Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 24 May 1928

Vol. 23 No. 17


I move the Second Reading of the Telegraph Bill, 1928. The purpose of this Bill is to enable the changes in the rates of charges for telegrams, which I outlined in my Budget Statement, to be given effect to. I stated then that there is at present a loss of over £150,000 a year on the telegraph service. As a matter of fact, a great part of the losses in the Post Office can be ascribed to two branches of the Post Office service—telegrams and registered correspondence. Each of these entails a loss of something like £150,000 a year. There is considerable difficulty, owing to international arrangements and to the fact that a great mass of registered correspondence arises outside the country, in effecting any changes there. So it is that, so far as telegraphs are concerned, the position is different, and we feel that this is a satisfactory way of getting the sum of money which is required for the purpose of balancing the Budget.

It seems to me that it is impossible for the telegraph service in this country to be run on a paying basis. For social reasons we must have a telegraph system spread through the country. It is necessary for social reasons that it would be possible to communicate rapidly with people living in the remotest parts, and it is necessary that these people should be able to communicate with those outside. Consequently it is not possible to cut off the telegraph service in some areas in which it is less remunerative than in others and simply to let the telephones have the entire field in these districts. It is necessary, as far as I can see, to maintain the telegraph service very much as it is. Reductions may be effected from time to time. Certain telegraph offices might be closed and certain economies effected, but in the main the telegraph system has to stay where it is, and some subsidy will have to be paid out of the proceeds of general taxation in order to enable the telegraph service to be continued.

But it seems to me that the subsidy at present being paid is too great. The average cost of each telegram handed in at the Saorstát Post Office is 2/7. The average receipt per telegram is 1/3½.; so that for each telegram handed in there is a loss of 1/3½d., or where you take a 1/- telegram really there is a loss of 1/-. It seems to me that the subsidy is too high. If circumstances were different, if money were plentiful, if the yield of taxation were increasing, and if it was possible to expend considerable sums in keeping these services cheap, it might be a very good thing to do so, but at present we feel that too much is being expended out of general taxation, and it is proposed, as I indicated, to increase the minimum charge from 1/- to 1/6. That will about have the loss which is at present being incurred on telegrams. There are things in the Bill such as the increased charge on Christmas Days, Good Fridays and Sundays. Those extra charges are at present in force.

I presume the Minister has considered, in making this increase, that there will possibly be a diminution in the number of telegrams sent. Has he estimated what that diminution will be? I would also ask the Minister if, in arriving at the figure that he has stated, namely, that he hopes that the loss will be halved, has he taken this into consideration? He must be aware that he is taking somewhat of a risk in this matter. I wonder are the calculations that he has made, made on a sound basis? The telegraph service, as he says, is, in a sense, a social service, but it is also very important from the point of view of trade, and, while he admits that there must always be a certain amount of subsidy from the general taxation for that purpose, I do not know that the amount is so very excessive, even the amount that is required and paid now. I would like to hear from the Minister what is the nature of the arrangements, if any, that at present exist between the British Government and the Government of the Saorstát in regard to the despatch of telegrams inter se, that is, between the two States.

I would like to hear whether any new arrangement has been come to as a result of this proposed increase on the rate of charge for telegrams here. In other words, will it be possible to send a telegram in England at a lesser rate and have it delivered within the Saorstát? Presumably, it will be. But if it is possible, who will pay the extra amount? Will the contribution be made from the British Exchequer or will we have to bear the loss upon this side? I do not know, as I say, what the exact arrangement is at the moment, but I think it would be useful, from the point of view of information, if the Minister could tell the House what the present arrangement is, how the money is allocated as between the two Exchequers, and what, if any, arrangement he has come to, with regard to the increase which he proposes to make. It would be an interesting state of affairs to find that if you are in the City of Dublin you will have to pay 1/6 to send a telegram to Cork, but if you are 60 miles away, in Holyhead, you will have to pay only 1/-. I think that will require a little explanation.

