain will be a better one. I defy contradiction on that. Anyone who says anything to the contrary knows in his heart and soul that he is wrong. The contrary view is merely preached for propaganda purposes. We must take the long view if the nation is to be prosperous. I am sure that everyone here would wish that the nation should be prosperous. I hold, however, that there was a mistake with regard to cattle.
Can you not take the long view?
I am taking the long view. Competition is the life of trade. We had the continental buyer here giving a good price. He should not now be restricted in his purchases. In that particular instance the money was going to the right people. It was being paid to the primary producer. It was going to the people who come first and, indeed, last in this country, the farmer and the farm labourer, without whom we would starve.
I think some clarification is required with regard to valuations. The Minister seemed to give the impression that the local authorities are to blame where valuations are concerned. To some extent that may be true. To a certain extent it is not true. The position, as I see it, is that a house is listed by the rate collector for the local authority. The Valuation Office sends out a valuer and he puts a certain valuation on that house. The same thing applies to renovations. If one renovates a business premises the premises are revalued. In the case of licensed premises that is done by the excise officer.
But all the time it is the local authority which starts the ball rolling.
The excise officer deals with licensed premises.
But the person who starts the hunt after the new valuation is the local authority.
Meaning, I think, the rate collector.
No. The secretary of the county council makes the application.
The excise officer has a duty to perform. He lists the premises too.
But, of course, you put the hound on the trail.
There is a rumour floating around—I do not know whether it is right or whether it is wrong—that a confidential circular has gone out from the Revenue Commissioners to the effect that the valuations of both private and business premises must be substantially increased.
Gone out from whom?
From your office.
If that is not true, it is rather strange that valuation officers throughout the country have, by a considerable amount, increased the valuations on most private houses built in recent times. In the case of business premises they have been increased from 100 per cent. to 133 per cent. to 150 per cent. With that increase there is a corresponding increase in income-tax.
Thanks to Deputy MacEntee, yes.
Irrespective of to whom the thanks is due, it has been done anyhow.
He put the five-fourths on it.
If it is a licensed premises it is increased. I might point out that the Electricity Supply Board also gets a whack out of it.
Is the Senator saying that valuations on licensed premises have been increased?
I notice in the return here that over six years the revenue from licensed premises went up by £3,000 and there were 200 new licences issued in that period.
I know a premises which was recently revalued and put up to 133 per cent.
It might have been one which was last valued in 1890.
It was valued in 1938 and it was revalued in 1948. An appeal was made and the judge reduced it to 100 per cent.
All of you have that appeal to the judge.
That is true, but I agree with some of the things the Minister said about some of the judges. Some of them are so contrary that it is better not to go near them at all. There is a rumour abroad that this confidential circular has gone out from the Minister's office and the Valuation Office saying that there must be increases on business premises as well as on private property. Where it is licensed, increases operate under four headings; where it is not licensed, they operate under three headings. People feel they have a grievance in this respect. This question of revaluation has been on the stocks for a long time. Has it been decided now to have a wholesale revaluation in secret? If this decision had to be taken by the Oireachtas the Government would be put out of power immediately. As a matter of fact the last Government would not go on with the Valuation Bill. It is evidently being done now in secret. If proprietors of hotels at the seaside make a bit more at the present time their valuations are increased. They have no redress, except to blame the local authority which has nothing at all to do with it. The local authority does not ask for a revaluation. The officers of the Minisster's Department have increased the valuation of a particular property in Laytown at the present time. The people strenuously object to this and there is urgent need of clarification on the matter. Has the Minister issued any secret instructions in order to collect revenue by way of increased valuations on licensed properties for the Electricity Supply Board, and income-tax? This is a very important matter. If that is the position, the Dáil should face up to the problem and there should be a general revaluation so that it will not be done piecemeal and by putting it across the people without their being aware that it is happening.
To-day a Senator told the House that county managers were responsible for the rates veering to the position in which they now are. Does not everyone know that is not true? The county manager spends the money that the county council give him to spend and if the rates have soared it is because county councils, both Fianna Fáil, Labour and Fine Gael, told the people of the various counties that they would do this, that and the other and tried to do it. The councils rightly provided money for the services they had promised to carry out and the statement that the county manager is responsible for the increased rates is not in accordance with fact. I cannot agree with that statement and anyone associated with a local authority knows that it is not in accordance with the facts.
