I move that the Bill be read a second time.
APPROPRIATION BILL, 1928—SECOND STAGE.
As this is simply to give effect to the Votes that have been passed, and as we had, on all these Votes, an opportunity of expressing from our side dissent in detail to them, I do not think that any very special purpose would be served by re-repeating these arguments. In the case of the Vote for the Office of the President in particular, I dealt with the policy of the Government, as we saw it, and our objections to it. I pointed out that it was our opinion that the finances of the country were not as well managed as they should be, that in a number of directions there were expenses which this country could not afford. I gave examples, such as the expenses incurred on the Civic Guards, the Army and on the larger salaries. I think I mentioned, on a preceding Vote, that I believed a substantial reduction could be made in the case of the Oireachtas itself. My belief is that 100 members here would be sufficiently representative and would do the work just as well as 150. I believe that you cannot cut down unduly if you want to have a really representative assembly, but I think at the same time that 100 members here would be sufficiently representative of the Twenty-Six Counties. Unfortunately, we cannot talk of the country as a whole. It would give a very fair representation and the saving on the estimate that could be got by that would be approximately £20,000. We would have the saving of the allowance of £360 a year each and we would have the saving also of the travelling expenses. These two items, you will find, will total about £20,000.
I urged on several occasions that the present Seanad was, from our point of view, a useless body and that the work that it does could be done otherwise. I see no reason why a special Committee, for example, of this House, could not do the work of revision if that was necessary. I believe that the Seanad as a whole could be dispensed with, but, in any case, I hold that it could be reduced effectively to one-half its present number. You would have a considerable saving, I think, if you did away with the Seanad, a saving of £24,000, without taking into account at all the special staff and the printing that goes with it.
As I say, there is very little use in going over again here these details of expenditure and pointing out the direction in which savings could be effected. We had the whole question of salaries discussed, and the reply that the Minister for Finance made was that it would be ridiculous to talk here of salaries such as they have in Belgium. I do not say that we should bind ourselves to the exact figure in Belgium. I think there ought to be some relation between the salaries that are paid in the Civil Service and the income of the ordinary individual in the State or salaries in other directions. I am certainly not convinced at present, and I doubt if I will be convinced at any time, that we are not going to get for our work brains simply because we will not pay high salaries. I think the Minister for Finance said that we could expect special sacrifices at special times of stress, such as we passed through not long ago, and, in my opinion, are passing through still, but that we should not expect that normally. I hold that we are not yet in normal times. Our economic situation is not normal and the political situation is not normal. If we are going to redeem this country at all, it seems to me that sacrifices will have to be shown in high places politically, and that a good example will have to be set by people who are willing to serve the community as a whole at no greater reward than the satisfaction of the good that they are doing, and only in the way of material reward such as will enable them to devote their whole time to the work without having anxieties about their private affairs. Look around and see the condition of the country, as we did, for example, a few days ago in the case of unemployment and in the debate on pensions for widows and orphans. One evening after one of these debates I happened to be walking along Merrion Square about five or six o'clock, and there I saw little children with their hands stuck down in the bins that are put outside doors, in some cases looking for scraps of food, and in others looking for pieces of coal. You will see that thing there any evening. I saw the same thing a few evenings later. I think when we have conditions like that we are not doing our duty. If we are not prepared to take the responsibility here of representing the people and of governing them we are not doing our duty, unless we show that we are doing this work for the common good and for no private advantage, and it should be understood that we are doing that. Not merely should we do right, but we ought to take care that the people understand that we are doing right, because if they get confidence in the people who are governing them they will be prepared themselves to stand the strain and to bear the burdens that they will not be prepared to stand otherwise. We, at any rate, think that big salaries particularly should not be paid on that account, and we think it is a shame to waste money in the way in which it is being wasted on the Governor-General's establishment. A straw shows how the wind blows. Even though that, from a monetary point of view, is only a sum of £28,000 every year, it indicates the whole attitude of mind of the Executive. Besides, if we approach it from the national standpoint, we know that a large section of the people anyhow, no matter how the Minister for Finance may try to explain it away, regard the Governor-General, not as a part of an Irish institution set up by the Irish people, but as something that has been imposed upon them from without. They regard the Governor-General as a representative of a foreign Power, although the Minister for Finance may hold that if we were a free Republic we would have some titular head of the State who would have nothing more than certain social functions to perform, and would not be the active executive head, as, for example, the President of the United States is. I disagree with him totally in that. I do not think at all that if we were a completely free Republic we would have, or could afford to have in our present circumstances, a person occupying an office of that particular kind, with no other duties to the State except to attend social functions.
If it is necessary to sign laws, to attest laws, there is another way of doing it besides the present system. For instance, the Ceann Comhairle or, if you have the second House, the Chairman of that House could sign. The signatures of the Ceann Comhairle and the Chairman of the Seanad, countersigned by the elected Executive head, would be a sufficient attestation of these laws. Even under the Treaty I believe that you could get rid of the office of Governor-General. If it were necessary to get laws signed it would not be difficult, for instance, to get the signing done by the Chief Justice. I know that some people will say the Chief Justice ought not to be brought into a matter of this particular kind; but the Chief Justice would be simply attesting to the fact that an Act of the Oireachtas was duly presented to him. The Governor-General at the present time has no direct knowledge, and if he is acting as the agent for the Executive Council why could not the President of the Executive Council act as his own agent? If it is simply a question of getting somebody outside the two Houses of the Oireachtas to sign, it seems to me that there is no reason at all why the Chief Justice should not sign, if that is necessary. It does not bring him into the making of the law in any such way as a member of the House here is brought into it or as the Chairmen of the two Houses would be brought into it. I believe that in all these cases where it is possible to save money we ought to be meticulously careful to save it. If we do save it in this direction we will have the money to spend on necessary social services.
I did not speak on the Education Vote here. There is no doubt that a very generous proportion of its revenues is being contributed by the State at the present time for education. I think if instead of looking now for further expense in that direction we were to see that the State or the community was getting full value for the money expended it would be much more advisable. I think that is the direction in which we ought to turn our attention. I for one am not satisfied that we are getting the best out of our system. I believe it can be improved tremendously. I think that it is not usual, when speaking on a Bill like this, for one to go into details on all these estimates again.
As regards the financial management of the Government, we are not satisfied. We believe that big reductions can only be made if the national policy of the Government is changed. The national policy of the Government, so far as I have been able to understand it, since the time of the Treaty has been to force everybody who did not accept the Treaty to bow their heads to it. I put that in the phrase that they were very thorough in imposing their own will on all those who disagreed with them. The Minister for Finance, in reply, said it was the will of the people. I think we all know what elections are like. I realise that it seems to be a necessary evil, that I cannot see any better system, that I cannot see any better way for solving national differences than by means of the elected representatives of the people. I cannot see any better alternative, but let those of us who may be prepared to take that stand not forget that a very strong case can be made against the whole thing.
If you are going to speak of the will of the people that, at least, implies that there should be some way of genuinely discovering what the will of the people is. How is the will of the people got when you have all sorts of misrepresentations, when you are aware that a great part of the electorate will vote on issues without ever thoroughly understanding their merits? What brought this to my mind was the statement of the Minister for Agriculture yesterday. I asked truth from the Minister, and I think I used the phrase, "real truth." Of course it was a debating point to say that truth is truth, and that to qualify it in any way is absurd. But I had in mind when I used that phrase that sort of thing that is called half-truth, which is the most destructive form of lying. These half-truths in nine cases out of ten determine the electorate when they are voting. During the critical period when there was a big national issue to be settled, you had these half-truths scattered deliberately. You had half-truths of which a typical example is this: The second Article of the Constitution was quoted throughout the country as illustrating the fact that the Free State was sovereign, that within it the people were sovereign, that they could do as they liked, and that all authority came from them. Here is how the Article was quoted:—"All powers of government and all authority, legislative, executive and judicial in Ireland are derived from the people of Ireland." Those who quoted stopped there. They took very good care to do so because it did not suit their purpose to read the whole of it, and to point out that it can only be exercised in accordance with the institutions that were set up by this Constitution, which itself was imposed. There are people who will say, of course, that it was not imposed.
I think the Deputy should not go into that question on this Bill.
I am simply trying to show that the expenses which we are incurring on the Civic Guards and the Army, the expenses which we and the community have been incurring for some years back on these forces, are mainly due to the national policy of the Government. By showing these things and calling the attention of the House to them, I was going to indicate how it is possible, by thoroughly realising the situation, and by showing the point of view of people who do not, and will not, accept this House, to get a basis on which it is possible to get the representative institutions here accepted.
I do not think that this is the place to deal with that particular aspect of the situation.
The Minister for Agriculture yesterday was talking about truth and I was coming to the point that the people of the country who are opposed to the policy of the Executive and who are not represented here had good grounds for holding that the will of the people was not expressed and could not have been expressed and that they were grossly misled. As they have a good ground for holding that view, we ought at least to go as far as we can in taking away the particular objections which they naturally have. I do not say that if we go that far we will be able to take away all the objections, but it is our duty to go as far as it is possible to go. We know also that in these critical elections it was not merely what was stated in public that counted, but you had statements that were circulated in private. The whispering campaign started at the top and went right down along. When the Minister for Agriculture was reading this supposed statement of Deputy Aiken the fact that Deputy Aiken was called General Aiken was sneered at. He had as much right to that title as some Generals that we have in this House—just as much right.
Too many Generals we have.
Too many out on pension.
It may be that there are too many Generals, but in any case Deputy Aiken has as much right to that title as other Generals have. If this House is going to say it is the lineal descendant of the Second Dáil he has as much right to the title as some of the other Generals. Passing away from that, I will come back to what was quoted by the Minister. I do not know if the Minister is correctly reported. Apparently the Minister did not think it worth while to mention the papers, or perhaps he thought it was better that we should not have an opportunity of checking his statements. He did not say what paper the report appeared in and he did not give us the context of the statement. Looking at the Minister's remarks as they were reported in the papers this morning, it seemed to me that Deputy Aiken was speaking of this whispering campaign that went along side by side, or perhaps it would be better to say, went along underneath the election campaign that was being carried on in the open. We all remember when we were being told that the Gurkhas were in Beggar's Bush Barracks. We remember when there was this effort being made to intimidate the people and get them to run away from the position they had occupied up to 1921. We have the same whispering: "If you do not take it, then you are going to have the British back; you are going to have the Gurkhas."
The Deputy should now try to confine himself to the Appropriation Bill.
It is only fair to a member of this House who is 3,000 miles away that when a particular charge like this is brought up by the Minister for Agriculture, the Minister's statements should be questioned. When it is stated here that when we are talking about truth we are only hypocrites, it is only right that an answer should be made here.
I am prepared to give the Deputy any liberty he requires to meet any charges made against Deputy Aiken, but I think at this particular stage the Deputy should confine himself to the Bill under consideration.
The whole foundation of the differences between us is the foundation that rests on the questions at issue from 1921 onwards, and there is no use in hiding our heads in the sand about it. If we are to get on the right path, if we are to get into the position in which it will not be necessary to expend these huge sums of money on the Army and Civic Guards, we must try to understand what the problem is and get a solution for it. It is no use hiding our heads in the sand, because any Government that gets into power will have to face the same situation. The sooner all parties make up their minds to try and settle this question the better. We hear a lot of talk about stability and the need for it, but the moment we speak about the things that are essential to stability, we are told we are simply harping back to the past.
To finish this matter about Deputy Aiken. I know him and I know that he was not going to do what was suggested by the Minister for Agriculture, to go and pretend to the American people and tell tall yarns to fool them. That is the suggestion. I know he is incapable of it. I know the men on the other side who know him know that he is incapable of it. How does a matter of this kind get into the papers? Let us try and understand what it was— what was likely to have been the case. He will himself be able to tell when the right time comes, in all probability. In connection with the recent election in America, in the case of one of the candidates you had all these undercurrents and whisperings which were likely to affect the election just as much as any difference of policy. Deputy Aiken thought of similar campaigns here, and these suggestions that were made then are being continued. They do affect people. The private characters of individuals on different sides were the subject of propaganda of that particular type. My wife was supposed to have had to leave the country and live abroad because she could not live with me. I was supposed to be living with two or three other women. I am taking my own case because I know it.
I never heard that before.
Let us get down to it. It was part of the campaign— everybody knows it was part of the campaign. We may talk as much as we like about democracy, but as long as people pander to that sort of thing, and inspire it, you are not going to have any respect here for the so-called will of the people. It went on not merely from platforms and in private, but it was spoken of from the pulpit; it came from the altar. I myself was told by a lady in Chicago that a Bishop had told her that my wife had to go over to America in order to keep me straight there because I was associating with women.
I think the Deputy ought to realise that this is not relevant.
I spoke of truth because I think that if we have a little regard for truth it will save us a great deal of trouble in this country. When this question of the will of the people is being considered, and people say that the will of the Irish people has not, as a matter of fact, been discovered in this matter and cannot be discovered, and that the present situation is the result of threats, we must remember that these people have got a basis for their view, and it ought not to be a policy simply of crushing them, because they cannot be crushed ultimately. These people stand for the things that are responsible for the movement that brought this House into existence, whether it came in for good or evil, and it is senseless to set out to crush them, because these things will triumph ultimately, and crush every attempt on the part of those who try to drive them underground. They represent the aspirations of people for freedom which have been in existence for hundreds of years and are going to remain until this country is completely free. If the Executive have a policy by which they hope to bring the country out of its present position to freedom, then let them be honest and let them take facts as they are and say: "We are not free at present, and it is our intention to do everything in our power to get complete and absolute freedom for this country." Then at least their policy will be understood.
On the Vote for External Affairs, I spoke about the attitude of the representatives of the Free State abroad. I did not ask that they should go and put our views before the American people or the people of the countries in which they reside—not by any means. What I was anxious about was this, that they should not misrepresent the situation; that they should not, for instance, say that we are free, that these institutions are our own, and that we have made them ourselves freely. The Chief Justice went over on this tour that we heard of yesterday and talked of this Constitution as being a poor thing but all their own. I have myself seen a copy of the Constitution to which his own name was attached—a copy of the Constitution that was recommended by them at the time, and we can see, as I said more than once, where the pressure came in, and where the particular Articles that would have given a certain amount of freedom here from outside interference of any kind were interfered with in Downing Street. We have only to look at the debates here to know that it is false to say that these institutions have been freely established by the Irish people or their representatives. They have not been. What was the need of the threat of war if they were freely established?
I think all that is quite irrelevant. I have given Deputy de Valera a fairly wide scope on this whole debate, but I think what the Deputy is now dealing with is quite irrelevant.
I am very sorry to be irrelevant. It bears on the whole policy of the Executive of the day. If that is out of order, well and good.
I think it is quite irrelevant to this particular debate.
I bow to your ruling on the matter. I only say that if we are, on all sides, making up our minds that we are not going to face this problem or the origin of it, then we are not going to get anywhere. It has a bearing on every single thing we do. To my mind, there is only one way in which it is possible to make progress. The only way in which it can be done is to try to get all the people in the country to accept this as a fundamental thing, that they can freely elect their representatives, with no bar whatever of any kind, and that when these elected representatives come together there will be no authority over them of any kind compelling them to do this or that, and that the only compelling thing will be majority vote here.
That is the basis on which I believe, if you go honestly for it, you can bring about a situation in which the present expenditure on the Army, on the Secret Service, on a whole lot of these Votes will disappear. If you do not want to be distracted with the political problem —and you are going to be distracted with it; you may succeed for a little while in crushing it down, but it is going to rise again—so that you can devote your energies to building up the economic and the material resources of the country, then you will remove those bars which are at present preventing the only reasonable solution that we can get to our national problem from being put into effect.
When you are dealing with these fundamental things it takes you a bit away from the immediate subject at issue. I hold, however, that everything is involved in it, that any time that has been spent by Deputies in trying to understand the position and to get a will to remedy it is time well spent. Yesterday, I think it was, the Minister for Agriculture wanted to do one thing —he wanted to bring out this particular point. You can picture him as just looking over the paper to get something which was capable of being misunderstood or misrepresented. I will end by saying that he reminded me of the priompallán that Keating talks of in his introduction to his history. That is the attitude, and that attitude, as long as it is typical of representative members on the other side, is not going to mean that at any time we are going to have that basic understanding which will make it possible for us to have economies on services such as the Army and the Civic Guards.
Every Deputy was, during the last couple of months, given a fair and reasonable opportunity of ventilating his views in regard to the financial position of the country and of giving his reasons for voting for or against certain moneys for administrative purposes. I went into the Lobby with Deputy de Valera on many of the questions which he raised here. I think it is correct to say that I went into the Lobby with him believing that the taxpayers should not be called upon to bear the cost of the upkeep of the Governor-General. I feel perfectly satisfied, as I did when I voted against the Estimate, that whoever occupies that position is not worthy of the high salary, or the large amount that has to be voted for the upkeep of that particular establishment. Deputy de Valera came along in this debate and gave as a reason for voting against the Appropriation Bill that the membership of this House should be reduced from 153 to 100. He must be well aware that that cannot be carried into effect without amending legislation, because the present membership of the House is based upon existing legislation and an amending Bill is necessary to reduce the number. When I listened to Deputy de Valera referring to many of the matters which he mentioned, I wondered whether he realised the seriousness of the task which he has agreed to undertake by becoming a member of the Economic Committee. The Deputy and two of his leading colleagues, very able members of this House, as well as other Deputies from other parties, have agreed, at the request of the President, to serve on this Committee. The terms of reference are very wide, and to me it appears to be a life-long job. I have every hope that if the members of the Committee go into the room where they are going to meet free from the party contentions of the past and the political disturbances which we hear of from time to time, something good will come out of it. If we are going, either in this House or outside the House, to encourage the discussion of these contentious political questions, we are going to give a task to the members of the Economic Committee which, in my opinion, will be an impossible task. They will go in there, if they are going to consider party ties, with tied hands, and the result will be that you will have several recommendations and nothing will be done. I should like if Deputy de Valera, who speaks for a large section of the people of this country, would appeal for his own sake as a member of the Economic Committee for a political truce during the work of that Committee. I should like to see all parties in this House who assented in the setting up of that Economic Committee calling not alone for a political truce, but for a financial and industrial truce. The abnormal number of unemployed which we have in the country to-day is due to political disturbances, to financial disturbances, and to a certain extent, but not in the past two or three years, to industrial disturbances. The fact that the banks are the financiers of this country, and are continually pressing the hand of the agriculturists and industrialists, is adding to the number of unemployed. There is no question about that. Every member of this House, I am sure, regardless of party, is prepared to admit it. The general position of the country as the result of two or three civil wars, or whatever you like to call them, has added to the list of the unemployed, and if we could cease from further political contention, it would help Deputy de Valera in the task which he has now undertaken as a member of the Economic Committee.
We are asked—and this is the real question before the House—to vote for the provision of moneys which will enable the administrative Departments of State to carry on for the remainder of the financial year. I am asked to oppose the Appropriation Bill simply because it contains provision for a certain sum of money for the upkeep of the Viceregal Lodge, and to disregard the fact that 80 per cent. of the other sums which it provides are for social services. I expressed my dissent from the provision for the Governor-General's establishment in the only way I could do it—by voting at the right time against the Estimate. The members of my Party and I went into the Lobby against that Estimate, but I do not see how I could go to my constituency and justify voting against the Appropriation Bill, which provides large sums of money for old age pensions, housing, drainage and social services which, if these sums were disallowed by the House, would mean that there would be several thousands added to the unemployed list. I personally could not justify action of that kind.
On the question of the Army I speak for myself and I am prepared to defend my own judgment. One of Deputy de Valera's nominees, in the June General Election of last year, publicly called upon me to justify my action in voting, as I had already voted, for certain sums for the upkeep of the Army. We had at that time, roughly—one can only speak roughly— about 60,000 unemployed. I was speaking at a meeting which all parties addressed in succession, and I stated publicly that I was prepared to wait until the number of unemployed we had were fully absorbed in useful employment before I was prepared to add another 10,000 to the number. I am not prepared to-day to add that number to the unemployed. I think it is far better from the point of view of the State to have these men in uniform, under discipline and being fed at small cost to the State, than to have some of them going about hungry, as Deputy de Valera has seen some of them go about hungry during the past day or two in Merrion Square. I would not speak on this Vote but for the fact that I look at the establishment of the Economic Committee as the most important thing in its way that has been done by this House since I became a member of it. Important Committees have been set up by this House, but it was not as fully representative of the people as this Dáil is. All parties are represented on that Committee—financiers, industrialists and politicians. In the name of the people of the country who are looking for work, let us have a political truce, an industrial truce, and a financial truce, and let us get on with the work of the Committee free from all these disturbances.
I should like to support Deputy Davin's very moving appeal that we should all try and act with restraint so as not to prejudice the chances of this very important Committee. I should like to say that I agree entirely with Deputy de Valera in deprecating a campaign of slander, whomsoever it may be directed against. Those are not right political methods. They are not confined entirely to one party. I am not saying this in any polemical sense. I sympathise with Deputy de Valera, because I was in the September election subjected to a considerable amount of personal attack. When Deputy de Valera deprecates the quoting by the Minister for Agriculture of a recently reported speech in the United States, I would remind him that somebody in his Party—I do not believe it was himself, and I do not think he approved of it himself—went back seventeen years to find out any mistakes that I made when I was a boy under twenty-five. These things are done by the worst elements of all parties, and it is for the better elements of all parties to discourage them.
The particular point I want to make in this debate is relevant to the Bill. We have an immensely long schedule to this Bill—the Second Schedule. I want to make the suggestion to the Minister for Finance that he should see if it is not possible to condense the Estimates by an altered grouping. At present we very often waste a considerable amount of time discussing comparatively small Votes—Votes of less than £10,000— while big Votes go through almost undiscussed. I do not want to curtail the opportunities of the Opposition in discussing the salary of the Governor-General. That raises a question of principle which certainly ought to be discussed. But there are a great many small Votes. There is the Vote, for instance, for the Quit Rent Office. That is a very small office, employing about half a dozen civil servants. Some of these civil servants work for and receive remuneration from the Department of Industry and Commerce. Is there any germane reason why they should not be included in the Vote for the Department for Industry and Commerce? Again, there is the Vote for Hospitals and Charities. Might not they be included in the Estimate of the Department of Local Government and Public Health? There are other comparatively small Votes which could be easily amalgamated with some other larger Votes. If the Minister would set up a small Committee to examine the Estimates, I am sure he could reduce the number of heads and the number of Votes. That would give us a better and more businesslike discussion of the Estimates and enable us to devote time to the questions which are really important. I am not suggesting that there was any undue waste of time in the discussion of the Estimates. There was no obstruction, and undoubtedly there was absolute willingness on the part of the Opposition to discuss the matters fairly. But necessarily time gets wasted. Even the time spent in proposing the Votes from the Chair is a waste, to a certain extent. Before next year's Estimates are introduced, I think the Minister might set up a small departmental committee or perhaps examine the matter himself to see if it would not be possible to reduce the number of heads in the Estimate and the number of Votes in this schedule from 71 to something like 50. I believe it would make for briefer, better and more businesslike discussion.
I hope I will not be accused of wasting the time of the House, but if I have one belief it is that the question of taxation is one of the most important and one of the most vital questions that we are faced with in this country. The system was introduced here about 1853. It was introduced more or less as a result of the famine. In those days the British Government lent four and a half million pounds to this country, and in order to recover it more easily, and perhaps more profitably, income tax was applied here. It is strange, when one comes to consider the whole subject, that we find that as taxation increased emigration always increased. Therefore I take it that there must be some close relationship as between emigration and unemployment, as well as loss of industry. I do not believe that there is any Deputy in this House who does not believe in his heart and soul that this question of taxation is the cause of the evils we suffer from to-day. It strikes me forcibly, when I consider the system that is adopted here of collecting taxes and the system adopted in England, that we here collect more than is necessary. I do not believe that that is correct. I believe we should collect what is necessary and that only. I believe the system of collecting more and then distributing the surplus is not economic. Neither is it healthy or good for any nation, because from the day that was instituted in this country we find demoralisation set in. We find that the two systems—direct and indirect taxation—were always severe on the community, but direct taxation never so severe as the indirect. Indirect taxation always punished the poorest in the country. It went further and interfered seriously with production. Farmers who were then producing found they had to pay higher wages for no other reason than that the labourer, in order to live, had to have more money. It cost him more to buy. The result of the whole thing was that we gradually began to lose our markets. Our cost of production was too high and we were unable to sell. The result to-day, as I firmly believe, is that so far as our agricultural produce is concerned we are actually selling under the cost of production. I do not think there is any economist in this State who can refute that statement. True, we may be able to sell butter a little over the cost of production, but there is no other article that leaves this country with which we can do that. I make these few remarks in order that people may begin to prepare themselves for what is coming in the near future. We cannot continue to spend as we are spending. That is an impossibility. The more we spend the more the State collects in taxes of every description and the more unemployment we have. We will have farmers gradually collapsing. We will have small farmers turning into large ones. We will have huge combines, and that will be the finish. I do not believe it is the desire of a single individual in this country to see that state of affairs come about. If they do not want that state of affairs they have the remedy. They cannot employ it now, but in the near future that remedy can be employed, and I will go further and say must be employed.