It is the intention of Deputies on this side of the House to oppose this Bill. We do not think that the state of affairs in the Post Office, revealed to us by the Parliamentary Secretary during the debate on the Estimate for that service, is such as to justify any additional charge being made for the services which are being given, nor do we think that the benefit which can accrue to the Exchequer as a result of the increase will be sufficient to compensate for the extra charge which people will have to pay for sending telegrams. It is estimated that the saving which will be effected by the increase will be £66,000. That is a considerable sum, and the saving of it is a matter to which Deputies should give their attention. The question we have to ask ourselves is, whether or not the increase is in fact going to produce a saving of £66,000, or, alternatively, if it would not be possible to secure an equal saving by some other means.

As Deputy Redmond has pointed out, the estimate of £66,000 is apparently based altogether upon the unjustifiable assumption that there will be no decline in the number of telegrams sent. Since the debate upon the Estimates for this Department took place, Deputies have been put in the position of having fuller information concerning this service as a result of figures supplied by the Parliamentary Secretary on the 16th May in reply to a question by Deputy Good. A simple calculation made on these figures would indicate that if the number of telegrams handled by the Post Office after this increased charge has been imposed was to decrease by two-fifths the entire saving estimated would be wiped out. That calculation does not take into account the fact pointed out by the Parliamentary Secretary, that the unit loss on telegrams will be greater as the service decreases.

We have had many statements concerning this service given us by the Minister for Finance, the Parliamentary Secretary, and the former Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. To the uninitiated these statements appear to be in conflict. It has been stated that the telegraph service is a declining one. On the other hand, the Parliamentary Secretary told us that it is not a dying service, and the figures given concerning the number of telegrams handled during the last year and previous years would indicate that perhaps the term "declining" is no more correct than the term dying as applied to it. The rate of decline appears to have been slowing up very considerably from year to year. There was a decrease of 251,000 in the number of telegrams sent in the year 1924-5 as compared with 1923-4, while the decrease in 1927-8, as compared with 1926-7, was only 87,000. The diminution in the decline has been steady. It would appear that when conditions get right in the service the decrease will stop altogether, and that it would be possible to review the service with a firmer basis for calculations concerning it.

The number of foreign telegrams handled has increased considerably since 1923. Since 1924 there has also been a substantial increase in the number of Press telegrams. The question, therefore, arises whether the attitude which the Ministry are taking up towards this service and the loss on it is a correct one. We have seen that there is a decided possibility that the decreased use of the service resulting from the increased charge will completely wipe out any possible saving and may, in fact, increase the loss. It is for Deputies to consider whether or not the actual saving which the Minister hopes to get could not be achieved by some other method than by increasing the charge.

As I said, we are placed in a difficult position for the purpose of making calculations by the conflicting statements concerning the service which have been made. It was, for example, stated frequently, I think, by the Minister for Finance and certainly by the Parliamentary Secretary, that one of the main reasons for the loss was that the increased use of the telephone in and around Dublin city had taken from the Post Office the most remunerative part of the service, that is, the short-distance telegrams. But it appears from the figures supplied in answer to Deputy Good's question that the receipts from the telegraph service in Dublin city from 1923 to 1927-8 decreased by £10,600, out of a total amount received in 1927-8 of £53,000. The decrease in receipts from the service in the rest of the country was only £33,700 out of a total in 1927-8 of £168,600. In other words, the decrease in Dublin city was only one-third of that in the rest of the country, and the actual receipts in Dublin city were one-third of the receipts in the rest of the country. It would appear, therefore, that the rate of decline in Dublin city has been exactly the same as in the rest of the country, and that the loss on the telegraph service cannot be ascribed to the cause stated.

When, however, we turn to the next table given showing the expenses of the telegraph service during the same years, we note a great difference between the figures. The expenses in Dublin City for 1923-4 were £152,600, and in 1927-8 £124-500, a decrease of 20 per cent. approximately. The expenses of the service for the rest of the Saorstát for 1923-4 amounted to £457,935, and they had gone down to £277,100 in 1927-8, a decrease of almost 50 per cent. It would appear, therefore, that while the receipts from the service have been decreasing at the same rate in the rest of the country as in Dublin, the expenses have been reduced by 50 per cent. in the rest of the country, and by only about 20 per cent in Dublin.