I am glad to know that the production of pigs, poultry, cattle is increasing. That is something that nearly everyone expected now that we have settled down to a more orderly form of Government, national as well as local. Let us review the position since the foundation of this State. Between 1922 and 1932, without blaming Cumann na nGaedheal or anyone else, things were so unsettled here that we could not make the progress we should have made. From 1932 to 1938 we were dealing with an economic war, which is worse than any other form of war, and we could not make the progress we should have made. During the period of World War II we could not make the progress we should have made. When the war terminated, the previous Government effected deals and bargains with Britain through their Ministers in regard to pigs, cattle, poultry and other things. The people of this country were to provide these commodities for the English market and they were being provided in abundance. When that Government went out of office, these trade agreements were handed on to their successors. The present Minister for Agriculture has continued the increasing supply of these commodities to the British market. That is no thanks to him but it is due to the fact that we have a very orderly form of Government, both national and local, and to the fact that the Government are getting a lead from the chief Party, that is, the Opposition, in the other House and in this House and therefore there is no reason why this country should not prosper. The lead has been given on internal and external matters by the Leader of the Opposition in Dáil Éireann, who has given such assistance to the Government in power and, therefore, there is no reason why there should not be the orderly form of Government that we have and no reason why the production of pigs, poultry, cattle and everything else we have to export to the English market should not increase by leaps and bounds.
There may be matters in connection with which I could quarrel with the various Parties in this country. I could quarrel and argue with the Minister or with the Minister for Agriculture on the question of wheat and tillage. We tilled 37½ per cent. of our arable land up to last year. I will concede this point—I do not care whom it vexes or pleases—that it was too much, in 1948, to ask that 37½ per cent. of the arable land should be tilled. That was going too far. On the other hand, we went to the other extreme when the present Minister for Agriculture came in and wiped out compulsory tillage. In Meath and other counties, owing to the fact that people did not face up to the compulsory tillage problem, a lot of land has gone wild. There were two extremes—37½ per cent. compulsory tillage in one year and no compulsory tillage the next year. That is bad for the national economy and bad for the land. The County Meath Agricultural Committee rightly passed a very sound resolution, practically unanimously, that 20 per cent. would be a fair amount for last year, reduced to 15 per cent. this year, and so on to bring it down to a proper level.
There are various other matters on which I could disagree and agree as far as the Government is concerned. As far as the Local Authorities (Works) Bill is concerned, I hope it will be the success the Minister visualises. These things should not be done overnight. The Local Authorities (Works) Bill and the Land Reclamation Bill should be properly planned and, if they are well planned, they will be a great success. If they are planned in a hurry, the danger is that the position may be similar to what happened under the Drainage Act of 1923. When the Army had been demobilised that Bill was rushed in and a big drainage scheme was carried out and because of lack of planning it has done more harm than good. I hope that planning under the Local Authorities (Works) Bill and the Land Reclamation Bill will be on a sound basis. In connection with the Local Authorities (Works) Bill, if the Minister held his fire for this year and devoted the money he intended to spend under that Bill to the continuation of the road grants for 1949/50 and then proceeded with the schemes under the Works Bill when properly planned, he would get much better results.
I do not know if there is anything in the Estimates to cover the problem of coast erosion. That problem exists in Meath and a great deal of magnificent land is being washed away because there is no wall to stop the tide. That problem must be dealt with and I regard it as an urgent one.
I appealed last year to the Minister for Local Government for grants for the reconstruction of old houses. I asked the Minister for Local Government to give a greater grant than £80 for houses the valuation of which was £35 or under. That is totally inadequate. I suggest that the valuation limit should be raised to £50 and that the grant should be increased. Those associated with the I.R.A. or the Sinn Féin movement of the past were sheltered in some of these old houses and it is up to us to tell these people that we succeeded in getting from an Irish Minister a grant to put their houses into such a condition that they can live in their old age in reasonable comfort. The Minister should tackle that problem as soon as possible. It is a very urgent one.
I move the adjournment of the debate.