When one considers the position of the farming community, one thing strikes one forcibly. There is never any extension or development. People engaged in other lines of business and, perhaps, from other countries, remark to me: "I wonder why that land is not drained." Another man says: "I wonder very much that so and so does not finish his cattle or his pigs." There is a reason for it all. The margin of his profits is not sufficient and never has been. There is no institution in this country that is so well and so highly organised as the institution for collecting money. If half the brains were devoted to the other side, I am quite sure we should be successful. I make an appeal then that some of the brains that are used to devise ways and means of collecting money should be used to devise ways and means of leaving a little more in the farmer's pocket.
He does not need much; if he just gets a little more he will get confidence, and that confidence is badly needed to-day. In some years he can get some more, but until you are in a position to leave five or six millions in those people's pockets this country cannot move from where it was. I believe it was an evil demon that devised this system. This system is not peculiar to an agricultural country. There is no country in Europe comparable with this. We have 80 per cent. here of agriculture. I do not believe there is any other country in Europe that is living on that industry like we are. Scandinavia, perhaps, might be comparable, but I do not know of any other. It is, therefore, quite reasonable that we should make an effort to change what the Minister for Finance last year called the old system, and which I call that unfortunate old system. I believe it is time that we started. The sooner we start the better, and the day we start you will find prosperity will come to this country. There is no other disease that I can find. It is impossible to discover any other. I believe that the farmer, the employer, and the agricultural community could distribute money much more economically than any fancy Department that we may find here. There is always loss of money from people holding it for a time here and redistributing it. Not alone is there a loss, but, at times, a good deal of corruption and a good deal of demoralisation is brought about, and no man or no community can stand straight up and face the issue—that is, living on subsidy. It has demoralised this nation from the years of the famine, and it still demoralises it. Leave whatever surplus is possible in the hands of these people, and properly, usefully, and profitably distribute it. Those are the people who can run this nation. We may do a bit here, but at best we can only do a very small portion of it. As I say, leave the money to the men that make the money; those are the men that know how to invest it to get the best possible return. It strikes me that if we took an average of the 2,900,000 people who reside here, I do not believe that they would have 4/- a head to live on after all those charges have been paid up. It certainly applies to the agricultural community. I am afraid that here in this City of Dublin and in this House we have not fully appreciated the position of these unfortunate people. Picture to yourself, in a family of five, 4/- each per week to live on!
In the country districts.
I do not know much about Dublin. It is my business to put the position of the country, and certainly that is the case in the country, if it is not worse. Whether I am right or wrong, I will continue to hold this opinion until the opposite is proved. The cause of that is our high taxation.
The Appropriation Bill affords us an opportunity of criticising the general policy of the Ministry in administering the affairs of this State. To my mind, the Ministry are not aware of the times that are. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, in criticising the Opposition here one time, said that we seemed to think that time would wait for us, but the Ministry seem to live in times that are gone. When this Dáil was set up in 1922 a certain state of things existed whereby you had inflated prices, inflated salaries, and inflated wages, and the Ministry has gone on as if we were living in those times to-day, taking no cognisance of the general drop in prices, in wages, salaries, and everything else. That seems to actuate the policy as regards rural Ireland. Take the case of the Land Commission. We find in the rural districts that the Land Commission are paying prices for land which are exorbitant, which are above market value. The result is that the men to whom they give the farms find themselves subject to annuities much above those on adjoining lands, and that coupled with high rates, after a very short period, brings about a state of things whenever the men have to give up these lands. I would sooner see no land divided at all than that the present policy of high prices paid by the Land Commission should continue.
Speaking about the Land Commission, it is extraordinary that the 1923 Act is being so slowly operated. I asked a question here of the Minister for Lands and Fisheries as regards the progress made in the vesting of estates. At the rate they are going it will take 50 or 60 years to vest estates under the 1923 Act. I think if they diverted the energy of the staff of the Land Commission to the vesting of these estates and took them from the division of land for the present they would be doing a very good day's work.
As regards the farming population, the remedies proposed by this Ministry in setting up the Agricultural Credit Corporation have not worked out very well. I think members on the opposite Benches will agree that the working of that Corporation is an absolute farce. I, personally, filled in for farmers over a hundred applications, and I know that every one of these was refused except one, and every Deputy I spoke to had the same story. I have spoken to a couple of solicitors who have sent in numerous applications to the Credit Corporation, and very few of these have received any consideration whatsoever. That Corporation has been set up to do the work which the credit institutions of this country have failed to do. It has been set up with no permanency. There is no possibility of it increasing its assets; there is no possibility of its activities widening, such as the National Land Bank could have done if it was not sold to the Bank of Ireland. They have just a wee margin to carry on. I say that the Ministry fails in its duty as regards the credit institutions in this State which have privileges which no other credit institutions in any other State in Europe or anywhere else have. If they are failing in their duty they should be made do their duty or be deprived of these privileges, and the privileges should be given to a State institution which would do its duty by the majority of the people in this country, namely, the farming population. The solution of the Minister for Agriculture of the farming question seems to be summed up in the slogan "A cow, a sow, and an extra acre of land," but to get the cow, the sow, and the extra acre of land you must have proper credit facilities, and these credit facilities, as I have said, have not been provided. Even if they were provided, I contend that that policy is not the policy directed towards the maintenance of the biggest possible population on the land in Ireland. The policy of the Minister for Agriculture seems to be the policy of the grazier. It is extraordinary that in the Midlands the Land Commission start their activities in dividing land by tackling a farm, we will say, of 150 or 200 acres, and for some reason or other they leave the estate of 1,000 acres untouched. I have one particular parish in my mind in the Midlands where there are three estates of over 600 acres apiece on which no one lives, and another estate of 400 acres on which no one lives, and where the ordinary people live on the edge of a bog, which is the only part of the parish that is populated. Yet the only farm they tackled in that parish was a farm of about 80 acres, which was subject to an annuity, and they left the other estates untouched. That is the general policy for Meath and Westmeath. As I said before, the policy of the Ministry seems to be the policy of the grazier. What should actuate the Minister for Agriculture is to bring about a state of things whereby efforts should be directed towards producing foodstuffs necessary for the population of this country and not for export. The first market we should think of is the home market, and in this respect there is no attention being paid to experimenting on the cultivation of wheat. To my mind, the agricultural instructors, acting under the country councils, are doing nothing in this respect. They are only carrying out a policy of make-belief, and if the whole lot were wiped out there would be no difference in the present state of farming as carried out in the twenty-six counties.
Again, we can see no practical results from the operations of the Board of Works. We can see no practical results in drainage or anything else. The schemes they put into operation are not half or quarter done. The Board of Works, under the present Ministry, have not made any advance on the old Board of Works under the British when it was known as the Board of no Works.
Under this Appropriation Bill there is a sum set aside for the carrying out of the Electoral Act. I would like to draw the attention of the Minister for Local Government to the non-carrying out of this Act. It is left to the discretion of the rate collectors to compile the register every year. In some districts it is very badly compiled, thousands of people being left out. They seem to follow no proper system, and I think it is up to the Ministry to make some stringent rules whereby these people will have to carry out their duties under the Electoral Act in an efficient way, either by consulting the local registrar of births and deaths or some other means. That is the best means that suggests itself to me.
There is a large sum set aside for Army pensions. It would be much better if the State, instead of paying money to a pack of idlers and poachers, as we know them in the Midlands, would find suitable employment for those individuals and direct the money towards recompensing them for their work. These men have become useless, but they would be an asset to the State, even if additional money were necessary to get them work which would be of some utility to the State. All I see they are good for is acting as directors for elections for Cumann na nGaedheal.
There is also a sum set aside for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. When this particular item was under discussion before the recess I drew the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the inefficient telephone service in the rural districts.
Surely the Deputy is not going to review all the Estimates again? He started off fairly well by saying that he intended to discuss general principles. It would be well if the Deputy kept to that.
I am speaking generally.
The Deputy must not go over the Estimates again.
As a matter of fact, I have singled out only a few items, and I am very near the end.
The Deputy is doing very well.
What I was going to say about the telephone service——
I think the Deputy ought not to say it.
I understood on this Appropriation Bill that one could discuss all the items that are embodied in it.
I have the Bill here and they all seem to be in it. I just want to point out that the number of learners they employ at the rural exchange offices should be got rid of and efficient officers should be put in their places.
The Deputy ought not to pursue that matter any further.
I also wish to refer to the fact that the Government have provided no funds this year for unemployment and distress. Unemployment and distress are as evident now, if not more evident, than they were last winter. I hope that before the adjournment the Government will see their way to give a grant to relieve unemployment and distress. I hope when they give this grant they will not set out as a stipulation to any particular county council that that county council should borrow twice the amount of the grant. In the particular county that I come from we find that the county council is already in debt to an amount which exceeds the rates. I hope they will get a portion of the unemployment grant, if it should come, without any such conditions.
As I am held up from discussing other items, I will have to get back to general matters. The real indication, to my mind, as to whether a country progresses is whether its population does or does not increase. The population of the Saorstát is going down, and consequently we can only assume that we have not the prosperity that we are told we have. I maintain that our population is decreasing. Unemployment is becoming more rife and we are not on the road to prosperity as we are told we are. High taxation is a great cause of this. There is also the fact that in the form of land annuities and local loans there is a drainage from the country, and if that money was held in the country it would go to the sustenance of the people, who are badly in need of sustenance at the moment, and it would go to the capitalisation——
Now, this is not the place to discuss land annuities and the Deputy knows that.
If I could get a better title for them I would call them by some other name. I maintain that until this Government tackles the whole question of credit—because credit is the basis of all industrial effort and all agricultural effort—you will have no progress here. In setting up the Agricultural Credit Corporation the Government did not tackle the matter properly. We have only to go to the country, or be members of local councils, to know the terrible demand there is for employment of any kind. The Government has failed to tackle the unemployment question and they have made no attempt to remedy it. It seems they have no remedy.
I will endeavour to keep within the bounds of your ruling and to deal with matters which are of general import. We have had a suggestion thrown out here by Deputy Davin, and supported by Deputy Cooper, that there should be what Deputy Davin called a political truce in this country while the Economic Committee which has been set up is in operation. We have had similar suggestions made on various occasions in the past.
If the Deputy does not mind, I said a political, industrial and financial truce.
Let us take them, therefore, in order—political, industrial, and financial. We have had suggestions of a political truce in the past, and the interpretation which appears to have been put upon that term, "political truce," seems to be that we should ignore realities and refuse to deal with the fundamental causes which have produced the present political situation. If the members who go to that Economic Committee are expected to pull down a shutter over their minds and refuse to state the facts as they see them, and the causes of the situation as they know them, then that Committee will be of very little use. I do not know what the Deputy means by an industrial or financial truce. I am not quite clear what he means by it, and I hope if some other member of his Party is speaking in this debate that he will elaborate on it and make it clear.
I explained it, if you were listening to my explanation.
The explanation did not convey anything to my mind except that the Deputy was anxious to say something which, while meaning nothing, is likely to get black-leaded type in the morning newspapers.
The definition of the word "politics" has, I think, been discussed on a great number of occasions in many county councils throughout this country, and we can get a definition, if we like, as narrow as that usually given by a county council chairman when he is ruling a resolution out of order. But if by politics we mean the business of men acting as citizens, then we will find that the essence of the problem which the Economic Committee has to face is of a political nature and is politics.
It is a good thing for the representatives of the people in the Dáil to take advantage of the occasion of a Bill of a general nature such as the Appropriation Bill to carry out a general review of the position in the country, to estimate the amount of progress which has been made, and the rate at which we are moving. There have been many occasions during the progress of this State from the date of its inception until now when, following the road taken six years ago, cross-roads were encountered. At these cross-roads there were no signposts marked "This way to prosperity in ten years" or "This way to ruin in five years." The people had to trust to the sense of direction of those whom the majority had placed in charge. We can test the accuracy of that sense of direction by noting the circumstances in which we now find ourselves and we can satisfy ourselves whether or not we are going into a condition of affairs which is going to mean greater prosperity or otherwise.
I am not going to discuss the question as to whether the people, or the elected representatives of the people, were right or wrong in accepting the Treaty of 1921. That is a question in which neither I nor my colleagues, despite statements made to the contrary, are very keenly interested. We are very keenly interested in the question as to whether the powers which were secured on that occasion are going to be used to enable this country to move forward from the position established by the Treaty. We are keenly interested in finding out for ourselves whether those who accepted that document upon certain arguments are now satisfied with these arguments. I remember when the Department of External Affairs was referred to yesterday I pointed out that a number of Deputies on the occasion of the Treaty debates asserted that they were accepting the proposals because they were going to enable this country to achieve a measure of material prosperity as well as giving us freedom to achieve freedom. I think it is the duty of those people who made these arguments and the people who accepted these arguments to satisfy themselves now as to whether these arguments were, in fact, sound and if the events which have accrued since the Treaty was accepted have justified the use which was made of them.
I do not want to deal with the question as to whether the powers conferred by the Treaty have been used, or are likely to be used, for the purpose of gaining a better status for the nation. But I do want the House to consider whether the powers conferred by this Treaty were used, or can be used, to achieve a greater degree of material prosperity for the nation. It is generally admitted, I think, that hopes which were generally held as to the result of even a measure of self-government on the general condition of the people have not been fully realised. I think it will be found that the reason for the lack of prosperity that we are now experiencing will be found in the very act of acceptance of a national status less than that to which the nation was entitled, because those who made up their minds to accept a national status less than the full national demand, by doing so reconciled their minds to ignoring the very fundamental issue, and that led, of course, to the ignoring of equally fundamental issues in the economic sphere.
It was the policy of the British Government in the past to develop what was geographically and politically known as the British Isles as a single economic unit, keeping Ireland predominantly agricultural and England predominantly industrial. It was, of course, a very good policy for England, and for those who still think of these islands as a single unit it may be considered a good policy still. But we know that whatever benefits that policy conferred on England, it resulted in depopulation, emigration, unemployment and poverty here, and one of the main causes for the long fight which we put up for political freedom was that we believed that that political freedom was essential to enable this country to break out of the British economic system. By breaking out of that system I mean achieving the right to develop the proper balance in this country between industry and agriculture, to provide for the establishment here of such industry as can be established, and particularly those industries which are required to supply the needs of our people. There has, however, been repeated indications given that the present Government, having abandoned the question of national rights in the political sphere, have also ignored the question of national policy in the economic sphere. From the day on which the Fiscal Inquiry Committee was set up in 1923, down to the Banking Commission and to the Report of the Tariff Commission on the application for a tariff on flour, we have had shown to us that the idea of one economic system for these islands still prevails. We have the Government continuing that policy and legislating in accordance with it. We have them, day by day, giving it renewed force, actively through the Department of Agriculture, and passively the Department of Industry and Commerce. So far as agriculture is concerned, of course whatever the Minister can do to increase the production of agricultural products in this country he will have our support, provided, of course, that the increase is a genuine one and not merely a transference of the energies of the agricultural community from one form of production to another.
We are, as I said yesterday, very glad to see, however, that the Minister for Agriculture has got it into his head that there is a considerable danger for the nation in being dependent upon a single market for the sale of agricultural produce, and I hope that some serious effort will be made to explore the possibility of providing alternative outlets for the produce of our farms. The Department of Industry and Commerce, however, which should be the spearhead in the effort to revive industrial activity here, has, instead of being an assistance, become practically a barrier to industrial progress. They have constituted themselves that barrier by the simple process of doing nothing. I ask Deputies and the Minister for Industry and Commerce to look back over the past year and to ask themselves what the Department of Industry and Commerce have done during that period. Let us judge them by their legislative activities here. I think the Minister for Industry and Commerce was responsible for the introduction of three Bills. One of them was a Bill to continue the Trade Loans Act for another year—I do not know why, because only one guarantee was given under that Act in the first quarter of the year, and none since. Why the Act was continued I cannot make out. If it was that the Minister was so busy stimulating Irish industry that he had no time to consider the question of legislating concerning it we would not criticise him. But not merely has there been inactivity in the Dáil on the part of the Department of Industry and Commerce, but there appears to have been also inactivity in the actual putting into operation of the very Act which they were responsible for introducing. We had also a Weights and Measures Bill enabling the Minister to certify as to the accuracy of petrol pumps. We had a Gas Regulation Bill to regulate, not the kind of gas we get here, but gas of an illuminating value.
We had some gas put off here already.
The gas this Bill referred to was gas of some illuminating value. That, I think, represents the entire activity of the Department of Industry and Commerce for the year —the introduction of three Bills and the passage of them through the Dáil and Seanad. Having done that, having provided for the regulation of gas and gasolene, having continued the Trade Loans Act for twelve months, the Minister reposes on his laurels. Is it any wonder that there is constantly being raised here the question of unemployment, or that we see day after day the growth of a feeling of despair amongst our people with respect to the possibility of an industrial revival?
We have had discussions during the year that were perhaps of some value, and that brought to light new ideas and new views concerning the economic problems that confront us. We have had no activity on behalf of the Government to examine these ideas, or to endeavour to put them into operation, if found feasible. A few weeks ago the Government introduced a Housing Bill and announced that the Bill marked the termination of their existing housing policy. The Minister for Finance in the debate on the Relief Vote told us that the Housing Bill which they promised in the autumn could not be introduced because of the failure of the efforts made to reduce the costs of building, following the report of the Unemployment Committee earlier in the year. That Unemployment Committee was set up following a discussion on unemployment here, and I think the Fianna Fáil Party almost alone in the Dáil maintained that it could not be of any use. The Minister for Finance, of course, the other day told us in his own words that nothing much came out of it. Nothing much could possibly come out of it. It was blindfolded and gagged and bound hand-and-foot and hamstrung by the interpretation which the Committee itself placed upon its Terms of Reference. Imagine a Committee on Unemployment on the first day on which it sits deciding that it is no part of its business to consider the causes of unemployment, and yet trying to find a remedy! It is no wonder they failed. It is no wonder that any efforts which resulted in the report which they produced failed also. It is a very serious thing for this House if, as a result of the failure of the Committee, the whole question of housing is to be left in suspense. The Government, I am sure, realise the urgency that exists for providing decent housing accommodation for our people. It is all in favour of the active pursuit of that problem that it is in the relief of housing that we will find one of the most expeditious methods of relieving unemployment as well. The Government, however, appear to have thrown up their hands in despair because they were unable to get, as they say, any reduction in building costs as a result of the conferences which were held of those concerned in the building trade.
I wonder if the Government or the Department for Industry and Commerce, which would be the Department concerned, have considered the possibility of taking steps to reduce the cost of building along other lines which would give considerable employment at the same time. Last year, for example, we imported 164,463 cwts. of cement, at a cost of £423,089. There was, as far as I have been able to discover, not a single cwt. of cement produced in this country. I should like to ask the Minister if he will tell us what the Government has done, or may do, or will contemplate doing, to break the monopoly in cement, and to reduce the cost by that means. We have in this country all the materials for the making of cement. The reports available from the Geological Survey Department indicate that. We have the men willing to work and we undoubtedly have the market. I hope that before the debate concludes the Minister will give us some indication of what the Government are going to do about it. Or are they going to do nothing; are they merely going to adopt the attitude which was indicated by the Minister for Finance and say that nothing can be done; that the Housing Bill which they had in contemplation cannot be introduced; that the housing policy which they had in operation must be terminated and everything suspended because a certain suggestion made by an admittedly dud Committee did not prove a feasible one?
Cement, of course, is not the only building material that can be produced here, and which is at present being imported, I think, in nearly every case, through a monopoly that can charge monopoly prices. Last year, for example, as far as I can discover in the trade returns, we imported 178,646 cwts. of slates, at a cost of £106,848. I am personally aware of one slate quarry in this country that has provided all the slates required for two big housing schemes in Glasgow and for housing schemes in other parts of England and which has not been able to sell a single slate to the Dublin Commissioners in respect to any of the housing schemes in Dublin.
That surely is an extraordinary state of affairs. The Minister for Industry and Commerce possibly knows the quarry to which I am referring, because it received assistance under the Trade Loans (Guarantee) Act. It is now, I think, in a very strong position and has no difficulty whatever in selling its slates in any quantities outside this country, but a considerable difficulty in getting the Dublin Corporation to take any of them off their hands. That is only one slate quarry. There are many other slate quarries capable of development, and it is a type of industry which gives a very substantial amount of employment. If instead of importing slates from Wales and other parts of the world, the slates required for the houses we are building here were secured from Irish quarries, we would be taking a big step towards the solution of the housing problem. The same applies to other building materials, such as stone. Government Buildings were, I think, built out of stone brought from Mountcharles Quarry in Donegal. That quarry I visited recently. It would not be true to say that it is dead, but it is almost so. It still does a small business in engraved tombstones.
There were imported into this country last year over £38,000 worth of stone for building purposes. I notice that the buildings which are being constructed in O'Connell Street, as a result of reconstruction grants, are being constructed with stone which has been imported. Surely, the Ministry must have contemplated the possibility, in view of the fact that they were giving reconstruction grants, of putting pressure on the persons concerned to ensure that they would use Irish material? Mountcharles Quarry, to which I am referring, is almost within stone-throw of the sea, and if proper arrangements were made there should be no additional cost in transporting stone from there to Dublin as compared with the cost of transporting stone from Wales across here. As far as I can make out, excluding slates, stone and cement, we spent £750,000 last year on imported building material, by far the greater portion of which could have been produced in this country. I do not say that tackling the question of the production of building materials in this country is going to solve the housing question, but it will go a long way towards solving the unemployment question, because it will mean that not merely will employment be given in the building of houses, but that employment will be given in the winning of the raw material for the building of the houses. The attitude of the Government in respect of housing is identical with its attitude in respect of the development of industry generally. In the debate upon the Estimates for the Tariff Commission the other night, the Minister for Industry and Commerce endeavoured to hide the inactivity of his Department behind such a statement as "We do not want inefficiency protected in this country."
I think it is fair to ask the Minister to tell us what he or his Department are doing to ensure the development of efficient industries. We do not want inefficient industries protected in this country any more than he does, but we believe that when we talk about "inefficiency" we mean something very different from what he means or from what any person who has developed what may be called the "Mersey-side mentality" means. When they speak of "inefficiency" they apparently confuse the term with "size." It is very easy to sneer at Irish industries as being inefficient merely because they are small. We cannot have industries of the same size as in England, but we can have industries which serve our need at economic prices. That is the efficiency we ask for on these benches. We will tolerate the Minister for Industry and Commerce tilting at Irish industrials for their inefficiency when he has himself done something to improve the situation which now exists, and has something more to show at the end of a year's work than the introduction of three very minor Bills.
The question of taxation arises directly under this Bill, and has been already dealt with by Deputy de Valera. There are a few points that I would like to refer to, because there is, I think, a tendency on the part of Ministers and their supporters to attempt to conceal them. We have had it repeatedly asserted that the Treaty was accepted because the people of this country had the right to do wrong. We had a Minister of the Executive Council telling us the other day that the Army had to be maintained because the people had the right to do wrong also. When a Minister makes foolish statements like that we can ignore them. It becomes a different question altogether when he tells us that the Army, for which we are paying £1,800,000, is absolutely useless for defensive purposes. That statement has been made in this House by a member of the Executive Council. When we see the Government refusing to consider any schemes for the provision of pensions for widows and orphans and refusing to make any provision to deal with the hardship that will undoubtedly exist during the coming winter months amongst the unemployed on the ground that it cannot afford the additional expense, while at the same time it maintains an Army costing nearly £2,000,000 to see that the people have the right to do wrong, and maintains a Civic Guard force at a cost of £2,300,000 for the purpose of seeing that the people have no right to do wrong, we begin to realise that there is some possibility of revision and some possibility of getting money for relief and development purposes otherwise than by additional taxation. Deputy Davin thinks of the Army, not as a military machine, but as a means of providing outdoor relief to a number of able-bodied men. He said here to-day that he would not defend its reduction until all the unemployed had been employed.