I think it will be admitted that the main expenditure on this service is on the salaries of the officials. We must assume, therefore, that there has been a rather drastic reduction in the number of officials employed throughout the rest of the country that has not been reproduced in the city. If the economy campaign has resulted in a decline in the service, as apparently it has, we are forced to the conclusion that the Ministry are on the wrong track concerning it. They are complaining about the decline in the service, and have attempted to compensate for that by creating the very position which is going to make the decline more noticeable; that is, by reduction of staffs in the country.

There is another matter on which I should like the Minister to give us additional information. He informed us that the average cost per telegram was 2/7, while the Parliamentary Secretary stated that the average cost was 2/5, and that the receipts per telegram were 1/3½, and that there was a loss of 1/- on each telegram. In the case of Press telegrams, however, for which the charge, I think, is only 2d. per dozen words, a calculation based upon the figures supplied would indicate that the loss per telegram is only 9¼d. As it must actually cost the Post Office the same amount to send a Press telegram as an ordinary telegram, we would like to have some explanation as to the reason for the loss upon ordinary telegrams being so much in excess of the loss upon Press telegrams.

On a point of explanation, I think the figures given for Press telegrams were for pages and not for the number of telegrams—they were calculated per the number of pages.

The statement here then is not rigidly correct—it was not the number of telegrams sent?

It was the number of pages sent. If it is given as the number of telegrams sent it is wrong.

The actual number of Press telegrams sent would probably exceed the number given here.

It would probably be less, but it is difficult to say.

There is no indication in the figures given us, either by the Minister or by the Parliamentary Secretary, as to what percentage of the loss is accounted for by the headquarters expenses in connection with this service. The Minister will, I hope, appreciate the fact that there are a number of Deputies seriously concerned regarding the amazing increase which has taken place in the headquarters cost of this service. As I pointed out, during the debate on the Estimate, there has been a decrease of 1,240 in the total number of officials employed by the Post Office. But that decrease in the total number of officials took place while the number of officials employed at headquarters was increased by 316. The increases in the different departments from the year 1923 to the year 1928 are as follows:— Headquarters officers—from 313 to 406, an increase of 93; Secretary's Office—from 112 to 131, an increase of 19; Accountant's Office—from 200 to 273, an increase of 73; Stores Department—from 114 to 164, an increase of 50; Engineering Establishment—from 489 to 570, an increase of 81. When we see a Department building up a huge headquarters staff like this and building that huge headquarters staff up while at the same time it is curtailing the service it is rendering to the public, and when that same Department comes to us for an Act to give them authority to increase the charges for these services, we are forced to the conclusion that it is the old story of the Rake's Progress and that there is something wrong; that this Department is being handled on unbusinesslike lines and that the only solution which they can devise, when they meet with a deficit at the end of the year, is to increase the charges instead of decreasing the expenses. It is the considered opinion of this Party that the Post Office can be run as a paying proposition without any decrease whatever in the service which is at present being rendered to the people. That conclusion has been arrived at on the strength of the figures made available to us. No effective answer to that statement has been made by any Minister or representative of the Government during the debates that have taken place concerning this matter.

As regards the Telegraph Service, the actual loss has been decreasing every year. As the Parliamentary Secretary himself boasted during his speech on the Estimates, the loss during the present year is estimated at £167,000, as against £406,000 in 1922-23 and £178,000 in 1924-25. In this particular service, the amount of the annual loss has been steadily decreasing. There are other services of the Post Office in which the annual loss has been steadily increasing. About the efficiency of one of these services, Ministers and others have been always boasting—that is the Telephone Service, the loss on which has gone up from £3,000 in 1924 to £42,000 last year. During the debate on the Estimates. I stated that the Telephone Service during the year 1924-25 was run at a gain of £17,000. The Parliamentary Secretary informed me that my statement was not correct. My statement was based upon a statement made in this House by the predecessor of the Parliamentary Secretary—Mr. Walsh, who was at that time Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. It would appear from that that Ministerial Estimates can be altered to suit the particular argument that is being advanced at the moment. Since I made that statement, I have looked up the records and I have verified it. In 1925, in the debate on the Estimate, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs of that time stated that during the previous year there had been a gain of £17,000 realised on the Telephone Service. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs now informs us that that is not the case. We are, therefore, faced with the fact that we cannot place absolute reliance on the figures given us, and it is impossible to arrive at accurate calculations.

On a point of explanation, I have not seen the quotation from the speech of the former Minister for Posts and Telegraphs in regard to the telephone gain. Possibly the explanation is that the Minister stated that the decrease in loss amounted approximately to £17,000. The Deputy will find that the loss decreased from 1922-23 to 1923-24 by something like £21,000. Possibly, at that time he was estimating a decreased loss of £17,000. As far as the reliability of the figures is concerned, the figures are given in the commercial accounts which are available to every Deputy as soon as published. There is no doubt about the figures being available and being correct. The Deputy has not taken into account the decrease in the telephone charges which took place in 1925.

I am not questioning the accuracy of the figures which the Parliamentary Secretary has now given us up to the year 1926-27—the last year for which the commercial accounts are available. Deputies who were present in the House when the then Minister for Posts and Telegraphs was making that speech on the Estimate had not got the commercial accounts for that year. There was no ambiguity about the words he used. He said there were two Post Office services which had paid —the ordinary inland post and the telephone service. He gave figures which showed that on the telephone service a gain of £17,000 was realised. I admit he was wrong in that—just as much wrong as the Parliamentary Secretary may be about the figures he gave us this year.

I stand over all my figures.

When a Department that anyone with a superficial knowledge can see is run with a rapidly growing headquarters establishment, run in a manner that would not inspire confidence in anybody—when that Department comes to this House and asks permission to increase its charges without giving a satisfactory explanation as to why that increase is necessary, beyond the statement that there has been a deficit on the service, it is up to this House to refuse it that permission, and to tell it to go back, re-organise the service and effect a saving in some other way.

When the Minister introduced his Budget I opposed this increase in the cost of telegrams, which he says is going to bring in extra revenue of £66,000. I intend to oppose this Bill for several reasons. My first reason is that I do not believe that the increase from a 1/- to 1/6 for a telegram is going to bring in £66,000 extra revenue. I think the Minister said, in introducing the Budget, that telegrams were only sent for congratulatory and frivolous purposes, and were not generally used for business purposes. I consulted some businessmen who are not in a very large way. In my own town I found that a businessman, by reason of this increased charge for telegrams, will have his costs increased to the tune of £50 per year.

Like Deputy Lemass, I have always been mystified by these Post Office figures. To be perfectly frank, I do not believe, when the Parliamentary Secretary tells us what the cost of a telegram is or the cost of conveying newspapers, postcards or letters is, and when he segregates all these figures, that we can rely for a moment on their accuracy. When the Minister is replying perhaps he would tell us how he makes up the cost of a telegram at 2/7. Does he charge against the cost of the telegraph service the salaries of all those who are telegraphists, but who also do other work in the Post Office? In many post offices, telegraphists may only be occupied for about ten minutes during the day in the sending of telegrams. For the remainder of the day they are otherwise occupied. Is it by the mere fact that they are telegraphists, engaged for a short time each day in sending telegrams, that the whole of their salary is charged against the telegraph service? For the remainder of the day, in many of the post offices at least, they may be engaged at ordinary counter work. I believe it is in that way these figures are arrived at, and that it is that fact that explains the high cost of sending telegrams. When the Minister was speaking I did not catch very well what he said, but I thought he stated that it was possible to have this question of the telegraphs put on a paying basis.