I used the word "demobilisation."
The Deputy said that the Army should not be demobilised until all the unemployed had been employed, as otherwise they would be putting 10,000 men on the unemployment market. I ask Deputy Davin to consider what could be done in the way of providing employment for £1,800,000 a year. I ask him to sit down and calculate the capital figure which that annual sum represents, and to find out if it would not be possible by mere demobilisation of the Army to provide work not merely for those who are at present in the Army, but for a considerable number of those who are starving outside as well. I think he will find that any plan or scheme which he can contemplate to provide work for all those who are without it in this country to-day would not cost the figure which is represented by £1,800,000 a year. The same remark applies to the Civic Guards. I said at the beginning that one of the main causes of the lack of material prosperity and of the poverty and unemployment which exists is that the Government, when they accepted the present political status, undertook commitments which would inevitably lead to these results. We have here £2,300,000 to maintain a force whose principal activities seem to be carrying out raids for no other purpose, apparently, than that of irritating those who have not become ashamed to describe themselves as Republicans. No person who has been at any time identified with the Republican movement can feel safe in his own house, or feel sure that some evening a party of these Civic Guards will not march up and insist on searching all his private papers. The Minister for Justice, when questioned about this matter, always says the raid was for the purpose of finding arms, and no arms were found. The reports which reach us would indicate that it is very rarely a search for arms is made, and that the main activity of these Civic Guards is really the reading of the correspondence addressed to the persons whose houses they raid.
We had all this on the Estimate.
I agree, and I do not want to press the question now. But I say that if the Government would let political developments take their natural course, and let those who want to see the present status changed into that of a Republic conduct whatever peaceful agitation they like towards that end, and if Civic Guards were not to be used for the purpose of maintaining a situation which they themselves think should be the right situation a very substantial reduction could be made in the cost, and that money could be utilised for the purpose of giving the relief which is required in other directions.
I hope that the Minister for Industry and Commerce will deal with the points I have made, will tell us the reason for the apparent inactivity of his Department throughout the year, will tell us if it is true that they have, in fact, been doing nothing to stimulate industrial production here. If he is going to assert, as he probably will assert in self-defence, that that is not true, I hope he will say exactly what they have done. Nothing has been done under the Trade Loans (Guarantee) Act, nothing has been done in the Dáil, and nothing has been done which, as far as we can see, has produced any results in the country. Accurate statistics are, of course, not available, but those whose business takes them round the country report that it is their impression that the number of unemployed is increasing, and it does appear that the number of emigrants is increasing each year. Until we seriously tackle this problem, not as a non-political problem, but as a political problem, interpreting "politics" as the business of men acting as citizens. we will not find a real solution. If the problem is tackled, and if we do decide to break up that economic system, at the head of which stands Great Britain—to quote the words of the Banking Commission—and institute a properly-balanced economic system of our own in its stead, I have no doubt we will be able to provide work for every individual without work to-day, and, in addition, stop the rot in our affairs which we have experienced for a long time past, and set this nation moving in the opposite direction altogether.
As one who has always taken an interest in the economic welfare of the common people of this country, I would welcome any contribution of a constructive nature or character that would emanate from any section of this House. But I have waited for many months for anything of a constructive nature or character to come from the Benches occupied by the last speaker. Deputy Davin, in discussing this Vote, threw out a suggestion with which I feel myself in full agreement—that we should have in this country, for a period which he has not defined, but which I would suggest as six months or twelve months, a period of rest, a period of peace, a period of economic peace—that we should have a political truce, an industrial truce, and, if you like, a moratorium.
Now you are talking!
There are banks which are exercising, at the moment, great pressure on many traders, agriculturists and shopkeepers, which, I submit, is in restraint of trade. We of the Labour Party do not indulge in vague generalities. We usually face up to the realities of any question or situation that arises in this House. I want to submit that, before we can have any broad, economic peace in this country, or economic progress, we must have some sort of a political truce or political peace in this country. We have had no indication whatsoever from the chief Opposition in this House that they are prepared to subscribe to that doctrine.
What does it mean?
It means a cessation from talking "tommy-rot" in this House.
Sit down and we will have it.
It has been suggested by Deputy de Valera that the number of Deputies in this House should be reduced. It might be no harm to remind Deputy de Valera and his Party that that can be done, but it can only be done by legislation. We have had contributions, in the course of this discussion, from certain members who gave us their solution of the unemployment problem. Deputy Lemass suggested that the solution of the housing problem would not mean the solution of the whole unemployment problem. With that I find myself in agreement. At the same time I would like to point out that it would be a most important factor in the solution of the unemployment problem.
Turning from these vague generalities to something real, I want to say that we of the Labour Party would be able to put on the table something that would be helpful in solving the housing problem. Incidentally the building problem will help the solution of the unemployment problem. I have suggested before that if we are to have anything like economic progress or peace in this country it must be preceded by something in the nature of political peace or a political truce. (Interruptions. Now, Mr. Corry, take your vulgarities to the Cork County Council. I think the Minister for Industry and Commerce dealt with Deputy Corry yesterday in the only way in which he could be dealt with.
I want to say that whilst it is easy in this House to make professions of good faith, while it is easy to say that we have the interests of the ordinary common people of this country at heart, I would like to see those professions of faith backed up by something more practical than mere lip sympathy. I would like to see those professions of faith translated into actual fact. I will put a question which might be put possibly to people who are outside the Fianna Fáil party. How far is the Fianna Fáil party prepared to go in the direction of creating economic peace or progress which I suggest must be preceded by something in the nature of a political truce or political peace? I would suggest one or two contributions which might be made to that economic peace or progress and I say that the only answer that can be given should emanate from the Fianna Fáil Benches. How far is the chief Opposition in this House prepared to go in the direction I have indicated? Are they prepared to go back to their constituencies and to say to their constituents that so long as there is any association in this country which has for its object the overthrow of the Government, legally constituted by the people, you will have to have a big army and a big police force. I am prepared to go on any political platform in the twenty-six counties, even into the enemy camp, to say what I am saying here. I know it might not suit some of those people.
Where is the enemy's camp?
Any person who attempts by any illegal methods and by the force of arms to overthrow the Government instituted by the people or established by the people I would consider——
On a point of order, is not the Deputy dealing with incidents which took place in 1922, when the legally established Government was overthrown by force of arms?
I am dealing with the realities of 1928, I would remind Deputy Lemass. (Interruptions.) Apparently it is not very agreeable to some people; I must be telling some home truths when I am subjected to so many interruptions. These interruptions never bother me. Like Tennyson's brook, I may go on for ever. (Interruptions.) I must ask you, A Leas-Chinn Comhairle, to keep a little order amongst those people. I submit that so long as that state of affairs obtains, so long as these things are allowed to go unchecked and unreproved by authenticated Deputies, representing various constituencies in this House, so long will you have a certain amount of political instability in the country. If those Deputies who have spoken are sincere, and I take it many of them believe they are sincere, it is up to them to create an atmosphere of peace in this country. I say it now with possibly a little greater responsibility in the matter than I had previously. You have an economic committee set up in this House. Very grave questions affecting the economic life of this country are bound to arise during the progress of the activities of that Committee, and I suggest that the prudent thing, the right thing, and the patriotic thing to do, in all the circumstances, is that some indication should come from the chief Opposition in this House that they are prepared to advise their people in the country to refrain from activities, I will not say of a violent character, but of a character which might possibly disturb the very delicate economic fabric that exists in this country to-day. Again, perhaps, it might be useful to remember that there is nothing to be gained for this country, or for any other country for that matter, by the continued and continuous misrepresentation and continued and continuous unfair criticism that there is of the personnel of the Ministry or the Government or of any Deputy in this House. I do not know of any other country where we have criticism of such a kind directed against Ministers. I have my own grievances against the Government. I am in opposition to them and will continue to be, but at the same time there is such a motto as playing the game. I know it does not appeal——
And you are an adept.
It is not very edifying to any member of this House who has any respect for himself or any respect for the traditions of this country to listen to the criticisms hurled from time to time against certain Ministers in this Government. As I have already said, if we are to have any economic progress in this country and if that idea is generally subscribed to by all parties in this House the least contribution that could be made to that expression is to give it some practical turn. I do hope, arising out of this discussion, that we will have at least some gesture from the chief Opposition in this House that they mean to act up to some of the things they said in the country, when they said they were entering the Dáil to serve the common people. We have heard that parrot-cry of the common people of the country, but, so far as I am concerned, I must say that I have not seen a particle of service by the people who proclaimed so loudly that they intended to give service to the common people of this country. Nobody has suffered more by the activities of the chief Opposition than the common people of this country. I have been a witness on more than one occasion—I might say on more than two occasions—of what has occurred, owing to the activities of some of the sympathisers of the chief Opposition. I say here deliberately that more unemployment has been caused by that very party than by any other force operating in this State. The establishment that I work in was blown to smithereens by dynamite, gelignite, or something else, just to create further unemployment, but they did not succeed. We carried on, with that indomitable spirit of the Gael that some of the people with the petrol tins and the gelignite never had.
I think the Fianna Fáil Party have reason to be grateful to Deputy Anthony in that he has removed any misapprehension which might be in the popular mind that he approved of them. I think he has done a great service, a very honest service, in relieving us in that respect. I think we would just as soon be praised by the "Cork Examiner." Deputy Anthony—I am not going to spend much time on the small, long subject— wants constructive proposals. I did not hear any from Deputy Anthony. The difficulty has been placed before you to-night in a very excellent speech which I suggest the 90 per cent. of the Cumann na nGaedheal representatives who are not here should read—that speech delivered by Deputy O'Reilly in which he pointed out the difficulty of industry, the difficulty which production in this country has and the amount of money which is taken away from production for the maintenance of the State.
The cost which is laid upon existing productive industries at the present moment is so high that it is practically impossible for productive industry to develop to the extent of absorbing the normal increase of population. It does not lie in the laps of those who have defended every extravagant expenditure to complain of the ordinary and calculable consequences of extravagant expenditure. I have a good deal of sympathy with the plea put forward by Deputy Davin that you should not reduce such expenditure, because, to some extent, there are poor relieved. To some extent it stands between the putting of an existing employed population in competition with an existing unemployed population. I think I am stating the position fairly. If it were possible for the State to employ the whole community on the basis of the present remuneration of the Civic Guards, and in the present condition of the ordinary soldier, I should be very glad indeed to see that standard of comfort attained. It is a standard of comfort which is not attained by any reasonable percentage, almost by any calculable percentage, of the primary producers of this country. The ordinary small farmer and his labourers who are producing—I do not want to put a percentage on it—a very high percentage of the total productive wealth of the country do not correspond to the lowest paid Government servant in this country, and that is a very serious proposition.
Let us take Deputy Davin's proposition. I believe Deputy Davin is sincere, and what I suggest to him is that the position which he holds, the policy which he advocates, and which his Party advocate and think to be constructive, is founded simply upon confused thinking. I am not saying that in any uncomplimentary sense. Deputy Lemass pointed out that if there was a saving of half of the cost of the combined police service, which is called the Civic Guard and the Army, there would be relieved a sum of, roughly speaking, £1,800,000. Now, that amount at the present market price of money would relieve for the recapitalising of land and for the revival of industry some £30,000,000 free of interest. If instead of giving that money free of interest it was given at an interest which industrialists and farmers would be very willing to accept, at 2½ per cent., it would relieve £60,000,000 to recapitalise agriculture and benefit constructive industry. That is what the ordinary poor person, the ordinary workman in this country, is paying for the existence of this combined force at twice the cost which is necessary. In voting for that charge, in voting to continue it, Deputies here are voting to tie up £60,000,000 which might be made operative in the employment of their constituents. I believe without any hesitation whatever that that money so operative would absorb into employment not merely the demobilised sections of these forces, but a very considerable proportion of those not now in those forces and who are at present unemployed.
That is only one item in the balance sheet. Go through it, find other figures, and multiply every figure by forty, and you get the amount of money which, without any further charge upon existing productive industry, can be relieved for the purpose of creating employment and creating production which does not now exist. Farmers are hoping that over a period of six or seven years, if the Agricultural Credit Board does not break down like the Central Selling Board, they will be able to get six or seven millions of money at 6½ to 7 per cent. for the purpose of recapitalising agriculture. In the saving of half of the cost of one single service in the country you have £60,000,000 let loose at 2½ per cent., and it is the same in every other item. Deputy Anthony—and I will not take him as typical of the Labour Party——
Can we take the Deputy as typical of the Fianna Fáil Party? I hope they stand over what he is saying.
Ten years hence you will be able to answer that question.
If he lives long enough.
Only the good die young.
The other day Deputy Anthony, in relation to a particular Estimate, in a constituency near our own, contended that £20,000 should be spent, though no adequate explanation was given by the Ministry in regard to that expenditure. I firmly believe that the Ministry themselves do not like the expenditure, and would be very eager to reduce it, and I believe they are capable of reducing it. Let us take that particular £20,000. A quarter of the £20,000, used in a way that the President knows, and that Deputy Anthony and I know, in the harbour of Cork would relieve five or six times as much money for payment in actual wages into the hands of workpeople in the harbour of Cork. It is because that money is not being used properly; it is because that money—and this is typical of a very large percentage of the Estimates—is being used in a way in which it prevents the employment of people, that I want that money transferred so that it will give productive employment in this country.
The test for all money coming from the State is this: Does the man employed at the end of the week leave behind him as a result of his employment more than he has consumed during the week of his employment? That is the test of productiveness, and any other money that is spent must simply be justified on the grounds that there are existing unrequited social evils which have to be met out of expenditure of that kind. There is no hope in the dole, and there is certainly no hope in a dole which is hidden in a housing scheme any more than anywhere else. We must get for this poor country a return in production for every penny that we take out of production.
There is an illusion among certain people in this House—and I am not confining it to any particular Bench— that the State has some money of its own; that there is some bank, some pool, from which the Government draws money. That is not so. Every penny they get has to be withdrawn from production and every penny that, being withdrawn from production, is sent out on any other mission must be tested by the fact whether or not in the sending out of it and the using of it more production is provided than is prevented by its absorption from existing industry. I am satisfied existing industry in this country cannot stand the strain, and if the Government contend—it must be their only contention —that this country can stand from industry that amount of withdrawal which is now existing, then it is up to them, up to us, and to the members on the Labour Benches, to see that that money which is withdrawn is turned back into productive work and not turned back into merely camouflaged poor and outdoor relief.
Hear, hear! Give us the schemes.
Yes. Six million pounds are cried out for, according to the Government, or they would not have set up a scheme for agriculture. I think it wants £30,000,000 to recapitalise agriculture. I think you are fooling with the game to pretend that you can reorientate agriculture in this country on £6,000,000 of money. I am absolutely certain you cannot begin to reorientate agriculture on £6,000,000 at 7 per cent.
took the Chair.
There is no difficulty in finding the subject that needs improvement. The difficulty is to find the resources with which it can be done. The resources are here, and the resources are now being absorbed in extravagant and over-lapping expenditure. It is the business of every man who seeks the interest of the ordinary working man, of the lowest paid working man, the man from the bottom up, to concentrate on seeing that every sort and kind of extravagant and over-lapping expenditure is withdrawn and is absorbed into industry.
I have been a bit dissatisfied, I must say, in listening to the discussion of the Estimates during the year, with what I would call bad segregations. I do not want to stress the point too much, but it might be considered at another time. For instance, you had the Minister for Education telling you that part of the education grants was poor relief. You had that Minister also telling you that the whole of the cost of education was not shown in these grants. You have in relation to Industry and Commerce charges put upon that Department which are purely agricultural charges. Yesterday, in relation to the Department of External Affairs, you had the suggestion that there should be appointed Ambassadors or Trade Representatives, a large part of whose costs would be purely agricultural costs, in the sense that they would be engaged in the developing of the primary industry. I am not saying this in any critical spirit, but there are no means by which any ordinary Deputy, going through the Estimates and seeing all the figures which are available to the House, can tell what is the cost to the Government, and through the Government for every productive industry in the country of the creamery industry itself. We ought to be able to find that out, but it is impossible to do so. It is hidden in all sorts of different places. When the Economic Committee, the setting up of which was suggested from these Benches at a very early stage in this Session and was rejected by the House, comes to consider how it can deal with this question, it will have to go very accurately, much more accurately than our accounts do now, into the segregation of the actual costs of existing services as distinct from their visible costs.
I do not think it is right for the Deputy to say that the suggestion for the setting up of the Economic Committee was rejected by this House.
It was not accepted by this House—if you like it was rejected by the Ministry. I should just like to say, in relation to the Unemployment Committee that was set up, and which undoubtedly did in large matters fail, that I do not think that was so much due to the Committee itself, though possibly it might have attempted to extend its terms of reference. The terms of reference were definitely drawn against the will of this whole section of the House in such a form that they were bound to be sterile from the beginning.
I am not satisfied that the cost of collection of taxes is as low as it might be. I have given examples of cases where the cost of collection was 100 per cent. of the tax, and that ought not to be. The invisible cost of collection is enormous—we can hardly calculate it. I have gone into the figures of one particular tax and I am perfectly satisfied that the invisible cost of collecting income tax to the community is at least twice as much as the visible cost shown in the books of the Government. That happens in relation to a great many taxes. Where they are looking for a small amount of money out of an enormous number of separate sources, the cost of collection in many cases is more than the actual results to the Exchequer. Along that line I hope the Government, with, I hope, the co-operation of the community, will attempt to get reductions.
We had an extraordinary statement the other day from the Minister for Finance, that he could not even estimate the income of this country out of which he draws his taxation. I am not saying this in any very strongly controversial sense. What I am suggesting is that unless we change our methods of looking at things, so that it will be regarded as ridiculous and impossible for the Minister for Finance to estimate for a State income, drawn from an income the amount of which he cannot even estimate, all our economic conferences, all our attempts to economise, and all our attempts at reduction, are practically futile, in so far as they are influenced in any way by Government action.
An appeal has been made for some co-operation between different sections of this House in order to get a more peaceful atmosphere. If any one is going to say that we must definitely turn our backs upon the original and old and continuing purpose of this country in relation to our Government, and control of our Government, he is asking something that no one can do for him. There are permanent things in this country, and no promise, no assurance, by anybody can be effective to prevent a recrudescence, as and when the appropriate opportunity arises, of any activity that anybody chooses to use for the purpose of attaining that ideal. There is a great deal to be said, and a great deal can be done, in persuading everybody in this country that there is a time and a place for doing everything. There are times when you can do things, and there are times when you cannot do things. Our business is to build up the resources, and, above all, the resources of co-operation between ourselves, so that when the opportunity comes it can be properly used. The greatest co-operation towards political, social, industrial and economic progress in this country will be when the divided forces of Irish nationalism will come together and proclaim openly a common purpose and objective. Then there can be enormous freedom, enormous liberality of difference, as to the method and as to the time. "In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things charity"—that is sound politics for this country; it is sound economics for this country. But the first thing in order to do that is that once again all those who do believe in this country as a separate and distinct human entity and individuality shall declare that belief, and declare that, as and when, by whatever means is necessary, they will seek to attain it. With this declaration you will have a basis of agreement, because you will have a basis of agreement to differ as to methods; because you have full agreement as to objective, and all the other talk does not carry us any further. If there are to be two definitely antagonistic objectives in this country, you cannot reconcile them. The first thing to do is to stress in that way the getting together and the common proclamation of a common purpose and objective, and then there can be infinite disagreement, if you like, and infinite co-operation in detail.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce stressed, the other night, what he called efficiency. In no controversial sense again, I am going to ask him to define what he means by efficiency. A proposition such as this: we must not build up a ring in this country and enclose within it inefficiency, is a proposition to which no man can take exception. The whole question is what we mean by inefficiency, and until we can agree or disagree as to the definition those propositions from that bench carry us nowhere. He had in his mind a particular case. There were three firms applying for a tariff and his committee of civil servants, whose experience in relation to ordinary business would not be extreme, classed one of these as efficient and two as inefficient. I do not know on what basis they went, and I know something about the three firms. What are the facts in relation to them? I am now working up to an understanding of what the Minister means by inefficiency, because if he is wrong in that his whole Department is wrong. One of these firms, while waiting for a tariff, shut down; two of these firms, while waiting for a tariff, remained in existence and produced and employed people. Which one was inefficient? The one which, waiting for a tariff, shut down? And the two which were inefficient were the two which, waiting for a tariff, and unprotected by a tariff, continued to produce and employ people? Is that the definition of inefficiency from the point of view of the Minister? Is a factory efficient in Ireland because it continues to produce in the absence of a tariff. and is it efficient, in the sense of being efficient for Ireland, if, in the absence of a tariff, it shuts down; we want his definition. There is an awful lot of reasoning in economics in this country which is purely conventional and text-book stuff. My experience of the actual examination of economic affairs is the one thing that you must not go by is text-book stuff. I will give you an example which I think you will regard as sound. You have your whole agricultural industry lacking money for its re-capitalisation and utterly incapable of getting one single penny of money on the credit of its land. That is the actual position. The value of agricultural land as a security is nil. Is that efficiency? Normally any reasonable man would say that the reverse should be true, that your farmer should be able to go to his bank and say: "I have that land, lend me money on it." Is it inefficient? What do you go to a bank for, credit on land or anything else? On the capacity to transfer legal ownership. The value of land as a security is the convertibility of legal ownership. I do not think anybody will deny that. Go back and look at the history of land in this country, and face this proposition that in the case of every single Land Bill which has been passed through all the agitations in Ireland, the whole benefit of them has been directed to destroying convertibility of legal property in land. Is not that true? When we tried to build up dual ownership, in the methods we tried to build it up by, we were attacking the convertibility of legal ownership of land, and in every other way when we prevented our people from being evicted we were preventing convertibility of legal ownership.
Find me one single measure of improvement in relation to land in this country which was not a deliberate and open attack upon the convertibility of legal ownership of land. The owner of land, the farmer in this country, is incapable of recapitalising his industry because there is no convertibility of legal ownership in land. I am putting that to you as a proposition. I suggest to you that in looking on Irish economic questions you must not take the text-book or the obvious thing but you must understand that in fundamentals our economics are inverse. If we could produce in this country a state of affairs in which it would be safe, economically and nationally, that land would be a convertible security, fundamentally I would say not merely our economic but our political problems were very nearly solved. Let us frankly face the fact that this is a country in which the land producers have fallen from five and a half million to about 1,800,000 in the last sixty years. Let us face the fact that this is a country of three millions of people of whom the vast majority are non-producers. Let us face the fact that this is a poor country in which production is small and the fact that we are taking out of that existing production an amount that that production cannot stand. Facing those facts let us make up our minds to reduce our expenditure within the limits of our purse, to use whatever money we take from productive industry for production and we will be in a way of building up a prosperous country which we will not be able to do under the taxation system and the Appropriation Bill we are asked to discuss here to-night.
It may not be inappropriate for one of the dumb driven cattle on these benches to intervene for a short time in this debate. We listened with considerable attention and a great amount of sympathy to the speeches delivered from the opposite benches, but of all those speeches, I think, there was only one to which the term "constructive" could be applied, and that was the speech of Deputy O'Reilly. When he gets up to speak, I always listen to what he has to say with considerable attention. I gave him that attention this evening. He dealt with the existing system of taxation, direct and indirect, and he advocated their complete abolition. As a rule, when he speaks, he is exceedingly logical, and when he states a proposition he generally brings it to a logical conclusion; but when he informed us that his panacea was the abolition of direct and indirect taxation he went no further and left a gap. He did not tell us what direct and indirect taxation was to be replaced by. He dealt in an extensive and interesting way with the needs of the agricultural community, pointed out that they were suffering from a lack of capital, and suggested that it would be to the interests of the nation if extra capital to the extent of £5,000,000 was placed in their hands. He emphasised one idea with which I did not agree, namely, he said that he regarded the agricultural community as practically the wealth producers of the nation. I, for one, representing as I do, the City of Dublin and not having the agricultural viewpoint which Deputy O'Reilly has on these matters and, perhaps, as one whom Deputy Flinn would term a "text-book economist," may be allowed to differ fundamentally from the proposition which Deputy O'Reilly put before the House.