I said it was impossible.

If that is so, then I have nothing further to say on that. To put the matter in a nutshell, I agree with what Deputy Lemass has said with regard to the figures for the Post Office. I intend to oppose this Bill, the effect of which will be to put an extra tax on business people. As regards telegrams sent for frivolous purposes, such as congratulations about a birth in a family or something of that sort, the people who send these can well afford to bear the extra cost. The position with regard to this Bill is, that the State is going to lose revenue amounting to £66,000 a year, while at the same time the effect of it will be to put an extra tax on business.

Apart altogether from the question of increasing taxation on a certain class of people who perhaps do not engage very much in the sending of telegrams, there is in my opinion a decided unfairness in the matter of the sending of telegrams to people who live a certain distance, say, three miles from the nearest post office. In the past these people have had to pay according to the distance they lived from the post office at the rate of so much per mile for the delivery of telegrams. I know a number of small traders who have to pay a fee of 2/- for the delivery of each telegram. In the future, the sender of the telegram will pay 1/6, and for delivery over a certain distance there will be a charge of 2/-, bringing the total cost up to 3/6. We are now told that the average cost to the State of sending a telegram is 1/7½. Therefore, as regards the sending and delivery of telegrams, such as I am referring to, the State will be overpaid as regards each telegram sent to the extent of the difference between 3/6 and 1/7½. I am entirely opposed to the increase. I agree with Deputies who have already spoken and who have expressed the view that this increased charge will lead to a decrease in revenue. The increase, I believe, will lead to less business being done in the telegraph service.

I feel that Deputies in all parts of the House will admit that the class of people to whom I have been referring, as regards the charges made on them for the delivery of telegrams, have been unfairly treated. They live in remote areas, at considerable distances from the Post Office. The charges made on them for the delivery of telegrams in the past were certainly excessive and now they are going to be made much more excessive. They will not alone have to pay more for the sending of the telegram, but, in addition, will have to pay a certain definite amount which the State, or others who are more favourably situated than they are, will get the benefit of. In the rural areas all postal facilities have been very much curtailed. The salaries of the rural postmen have been unduly reduced, while in many areas the delivery of letters has been reduced to three days a week. On top of that there is now this increased charge for telegrams. The result of all this will be that, to a very large extent, you will be eliminating the facilities that go to make country life bearable. You are taking away from people in the rural areas certain of the conveniences that they very much need. I am decidedly opposed to this Bill from the point of view that its provisions will operate unfairly against those living in country areas.

I hope Deputies will realise that the passing of this Bill is going to make a very great change in business. It will mean that the average business message, sent by people living 50 or 60 miles apart, is going in the future to be sent over the telephone instead of over the telegraph wire. We all know that the trunk service is the least satisfactory part of the telephone service. I would like to know if the telephone service is prepared to bear the huge increase in business that is going to take place following the change proposed in this Bill. In my opinion, it is not. The Government has repeatedly expressed the wish that the telephone service should be popularised. I suggest that this Bill is going to produce a contrary effect. The effect of it will be to make the telephone service very unpopular. It will mean a huge increase in traffic over the telephones. That will be the inevitable effect of this change, and I think it is a change in the wrong direction. It is a commonplace remark among people nowadays that letter writing is unpopular. No one wants to write a letter. In my opinion, if the telegraph service could be availed of at a reasonable rate people, instead of writing letters, would use it and there would be a very great increase in the amount of work done in that particular branch of the Post Office. We think that it would be a much better experiment to lower the present rates for telegrams. In view of the circumstances that prevail at present, we could not possibly support this Bill.

I just want to deal with a few points that have been made by Deputies. I do not want to go into the Bill in any detail, as that is the function of the Minister for Finance. Many of the points raised by Deputies could, I think, have been more appropriately raised when the Estimate for the Department was before the House than on a Bill of this nature. Deputy Lemass quoted a great many figures. He quoted from a tabular statement. In order to deal adequately with the matters that he raised, one would need to have the opportunity of examining that tabular statement. It is not possible to answer offhand criticisms made from a tabular statement. I am sure the Deputy does not want wide statements and generalisations. We want to be accurate, and so far as the figures I have given are concerned, they are accurate, except where we are dealing with approximations in regard to years for which we have not yet got the final conclusive figures. Deputy O'Hanlon made a point with regard to the method by which we arrive at the allocation of the costs of the different services, and he doubts the accuracy of our figures. I must acknowledge that to a certain extent figures of this kind must be approximations, for we had to deal with the allocation of the time of the officials, but these approximations are the result of years of very careful examination into the amount of time spent by the officials on the different services. Inquiries were made in Great Britain and in this country, the results of which have been confirmed by inquiries we have made since we took over the service in this country. I think the Deputy may take it that for all practical purposes the figures are approximately correct.

Another point made by Deputy Lemass, and which should also have been dealt with on the Estimates rather than on this particular Bill, is that our headquarters staff has increased to a very considerable extent. I pointed out in the Estimates that if the Deputy examines the amounts paid in salaries he will find that a considerable amount was paid for a temporary staff, and that the numbers of the temporary staff were not included in the total of the headquarters staff. In the Estimate of the Accounts Branch of the Post Office, and in the figures given of the number employed, he will find there is an increase in the personnel of the permanent staff and a decrease in the amount spent on the temporary staff. When we were building up the headquarters staff it was not thought advisable to appoint established or permanent officials until such time as we had a grip of things. The argument that the telegraphic service could be made pay at the present rate of charges is discounted by the figures available here and in other countries. A commission was recently set up in England to inquire into the reason for the deficit in the telegraph service. The deficit there is considerable, and the service in Great Britain should be more remunerative than ours, because it being a thickly populated country naturally a greater number of telegrams would be going over the wires, and a greater use made of the service of the officials. Still, on close examination it is shown that a considerable loss is being made annually in the telegraphic service in Great Britain, and, taking into account the conditions there as compared with the conditions here, it can be shown that the loss here is relatively no greater than in Great Britain, and is perhaps even less. Deputy Lemass made the further point that the decrease in use of the telegraphic service is largely due to the fact that people are using the telephone to a greater extent for short distance messages. As regards the decrease which has taken place in telegrams from Dublin, there is also a corresponding decrease in the telegrams sent all over the country.

Deputy Lemass argued that there was the possibility in the near future without increasing the charge for telegrams of reducing, if not altogether wiping out, the loss on the telegraph service. I think the Deputy gave figures showing the extent of the decrease on the telegraphic service. It has decreased to a considerable extent since 1922. The actual loss on a telegram in 1923 was 1/9 and the loss in 1927-28 on a telegram was 1/3. As I pointed out in the Estimates, we have now reached a stage where any further substantial decrease cannot be brought about in the expenditure on the Post Office service. We have almost reached a static position. So far as the telegraphic service is concerned, we have almost reached the position where no further decrease in the cost can be expected, at least any considerable amount. That being the case, it does not seem possible that any efforts which we may make towards a reduction of expenses can bring about a state of affairs where the telegraphic service will be a paying proposition. If the Deputy takes into account that the loss on the telegraphic side of the Post Office service amounts to practically half the total loss on the service, he will understand it is not justifiable in the interests of the Post Office that that loss should be continued unless the Dáil and the Government decide definitely that the Post Office is to be administered as a subsidised service. I understood Deputies on the other side to say that in their view the Post Office service ought to be a paying service.

And can be.

Ought to be. If that is the policy it does not seem conceivable this branch of the Post Office service can be a paying one. As I have said, the figures in proof of this argument are not confined to this country. As a matter of fact, the commission which sat in Great Britain recommended an increase in the telegraphic service to a minimum which will be greater than the increase recommended in this Bill. They recommended a minimum charge of 1/7 per telegram.