To me, it seems an entirely illogical argument that we can ever hope to restore the fortunes of this country if we rely on agricultural industry alone. If the £5,000,000 fresh capital which Deputy O'Reilly advocated were placed in the hands of the agricultural community to-morrow and if they followed their old system of financing that industry, what use would they make of that money? It is a notorious fact, especially in the City of Dublin, that large deposits of money belonging to men engaged in agricultural industry are lying in the bank on a deposit of 2½ per cent. It is an unfortunate characteristic of that community that money is borrowed from 5 to 6 per cent. Can there be any hope for any body of men who pursue such a suicidal policy as that? What benefit to the nation could we hope for, if that extra capital was placed in their hands? Deputy O'Reilly stressed the poverty of the country as compared with that of the cities and towns. In so far as our cities and towns are concerned, I submit that he has not the slightest conception of the poverty that now exists. I suggest that the problem of poverty and unemployment in Dublin is much greater than in the constituency which Deputy O'Reilly represents. I go further and say that if the fortunes of this country are ever to be rehabilitated, and if this country is ever to be put on a sound financial basis, there is in my opinion, and I speak as one bred and born in the city, only one way to do it, and that is to develop the industrial arm of this country.
I have had considerable experience across Channel, passing through sections of an agricultural country and through sections of an industrial country. I am as familiar with Lancashire and Yorkshire as I am with my own City of Dublin. I am as familiar with the Counties of Lincoln and Derby as I am with my own city. What was my experience of those places? Everywhere you had an agricultural community you had a sort of continued stagnation, a sort of want of development, and almost an entire absence of wealth. Speaking from experience of England, I should say that there would be more wealth when things are normal there in an industrial county like Lancashire than there would be in the whole agricultural area of that country. I came to one conclusion— seeing these things for myself and judging on the spot—namely, if we in this country are ever to progress we must develop our industry. I think that Deputies coming from the country who are engaged in agriculture expect too much to be done for them by this House. If everything is to be taken off agriculture, and if everything is to be done for agriculture—as Deputy Flinn remarked, the money spent by the Government does not come from a secret fund, but from the taxes of the people—that money must be found from some other source. If the burdens are to be taken off agriculture, they must be replaced on industry.
Will any sane man with any idea of the condition of industry in this country at present suggest that there can be any hope of its development if the burdens on agriculture are taken off and placed on our few struggling industries that are left? If we are to find work for our unemployed, to find a means of livelihood for numbers of people who come from the country and displace the inhabitants living in the cities and towns, especially in the city of Dublin, we must find work for them to do, and surely members on the opposite side are not blind to the economic fact that large numbers who were bred and born in the country will not work on the land but come to the cities and towns where there is little work. That is a commonplace, not alone in this country, but in other countries, and if such people are to be employed, work can only be found for them by means of developing the industries on which the future progress and development of the country depend. I have listened from time to time to various criticisms made here on the different Estimates which are embraced in the financial Bill now before us, and what do we invariably find? We find no criticism directed to a reduction of the Estimates, but, on the contrary, as the Minister for Finance has stated from time to time, every attempt is made by Deputies interested in various parts of the country to get the Estimates increased. We have been told here that the social services of the country must be placed on a level with those in England. Does any man consider that it is possible for us in the present financial position of the country to bring about that very desirable thing? No Deputy will question the desirability of making the social services in this State equal and, if possible, superior to those in England and in Northern Ireland, but can anybody say that, struggling as we are even in the present year, with small incomings to the Exchequer we can afford the social services which are demanded by various Deputies? That is a false argument which cannot bear examination. Although these services are in existence in England, it is almost a suicidal policy for the great English nation to maintain them, and anyone who is familiar with that country knows that the one great object lying behind——
The Deputy should not discuss that matter but discuss this Vote which does not refer to England.
With all due respect, I submit that I am dealing with points put forward by Opposition Deputies, and I have not made a single statement that has not been made by way of rebutting those statements.
I am suggesting to the Deputy that this Vote will have no effect upon the social services in England.
Would I be out of order in suggesting that we can learn by experience, and that we can profit by the experience of other countries? I am sure that a man occupying the position of An Leas-Cheann Comhairle will admit that that is true.
It may be true, but it is not in order.
If it is not in order I will not endeavour to go further into the question. I will say one word and let it go. It is time we began to think for ourselves and not to model ourselves on everything that England does. I listened with care to the long speech delivered by Deputy Flinn, and to various other speeches from the Opposition Benches in dealing with the Estimates before us, but I failed to find anything constructive in them, with the exception of the speech of Deputy O'Reilly. What do they all amount to when boiled down? Many hours have been spent in discussing this Vote. There have been many generalities talked, and big words, such as "capitalisation," used, but what has emerged from the debate? Only two things. First, the reduction of the Gárda Síochána, and, secondly, the elimination of the Army.
Now, anybody who has experience of what this country has passed through within the past few years, or who has the interests of the country at heart, will willingly pay tribute to the work of the Civic Guards for the preservation of good order, peace and contentment here. Deputy Lemass asked what could not be done if we had the £1,800,000 a year spent in other directions, that is being spent upon the Army. I suggest, and I believe in doing so I am voicing the opinions of the great bulk of the people of the country, that the Army is an insurance for the peace and stability of the country. It is an insurance that is well spent, and that the people very willingly endorse. I say, not, I hope, in the spirit of the controversialist or in any spirit of recrimination, that the absence of the Army in the past cost this country a sum bordering on between fifteen millions and twenty-five millions. If the Army were to be abolished to-morrow we may have to face similar consequences again. As I said before, I do not wish to say a word that would embitter feeling in this House, but I will say what I think should be said, that the country in the past has been saved by the Army, that at present it is being defended by the Army, and in the future will be safeguarded by it. We on these benches certainly will not, at the bidding of the Official Opposition, do away with that Army.
I was very much amused at Deputy Anthony's speech. It was something amazing altogether to find, taking all the benches in the House, that the new Hamar Greenwood was amongst the Labour Party. Like the old Hamar Greenwood, Deputy Anthony started to create an atmosphere, to bring us back to the old happy days when Horace Plunkett used to come along with new solutions. As regards Deputy Anthony's solution, I think that the Deputy must have risen this morning with the sound of shots about his ears and thinking that the country was going to war again. Else he must have had a very bad dream last night. He reminded us of the days when gelignite and Irish cheddar were used to blow up the "Cork Examiner," a paper which, whilst the Irish people were fighting for their existence, was both anti-Irish and Imperialistic.
That has nothing to do with the Bill before the House.
I do not want to dwell too long on Deputy Anthony. I think he did not know what he was saying to-day. When we hear speeches made about the dignity and tone of debate, I think that the sooner this House comes down to realities the better. I was accused last night by one of the most insolent Ministers in the House of lowering the tone of debate because I compared the policy of the present Government to that of the South African chief who sold his kingdom for a string of beads, and in top hat, went out and danced in his nakedness, saying, "I am a king." It was said that was lowering the dignity and tone of debate, because we told a little plain truth to the Minister concerned, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who has no industry to minister to.
Deputy J.J. Byrne alluded to-night to the money owned by the farmers, which he said was lying idle in the banks at 2½ per cent. Unfortunately for the system of farming in this country, I do not think that the farmers have very many shillings lying idle in the banks, not to talk at all about pounds. While Deputy J.J. Byrne talks of his anxiety for the expansion of the industrial arm, I wish that he would put some ginger into the Minister for Industry and Commerce and get him to give some assistance in the direction of extending the industrial arm. The Deputy went further and said that the members on this side of the House expected too much to be done for agriculture. All that we ask to have done for agriculture is to have the load taken off our backs that is put on by Deputy J.J. Byrne and other drones in the State. When we are paying seventy-three per cent. of the taxes, surely we have some right to have a say as to the manner in which the taxes are spent. When we look at the Estimates and find that close on one million pounds are paid in war bonus at present, and look at the kind of war bonus the farmers are getting, is it any wonder that we should look for some relief for the farming community? Then let us look at our industries. I wish that the Minister for Industry and Commerce would turn an eye on Haulbowline and try to do something with that white elephant, try to start some industry down there where at present there are thousands unemployed owing to the present state of affairs in that district.
We had all that on the Estimate for Haulbowline.
I am dealing with the policy of the Ministry. It would be well, too, if the Minister turned an eye on the malt houses in Midleton which are idle, owing to the definite policy of the Minister for Agriculture, and also on the flour mills which are lying idle all over the country owing to the same definite policy. Let the Minister give some relief in that direction, relief that will start the industrial arm going again in this country.
Deputy Davin alluded to-night to the Army, and gave as his reason that he did not want to see further unemployment. Something could be done with the money that is spent on the Army in the way of starting productive works in this country instead of paying it to so many drones who will be absolutely useless for any kind of work when they leave the Army. When we consider the farming community and their present condition to-day and see, as a result of the definite policy of the Minister for Agriculture, the land of the country being gradually turned into one big ranch with nothing on it, it is high time that somebody stepped in and made a move towards changing the present state of affairs in that respect. We hear a lot of talk about "Oh, advise the farmers not to pay their debts" and all the rest of it. In 1847 the farmers and their families starved and died after selling all they had to pay their debts. The first debt a farmer owes is to his family, and the first thing that is due out of the soil of Ireland is that those who sweat and labour on it should have at least bread to eat. When we look along these lines of Estimates, these millions piled up, when we look upon the salaries of £1,000 to £1,500 piled up, and when we go back to our constituencies and look at the farmers practically starving and with their cattle seized for rent and rates, and the general poverty that exists in order that these big salaries might be paid, we wonder where the line of reality comes in. Does it come in on these benches here where we tell the Minister the definite plain truth of what we see in our constituencies, or the opposite benches where the seventeen hundred pounders are drawing their money while the country is going into a state of poverty and starvation?
To say that I object to these large sums of money that are being expended on services that could be, if not absolutely dispensed with, at least reduced substantially, would be almost flogging a dead horse, because it has been increasingly plain. Everybody in this House knows that we on these benches here are opposed to these sums being spent. Deputy Anthony a short time ago, speaking here on this subject, constituted himself, I will not say the mental guide and friend of the Fianna Fáil Party, but he almost stood up and took the whip to us. He wanted us to chase through the country and tell our followers to stop all these stupid things he did not specify, and if we did not do that something terrible would occur, according to him. Deputy Anthony said he would go down the country and enter the enemy's camp and tell them this and that. A Daniel in the lions' den. Why should members of the Fianna Fáil Party go down the country and tell their followers that they were particularly bad in some form not specified, and that they were doing certain things they should not do? Why should we tell them any more than Deputy Anthony? Why should not the supporters of the Labour Party, or the supporters of Cumann na nGaedheal throughout the country, not be told these things? Why particularly the followers of the Fianna Fáil Party? Is it not the sort of talk we hear from Deputy Anthony and the rest of them that makes it possible for the Civic Guards throughout the country to raid houses belonging to members of political Parties, especially the Fianna Fáil Party? Deputy Anthony says "Tell your followers to abstain from so and so," but he has not specified any of the terrible things from which they were to abstain. We are tired of listening to talk like that. It is time it was stopped. It leads, as I said before, to the raiding of the houses of our supporters in the country, and it also leads to a very bad impression.
Evidently, the Minister for Agriculture was particularly anxious about the impression created in America. He should be particularly anxious about the impression created throughout the country because of the raids that are being carried out, and the talk we hear from Deputy Anthony and other Deputies. He wants us here to give something tangible. "Come forward," he says, "with schemes." He wants us to produce schemes, but listening very carefully to his contribution to the debate I failed to hear anything in the nature of a concrete proposal for the economic ills of the country. We heard nothing from him. We on these benches have been told that in the last twelve months we have not produced anything tangible; that we have not given a concrete case where money might have been saved or diverted from certain things on which it is spent at present to some source that would provide employment. Such cases were put up. I have listened time and again to different proposals put forward for the purpose of doing away, if not altogether, at least to a great extent with the existing unemployment. Not half an hour ago Deputy Lemass spoke of some things with which I was intimately concerned. He pointed out that although thousands upon thousands of pounds were being sent out of the country for building materials there was and is inside the country as good, or possibly better, material than the stuff we import. He talked about slate quarries and stone quarries and the manufacture of cement, but all his suggestions fell on deaf ears. Then Deputy Anthony comes along and says "You can produce nothing tangible." If there is anything more tangible than Portland stone or Portland cement I do not know what it is. We put up this much tangible, that we want these things as far as possible to be used or manufactured in the country, and so relieve some of the unemployment which Deputy Anthony talks so glibly about.
The Government allotted £18,000 for a certain site in O'Connell Street. A building is being erected there and—it is almost adding insult to injury—on the hoarding outside we have an advertisement from a man regarding the supply of Portland cement and stone to the building that is in course of construction. When I put it to the Minister that there was at Mountcharles a freestone quarry, out of which some of the buildings outside were built, the Minister said he would recommend the use of that stone. Possibly the Minister was not able to see that the people in O'Connell Street used Irish stone, but, at least, if we are giving a grant of £18,000 for a site in O'Connell Street Irish stone should be used. While we have these freestone quarries in Mountcharles the only employment that exists there is in the taking of stone out of the quarries for tombstones. Formerly some of the finest buildings in Ireland were built out of that stone, and while that is so the Government give £18,000 for a site in O'Connell Street, where Portland stone is used. That is not the way to deal with the unemployment question. If the Government want to give employment in this country they can do it, but evidently it is the policy of the Minister not to produce or have produced in this country anything that might give employment. That is the only blunt way in which I can put it. We had discussions here relevant to a tariff on flour with a view to providing employment by using a certain percentage of Irish wheat. The whole thing was thrown overboard. Last week I asked the Minister for Agriculture would he be prepared to consider the giving of a small subsidy in Donegal for the growing of flax and potatoes.
We are spending money by the £20,000, and by the £28,000, on institutions like the one up in the Phoenix Park and on the gentleman who resides there. But the Minister could not see his way to give a small subsidy in Donegal. He did not see anything in the conditions of Donegal, either geographically or otherwise, that would lead him to believe that the people there were any worse off than anywhere else. I do not want to go deeply into the political geography of Donegal, but anybody who looks at the map can see that Donegal is cut off from the rest of the Twenty-Six Counties and connected only with the Twenty-Six Counties by one bridge at Ballyshannon. We have in the rest of the country distributing centres like Dublin, Cork, Galway and Sligo, from which stuff can be sent throughout the adjacent hinterlands. But in Donegal all that connects it with the Free State is one little bridge over which there is no rail transport. Everything that comes, if it comes from Dublin or from any part of the Free State, has to come by rail through the Six Counties. If they cannot afford freight rates they have to buy their stuff in Derry. Remember this is no argument against tariffs. By no means, but when they buy their stuff in Derry they have to pay 15 per cent., and in some cases 33? per cent., on their purchases, and not alone that, but for every separate parcel that comes from the Six Counties there is 6d. to be paid on that parcel. These people are cut off. They are practically destitute, and nobody should know that better than some of the members of Cumann na nGaedheal. They are, as I said, practically destitute.
The people of this country have got a sound knowledge of agriculture. They have learned it in practically all the counties of the world. They go to England and they go to Scotland. They have farmed in America, in both the United States and Canada. Thousands of them have learned farming there, and yet they cannot get a subsidy to help them to specialise in the growing of seed potatoes and flax. The Minister could not afford it. Yet, we can spend £28,000 on the gentleman up in the Phoenix Park. Is it any wonder in the face of conditions like these that we are objecting to the amounts that are being voted away under each of these Votes? Is it any wonder that any one in this House would object, say, to an expenditure of £1,830,000 on the Army? Deputy Davin was very anxious, I am sure genuinely and honestly anxious, for the welfare of those who are at present in the Army. He did not want them to be demobilised now because they would be thrown on the market and increase the unemployment. I think I pointed out before to Deputy Davin that the Army, according to a rough calculation, costs at the present time £3 per man per week. That is what the Army is costing the country. I put it to Deputy Davin as a simple proposition that if these men are at present costing £3 per man per week would it make a great difference to the unemployment market, if the Army were reduced? The money that would be saved could be diverted to some other purpose and these men who by their demobilisation would be thrown on the labour market could be re-employed if the money were used, as Deputy Flinn said, to stabilise industry.
Those are a few of the points that I wish to put before the House. Of course, each Deputy dealt with what struck himself most particularly in this debate. Taking it on the whole, we have gone over the Estimates one by one. En bloc, we object to the spending of money which will not be reproductive. We certainly do not object to the spending of money merely in order to save money. If possible, I would like to see more money spent if the money were available, but it must be spent in such a way that it will be reproductive; that it will absorb off the unemployed market those men who at present are not able to live. So long as the money is spent in productive work we have no objection, but when the money is spent in useless institutions, in institutions like the one in the Phoenix Park, where the people seem to have nothing to do but to entertain and give garden parties, where that state of affairs exist, we want the money to be saved altogether, or spent in some productive way that will give the half-starved people of Donegal and the starving people here in the slums of Dublin a chance.
I rise to support the plea Deputy de Valera made here to-day in favour of more sincerity on the part of the Government. On yesterday I understand that the Minister for Finance told the House that the Fianna Fáil organisation was being treated as a perfectly constitutional organisation, that the members of that organisation were not being followed by members of the Secret Service and were not being interfered with by them. Not later than yesterday evening, I heard that one of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party has had his house constantly under supervision by members either of the Secret Service or the C.I.D., and that as a result of that supervision any person who has the temerity to stay in that gentleman's house, is regarded as suspicious, and dangerous, as a highly revolutionary person; and one who should not find employment either in Government services or in any of the auxiliary services. A young gentleman who happens to be staying in this Deputy's house was informed that constant pressure was being put upon his employers by the Ministry of Justice to get them to dispense with his services.
If we are going to have sincerity let us have sincerity. Let us not come into this House and say that we are treating the members of the Fianna Fáil Party and the members of the Fianna Fáil organisation in a certain way, that we are looking for their co-operation, and then send out spies around to watch their houses, and go to the people who employ the people who are staying in these houses, friends of the Deputies on this side, and tell them that they are too suspicious to be kept in Government employment; that, as a matter of fact, the reason given for dispensing with their services—that they are staying in these gentlemen's houses and in the houses of such people—would be quite sufficient reason. Whatever justification that system can have had, or whatever justification it may have had in 1923, I put it to the House that there is no justification for it whatever at the present time. These raids and this supervision and these searchings are going on all over the country. People who are law-abiding members of this organisation, and who have taken no revolutionary action, or what the Government might call illegal steps, since 1923, have had their homes raided. We can only come to the conclusion that the Government deliberately want to create ill-feeling and renewed strife, or that they are giving to these gentlemen in the detective force full rein in order that they may create a situation in the country which will enable them to say that certain things have happened, and that therefore there is a justification for keeping this force in existence. I heard only an hour ago a case where a C.I.D. man went down to Lucan and, as I am told—I hope I can place as much reliance on the statement of my friend as the Minister can on the words of the C.I.D. men—that rather than admit that he spent two days drinking around the district, he wrote to headquarters that he was watching my friend's house. That, I learned, is the reason why my friend's house was raided. That is why houses are being raided all over the country, simply in order to give some justification to the pretext that it is necessary for the maintenance of law and order to have people periodically searched and, moreover, to have the Civic Guard sergeants reporting at certain intervals on the movements of people in their districts. I am quite sure the Civic Guard sergeants know as well as I do that these people are quite harmless and are not engaged in these activities.
I pass from that to discuss the question of the Gaeltacht, because the present time is an opportune one to call attention to the work that we think the Government has not done in the past satisfactorily, the work that it ought to have done, and that it will during the coming year have an opportunity of putting into effect.
One of the phases of the national life of this country in which, in spite of their programmes, their flags, and their talk about the Irish language, their supposed interest in the poor people of the congested districts, they have miserably failed, is this one. It is more than two years ago since the Gaeltacht Report was presented to the Executive Council. It is one and a half years since the report of the Fisheries Conference was presented to the Minister for Fisheries. It is eight months—it is six months anyway—since we had a full dress debate in this House on the whole question of the Gaeltacht. I recognise, in dealing with this question the force of Deputy Flinn's remarks, that we must be careful to see that the money is expended productively, that it is not being spent in the way of a dole, that we feel satisfied that we are here to represent the people of the Free State, and that the money which is being voted is necessary. I put it to the House: Is there any Department in the life of the Free State where it is more necessary to spend money than in evolving schemes which will give employment to the people of these districts? The Minister for Industry and Commerce, and the Minister for Agriculture, have been challenged with regard to their definition of the word efficiency. The Minister for Industry and Commerce thinks that efficiency— apparently he thinks the same as the Tariff Commission—consists in having large mills here which will employ the smallest possible amount of labour— port mills which can be situate only in certain parts of the country, and which will be run mainly by machinery. That is his idea of efficiency. The Minister for Agriculture has in view a man with a hundred or two hundred acres of land carrying on farming, and he hopes, with the assistance of his creamery scheme and marketing board, to make that farmer efficient. But when he comes down to discuss small industries throughout the country, or the small farmers who have an extremely low valuation, and who hardly ever raise themselves above the subsistence level, since these people cannot be classed as efficient, since they cannot come within the definition of these Ministers as efficient persons, who are to be encouraged and pushed forward, they are to be entirely neglected. Therefore we have the sad fate of the Gaeltacht being handed over to a Minister in order to avoid the consequences of an adverse vote in this House.
A special Ministry is being created and certain schemes are promised. The Minister for Finance told us in a moment of plausibility—in which he excels—that large sums of money are going to be spent. The Minister for Local Government tells us that under this new Department the Minister will do great work; that he will, in the nature of things, do a great deal more work than the two Departments which are amalgamated in it which it is replacing—the Land Commission and the Department of Fisheries. Six or eight months have rolled by and there is no sign whatever of any money being granted for this purpose. There is no sign whatever of any of these schemes that we heard so much about coming to fruition. It appears that the will of the small minority in this House, which stands against the Irish language and against things Irish—though it is not going to have its way in matters, after all, which have here only a surface value and which must depend ultimately on the character of the people, it would appear that on the real fundamental underlying issue, whether this population is to be kept on the coastline of Ireland it is the policy of the fifteen, which is not the policy of the overwhelming majority of the House——
On a point of order, what have the fifteen to do with the policy of the Gaeltacht?
They have got this much to do with it, that if their object had succeeded, and if they had succeeded in dealing the blow to the Irish language which they attempted to deal it a few weeks ago, one of the chief reasons for doing something for the Gaeltacht would have been done away with.
No connection whatever.
I hope Deputy Byrne will dissociate himself from the attitude of the 15; that he will recognise that the people in those areas represent the tradition of Ireland, and that it is nearly time the House should seriously take into consideration their plight. We have heard a great deal of talk about sincerity, and the necessity of doing something, but most of the Deputies have been here for very many years and have allowed this sad state of affairs to continue. Not alone have they not put any programme into execution with regard to the Gaeltacht, but they have not even kept up the standard, as I pointed out previously, of the old Congested Districts Board in connection with these areas. That Board at least had in its administration men who knew the condition of the Gaeltacht, who went amongst the people there, who knew how to help them, who took a real interest in them, and saw that the money expended was not a dole, but went on some reproductive purpose. The result was that when that Board finished its operations it could not be said that it had thrown away Government money, because it was clearly proved that its operations were successful. It left one million pounds in the hands of the State when its activities terminated, and that is proof that if you have efficient administration it will go among these people and deal with their problems in a sympathetic manner, that you will not have to spend a great deal of money, because the money will come back again.