I introduced this Bill myself instead of the Parliamentary Secretary because it is part of the Budget, and the considerations are financial. There is no additional charge being imposed on the taxpayer, but what we are doing is we are charging more to the people who are getting the service and so relieving the people who are not getting the service. If we do not get this £66,000 from the telegraph service we must get it from something else. If this Bill were not to go through some other proposal for taxation would have to be introduced in substitution for it. The number of telegrams sent is about one per head of the population per annum. The trader to whom Deputy O'Hanlon referred must be sending something like 2,000 per annum. There is no reason why he should be subsidised to the length of something like from 1/- to 1/3 per telegram. I have admitted that because a large portion of the telegram services are maintained purely for social reasons that there must be some subsidy from the Exchequer towards the telegraph system, but I think the subsidy paid is altogether beyond what is justified. I think we should reduce the draw on the Exchequer by making the people who use the service pay more to make up for what it costs.

Does that apply to the newspaper proprietors?

With regard to the newspaper proprietors, if we were to deal with the Press telegrams, I think we would have to deal with a wider problem. I would like to say that I think it very undesirable that there should be, as there are, large numbers of people in this country who read only a foreign daily paper. I think where you have a democratic country it is very bad to have large numbers of people getting their news and views entirely from foreign papers. We know the home papers are faced with tremendous competition. Undoubtedly they have certain advantages, but they are faced with tremendous competition, and so long as such outside papers have the advantage of cheap telegraph services, I certainly would not care to increase that charge here, unless we are taking certain other steps—that is, unless there was such a thing as a tariff on imported newspapers or something of that nature.

Does not the same argument apply to all business concerns?

No, not at all, because the telegram is incidental to the other businesses. It is the actual transport of goods for the newspaper, and it is a much more important factor.

The raw material has to be cooked afterwards.

Deputy Redmond asked about the diminution of telegrams. The Post Office believe that there will be only a small reduction in the number of telegrams sent, and that it will be possible to offset the loss of revenue in that respect to a large extent by certain economies that may be made possible. With regard to the arrangement for the sending of telegrams to Great Britain, at present the arrangements for foreign telegrams do not apply, and the receipts for telegrams between the two countries are divided. The British some time ago pressed for the opening of negotiations in regard to the present arrangements. This Deputy may have seen that a commission or committee which sat in England recommended that the present arrangement between the two countries should be brought to an end, and that the ordinary foreign rates arrangement should be brought into operation. The position is that the negotiations in regard to telegrams sent between the Saorstát and Great Britain are under consideration.

I think that the other points that were raised have been dealt with by the Parliamentary Secretary, except the question of charges for delivery. We recognise that the present delivery charges are perhaps hard on people in certain areas, and we are considering some rearrangement which can be made to relieve people to some extent at a comparatively small cost to the Post Office. I hope that it will be possible at any rate to modify the arrangements so that in some remote areas people will not be quite as heavily burdened in respect of delivery fees as they are at the present time. The loss on the Post Office—I think this has been dealt with by the Parliamentary Secretary—has been reduced during recent years, and there has not been that piling up of headquarters staffs that the Deputy suggests, because he was dealing only with the figures of permanent staffs. Large temporary staffs whose numbers were not given in the earlier estimates have been to a large extent replaced by permanent staffs, so that the figures from year to year were not really comparable figures. It would not be possible to effect this saving in respect of telegrams by any sort of internal change. It can only be effected by the method we propose. We regard this method of making the people who get and who send telegrams pay something more as being better than putting an additional impost of some sort on the general taxpayer.

There is just one question which I omitted to ask the Minister which I would like to ask now. Has he considered whether a reduction in the present rate for telegrams might not mean an actual increase in the revenue which will be derived from them? Let me take as an example the case of the liquor duties, where, if there was a reduction, there would probably be an increased consumption. Would there not be an increased revenue derived if there was an actual reduction made in the rates for telegrams instead of an increase as the Minister now proposes?

As in the case of the reduction in the liquor duties, there would be an increased loss.