In the first place, it will help to keep our population in the country; in the second place, it will do a considerable amount to resurrect the fishing industry and the rural industries associated with it, and in the third place it will give employment. It is no harm for me to go over the different things that were promised in the Gaeltacht debate, and ask why they have not been carried out. The first thing that was promised was that expenditure would be made upon the improvement of harbours, and especially on two or three of the larger works, like Rathmullen, in Co. Donegal. So far as I know, nothing has been done in that regard. We were told that negotiations were in progress for the establishment of a kelp factory in the Free State. Nothing has been heard of that since. We were also informed that the Ministry proposed to set up in Donegal a factory for dyeing and carding. I am told by Donegal Deputies that no sign of that factory has made its appearance yet. We were told also that steps were being taken to give instruction to the fishermen around the coast. So far as I know, no steps have been taken by the Ministry concerned to put that into operation. It is true that a certain amount of itinerant instruction is being given by lecturers, but next to nothing is being done, if we regard the problem from the national point of view, and if we believe that the fishing industry is worth spending money on. If we believe that it is worth spending some of the State's money to finance certain operations, especially in regard to instructing the fishermen, let us spend the money; if we do not believe that, let us put an end to this humbug, and let us put an end also to this Ministry of Fisheries, but let us not try to have it both ways.
Deputy Flinn has dealt with the Agricultural Credit Corporation. I noticed in to-day's newspapers a report of a debate which took place in Cork, in which the Professor of Commerce there deplored—and I agree with him—the attitude that the Agricultural Credit Corporation is taking up in having no use for societies that are merely credit societies. The only societies that they have any use for are societies in certain areas which are allied to the dairying industry. Now, if they had taken a little trouble and had examined what has been done in other countries—and what was done also in this country with great success —they would, I am sure, have come to the conclusion that good work could be done by agricultural credit societies— parish societies. We talk of mass production, we talk of the necessity for organising the farmers, and here is one way, one of the very best ways, in which farmers can be organised, not alone in which they can be organised but in which they can be stimulated to local activities, in which they can be stimulated to instruct themselves in their work, and in which genuine cooperation could be found, because the members of the co-operative societies would have to go bail for one another.
If there is a legal difficulty, as there is, in regard to the guarantees and the sureties, a way out has been suggested, and that is to enable the Registrar of Credit Societies and agricultural societies in general to take action against societies which are not carrying out the rules of the organisation. If some step is not taken to organise these credit societies, not alone will you fail to give agriculture the assistance which it requires in large areas throughout the country, but you will also be depriving yourselves of a valuable instrument in the form of organisation. If you create that organisation, if you feel that your Agricultural Credit Corporation is working on the right lines and is going to extend its organisation, you would have that organisation there afterwards. It could be turned to various purposes.
At the present moment, however, I only wish to call attention to the failure of the Ministry, after so many years, to help any kind of organisation among the fishermen. Because the Irish Fishermen's Association did not see eye to eye with the Minister, and because an officer of that organisation had certain personal differences with the Minister, the whole future of the Irish fishermen is to be thrown aside, and no interest is to be taken in the development of the organisation. I put it to the House that we ought to rise above these things, and that when that organisation is there, defective and all as it may be, it at least gives the Department of Fisheries a basis, if they really intend to develop the fisheries, on which to conduct their operations. I sincerely trust that the Minister will take steps to come to some arrangement by which that organisation can be utilised as speedily as possible for the development of the industry. It is not alone in connection with supplying credit facilities that the organisation would matter; there is also the question of marketing and the question of curing. For all these matters it is absolutely necessary that the fishermen should be grouped together in their different areas, and it is absolutely hopeless to attempt to reorganise the fisheries unless the Ministry at the top decides to spend money to bring the fishermen together.
Now, there is the question of the revaluation of boats. We were promised that before the end of this year a Bill would be introduced to settle this question of revaluation. The end of the year is now approaching, and we have heard nothing about it. There is also the question of the branding and the curing of mackerel. That is a project to which the Minister has repeatedly referred, and sufficient time has now elapsed, I think every member of the House will agree, to have enabled him to draft that Bill and to have brought it before us.
In conclusion, I would like to refer to two matters affecting the inland fisheries. One is in connection with the rod licences. I agree with Deputy O'Reilly, who raised the matter here before, that since a good deal of protection has been afforded to the inland fisheries during the past few years and since they are now in a good condition, there is no necessity for keeping the fee for rod licences at its present high figure of £2. That is absolutely unnecessary, and if the amount were reduced it would give, I think, a great set-back to poaching activities. In any case there are, in counties like Kerry, a large number of men who are genuine anglers, who are anxious to have their sport, and who do not interfere with the livelihood of the fishermen, and I think it is not right that they should be prevented from enjoying themselves. Therefore, I appeal to the Ministry to consider reducing this amount.
There is also the question of opening the season at an earlier date. I understand that the Ministry has power to change the date for the opening of the season. There is a strong desire, and representations have been put forward from fishermen from practically all the rivers in the Free State, to have that period to commence on the 1st of January. There are a great many reasons which may be advanced in support of it. The first is, that adequate protection is at present being given to the fisheries; the second is that these regulations, which open the fishing season on the 15th February or thereabouts, were made very many years ago, and there is ample evidence at the present time to justify the reconsideration of the whole question. There is, I think, plenty of justification for the Ministry to open the season earlier. There is no doubt but that in the month of May, and even in April, the fishermen cannot get any work to do. They cannot get sufficient out of the rivers to enable them to live, and the spring fishing, I am told by anglers, as well as by fishermen, comes in strongly with the beginning of January. A report appeared in the Kerry newspapers with reference to the Waterville river, which is open somewhat earlier than other rivers, and that report showed that the catch was exceedingly heavy in the beginning of the year. If there are objections to opening the season earlier, we would like to hear them, but I would impress upon the House that even if you change the period and give the fishermen the full advantage of the true season—which I think it can be shown does not correspond with the legal season—you will not be giving them any really great favour; you will be enabling them to live for a few months of the year. The present state of affairs by which they begin when a considerable portion of the true season is gone, and carry on long after there is any hope of making a profit out of the fishing is ridiculous.
I suppose one would not be too far wrong in claiming that the passing of this Bill, if it do pass, will be the most important work we will do this year, and, further, I suppose it would not be too much to claim that the efficiency of the Dáil is largely tested by the amount of the Appropriation Bill, plus the manner in which the money is apportioned. If that premise be correct I fear the efficiency of the Dáil is still very far from being ideal, and I think that the conscience of the Dáil is also very far from being ideal. I think there are very few Deputies going to vote for this Bill who, if they were asked when they stand yonder in the Tá Lobby if they were satisfied that various items in the book of Estimates are justified, that they are the minimum at which the services could be performed, or that they even represent useful services at all, could conscientiously say, "Yes, I am thoroughly satisfied. I have examined the whole thing, and I know that we cannot get a point further than we have gone in examining these Estimates." I wonder how many Deputies, for instance, even with regard to so important a post as that of the Director of Industry, could visualise his duties or give any reasonable explanation as to the duties that he performs. He is in the Estimate for £900 a year, plus war bonus.
I do not think the Deputy can go into details at this stage.
I do not intend going into details. I am only taking this as an example and am just asking the question: I wonder how many Deputies who are going to vote for this Bill can say what that man's duties are and what service he has rendered to industry? If they were told that he was liquidating the mills that are closing down from week to week, for some reason that they themselves could specify, I think they would have to believe that he was acting as a liquidator. Deputy Byrne spoke very strongly of the necessity for developing the industrial arm. That was an extraordinary statement to come from that side of the House. Surely the one thing that we have begged for is that there should be something done to develop the industrial arm, and surely the one thing that the Government have not given us any support on is with regard to that. The principal method adopted by other countries to stimulate industry is to put some restriction on the importation of foreign goods that can be made by them. How far is that true of the Government? The Government pretend that they, too, have adopted that principle. The President has said: "Frankly, we are a protectionist Government." Well, only two or three weeks ago the Minister for Agriculture addressed a meeting in the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, a meeting of the most influential free-traders in the country, we may take it. Naturally one would think that the Minister for Agriculture, when he goes to the Chamber of Commerce, and goes as a protectionist Minister would try to convert the free-traders there, at least try to get them to lessen their prejudices against protection, and try to get them to give the question of protection a fair hearing. Yet here is an extract from his speech: "Where State aid consists of tariffs or bounties it amounts in the end to a financial contribution made by the general community."
I wonder if anybody ever yet set out to convert a community to his ideal by presenting to them their own favourite argument, or acknowledging that their own favourite argument was correct, and I wonder, too, if the Minister was so innocent as to believe that he was speaking the truth when he said that. He must have jolly well known that when the tariff for margarine was passed through this House, a provision was included that if there was to be any increase in prices the tariff was to be withdrawn. He must have known that in the case of oatmeal, for instance, the price has actually come down since the tariff was imposed; he must have known that in the case of blankets the price has certainly not gone up since the tariff was imposed. Yet the protectionist Minister for Agriculture invited ex-Deputy Hewat, whom I have heard described here as the only real free trader that ever was in this House, and who is a very prominent and a very influential member of the Chamber of Commerce, to become a protectionist, and he attempted to convert him to protection by telling him that a tariff involved a contribution made by the general community. That is certainly an extraordinary way of asking a body to consider that method of stimulating industry.
took the Chair.
Again, on the same subject, the Minister for Finance was asked about a fortnight ago whether, in connection with the coachbuilders' application to the Tariff Commission for increased duties on the goods they manufacture, he would consider asking for an Interim Report, in view of the fact that there was practically no opposition to the application so far as it related to farm carts and horse traps, and so far as it related to commercial motor vehicles and bus bodies. His reply was: "Oh, the Deputy is quite wrong; there is substantial opposition; there is opposition from the Motor-bus and Coach Owners' Association, and so-and-so." The Motor-bus and Coach Owners' Association was the first he mentioned. Well, will Deputies believe that, to my own certain knowledge, that organisation, which was never very much alive, went out of existence last April—over six months ago? Yet the Minister for Finance, the second most important Minister in the country, comes here and quotes the opposition of a defunct organisation as a reason why an increased tariff cannot be imposed upon a class of goods on which he knows that the existing tariff is going to be increased, and gives that as a reason for not doing this.
There are sincere protectionists, I am sure, on the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches, and there must be protectionists on the Labour Benches. I wonder what they think of that state of affairs—that the Vice-President of the Executive Council should come along here and quote the opposition of a defunct organisation as sufficient reason for not taking action with regard to an industry which is urgently in need of protection, where the case for protection has been established if ever a case was established. I know that, because I was present at the hearing of the case. I heard some, at least, of the miserable little opposition that was put up, and I do not believe the three Tariff Commissioners would take an hour to decide upon the case, so far as the evidence given against it was concerned.
We are voting a very big sum for the Department of Industry and Commerce. We would like to be satisfied that that vote is justified. The Minister, in introducing his Estimate, gave us practically no information regarding the working of his Department. When we ask if he intends to publish an annual report he gives a reply that is entirely impertinent, so that even that information is denied us. In the case of the Department of Agriculture, we find that a crisis has prevailed during the past month or six weeks. Numbers of farmers, after six or eight months, have been in a state of panic as regards what they should do with their barley. It was known before the barley harvest was ready that there was an increase in the acreage. It was known that there was going to be less demand and that prices would be exceptionally low. Yet, the Minister for Agriculture, with his huge Department behind him, takes no action, makes no effort, according to his reply to questions here, to see that there were any markets outside the State. Notwithstanding that, people in this country who were interested were able to see what was coming, and were able to get in touch with markets on the Continent and negotiate for the purchase of as much as 10,000 barrels at a fairly reasonable price. That seems a curious reflection on the Minister for Agriculture, whose praises are being sung so regularly and so strongly by all sections of the Free State community. It is hardly necessary to say that considerable fault can be found with the Department of Justice. But, as we have heard so much upon that subject during the past few weeks, I will pass on to another Department.
Take the Department of Local Government. I wonder how many Deputies are satisfied with the position there in regard to the administration of the Road Fund. I wonder how many Deputies are satisfied that the Minister has taken the utmost pains to get the best results from that £2,000,000 which he has spent during the past two years on the roads. I wonder how many Deputies know what the programme is in regard to that subject for the next few years. At the moment, the only thing we do know is that there is practically no money in the Road Fund and that nearly all next year's motor taxation is mortgaged. At the same time, the Department is committed to the payment of big sums for road maintenance. Whether there can be any further road construction is a question that nobody besides the Minister himself and those of his colleagues whom he consults could answer. Certainly, no information has been given here. The Minister, I think, devoted about four lines of his speech in introducing his Estimate to the question of roads, notwithstanding that the expenditure under this head was about £1,000,000.
We do not know what the outlook of the Government is in regard to road transportation. We do not know what their outlook is in regard to railway transportation, or whether they have any scheme for combining the two. We saw yesterday that the receipts for the railways up to the present are £100,000 down as compared with last year. We do not know whether that represents the approaching collapse of the railways and we do not know—what is more important—what are the net results of the experiments in road construction—whether the Government has yet found that it can make and maintain roads at the standard of the best roads that exist at the present time. In the "Irish Times" yesterday, there was a report of a Leitrim meeting at which it was said that a very important road in that district was more like an approach to a field of battle than anything else, that there were holes in it that resembled shell holes. If that state of things prevails over any considerable part of the country, then it would seem that borrowing must still go on for road construction. Yet, we have heard nothing from the Government as to what they think or their engineers think as the result of their road expenditure during the past few years.
Another very grave aspect of this Bill is that we have no guidance from the Government as to who is going to bear the burden of this taxation that we are imposing. During the past twelve months, we have had three different statements on the subject. The President scouts the idea of the farmer paying anything in this way. That was before the sugar tax was imposed.
The Deputy should remember that this Bill does not deal with taxation at all.
Am I not entitled to discuss this aspect of the question?
It is clear that the Bill does not impose taxation.
Am I not entitled to discuss the question as to who will bear this taxation?
You were referring to general methods of raising money. That does not come under this Bill, which is an Appropriation Bill.
The Deputy has three hours yet.
Does the Minister mean that I am taking an unnecessarily long time?
Is the Minister anxious to speak?
Let Deputy Moore proceed.
I do not think anybody could hold that I take up a lot of time. Perhaps I take up as much as I deserve. I do not make any claim in that respect, but I do not know what the Minister is driving at. It is a big surprise to me that it is not relevant on this Vote to consider who are bearing this taxation and whether they can afford to bear it or not. Before the Bill goes through, it is important to know whether the people who are going to pay this £7,000,000 are able to bear the impost or not.
The fact is that the money has to be raised somewhere. I do not think the question that the Deputy is discussing can be raised now.
I think that the question of the amount that should be raised and who is going to bear it is an important question. After all, we have to cut our cloth to the proper measure and the means of the people who will ultimately pay is, I submit, relevant to the debate. From that point of view, I say that we have no guidance whatever from the Government. We have three different accounts as to who ultimately bears this taxation. We have the statement of the President. He holds that the farmers of the country are escaping taxation.
Would the Deputy be a little more exact?
That was before the last Budget, I admit.
When previously quoting me on that subject, the Deputy was a little more truthful.
When Deputy Clery complained that the farmers of the country were unable to bear the taxation that was being levied upon them, the President himself followed to show —I can give him the reference to the Official Report——
Better give the quotation.
The President went on to argue that if the farmer took care to buy Irish-made goods and did not deal in stocks and shares, he need pay no taxation.
That is a very different story.
Not at all. Contrast that with the statement of the Vice-President, when introducing his Budget, that all taxation ultimately comes out of production. Contrast it again with the very extraordinary statement of the Minister for Agriculture, who asserted three weeks ago that practically all taxation is borne by the small farmers and the small traders. Why the small traders are singled out for mention is a thing I have never been able to ascertain. I suggest that it does look badly for the Executive Council that three such different statements regarding an important subject should be made officially from the Government Bench. I suggest that all the boosting that is going on, all this wonderful talk by the Government followers of our brilliant young Ministers is not entirely justified if these statements I have quoted are meant seriously. After all, the question of the basis of taxation and who is to bear it is a very fundamental thing, and one would expect that Government Ministers would be very exact in regard to it. One would expect that it would be one of the first things they would have made up their minds upon. Yet we find, after six years of experience that is unique in the world— the bringing of a new State into existence, the setting up of departments, and all that sort of thing—Ministers make these statements. When statements that are so divergent are made, it does suggest terrific carelessness, to say the least. I will not for a moment suggest that it indicates any lack of intelligence or anything of that kind. As a matter of fact, it is because we know that the Government Ministers are exceptionally brilliant men that we wonder all the more at these curiously loose statements.
I think that is a good stage at which to leave the taxation point.
I am still unconvinced, but you, Mr. Chairman, and I have had several arguments during the past few days on another matter. I am, however, still unconvinced that I am irrelevant. On the general question, I do not think this Bill has been proven. I do not think the House can be conscientiously satisfied that the Estimates we have discussed are the lowest possible that should be passed in the present circumstances of the country. I believe that very few who vote for the Bill will do so believing that it is a fair measure for the country and a suitable measure for the country. Instead of an "empty formula," I suggest that "empty formality" will be the phrase in the future, because the passing of this Bill will be simply an empty formality. It will represent no conviction of any kind. It will represent a disregard of duty rather than a regard for duty, and while that is a regrettable state of things from one point of view, from another point of view it is a happy state of things, because we all know that when a Government reaches the stage that its followers simply become automata then its hour of dissolution is near.
I did not intend to speak in this debate until the President entered in his usual chirping mood. I know it is not decent for us to carry on the debate at this length at all. Really it would be much decenter for us to vote against this Bill or, perhaps, for it, and allow it to go through. After all, we have got round so many corners in this country and improved so well, and the country is so satisfied with the Ministers and the Departments of Government as a whole, that we, if we were really decent fellows, would vote on every occasion to allow the Government to carry on in a grander way.
I know it is not a nice thing for us to have carried on a debate here, and to have disgusted the Ministers by saying such awfully foolish things. When you know that you are not heeded, and that you certainly will not be answered unless you make a very foolish statement, you can say anything you like. I know it is not decent to carry on the debate much longer. Of course, if we accept the suggestion of Deputy Davin for a political truce in order that the Economic Committee might bring forth some miracles, and at last bring us where President Cosgrave and his Ministers promised the Irish people they would get to two years after the Treaty was accepted, everything might be all right. I am surprised that Deputy Davin did not call for a political truce yesterday when the Government Party defeated, by a majority of four, the motion to provide pensions for widows and orphans proposed by one of his colleagues. Deputy Davin did insist on stating that he did come into the Lobby with us on several occasions in the last three weeks. We know he did. I think he wasted a lot of time in telling us that, by accident or otherwise, he came into the Lobby with us to vote against the Government. Deputy Davin need not feel at all uneasy. We know very well that he has good intentions sometimes. He has said he has, because he votes with us, and in order to prove to the Government Party that he has good intentions, as far as they are concerned, he gave us to understand that he will vote with them on this occasion. It is a very nice thing to be a jolly good fellow with both parties.
If we were to accept the suggestions of Deputy Anthony I do not think it would improve things to go ahead with this debate either. I do not want to go back to what Deputy Anthony stated. His moratorium is all right. I wonder if his colleagues of the Labour Party agree with the Government in accepting our political truce, and embracing President Cosgrave and saying the more we are together the more we will be satisfied——
I wonder what this has to do with the Bill.
I was just saying that Deputy Anthony wasted a lot of time in telling us that we should agree to a political truce I think he called it a financial truce—in fact, he wanted us to go down the country and tell our supporters not to think of anything that could be objectionable to President Cosgrave. I think that contribution of the Deputy was a waste of time in two ways, first, because he held up the House while he was speaking, and then because he convinced me that I should speak afterwards. That is my reason for mentioning what Deputy Anthony said.
Then, after all the speakers on this side of the House had said, and all the suggestions they made as to how we might be better able to carry on in this country if the Government looked at things from a serious point of view, Deputy J.J. Byrne told us that we have not made a single concrete proposal. Perhaps there is some commonsense in that. Perhaps we realise that with such brains in the Government Party that J.J. Byrne and others possess, they ought to be able to put forward sufficient concrete proposals to carry on for a long time, and that concrete proposals should not be put forward from this side. We realise that very well from the way the Government are carrying on and the way the country is prospering, as a result of these concrete proposals put forward by Deputy J.J. Byrne or some other great men of the Government Party. In considering whether we should vote for or against the Government, however, I would like to follow the old motto of "charity begins at home." and look at the County Mayo and the West of Ireland. If I am to judge by the activities of governmental departments in County Mayo for the past two or three years. I can easily convince myself that the honest thing for me to do, representing that county, is to vote against the Government. I do not expect that the Cumann na eGaedheal Deputies from County Mayo will vote against the Government, because, of course, if they did, not one single social service, as Deputy Davin said, could be carried on in the country. You could not pay the old age pensioners, and you could not carry on in any way if you voted against the Government; that is their plea. But why should Deputies, representing the country and knowing the position in the country as it is to-day, by voting for the Government on this motion, pass a vote of confidence by that means in the Government considering the state the country is in.
There was a discussion here a few nights ago about the position in the West of Ireland. Notwithstanding the statement of Deputy Bourke about the Gaeltacht, and all that has been said about arterial drainage and afforestation when we go down the country we find that not one single promise has been put into action. Some time ago the Government took a lot of trouble and I suppose went to a good deal of expense and certainly raised many hopes by having one of the largest rivers in County Mayo examined by their engineers who made estimates for the drainage of the River Moy. In a very casual way we were told by the Parliamentary Secretary that the Government had decided in the last few months that it would not be economic for them to go ahead with that scheme. I wonder on what grounds they came to that decision. If they made a decent effort to carry out a scheme of that kind and lesser schemes, I would feel justified and would have sufficient moral courage to vote for them. But I cannot when I see the Gaeltacht as it is and the condition of the kelp industry in County Mayo about which the Minister for Industry and Commerce seems to know very little, because I had a communication with his office some time ago as to the attitude he would take up in regard to the kelp industry along the coast of Mayo where people try to eke out a livelihood by it and are suffering much because of obstacles they are trying to fight against, and I did not even get the courtesy of a reply from that Department.
When did you send the letter?
Within the last three months.
Have you any reference, because I would like to inquire into it.
I would be only too glad to give it to the Minister. I hope when I make certain suggestions to him that they will not be turned down in the way they were yesterday when we made some suggestions about the activities of his new legation or office that will be opened in Berlin. When he was asked if it would not be wise to have a new legation opened up in Soviet Russia he said our suggestion was that our ambassadors should go around selling fish through Russia. If he wants to deal in that cheap, chirping way with arguments that are put there is no use in putting them forward. I hope he will try to deal with the suggestion about the kelp industry in a decent manner.
Recently we had representatives of French and English firms testing the qualities of some class of clay in parts of Erris. They took samples away and it is strongly rumoured in Erris that it is their intention to purchase some of the area and to have the clay transferred to factories in England or France for manufacture. I know that they have been exploring in the area and the Minister for Industry and Commerce, after all the expenditure on his office, has not paid any heed whatsoever as far as I can find out from certain officials, to the exploration of that clay and what might result from it in the County Mayo. The County, as Mr. Bourke, the Parliamentary Secretary, said, is very poor; in fact they do not realise there is such a thing existing as a Department of Industry and Commerce. They know, of course, that there is a Department of Agriculture. It is very refreshing to the prosperous farmers in County Mayo to read in the newspapers now and again statements from the Minister for Agriculture that the one solution in Ireland for agriculture is one more cow, one more sow, and one more acre and to stick it out. Of course, that is of great assistance to us in County Mayo, and because of that and the road he leaves open to us and the great things we know our young Ministers are going to do we should be expected to vote for the Government. But I think we are not going to be fooled into that action. If we consider the attitude of the Minister for Justice in regard to certain happenings in County Mayo we feel that we will have the absolute support of the people in voting against this Bill. Although this debate has dragged out painfully and we have been very mean in saying certain things which the Ministers should not be told about we should not close our eyes to the situation in the country and do the nice fellows and vote for the Government. I think perhaps some of the suggestions we have made may not do any harm at all. If the Government would really face the situation and the facts as they are they would find a good deal more co-operation and sympathy in the task they have to perform in trying to help the country in some manner.
Some months ago Deputy Corry, in the course of one of his prosy speeches, described this House as a circus. He was pulled up by the Ceann Comhairle who, if I remember rightly, read him a small lecture on the dignity of this institution. Many of the members following referred to it in sneering terms. Nothing has convinced me more since this debate started that Deputy Corry was right, absolutely and definitely right, that this House is being turned into a circus by the Governmental Party opposite, than their frigid silence while this debate has been in progress. Not one Minister has attempted to participate in this important discussion. Since 3 o'clock only one member, if I remember rightly, of the Government Party has intervened to make a statement. Still, when criticisms are levelled at this House, and when members make remarks regarding its activities, Ministers are the first to declare that this is a solemn institution, a Parliament worthy of the name and as good as any in the world. Yet they themselves by their attitude in this debate, whether they have been mute of malice or by the visitation of the Lord, as their Judges say, I do not know, but whatever it is they certainly have attempted, and are still attempting, to turn this into merely what is described in certain periodicals as a talking-shop.
There has been no attempt to answer arguments, no attempt to make a case, and no attempt to meet suggestions put up from the Opposition Parties in this House. There has been nothing but sullen, frigid silence. Probably the Minister for Industry and Commerce will get up to end the debate. He will just intervene when the debate is concluding, when there is hardly any opportunity to reply, and he will indulge in a few sarcastic jeers. In any Parliament that I have read about the Government Party always attempt to make some answer to criticisms arising in the course of the debate. The debate is never a one-sided affair like it appears to be here.
I understand we can discuss the Government policy on this Bill. So many speakers have been ruled out of order to-night in referring to various items in the Bill, I do not know exactly what direction to take. There is one item that I should like to refer to in connection with Governmental policy. That is the item the Minister sneeringly dismissed last night by describing as red herrings. I am certain the House will agree with me when I state that there is no necessity for the Minister to discuss red herrings, because he provides most of them whenever there is a debate here. Remarks were made this evening regarding the Government's policy, or rather lack of policy, in the development of trade. Deputy Derrig criticised the Government for their failure to keep the promises they made in the debate on the Gaeltacht Commission with regard to certain portions of the report which they embodied in a White Paper. I come from a constituency where the fishing industry was at one time the premier industry over a great stretch of coastline from Crosshaven to Castletownbere. At the present time the struggling remnants of what was once a great industry in Kinsale. Baltimore and Schull, provide ample evidence of the fact that if proper encouragement were given by the authorities that industry could be quickly revived.
The Minister may sneer at the suggestion I made with regard to the export of fish, herrings in particular, to the Union of Soviet Republics. Some years ago in Kinsale an export trade was attempted with Russia and Germany. In the first eighteen months the business proved very successful, and it resulted in a considerable profit to the people who had the courage to initiate it. Owing to circumstances over which we had no control, that industry was a failure last year. Undoubtedly there is a market there for cured herrings, and last night, when I stated that eight million roubles' worth were imported over European frontiers, I was not stating a thing that the Minister could lightly waive aside. He attempted to side-track the issue by stating that I wanted our ambassadors to sell fish. Even if I did say so, or if it could be inferred from what I said, it would be one hundred and fifty times better if our so-called ambassadors did go around attempting to improve the fish market rather than be endeavouring to make out that this is a sovereign nation.
Deputy de Valera this evening made an appeal to face facts and several other speakers on these Benches stressed that point and asked the Government Party, when they did see fit to relieve themselves of the taint of being mute of malice or by the visitation of the Lord, to deal with the appeal put up to them. A statement was made by the versatile Minister for Agriculture with regard to the lack of sincerity and honesty that exists in some parts of the country, or amongst some people in the country. Nothing exemplifies that refusal to face facts more, and nothing indicates that there is a tremendous amount of truth in the few jocose remarks he made time and again with regard to that point more than the portion of this Appropriation Bill which relates to the so-called League of Nations. It appears to be Governmental policy to remain a member of that greatest illusion in history, as I consider it to be. It seems to be our Government's policy to attend the Conferences of the League of Nations and to continue the farce that we are a sovereign State. Being men of great brilliance and great intelligence, and being people who have had experience of diplomacy in connection with European countries during the last six years, they should know that the thing has been a barren failure and they should face the facts in that connection. I do not say that the money asked for that concern is tremendous, and I do not say that if it were to serve any useful purpose it would not be well to spend it; but it is a continuance of the policy that the Minister for Agriculture once described as a refusal to face facts and that is why I object to it.
The League of Nations, of which we are supposed to be a highly esteemed and honoured member, was started with the object of preventing war. It has failed to do it, and it has done nothing in the last ten years except arrive at conventions, most of which are never ratified by the constituent States that are members of the League. There was one convention with regard to poison gas and germ warfare. Only one civilised country has ratified that, and it is three years now since it was signed. Do the Government consider there is any useful purpose served by being a member of that institution? In this Bill we are asked to vote a sum for the League of Nations. I think some case should be made by the President, or by whoever is responsible for our activities there, to show what advantage this State is getting out of the money expended and in what way the whole thing can be explained to the people. The people are not fools all the time, and some day they will insist upon an explanation. Not alone will they be struck by this one-sided debate, this bringing of the House into disrepute and ridicule, but they will also be struck by those attempts on the Continent and in other countries to maintain a status which we have not got, and by this effort to make people believe that we have a certain status as a result of the 1921 Treaty. I believe that the Ministers realise the uselessness of that institution just as well as we do. I believe if they would face the facts we would not be members of that farce which the two biggest countries in the world, the United States and the Soviet Union, have refused to join.
The Department of External Affairs has been well dealt with, but the Minister glossed over a point I wanted him to reply to. I ask him to be good enough to deal with the points I have made now. Perhaps his intelligence is superior to the combined brains of other Deputies in the House, but at least he might give us some assurance that the suggestions made from these Benches will be considered in all seriousness. These suggestions have not been made for the purpose of scoring debating points. If the Minister cannot see his way to deal with our criticisms, then Deputy Corry's remark should be painted in big letters and put over the door of this building, and the name "Leinster House" should be obliterated.
I would not rise in this debate but for the fact that after the speech of Deputy Mullins, in which he took the Russian Soviet over and over again to his bosom, I must state that as far as West Cork is concerned, the people are not with him in his affliction. He stands up here and he brings the Minister for Industry and Commerce to book with regard to the sale of herrings in Russia. I may inform Deputy Mullins that there are plenty of markets for all our herrings, and the only difficulty in the Saorstát at this moment is that we are not getting enough of them. The Deputy stands up here and holds up the Russian Soviet as a model for this country, the Republic that has stamped on the soil of our Redemption, that has torn down churches and turned them into theatres, that has done away with the sanctity of marriage, and that has permitted free love, that has, in fact, broken every Commandment of the Almighty. I heard the Deputy to-night on three occasions calling for the assistance of the Almighty. The Deputy ought to make an Act of Contrition for what he has said. Never did I think that I would hear in the land of St. Patrick a man speaking of a Republic, of a country, that is keeping 160,000,000 people in slavery and that is starving the workers. I suggest to the Deputy that if he has such great love for that country, he and Deputy Corry should spend six months there. We will see how they come back. They will both come back starved, and indeed it would be a great improvement to the both of them, because they want to be reduced either mentally or physically, so that they will become a pair of sane men.
I desire to support this Bill. I have listened to the Deputies on the other side attacking every Minister who has responsibility for the government of the country. Each and every one of the Ministers came under the lash of the Deputies opposite. Where were those same Deputies when the Ministers took up the cudgels six years ago and built up this State that we are all proud of? Not alone are we proud of our Ministers, but those who come from foreign lands are proud of them. I had the privilege of meeting a clergyman in the Dáil to-day, a distinguished Dominican from the United States. He told me that he was here in 1922 and he came back again to find a new Ireland. "All you have to do," he said, "is to work the freedom and the liberty that you have, and you have more freedom than there is in the United States." There is no use in Deputies over there putting the President and Ministers into the pillory, because they claim they are not doing their duty. They are doing their duty and if the Estimates here are a little over in one part or another the Ministers are doing their level best to stabilise every Department. Are there seven men in Ireland or in any other country who are doing more work for their country or who have done more work during the past six years than our President and Ministers? What return do they get? Is there one word of thanks? They attacked my friend from Cork—Deputy Anthony—because he had the courage to give some credit to the Government. Deputy Anthony is an honest man, no matter what his feelings may be. He felt to-night that he was in duty bound to give justice and fair play to the Government for the good work they have done all along the line. He was not crying out for Russia. There is no use sneering at Ministers because they were endeavouring to carry out their work and carried it out successfully. I can tell them that before the Dáil expires, and it will not expire for four years more, the Deputies over there who are sneering and laughing will find that the Government will have advanced even further in the estimation of the people than they have hitherto.
I want to raise the case of the ex-R.I.C. men whom we say have been victimised. Their cases have not been dealt with. I am sorry the Minister for Finance is not here, because this matter has been raised with him several times, but no result has come from it. It is a considerable time since Deputy Mrs. Collins-O'Driscoll raised this matter in the form of a question, and the answer of the Minister for Finance at that time was that in connection with the people who were excluded under Section 5 for some technical reason he was contemplating bringing in a Bill. On the 16th November last year Deputy de Valera raised the matter in the House by asking a question, and the Minister at that time replied:—
The applications for the grant of a pension under Sec. 5 of the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1923, lodged in this and a small number of other similar cases have not been hitherto entertained because in each such case the applicant was known to be a member or a helper or active sympathiser with the organisation engaged in armed opposition to the late Provisional Government or the Government of Saorstát Eireann. In view of the improved conditions in the country, I am now prepared to have these cases considered.
That question arose out of the treatment that had been meted out to Mr. McElligott. Various suggestions have been made from time to time as to whether he deserved a pension or not, or as to whether he should come within the terms of this Bill. In connection with that reply of the Minister, Mr. McElligott wrote on the 20th November, 1927, to the Minister for Finance as follows:—
With reference to your reply to Mr. de Valera's question on the 16th instant, I wish to renew my application for a pension and treatment at least as favourable as that accorded to those who did not resign from the R.I.C.
I joined the Force on the 20th October, 1907, and resigned (under the conditions stated in the question) on the 20th May, 1919. I held the rank of sergeant after the first Service examination in 1913, and also Board of Trade Certificate as Inspector of Weights and Measures.
I desire to state that when the "resignation policy" was adopted, I was urged by Michael Collins (R.I.P.) to leave no stone unturned to get the men to resign, and Harry Boland (R.I.P.), who was then American envoy, came over specially to arrange for the emigration and care of the unemployed members. In the Munster Hotel both authorised me to assure those men that they would be treated justly and generously. I have a letter from Michael Collins—a guarantee that resigned men would be treated "not less generously than those who continued to serve." If necessary I can submit the guarantee of Michael Collins.
The R.I.C. were disbanded in January, 1922. Under these circumstances I claim the pension to which I am entitled from that date—1st January, 1922.
As I am practically responsible for the resignations and for giving those men authorised guarantees. I strongly urge their just claims for "equal treatment."
During the years 1918-21 the resigned men were paraded as "men of principle," who sacrificed their means of living for the cause of freedom. They served the National cause, and for doing so, I trust they will not be penalised.
There has been no reply so far as he is concerned or any Deputy is concerner to that letter, and no indication that anything has been done since with regard to dealing with that particular case, or the other cases that come under that head. I do not know, and I am sure no Deputy outside the Government, who may have some particular or special information with regard to this, knows why these cases have not been dealt with. It is only necessary to read the concluding paragraph of Mr. McElligott's resignation, dated the 20/5/1919, to show the reasons why he resigned. He gave a statement of the whole facts to the District Inspector when sending in his resignation, including the fact that the force should not be armed, and he concluded by saying:—
I am leaving the force with no regret—with a policeman's savings of £130 after 11 years' service—a single, temperate man, nearly half that time a sergeant. I am leaving rather with pride to serve the Union of which, you say, I am a member, the force, the men whose interests and whose welfare I have at heart and the country I love, and that I alone have the honour to represent.
Yes, the Police Union. The question of the Police Union certainly was not raised in reply to the question by Deputy de Valera. If it is a question of his being engaged in the Union, I may say that two other men similarly situated are in receipt of pensions.
I have not read that letter for a long time, but I take it the reason of his resignation was for some purpose in connection with the Union and not for the purpose of disassociating himself from the activities of the R.I.C.
The President would be well aware of it if he inquired into the whole circumstances which preceded his resignation. I have a number of letters here, amongst others one from Mr. T.M. Healy, but I cannot lay my hand on it. Immediately before the anti-conscription campaign in this country, Mr. McElligott was in touch with the people concerned, and that is on record. The President can ascertain that, and the Minister for Finance, I am sure, is well aware that he submitted to that conference in the Mansion House a memorandum dealing with the best means of fighting conscription and that memorandum was adopted. Amongst the people who have already stated that in the Press is Mr. Thomas Johnson. Mr. Johnson wrote a letter to the Press setting out all these facts and stating that the memorandum was furnished at that time and set out all the circumstances in connection with it. I have also a letter from Mr. Nugent of the A.O.H. setting out some of the facts and stating that when he was in the British House of Commons information was conveyed to him through Mr. McElligott. I shall read portion of that letter which was written to Mr. McElligott and dated the 30th July, 1928:—
"As soon as the Ancient Order of Hibernians learned early in 1917 that it was the intention of the British Government to enforce Conscription in Ireland we proceeded to organise all the available forces to resist so gross a tyranny. Amongst these forces were the two great police organisations, the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police. You were one of the first to respond and your action was wholly spontaneous. You immediately sent me an intimation that you were prepared and anxious to assist the Anti-Conscription Movement, your attitude being that you looked upon the threat of compulsory enlistment as an outrage on the Irish Nation so long as the majority of the Irish representatives were opposed to it.
"Inquiries made at the time satisfied me that there was no ulterior motive behind your action—that you were acting solely from the impulse of patriotism. In the first place, you were popular with your colleagues. Secondly, you had been successful in obtaining promotion as a sergeant, not through any services rendered to the enemies of Ireland, but because you had passed with flying colours in the examination for what was known as the "P" list. You not only assisted in the organisation of the police force in Meath, but you furnished me with valuable introductions, some of them even to members of the force who held positions on the Headquarters' Staff. I was then, and I am still, convinced that the organisation of the police force —both the R.I.C. and the D.M.P.— had a mighty influence in altering the decision of the Government, or rather the Ascendency, who were behind the Government and had been egging it on, and the Military junta in the control of the Army.
"Largely through your influence and by means of the wonderfully effective system of communications you had already established I was able to obtain copies at the very earliest moment of all the circulars and secret documents that were being sent to the Country and District Inspectors of the Constabulary. So effective indeed was your action, and so completely did it on many occasions defeat the purposes of the Government, that the then Chief Secretary, Mr. Shortt, declared in the British House of Commons that I had obtained circulars and utilised the information contained in them before there had been time for them to be communicated to the rank and file of the police force.
"The services rendered by Irishmen to their country and the sacrifices made by them for the national cause in the past often not only went unrewarded but were actually forgotten, or slurred over as of no account; but I can at least bear testimony to what you did, and pay tribute to the patriotic motives by which you and other members of the R.I.C. were inspired at a great crisis in the National movement when vital issues were at stake."
After Mr. Johnson's letter was published, there was a leading article in the "Irish Independent" which set out that the editor of the "Independent" himself could vouch, of his own personal knowledge, as to Mr. McElligott's activities at the time. This is the extract:
"As Mr. Thomas Johnson and others have testified, he gave valuable assistance to the National cause during the anti-conscription campaign. Through all that crisis he conveyed useful information to the leaders of the resistance movement; for several years he was in constant communication with the editor of the ‘Irish Independent'; and we have no hesitation in asserting that the movement inaugurated by him was one of the driving forces behind the subsequent resignations."
It can be proved by a number of witnesses and I am sure that the Deputy for Kerry—Mr. J. Crowley—will testify to the activities in the Kerry area of Mr. McElligott. I am sure he will admit that he was in communication with him and that he was in the conveyance of war material during the trouble. It will also be testified, I am sure, and admitted by many on the Government side, that it was on the instructions of the late Mr. Collins that that letter was prepared tendering the resignation, and that that letter set out the reasons why the members of the police force should resign. That letter was refused publication in this country at the time, as the papers were prohibited from publishing it, but it was published in England. If it was a case of some substantial grounds being put forward, or some question of that kind, it might be a matter for investigation, but I am quite sure that the Government are aware of all this and that they are conversant with the facts and why no investigation is necessary with regard to them. It is a peculiar fact that in November, 1922, when this committee of inquiry was being set up to inquire into these cases Mr. McElligott was appointed by these men to represent them, but for some reason that I do not understand, and that it is very difficult for anyone to understand, a letter was written to him from the Department of Justice inquiring who gave him the credentials and who appointed him.
Everybody in the country at that time recognised Mr. McElligott as the leader of that particular movement and the guiding force behind it both by his letters to the Press and the position he occupied in the Committees. While this controversy was going on in 1922 between the Department of Justice and Mr. McElligott he was arrested in the Park. The documents he had in his possession at that time, some of them very valuable documents in proving his case—but I am sure he has sufficient evidence to prove his case if the Minister for Finance will look into it—were seized and not given back to him. No charge was brought against him and in no way was it shown he was implicated in anything that happened at the time. Even if he were, I do not think it would alter it in any way.
Deputy Batt O'Connor, when I raised this question in 1927, said that there was no victimisation by that Committee. Surely, if there were ever a clear case of victimisation this was one. I would like to know did that Committee of Inquiry—I can hardly believe they did—turn down the application of Mr. McElligott. I would also like to know would the Deputy from Kerry, Deputy Crowley, deny or repudiate in any way the statement I made with regard to this man's activities or the reasons he resigned from the force, or would the Minister for Finance repudiate the fact that it was under the instructions of the late General Collins that McElligott acted during all the time up to his resignation and afterwards up to the Truce. It does seem an extraordinary thing that the Government will ignore not only the demands made from this side of the House but those made by Mr. Johnson of the Labour Party, Mr. Nugent of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and even by the leading article in the "Irish Independent," all calling for justice to be done in the case. A little over twelve months ago we were informed in reply to a question that the matter would be reconsidered.
It is under consideration since then I suppose. It had been under consideration before that, and, if that is the speed with which the Department moves then those unfortunate men will be in a sorry plight for a long time.
There was another case raised concerning a man named Thomas Kearney, an active man during the Tan trouble. An assurance was given that his case would be considered also. Another matter was mentioned by Deputy Davin that by our policy in opposing this Bill we were holding up the old age pensions. That is too foolish. Deputy Davin knows quite well that if the Government wanted to reduce the Estimates they have a method of doing it. This does not mean throwing the whole of the administrative forces of the country into disorder or that the old age pensioners would be deprived of their pensions.
I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to ask the Government to reconsider the position in connection with the claim made by the Executive of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union in connection with the bombardment of Liberty Hall in 1916. It is common knowledge that from 1913, when the Citizen Army was established at Liberty Hall as their headquarters up to 1916, and immediately prior to Easter, it was the military headquarters of the I.R.B. Final arrangements were made there for the insurrection and the Republican proclamation was printed there on the printing press owned by the Union. Liberty Hall was shelled on April the 26th, 1916. The front portion of the premises was entirely demolished. The rere portion was in the occupation of British troops for about a month, and all the furniture in it was burned or looted during that period. The Executive of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union made an application to the Property Losses Commission set up, subsequent to the Rebellion, by the British and, of course, being implicated in the insurrection, they were turned down. One can understand that attitude of mind in so far as the British Government were concerned, but I cannot understand an Irish Government, the Executive of which is composed of men who were colleagues of those who issued the Proclamation from Liberty Hall in 1916, not being prepared to entertain and honour the application made by the Executive of the Irish Transport Union. I would like the President to say if he is prepared to re-consider the attitude of the Government in this connection. After the Insurrection General Collins wrote the following letter to the President of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, which shows that he recognised what had been done by the Union. He said:—
"Dear Sir,—Your appeal for financial help towards the loss you sustained during and after the Easter Rising, duly received. My Executive have considered the matter, and they instruct me to say that they regret they could not, owing to the constitution of the Irish National Aid and Volunteers' Dependents' Fund Association, vote you any money out of the funds at their disposal. At the same time they direct me to inform you that they are quite satisfied from the particulars you gave them in writing, and the further facts you placed before them, that you suffered very serious loss to your premises, furniture and other effects, and they believe, if your Union decided on issuing a public appeal to replace and restore your losses, that such appeal ought and would receive the warm consideration and support of the Irish people.—Yours faithfully, MICHAEL COLLINS."
Everyone knows that that was not an opportune time to make any appeal to the public for things of that kind. I suggest to the President it would be only common decency on the part of his Government to reconsider the claim of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce to conclude.
If he wishes to speak we are quite willing to let him speak but not necessarily to conclude.
Is there any other Deputy who wishes to speak?
I would like to ask a question. I understood that the Minister for Industry and Commerce desired to address the House. I would like to put this question. Having risen to speak, if he does not proceed to speak now, are we entitled to assume that he foregoes his right to speak in this debate or is this precedent going to be created, that when a Minister rises to speak he rises naturally to conclude the debate?
I understand the Minister for Industry and Commerce, in the absence of the Minister for Finance, is to reply to the debate on behalf of the Government.
We are unaware that any such understanding was come to. As members of the Opposition we deny the right of the Government to enter into any such understanding with the Chair.
The Deputy must not misrepresent anything I said. There is no understanding entered into between the Government and the Chair, and the Deputy has no right to suggest it.
I apologise to the Chair if I misinterpreted what was said, but I think you did say that you understood the Minister for Industry and Commerce was to conclude the debate on behalf of the Minister for Finance. As we had no knowledge of that understanding, and as no such understanding was arrived at between the Opposition and the Government, I naturally concluded if there was such an understanding it must have been with the Chair. If I was wrong in that I retract what I said. At the same time we are entitled now to ask the Minister, since he has risen to speak, to proceed with his speech, but we do not think he has a right to conclude the debate as we have the right to reply to him.
He must have a very bad case.
If the Minister for Industry and Commerce, or any other Minister, does not wish to speak at this particular moment, I have no power to compel him to do so, but if the Deputy foregoes his right to speak now. I do not think that he can speak afterwards.
I put it to you that, the Minister for Industry and Commerce having risen to speak and not having exercised his right to do so, you must call on him to speak, but I do not think you are entitled to call on him to conclude. He has risen and attracted your attention. You have named him. I think you ought to make him proceed and then give us the right to reply.
The practice on the Second Reading of Bills has been that when the debate, so far as the Chair can see, has concluded, when no Deputy rises to speak and when another Deputy has concluded his speech, the Chair should call on the particular Minister answering for the Government to conclude the debate. That has been the practice, and it has not been departed from in this particular instance.
In view of the fact that, so far, no member of the Government has risen to reply to the speeches delivered from this side and that the Minister for Industry and Commerce has been the first member on the Government Bench who rose to participate in this debate, I think we are entitled to hear what he has to say in reply to our speeches, and we are entitled, if we think fit, to reply to anything he says and then permit the Minister who moved the Vote to conclude the debate. I think it is a violation of the privileges of the Opposition if the Government are always going to put themselves in this position, namely, that they can sit on their benches while the whole policy of the Government is being criticised and then take advantage of their power to conclude the debate to go into a lot of scurrility, as they do, and in their reply make wholesale misrepresentations of the things which the Opposition have said.
The question whether the Minister for Industry and Commerce has spoken on this debate or not does not arise. If the Minister does not wish to speak I am not in a position to compel him. I may point out to the Deputy that the practice has been that some member of the Government concludes the debate on Second Reading of a Bill. It was intimated to me earlier in the evening that the Minister for Industry and Commerce would reply on behalf of the Government. That exactly is what I meant when I said that I understood that the Minister was to reply. When no member rose to speak when Deputy Corish had concluded I naturally, and in accordance with the practice of the House, called on the Minister for Industry and Commerce to conclude the debate. That is the position.
I take it that the rules of procedure are laid down in Standing Orders, and I do not think that any intimation given to you by a member of the Government would justify you in departing from the Standing Orders, which provide that the Deputy who moves the motion "That the Bill be now read a Second Time" alone has the right to speak again and conclude at the termination of the debate. I would like to hear from you what particular Standing Order empowers you to call on a Deputy other than the Deputy who moved the motion to speak and conclude the debate. I would also like your ruling on another point and it is this: The Minister for Industry and Commerce rose to address the House. He was named by you, but he sat down without saying anything. Does he not by doing so sacrifice his right to speak?