I doubt that very much.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 76; Níl, 52

  • William P. Aird.
  • Ernest Henry Alton.
  • Richard Anthony.
  • James Walter Beckett.
  • George Cecil Bennett.
  • Ernest Blythe.
  • Séamus A. Bourke.
  • Seán Brodrick.
  • Alfred Byrne.
  • John Joseph Byrne.
  • Edmund Carey.
  • Patrick Clancy.
  • John James Cole.
  • Mrs. Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll.
  • Hugh Colohan.
  • Martin Conlon.
  • Michael P. Connolly.
  • Bryan Ricco Cooper.
  • Richard Corish.
  • William T. Cosgrave.
  • Sir James Craig.
  • John Daly.
  • Michael Davis.
  • Peter de Loughrey.
  • James N. Dolan.
  • Peadar Seán Doyle.
  • Edmund John Duggan.
  • James Dwyer.
  • Barry M. Egan.
  • James Everett.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • James Fitzgerald-Kenney.
  • John Good.
  • Denis J. Gorey.
  • John J. Hassett.
  • Michael R. Heffernan.
  • Michael Joseph Hennessy.
  • Thomas Hennessy.
  • John Hennigan.
  • Mark Henry.
  • Patrick Hogan (Galway).
  • Richard Holohan.
  • Michael Jordan.
  • Patrick Michael Kelly.
  • Myles Keogh.
  • Hugh Alexander Law.
  • Patrick Leonard.
  • Finian Lynch.
  • Arthur Patrick Mathews.
  • Martin McDonogh.
  • Michael Og McFadden.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Joseph W. Mongan.
  • Daniel Morrissey.
  • Richard Mulcahy.
  • James E. Murphy.
  • Joseph Xavier Murphy.
  • James Sproule Myles.
  • John Thomas Nolan.
  • Richard O'Connell.
  • Thomas J. O'Connell.
  • Bartholomew O'Connor.
  • Daniel O'Leary.
  • Dermot Gun O'Mahony.
  • John J. O'Reilly.
  • John Marcus O'Sullivan.
  • Patrick Reynolds.
  • Vincent Rice.
  • Martin Roddy.
  • Patrick W. Shaw.
  • Timothy Sheehy (West Cork).
  • William Edward Thrift.
  • Michael Tierney.
  • Daniel Vaughan.
  • George Wolfe.
  • Jasper Travers Wolfe.


  • Frank Aiken.
  • Denis Allen.
  • Neil Blaney.
  • Gerald Boland.
  • Patrick Boland.
  • Daniel Bourke.
  • Seán Brady.
  • Eamon Cooney.
  • Dan Corkery.
  • Martin John Corry.
  • Tadhg Crowley.
  • Thomas Derrig.
  • Eamon de Valera.
  • Frank Fahy.
  • Hugo Flinn.
  • Andrew Fogarty.
  • Seán French.
  • Patrick J. Gorry.
  • Samuel Holt.
  • Patrick Houlihan.
  • Stephen Jordan.
  • Michael Joseph Kennedy.
  • William R. Kent.
  • James Joseph Killane.
  • Mark Killilea.
  • Michael Kilroy.
  • Robert Briscoe.
  • Daniel Buckley.
  • Frank Carney.
  • Frank Carty.
  • Michael Cleary.
  • James Coburn.
  • James Colbert.
  • Seán F. Lemass.
  • Patrick John Little.
  • Ben Maguire.
  • Thomas McEllistrim.
  • Seán MacEntee.
  • Séamus Moore.
  • Thomas Mullins.
  • John F. O'Hanlon.
  • Seán T. O'Kelly.
  • William O'Leary.
  • Matthew O'Reilly.
  • William Archer Redmond.
  • James Ryan.
  • Martin Sexton.
  • Timothy Sheehy (Tipp.).
  • Patrick Smith.
  • John Tubridy.
  • Richard Walsh.
  • Francis C. Ward.
Tellers: Tá—Deputies Duggan and P. Doyle; Níl—Deputies G. Boland and Allen.
Question declared carried.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 30th May.