Would the Deputy refer me to the particular Standing Order which he has in mind?
Standing Order 38. "No Deputy shall be entitled to speak twice upon the same motion except to close the debate upon a motion of which he was the proposer; but a Deputy is not precluded from speaking on an amendment by reason of having spoken upon the original motion or upon any other amendment." I will look the right one up in a minute.
There are two points raised by Deputy Lemass. I take it that the Government are entitled to arrange their business, and, if the Minister for Finance is not present, I think he may depute any other member of the Executive to reply on his behalf. As I pointed out to the Deputy, the practice has been that some member of the Government concludes the debate on Second Reading. With regard to his point about calling on the Minister for Industry and Commerce when he stood up, I called on him to conclude the debate.
Your calling on the Minister for Industry and Commerce practically means the closure of the debate, without a single speech having been made from the Government Benches on this Bill, either to justify or answer the criticisms which we have made on their policy.
The Deputy can put a point of order, but he cannot suggest that the Chair is trying to put on the closure.
I do not suggest that you are consciously trying to put on the closure, but I say that it is tantamount to the same thing if you call on a member of the Government who has not spoken to conclude the debate. There is no reason to assume that the debate will conclude after the Minister for Industry and Commerce has spoken, but there is every reason to believe that the debate might then become more real.
The Deputy must accept what I have said, namely, that the practice has always been that a Minister concludes the debate on Second Reading. I hesitated to call on the Minister when Deputy Corish concluded in order to see if any other Deputy wished to exercise his right to speak before the Minister concluded. If any Deputy wishes to speak before the Minister, he has a perfect right to do so. If the Minister does not desire to speak I cannot compel him.
I thought that Deputies were privileged to intervene at any portion of the debate they thought fit?
The debate must conclude at some stage.
We have until 10.30.
It is not a question of time.
Then, why suggest that it must conclude now? Why not prolong it? Why should the Minister's speech conclude it now?
Does the Deputy himself wish to speak now?
No. We wish to hear some member from the Government Benches on the matter. The Government are asking the House to vote a sum of over £7,000,000.
Would I be in order in moving to report progress and that the debate be adjourned until tomorrow?
Report progress? We are now in the Second Reading of a Bill.
We wish to extend to the Government Benches the courtesy of a hearing. We are anxious to hear them, but certainly if they do speak now, I think that we should have the right to reply. There has not been a single official spokesman from the Government Party who has spoken in support of this measure during the whole debate. I do not know whether it is that they are afraid or ashamed of their position.
I wish to explain to the Deputy for the last time that, so far as the Chair is concerned, there is no power whatever to compel any member, Minister or otherwise, to speak if he does not wish to do so. This is my ruling on the matter, that if the Deputy does not wish to speak now, then the Chair must, in accordance with the practice and procedure of the House, call upon a member of the Government to conclude the debate.
I should like to point out that it is quite clear, I think, that it is not in accordance with the Standing Orders that a speech by a member of the Government concludes the debate.
Practice and the Chair—the two things together.
We know that the real explanation is that the Government is afraid to let their case be criticised.
If the Deputy would restrict some of his speakers we could speak.
We cannot have this cross-examination.
I must say that the exhibition of silence on the Ministerial benches is one of those things that bring discredit on Parliamentary institutions generally. We all want to see Parliament something which represents the earnest effort of all parties in trying to drag this country out of the terrible state in which it is. We have contributed to the best we know. Instead of taking us in that spirit in which we tackled the subjects that came before the House, we are met by indifference, a callous silence, and a cynicism which must re-act on those who are serious in the country in one way, and one way only, and that is that Parliamentary institutions are a farce and a fraud and a waste of time. The Appropriation Bill naturally afford an opportunity for an Opposition Party to sum up its criticisms of Government policy. One would at least expect to get intelligent criticism met with intelligent answers. Our criticism is that we find the Government wanting on all counts, that is, dividing the matter of government under two broad heads: one dealing with external affairs, and the other with internal affairs. On most counts we have severe criticism to make. So far as the judicial administration is concerned, that has been pretty fairly dealt with and fully gone into on the individual Estimates. On the economic side, the question of agricultural depression in the country and a lack of policy will be dealt with on another motion. But there is another side of the economic life of this country. The speeches from these benches have pretty fairly shown that there is very serious ground for very severe criticism of the Government. One has only to point to the conditions in the country in order to prove by the fruits that the tree such as it is, is not in a healthy condition, and that the Government has failed to do its duty.
Our criticism has not merely been of a destructive nature. We have departed from the usual policy in a great many countries of an Opposition making merely destructive criticism. There are very few Opposition parties which have gone so far as we have gone in making suggestions out of which the Government could have made political capital if they liked. We have in certain respects proved to have been right. Although motions put down and advocated by the Opposition Party were defeated in this House they have succeeded, and we may note as a victory the very establishment of this new Economic Committee which is about to come into existence. But we must make it perfectly clear that an Economic Committee will not be able to produce real results to the country. It is perfectly obvious that we are facing a winter with a paltry Vote for something like £30,000 for relief, a certain amount of which may be expended in subsidies in the building of houses. The sum of £250,000 has been allocated, but how much of that can be spent during the winter months when the weather and season are unfavourable for building? It will be a long time before that will produce results in the form of money in circulation.
On a point of order, that £250,000 has not yet been voted.
I did not catch the President's remark.
The Deputy, I think, is merely mentioning that in passing. He is not dwelling on it.
I was even more generous than I ought.
The Deputy can reserve that for a later time.
In any case, I take it in that matter that we are not going to have a case of broken faith. I am simply examining it and considering it from the point of view of how long it will be before there is any development in this matter, and before wages are circulating amongst the people as a result of this.
Some of it already.
Circulating amongst the people and reducing unemployment? I wish it were more. I am sure that the President does not suggest that the amount that is percolating is a really serious contribution to the reduction of unemployment.
We want at least 400 houses in Waterford, and there are 2,000 people unemployed there. We have criticised the Government because of its inaction and delay. If the Government last year had adopted this economic council it would now be in the position to know what it could do, and we would all now be in the position to make an advance to face the terrible winter the poor people are faced with. We have criticised their tariff policy. They have done nothing to build up the industries of the country, or very little, and the very things they have done have condemned them. The success which has been the result of their timid efforts, even in the matter of small things like furniture and the boot industry, is proof that if the same policy had been acted upon courageously and on a big scale this country would be in a different position to what it is. In connection with the building up of industries, we suggest there should be established a proper under-writing firm which would carry out the functions that well established under-writing firms do in London. A small firm has been established, but nothing has been done on a big scale which would go hand in hand with a policy of tariff protection. We suggested that a central bank should be established, but no knowledge has been shown by the Government of the attitude taken up by the authorities in England on the question of a central bank. It has come forward with no proposition to do what is taken as granted as commonplace by the authorities like Mr. Montague of the Bank of England.
If the policy which the Minister for Industry and Commerce mentioned is the policy adopted inside the British Commonwealth of Nations by Ireland, namely, the policy of sovereign and exclusive control, there is no indication that the Government has adopted the same policy in the matter of the economy of the country. If there were, the first thing he would do would be to establish a central bank. In a book, with the blessing as it were, of Mr. Montague of the Bank of England, one finds it stated as the ordinary accepted principles of guiding central banks the very principle we are looking for, namely, national safeguarding of the interests of the country as the source of the control of the credit of the other banks. So far from developing any policy on that question the Government has even failed to get the necessary information from the banks as to how much Irish capital is invested out of Ireland. After all, knowledge is the first step. We may get bank statistics, but we are groping blindly in the dark as to how much Irish money is from day to day deposited in the banks by the farmers and other people in the country how much of that is invested in Ireland, and how much invested in English bank undertakings? We are like a motor car the lights of which are gone out, and we are driving along at a good, hard speed and do not know what is in front of us. We want to get knowledge first before we can develop a scheme. What effort has been made to reduce prices in this country? We had a Commission upon the subject, but no effort has been made affecting the purchasing power of the people.
Turning to the other side of the Government policy, namely, as to external affairs, I would first like to say that Deputy Sheehy, with his usual eloquence, misunderstood the attitude of certain speakers on this side of the House. It would be a very serious charge indeed to make against anybody who spoke in favour of opening trade relations with Russia to suggest that they were in any way in sympathy with the irreligious activities in Russia, and it is a misapprehension which should not be allowed to pass without it being pointed out and contradicted. It need only be mentioned in order to make it clear, that it is perfectly obviously a gross and unfair comment on what has been said from this side of the House about opening trade relations with Russia.
As to the quotation by the Minister for Agriculture from Deputy Aiken's speech, I had myself an experience of what newspapers can do by making a mistake, and I mention it only in order that it may be put side by side with that alleged report of Deputy Aiken's speech. Yesterday evening I stated that it would be to the interest of England and of Ireland if Ireland were a neutral country, free and guaranteed. A certain daily paper in this country this morning reported me as saying exactly the opposite. I suppose if someone like the Minister for Agriculture were in America he might get the opportunity of attacking me under certain conditions, and building up a case against me under certain conditions, simply on the report of a newspaper like that. Anybody who has had any experience of propaganda must know that there comes a time when one gets tired of correcting misrepresentations.
I would like to return to the subject we were dealing with on the Estimates. In a general way we criticise the Government because it devotes almost its entire attention to its activities in the League of Nations and the Imperial Conference instead of adopting some big supreme principle which will actuate its policy, namely the declared policy of going for the complete unity and freedom of Ireland, and appealing rather to the public opinion of Europe and America, for the strength you will have inside any council, I do not care whether the League of Nations or anywhere else, will depend largely on the support you have generally from public opinion. Everyone knows the League of Nations is largely under the control of a few of the Great Powers, and the advance, even with the best intentions and best efforts, we may hope to make inside the League of Nations is small. Again, inside the Imperial Conference it is very difficult to see how we can get support and sympathy from most of the other colonies if we require it in this country.
We get a certain amount, but to look to it as a means of protecting us against any future attack from England is very futile. The other members of the Commonwealth are scattered; their sympathies are largely English. Australia is very nearly three-quarters English. South Africa—I am speaking of the white population—is something less than half English; and Canada must be, so far as effective public opinion is concerned, predominantly British. To depend upon these for protection or freedom is depending upon a broken reed, and is a very different thing from looking to those countries which will benefit by a neutral and free Ireland, and which will appreciate fully the difference between colonial autonomy and complete national independence.
We have very little security in this development of what is called coequality. In the past, England has adopted the policy of letting the Colonies have a free rein and pulling them up when it chooses to do so. The policy which preceded the conflict between England and America was such a policy. The colony of North America was left largely to itself, but with a change of Government there came a tightening up which was the beginning of war between America and England. It is a short-sighted policy to satisfy one's own mind that one is making any real, solid advance towards an independent Ireland so long as one has to rely purely on the atmosphere of Imperialism and the atmosphere of the colonial statehood. The advantage of adopting a policy like that is that it puts foreign affairs outside party politics. There is something in common for the whole country to look to, something that everyone feels is the right policy. I do not believe there is anyone in the Twenty-six Counties, and largely in the Six Counties, who does not, in some way or other, crave to have unity back again. It is extraordinary how one discovers in those who appear to be most opposed to the aspirations of Ireland how unconsciously they feel that the advance towards freedom would, to some extent, improve their own self-respect. In spite of what the Minister for Industry and Commerce said last night, guarantees of neutrality are valuable. The breaking of the guarantee of the neutrality of Belgium was perhaps the greatest weapon against Germany in the war.
It helped Belgium.
The breaking of the neutrality of Belgium helped another country, because when Germany was tempted to take the advantage of marching across Holland it had learned a terrible lesson through having attacked Belgium, and it did not do so. In Holland you get a lesson. Holland was there, and England or Germany could have got an enormous strategic advantage by landing there or marching across it. No country dared to do so, because they all saw that advantage in morale which had accrued to the Allies, owing to the fact that Germany broke the neutrality of Belgium. Ireland is in a stronger position than Holland because it is an island. Someone mentioned Denmark, but it is not an island, and has not got a Danish-America at its back to support and protect it; it has not a public opinion against which, if Ireland was once established as free, England would never dare to attack Ireland again. A policy put forward like that in a friendly manner to England might be more effective than if it were put forward in a hostile manner. It is true that men like Lloyd George, inspired with jingoism and opportunism, refused to entertain this claim because they do not want to lose the opportunity of using Ireland as a jumping-off ground in any war.
Again, one can look to European history and see what a short-sighted policy this is. Germany held Alsace-Lorraine for its own benefit and paid very heavily for it. Even Bismarck was not altogether in sympathy with that policy, and pointed out that by holding Alsace-Lorraine they were creating permanent grievances amongst their enemies, for which they would pay in the long run. The value of a common policy inspired by these ideas would be of enormous advantage to the country. It would lift the status of the country and would bring us closer to our real aspirations for freedom. I do not suppose it is likely that we are going to influence the Government in this matter. It is something which is outside their power, apparently, or else, is something to which they have become so hardened and indifferent that we might give up hope of getting such a common policy. On all these counts, both as to external affairs and in the internal government of this country, the present Government is found wanting; it is not merely found wanting by those who speak in this House, but it is found wanting by the farmers, the workers, and by the poor in the cities.
The courage of the Government in this debate, and the tribute which they have paid the Opposition, almost disarm criticism. Apparently they think that our replies to the speech which the Minister for Industry and Commerce is prepared to make on their behalf would be so trenchant, that he could not risk a reply. He feels that discretion in this case is the better course, and, so as to preclude any rejoinder to one of his usually polished speeches, he reserves to himself the right, the usual feminine right, of having the last word in the matter.
Does the Deputy want it?
No, I do not want it. I am perfectly prepared, after having listened to the speech of a responsible person—if there is still a responsible person left on the Government Benches—to reply to that speech, and to leave to another spokesman of the Government the right to reply to anything that may be said from these benches. We protest, and we are entitled to protest, at the Government making, as Deputy Mullins said, a circus or a farce of what is supposed to be a deliberative assembly. So far the Government have not uttered one word in justification of this measure. This is the Government's child, but it is something which is of very great importance indeed to the taxpayers, of whose money the Government is the custodian. This Bill contains only five clauses, but it proposes to deal with over £7,000,000 of the people's money: over £7,000,000 to be voted away for certain Services; and the Government, so far, in reply to the criticisms which have been advanced from these benches, have not said a single word.
On this Vote we ought to have a balance of £22,438,000 for Supply Services, and to this sum is added £4,315,000, which are also to be expended for the Central Fund purposes, making a total expenditure in the current year of public money, £26,753,000. The point I think the House is entitled to consider before it votes for the Second Reading of this Bill is to ask where is that money to come from? It is quite easy to spend £7,000,000 of the country's money, but where is it going to come from? Where is the Government going to get that money? In March last the Minister expected that he would get some twenty and a half millions of it from taxation. Last year, however, he only got £20,396,000 out of taxation, and at that time some of the taxes which he had imposed in the preceding year had already begun to yield a diminishing return. That related then, I think, only to the Excise duties, but this year it has become manifest in respect of practically every single tax imposed by the Minister for Finance, on behalf of the Government. Here are the figures for some of those taxes: Customs duties last year in the first seven and a half months brought in £4,261,000. This year, during the corresponding period, they brought in £4,427,000, but included in this year's figures are the proceeds of two new taxes which the Minister for Finance imposed in March last. There is the Sugar tax, from which he hoped to get an additional £200,000. There is the extended duty on tyres and motor vehicles, from which he hoped to get another £200,000. Altogether he hoped to secure in the twelve months £400,000.
Seven and a half months of that twelve months have gone, and the Minister by this time ought to have secured from this tax something like £300,000. I would like to point out that I am not discussing the failure of the Minister's Budget policy. What I am endeavouring to show to the House is this, that in view of the fact that the premises from which the Government and the Minister proceeded being apparently about to fail, the House is not justified in voting this money. The House is not justified in voting for this expenditure, because it is not going to have at the end of this year the wherewithal to meet it. I have, therefore, to show that this decline in revenue which is manifesting itself is general and universal and is likely to continue. For that reason, however, I have got to take these taxes more or less in detail. If the Customs duties were coming in at the same rate as they were coming in last year, the amount collected in respect of them up to this period would be something like £4,550,000. As a matter of fact they are £4,261,000. So that there is in these figures and in regard to that tax an apparent deficit of something like £290,000. So much for the Customs duties. That is one of the principal sources of revenue. The next is the Excise. Last year the Excise brought £4,205,000. This year it has brought only £3,925,000 up to the present. Contrasting the revenue collected up to the present with the revenue collected in the corresponding period last year, there is already a deficiency on this tax of something like £280,000. But in his Budget the Minister adopted an expedient of shortening the brewers' credit from three to two months in the hope of collecting in twelve months of this financial year the revenue that would normally accrue in thirteen months. He hoped by that to secure an extra £300,000 of money in this year, and that £300,000 should have been secured and should have been made manifest in the Exchequer returns in the second or third month of the year at the very latest. What is the position? Here, after seven and a half months have elapsed, we find that the revenue derived from that tax is £280,000 below what was derived from it last year. In order to evaluate the real deficiency we have to add to the £280,000 this sum of £300,000 extra revenue which the Minister forestalled and anticipated, a revenue that properly belongs to next year, and which, as I said, the Minister has forestalled for this year. These two together make the deficiency up to something like £580,000.
Estate Duties last year brought in £779,000. This year up to the present they have only yielded £637,000. There is a deficiency under that head of £142,000. Last year, Property and Income Tax brought in £2,088,000. This year up to date it has only yielded £1,645,000, a deficiency of £443,000. Excess Profits tax last year brought in £111,000. This year it has brought in £64,000, a deficiency of £47,000.
Last March the Minister budgeted to collect from the taxpayers £1,51,000 more than he did in the twelve months of last year. Up to date, he has failed to collect even what he secured last year, and the proceeds from the several sources on which he relied, so far from yielding him that excess, £1,151,000, are at the present moment yielding him £1,000,000—what he got last year. The Minister, on behalf of the Government, in order to meet some portion of the cost of services—not the whole cost— that you are asked to vote in this Appropriation Bill, said that he wanted to collect from the taxpayers an extra £1,151,000. He has failed, not only to collect that extra £1,151,000, but has failed to collect another £1,000,000 as well, so that we can estimate that the total deficiency on the sum mentioned in the Minister's Budget statement for this year will be something like £2,151,000. If we vote, therefore, for this Appropriation Bill, if we vote this £22,438,000 for these supply services— and we are already compelled by statute to make provision out of the taxpayers' money for an additional £4,315,000—what will be the financial position of this State at the end of this year and at the beginning of the next?
The Minister, if you remember his Budget statement, took out certain items totalling, I think, £2,235,000, classified them as abnormal expenditure, and said that they were going to be met by borrowing. Therefore, so far as the Budget position is concerned, we have already started off with an acknowledged deficit of £2,235,000, and we are now faced with the almost certain prospect of having to add to that another £2,151,000. In his Budget statement, as I said, the Minister classified certain items as abnormal. He proposed to meet the expenditure in regard to them by borrowing, but so far as £24,000,000 of that Budget statement was concerned, the items which went to make it up were items which—notwithstanding the plight in which he found himself, notwithstanding the fact that he had to put the best face he could on the matter to the country—he was unable to justify as abnormal. He was unable to come to the Dáil and make a case by saying: "Look, we must regard this expenditure as abnormal. We cannot meet it out of taxation. We must meet it by borrowing."
Is the Deputy not making a speech which he might make on the next Budget?
No. I am making a speech to show that we are not justified in passing this Appropriation Bill, and as we must take account for the future, we must visualise the result of our actions and the result of every vote which is cast in the Division lobbies, for this Bill——
I would like the Deputy to pay a little more attention to the Bill and a little less to the next Budget.
The Appropriation Bill and the Estimates have been, to some extent, based on the last Budget, or the last Budget has been based on the Estimates, and I am endeavouring to show what the next Budget will be like if we pass this Bill.
Might I suggest to the Deputy that everything we do has some relation to the Budget?
Exactly. Therefore, on every single legislative measure that is passed through this House we are entitled to ask ourselves what will be the general effect on the taxpayer.
The year after.
Certainly, the year after. I hope that by the time of next year's Budget there will be such a change of mind in the country that there will be a change of Government in this House.
And there is not much prospect for the successors of the present Government.
You will go back to Liverpool then.
And you will go back to the University.
We have got a word from the silent Deputy!
What about a word from the silent Ministers?
I was saying that to the deficiency of £2,235,000, which the Minister himself anticipated, there has to be added a further £2,151,000——
The Deputy ought to commence to deal with general policy.
The Deputy ought to deal with general policy.
I am dealing with general policy. I am dealing with the general policy of the Government, as expressed in this Appropriation Bill. I am going to show that the general policy of the Government will result in a deficiency at the end of this year of £4,386,000.
The Deputy must deal with this matter according to the judgement of the Chair and not in accordance with his own judgement.
Oh, I beg your pardon. When I make a statement I wish to document it properly. I wish to produce to the House figures which I hope will convince any impartial Deputy that this Bill is not one for which he can conscientiously vote, and I wish to put before Deputies as plainly as I can the consequences of voting for this Bill. I do not want them to go into either the Tá Lobby or the Níl Lobby blindfolded. Let them know what they are doing. If they vote for this Bill they are voting to create a deficiency on the present year's Budget of £4,386,000, and I am entitled to ask them, before they cast their votes to create that deficiency, how they propose to meet it. That is the question that I am putting to the Deputies on the Government Benches. If they vote for this Appropriation Bill, how are they going to meet the expenditure which they sanction when they vote for it? It will have to be met. If there is a deficiency of £4,386,000 on this year's Budget, over and above what we will have in the Revenue, somehow or another that deficiency will have to be provided next year. How is that going to be done? So far as £2,235,000 of it is concerned, we know that the Minister has already classified it as abnormal expenditure, and that he proposes to meet it by borrowing. We do not think that that is a justifiable course, but we have at the present moment no power to prevent it. But what of the balance— what of the other £2,151,000? That expenditure cannot be classified as abnormal. The Minister and the Governmen have already excluded it from that category. It is expenditure which they themselves admit, in so far as it is not devoted to any unusual purpose, in so far as it is recurring expenditure, is not abnormal expenditure. They declare that it is indispensable expenditure. It is expenditure, which, therefore, ought to be met out of the proceeds of taxation. Are the Deputies who are going into the Lobby to vote for the Second Reading of this Appropriation Bill going to declare by their votes that they wish the taxpayers to have an additional £2,151,000 of taxation imposed upon them next year? Is that the fate to which the Government is leading the country? Is that the fate to which Deputy Timothy Sheehy, who so eloquently defended the Government, is going to consign his constituents in West Cork? Is Deputy John Daly going to vote in that manner also?
I am afraid I am.
And is Deputy Carey, whose heart was bleeding for the widows and orphans the other night——
For John Bull.
Is he going to give a vote the inevitable consequences of which will be that next year the Minister for Finance, in whatever Government he sits, has got to impose another £2,151,000 upon the unfortunate taxpayers of this country? Deputy Shaw believes, I think, that the Betting Tax ought to be remitted. What chance has the Government next year of remitting the Betting Tax if Deputy Shaw votes for this Appropriation Bill? Then there is Deputy Alfred Byrne, and there is, or should be, Deputy Vincent Rice. They believe that the Excise duties—the duties on beer and spirits—ought to be reduced. What chance is there next year of a reduction in the Excise duties if Deputy Rice and Deputy Alfred Byrne vote for this Appropriation Bill and give the Government the majority which will enforce it? Then there is Deputy Anthony. He was the first, I think, to spring into the breach when the Government feared to defend themselves in this debate. The main burden of his speech was the sins of omission and commission of Fianna Fail. Well, of course, we do not regard Deputy Anthony as a typical Labour member. We think that he sits on the Labour Benches more by accident than by design. Every time I hear him he reminds me of an old definition in my Catechism about Purgatory, and I always think of Deputy Anthony as one of those politicians who regard the Labour Benches as a place or state of punishment where some statesmen suffer for a time before they join a Coalition Government.
But Deputy Anthony was very anxious that the Government should make an increased grant for unemployment, so far as his attitude towards this measure was expressed by his speech. I admit that he devoted very little attention to the Bill. I take it that Deputy Anthony is going to vote for this measure. He is anxious that there should be an increased grant for relief schemes this year, and I am afraid that an increased grant will be needed also next year for the same purpose. Deputy Anthony is very anxious that adequate provision should be made for widows' and mothers' pensions. If Deputy Anthony votes for this Appropriation Bill and thereby ensures that next year an additional burden of £2,151,000 will be imposed upon the taxpayer, not for new services, but to recoup money that was wastefully expended this year, what chance has he of getting an increased grant next year for relief schemes? What chance has his Party, or any Party in this country, of seeing that adequate provision is made for widows' and mothers' pensions?
To all of which I say Amen.
I hope that Deputy Anthony's prayer is a sincere one. I hope it will not be a mere Pharisaical Amen; that instead of honouring these sentiments with his lips, with his heart being far from them, he will carry that Amen into practical action, and that he will come into the Division Lobby with us and vote against this Bill.
I have just one other point to make, and I ask every Deputy to consider it. Can you possibly, if you vote for this measure, avoid imposing increased taxation next year? If you vote for this Bill next year you will have to impose taxation amounting to an additional 10 per cent. of practically every tax that is at present current. Can the country stand that? Can industry stand it? Can the shopkeepers stand it? Can the farmers stand it? Can the labourers stand it? Unless you can answer these questions in the affirmative, unless every Deputy in this House, speaking for his own particular class, can answer them in the affirmative, then they are not justified in voting for this Bill, which will inevitably entail that increased taxation if you pass it.
Is mo rádh a fhéadfainn a rádh mar fhreagra ar a bhfuil ráidhte ag Ristéard Anthony, Teachta Dála, acht nár bhfiú liom aon tsuim a chur i na chuid ráiméis. Chuir sé síos ar "phlúr cogaidh" nó "cáise cogaidh" nó adhbhar plaosctha éigin ar ar thug sé "geglinite," mianach nua éigin atá tagtha amach le goirid i gCorcaigh is dócha. Ar aon chuma, is iongantach an fonn troda atá ar mar fhear síothchána.
San mBille seo, tá cupla alt go mba mhaith liom tagairt do dhéanamh dóibh. Siad sin ailt a 45, 46, 47 agus 48. Baineann na h-uimhreacha so le Roinn an Oideachais. Nuair a bhí an meastachán fá choinne Roinn an Oideachais fá diosbóireacht annso, do labhair mé ar feadh tamaill fhada agus do chuir mé síos ar gach phointe. Do mhol mé an méid atá a dhéanamh ag an Roinn chun na scoileanna do Shaolú, agus táim ar aon tuairim agus ar aon intinn fós. Ach tá ranna eile nach bhfuil chó Gaedhealach agus nach bhfuil ag déanamh beirte dá réir. Tá sé maith go leor na páistí a bheith ag foghluinn na Gaedhilge sna scoileanna ach fhad agus nach ndeineann na ranna eile iarracht chun na daoine ag a bhfuil baint acu do Ghaolú is beag toradh atá air.
Taobh amuigh de cheist na teangan, is éigin an sprid ceart a bheith sna scoileanna. Ní shaoilim gur mar sin atá sé. Is eigin stair na tíre do mhuineadh do na páiste. Tá fhios agam gur éirigh cuid de na múinteoirí san bun-scoileanna as muineadh na staire ar fad. Agus ce'n fáth? Dubhairt múinteoir liom gur tháinig cigire isteach sa sgoil lá amháin agus gidh nár chuir sé i gcoinne múineadh na stáire ba léir a fhéiceáil nach rabh sé sásta leis na ceachta a bhí an múinteóir a thabhairt do na páistí. Ba cheart go dtuigfeadh gach páiste staid na tíre fá láthair agus go mbeadh sé in ánn ceisteanna a cuirtear air do fhreagairt mar—An bhfuil na condaethe uilig san Saorstát? Ce'n fá ná fuil? An náisiún Eire no bhfuil dhá náisiún inti ná "An b'fhuilían tír saor?" Tuigim go bhfuil deachrachtá ann ach ba cheart an sprid a bheith sna scoileanna chó maith leis an teangain. Is fíor é nach bhfuil na condaethe uile san Saorstát agus nach bhfuilimíd saor. Ba cheart go dtuigfeadh gach páiste an méid sin, i dtreó go ndéanfadh sé a dhícheall chun aontú do thabhairt chun críche sa tír agus í do shaorú. Ach níl cead ag an múinteorí ceacht mar sin do thabhairt. Tá fhios agam gur thug cigirí anuas ar múinteoir toisc go raibh a leithéid de cheacht a thabhairt acu. B'fhéidir go bhfuil athrú intinne tagtha ar an Aire le déanaí mar tá leabhar agam annso do scríobh M.J. McManus "Dublin Diversions" is teidiol do. Ar leathanach a 68 de'n leabhar san tá amhrán ina mínighthear cuid de stair na hÉireann. Deirtar ar bharr an leathanaigh sin go bhfuil an t-amhrán san molta i gcóir na mbun rang ins na scoileanna náisiúnta. Má's ag Aire an Oideachais atá sé, molaim an t-Aire, óir is ionmholta an t-amhrán é agus má's rud é nach ag Aire an Oideachais atá sé molta mholfainn dó é do mholadh. Tá líne nó dó ann a chuireanns amhras orm, mar ní dóigh liom go dtaithneochaidis leis an Aire.
Is iomadh Coimisiún agus Coiste do cuireadh ar bun chun ceist an Oideachais do scrúdú. Tá fhios agam go raibh dhá Chomhdháil ann chun cláracha i gcóir na mbun-scoileanna agus na meadhon-scoileanna do leagadh amach agus rinne siad obair mhaith, gan amhras. Cuireadh coiste ar bun mar gheall ar cheist na bpinsean agus thainig toradh maith asta. Ach tá a lán le déanamh fós.
Ba cheart cúinn a bheith soléir in ár n-intinn mar gheall ar an gcuspóir atá romhainn. Cad is Oideachais ann? Cad is minn linn na páistí d'fháil as Oideachais? Go mbeadh siad in ánn a saoghal do chaitheamh i gceart in a dtír féin. Ní shaoilim go bhfuil an ceacht san dhá mhúineadh sna scoileanna ar chor ar bith. Is minic a deirtear linn gur féidir linn a lán a fhoghluim ó'n Danmharc. Is fíor san. Tá "folk schools" annsin agus isé an rud atá scríobhtha ós comhair na ndoras acu na—ní chun dochtúirí níos fearr do dhéanamh no chun saor cloiche níos fearr do dhéanamh ach chun Danair níos fearr do dhéanamh. Ní dó go bhfuil an ceacht san a mhúineadh sna scoileanna annso. Ba cheart fosta do na múinteoirí a chur in a luighe ar an páistí chó tábhachtach agus atá sé an fhírinne d'innsint igcomhnuí—is cuma cad a thiocfas as. Is gá tréithe na ndaoine do neartú. Is minic a scríobheas duine atá ar lorg pinsin tsean-aoise chugam agus uaireannta cuireann sé chugam faisnéis fá mhionn agus ainmneacha beirte no triúr léi. Nuair a théidhim go dtí Oifig an Chustuim no oifig éigin eile, bíonn innsint eile ar an sgéal. Is minic a bhíonn dearg-bhréág fá mhionn sa bhfaisnéis. Is náireach an rud san. Ba chóir tréithe na bpáistí do láidriú agus do neartú.
Mar gheall ar Oideachas na gCéard, níl mórán déanta fós. Tuigim gur ceist mhór é agus nach féidir molta an Choimisiúin do chur í bhféidhm ar a bponnc. Isé an locht is mó atá ar an scéim oideachais seo nach bhfuil baint idir an teagasc agus saol na ndaoine. Is cuimhin liom uair a thainig cigire isteach i gColáiste in a raibh mé ag teagasc. D'fhiafruigh sé dhíom cadé an barramháil a bhí agam ar Oideachas na gCéard. Dubhairt mé leis gur beag é an meas a bhí agam air. D'fhiafruigh sé dhíom cé'n fáth. Dubhairt mé nach raibh aon bhaint idir an oideachas san agus saol na ndaoine, nach raibh mórán dul ar-aghaidh air ar feadh 25 bliana agus gur droch-chomharthe é beirt chigire as gach triúr a thagadh annsin a bheith as Alban no as Sasana—tar éis 25 bliana de'n Oideachas san. D'iarrfainn ar an Rialtas rud éigin do dhéanamh chun an cheist sin do shocrú —có-cheangailt do bheith idir na mbun-scoileanna agus na meadhnon-scoileanna agus scoileanna na gCéard—agus d'iarrfainn orra fosta socrú a dhéanamh chun stáir na tíre do mhúineadh sna sgoileanna, idtreo go dtuigfidh na páistí an fáth go bhfuiltear ag iarraidh orra an Ghaedhilg d'fhoghluimn. Má dintear san, dhéanfadh siad iarracht níos láidre chun an teanga d'fhoghluim ná mar tá siad a dhéanamh in aiteacha éigin fá láthair.
It certainly is not the £7,108,323 that would drive me into the Opposition Lobby to the Government when voting on this Bill. It is because I am convinced that the people from whom this money is extracted do not get the proportionate value that we in this House would expect them to get. If that money were definitely invested for the development of national industries and the progress of the ideals of the Irish people, as we were led to believe, and were educated into believing, those ideals were prior to 1916, and as approved after we had passed from 1916 to 1921, there would be no objection to this Bill, from these benches. If I could have at this moment a copy of a speech delivered to this House only a few days ago, I would echo it word for word, and ask the House to accept it as representing the primary objection that individuals on this side of the House, at any rate, have to this Bill. I refer to the speech delivered by the leader of this Party—the leader of the Opposition. It was delivered on the Vote for the upkeep of the establishment of the Governor-General. I would frankly say that the majority of this House were convinced privately in their hearts that in that speech was contained the principle that divides the two great parties in this House. It is that principle that will divide them when they enter the Lobby on this Bill. It is that principle that brought the assistance of representatives of the Party who occupy two benches on the seats on my immediate right—who brought their assistance in the times when it was necessary to establish that principle.
My objection to this Bill is not so much to the money, because I would be prepared to give an additional Vote to increase the amount of cash if I could see that money being expended towards giving the people who have always stood in this country for the best traditions of the Irish people a chance, and if it were even invested in industry to supply employment for the plain people of Ireland who have always stood for nationality. The money is certainly of no tremendous consequence to me. It is the value to a great extent that counts. It is because I think the money at the present time is not spent consistently with that principle that I am opposed to this Bill. In every Department of the Government the same expenditure continues in the same inconsistent manner and contrary to that principle.
Recently one or two questions were asked as to whether this House would have an opportunity of discussing the Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor. We will not have an opportunity of discussing that Report if we do not have it now. To my mind I am entitled, at any rate, to criticise it, not in detail, but from the general policy point of view, since its expenses come within the Vote on this Bill. The origin of amalgamation of unions dates back, probably, to somewhere about 1918, and at the first opportunity that any section of the movement which originated that idea had of doing anything practicable, we have it in the result of that Commission. If there is an individual in this House who can stand up and tell me that it is nothing but trying to make good on something that has been raised on a foundation which was definitely established in 1918 as rotten. I do not know exactly where I am standing, at any rate from the point of view that I was educated in from 1918. That Commission has been put under the authority of an individual who has been absolutely steeped—I do not say it in any insulting way——
Before the Deputy goes any further, I wish to say that I do not think he would be at all in order in discussing the Report or the personnel of the Commission. The Deputy would be in order, I think, in criticising the Government for its action or inaction on that Report, but I do not think he should proceed to criticise the Report itself or any member of the Commission.
I will confine myself to saying that the Report has been influenced by an ideal that has been controlled by long association with the British Poor Law rule in Ireland. Beyond that I have nothing to say, except that all Ireland objects, I think, as much as the people of Cork objected, to a Deputy of the Government Party describing the poor who were treated at an hospital in Cork as paupers. As long as the Local Government Department or this Executive intends to administer the Poor Law in Ireland and still attempt to keep the British stigma on the poor by calling them paupers, you will find objection from these benches.
I am sure the Deputy is referring to me, and I would ask him what is the stigma in the word "pauper"? Is it not merely the Latin for a poor person or a desstitute person?
It was a slip anyhow, Doctor Hennessy.
Anyway, it was a British translation that they tried to inflict upon the poor of this country. It is to our credit that since the amalgamation, when there was a body elected by people who did not represent the majority opinion in this House we revolutionised what was once called Cork Workhouse, and is now the County Home Hospital and which is a credit not alone to Cork, but to Ireland. It is very hard to enter a general discussion like this without answering, at any rate, some of the references that have come from Deputies in this House who are defending the Bill.
I would like to say, just in passing, a word to my friend, and distinguished colleague from Cork. I was certainly very disappointed that he took on this Bill another opportunity to cast aspersions on this Party that I do not think came within the limit of the £7,401,000. I noticed with a certain amount of pleasure, however, that to-night he forgot the petrol tin. But I might take this opportunity of asking him—if every member of the Party on this side is a gunman—to throw his own memory back to a day when certain people in Cork had almost heart disease, when there were individuals who were in the last line of trenches in "the Retreat from Mons" and when people realised one fact, that the parapet of Brian Boru Bridge was very low and one of the gentlemen was very tall.
Going generally into the policy of the administration of the different Departments, I had occasion to make a reference by way of question to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. I asked if a preference were given to a particular class of people in Cork over those who sell stock in the English markets. The Parliamentary Secretary answered me—I believe truthfully, because there is a considerable improvement since—that it was not the policy of the Department that that particular profession should get a preference. In passing, I would say that if he would make inquiries for say twelve months previously he would find out that there did exist in the General Post Office in Cork a preference for the profession I referred to.
There is at this moment an anxiety throughout countries in Europe with regard to the development of their harbours from the aerial transport point of view. I think anybody who will examine it will find that in Cork Harbour there are greater facilities for air transport than there is in any other harbour in the Saorstát, not alone from the aerial point of view, but for ordinary shipping.
With regard to the criticisms of Haulbowline, I would like to say that there is no objection to any money being spent, as far as I am concerned, on Haulbowline, provided we are convinced that there is value for it, or that at any future date there is likely to be value given to the nation for the money expended. Rightly or wrongly, it has been insinuated, and it has been mentioned on more than one occasion at meetings of the one or two public bodies that exist in Cork that there were people who negotiated with the appropriate Department of the Government for either a lease or a purchase of that property. There is a belief that not alone is the lease limited, but that there is some other condition as regards evacuation in time of necessity— say a war in which England might be concerned. That may be right or wrong, and it would be well, once and for all, to have a statement that such an agreement does not exist.
It does not exist. There is no such limit.
That has been stated more than once. I was very glad to hear the Minister contradict it. Another point of dissatisfaction is the method of contract in respect of public Boards. I am not denying that tenders are advertised for in the usual way, but there is a certain amount of suspicion. People tendering can get no information even as to the price of the lowest tender, and it is being insinuated in some cases that tenders are being accepted at greater prices than some of the lowest tenders sent in. I do not think there could be any legitimate objection to the publishing of three or four of the lowest tenders. It would give contractors the consolation, at any rate, that they were beaten fairly and squarely.
To my mind, in no Department of the Government is there demonstrated more clearly the lack of real charity, which the Irish people have always boasted of and have been credited with, than in the Department dealing with old age pensions. There was a period in Ireland, and it is not much more than seventy years ago, when there was no compulsory registration of births. You have a considerable number of people right throughout Ireland who cannot prove their birth. They can state that somebody else was born two years before them and that that person was over seventy years—they can supply sufficient information that to my mind would convince at any rate any sympathetic person, but it is of no use to them. For this work you must have men who understand the Irish poor. The Irish poor are not the same as the poor of other nations. They are poor not by lack of enterprise or of willingness to work. Take the position at the present moment. You have men who two or three years ago were in comfortable positions and who, if the present unemployment continues, will be very poor in the near future. There is no use in trying to introduce British old age pension methods in Ireland.
As regards the collection of revenue in respect of dutiable goods, whether by rail or sea, there is an extraordinary delay. There is no fixed rule. There may be a percentage fixed, but whether that is governed by quality, analysis or the opinion of the officer as to the actual value of the goods, I do not know.
I heard a most ridiculous case the other day of a child who got a present from her mother of a two-shilling box of chocolates. She got a notice from the Post Office, and when she went there she was asked to pay 4/-. She came back again and was asked to pay 3/-, and in the end she felt as if she would do anything to get the box of chocolates from her mother, purely from a sentimental point of view. The result of the whole thing was that she did not get the box at all. That is the position of most of the Departments.
Now we come to the Civic Guards. There is no justification for the actions quite recently of individuals who go around in plain clothes. I do not know what they call them, and I do not like to libel the Guards by calling them Civic Guards.
We had all that on the Gárda Síochána Estimate.
And now we are getting an estimate of the Gárda Síochána.
As regards the administration generally, from the local government point of view, we welcome the small attempt—we hope it will be a bigger attempt after the Report Stage of the Bill—to bring back popular representation instead of the principle of commissioners. The principle on which commissioners were appointed is certainly not a matter, I think, that you would allow me to debate. I will say, however, that grants are being continually given to public bodies at the present moment under the control of commissioners, while they are being kept from bodies on which there still are public representatives. Everywhere you will find that there is all the time a considered policy of paring down the individual who is attempting to live on a small salary. The policy of the Government in every Department is that the individual who has a big income should have that income increased, while as regards the man with the small wage, cut him down. That is not the policy that was anticipated when the people were making efforts to establish a National Government in Ireland. When we have a basis—and some people boast of this as a basis— on which we will get the complete independence of Ireland, then I hope to Heaven that when that day arrives there will be people here in power who will be sufficiently educated to realise that freedom in name counts as nothing; that it must be freedom with all the principles and all the traditions of the Irish people.
One notable absentee from the Dáil during this debate is the Minister for Finance—the Minister who is in charge of the finances of the country. Throughout the discussions on the Estimates the procedure adopted was that the Minister responsible for particular Estimates dealt personally with his own Department. The Ministers had at their disposal, and rightly so, the heads of each Department concerned, so that in the event of any criticism being offered or any question being asked which a Minister might not be in a position to reply to, the officials in attendance could provide him with the necessary information. To-day, when this Appropriation Bill was taken up, a Bill covering, as it does, all the Estimates, and in connection with which the Minister from previous experience must have known that the question of policy would likely be considered, we find that the Minister is not here, nor are any of the officials of his Department here. To me it is quite clear that either no discussion was expected, or, if it was, certainly no information was to be given to Deputies. As Deputies on these benches have already pointed out, possibly we will be treated to a speech from the Minister for Industry and Commerce dealing with matters introduced by various Deputies. I am sure it would not be fair to suggest that the Minister for Industry and Commerce should be made responsible for the Minister for Finance and should be asked to give explanations in regard to the numerous queries put forward by Deputies here.
In this Appropriation Bill there is an item referring to the Governor-General and the upkeep of his establishment. As far as I could understand the discussion on the Estimates, it was made fairly clear that the position of the Governor-General could be dispensed with if the Government so desired, or they could so alter it as to reduce considerably the expenditure in the upkeep of the establishment. It is interesting, if one takes the trouble to calculate, what this expenditure means. On the face of it, the expenditure of £32,000 per year for the upkeep of the establishment might not appear very much in comparison with a total expenditure of something like £24,000,000. I admit it seems almost negligible, and to some Deputies it may seem rather a small point to labour. On the other hand, we have a very serious position confronting us with regard to housing accommodation, not alone in the cities, but in the country generally.
Notwithstanding all the pressure from various parts of the House, the Government has not been able to provide more than £250,000 for the coming year to wind up housing schemes on foot. That amount of money covers the erection of a certain number of houses. Let us, for argument's sake, realise that where expenditure exceeds income you must of necessity borrow to make up your deficiency and keep your affairs straight. Each time you borrow it will cost you something in the nature of interest and sinking fund. Let us agree that 8 per cent. would be a fair amount on which one could borrow money, providing 3 per cent, for sinking fund and 5 per cent, for interest. The capital would be repaid in twenty-five years. I do not know whether the Minister will dispute that figure; it is merely for the purpose of illustration. It is reasonable to assume that could be done on that basis, £32,000 per year, representing sinking fund and the payment of interest over a period of twnety-five years, means that you would have repaid £400,000. I consider that would be a very healthy addition to the housing proposition. It would be a big step forward if we could add even another £100,000 to the £250,000 provided. Originally £200,000 was provided, and after great efforts in the House this was increased to £250,000.
One can realise the value of money in the country, especially at the present time, and one can see the ridiculous position of paying money which brings no real value to the country. It may be argued that the Governor-General is symbolical of something or other, but I consider that £32,000, which could be better utilised in the fashion that I have suggested—utilised usefully in the interests of the people—is a rather high figure to pay for any symbol. It is certainly a very dear symbol for the country to shoulder. As far as I can calculate, the £250,000 voted for housing would cover the building of something like 2,500 houses. If we had not the Governor-General's establishment we could have another 5,000 houses, and that would go a long way towards relieving the situation. The building of 5,000 houses would give much-needed employment. It would be reproductive work. The houses would be a great benefit to the area in which they would be built. Notwithstanding the possibilities in that direction, I do not suppose we will be given any explanation regarding the upkeep of this very expensive symbol which, if the present Government so desired, could be changed. It is not actually the sum of £32,000 that matters; it is the use to which that money could otherwise be put.
I believe if the Government faces the situation seriously and if they make an effort to realise what they are heading for, they will attempt to do what some Government succeeding them will have to do. Something drastic will have to be done to cut down expenditure, and efforts should first be directed to cutting down the expenditure that means nothing to the country. The £250,000 that is being spent on the building of 2,500 houses will mean, on the basis of a 3 per cent. sinking fund, 5 per cent. interest to the people who lend the money, that you would have, roughly, £20,000 per year to pay back. I do not say that my particular argument has any special value. What I say may be wrong, and if it is proved to me that I am wrong I will bow to superior wisdom.
We are considering now an Appropriation Bill which relates to the balance of an expenditure of £24,000,000. It has been definitely stated that in the spending of this money we are again heading for a position where we will exceed our revenue and where we will have to borrow. My point is that there are certain considerable sums of money being spent which serve no useful purpose to the country and are not of a reproductive nature. Large sums are being spent in a fashion that no one can find excuse for. It is not to relieve hardship, and it is not to save the country from any special scourge that has arisen which might necessitate some expenditure of money and which, because of its special nature, might not be reproductive.
The House, and the people who have to provide the money, are entitled to some explanation, and if they are going to get any explanation from the Minister for Finance it should be given at this stage, when this has been pointed out and has not been refuted so far. They are, at least, entitled to some expression from the Minister as to what his policy is going to be. I consider that we are entitled to know whether what we say is correct, and if it is correct, what is the Minister's attitude in connection with it. If our contentions are wrong, I consider that it would be very wrong for a Minister or the Government to allow the accusations to go forth and be taken by the people as true if they are not. On the other hand, if they are, and if no message of hope goes out from the Government as to what they intend doing to stop this state of affairs, I consider that not only will it mean hopelessness, but that it will bring about a feeling of depression and pessimism—that it will be hard to face a further financial year with any optimistic view whatever.
I do not wish to go through the items. I do not suppose I am considered of sufficient importance to be replied to by the Minister, but other Deputies have given more concrete cases and more important facts. All I say to the House is that there is a simple calculation for them, and let them think it over. I put this question to Deputy J. X. Murphy as a banker: Is it unreasonable to say that £32,000 per year paid to a bank would enable a person to get £400,000 to do whatever he likes with? That is the sum that we are paying every year for the upkeep of the Governor-General's establishment. If the Government cannot face the complete abolition of that establishment, at least, according to this, they can cut down a great deal of the expenditure, and if they got £200,000 for building houses out of the saving on that Department, I would say they were making an attempt to go in the right direction. If Deputies who are more capable of dealing with figures and matters of this kind would tackle other Estimates and save the country from the expenditure of money which means nothing to it in the shape of value, this discussion would be of some use.
It being now 10.30 p.m. the debate stood adjourned.