took the Chair.
Private Deputies Business. - Oireachtas (Payment of Members) (No. 2) Bill, 1928—Second Stage.
At the moment I do not want to express any opinion as to the utility or otherwise of a Seanad or a Second Chamber in this or, indeed, in any country. That, I submit, would be importing into this discussion a question which will have to be faced up to at another time in this country and, perhaps, in other countries too. My chief reason for rising this evening is to refer to some of the suggestions thrown out by some members of the Fianna Fáil Party. In speaking to this motion, Deputy Thrift stated that as a matter of fact the course that Deputy Tierney was adopting was a much more desirable way of proceeding; in other words, that he was prepared to accept Deputy Tierney's amendment in substitution for his proposal. So far as the attitude of Deputy Thrift is concerned, it is to me very understandable. But I would also suggest that before either Deputy Thrift withdrew his motion, or Deputy Tierney proceeded to deal with his amendment, that Deputy Tierney should at least have made a case for his amendment.
I feel myself in sympathy to a certain extent with many of the expressions that fell both from Deputy Tierney and from Deputy Thrift, as well as those that fell from Deputy Lemass. But what I am mainly concerned with is the contradictions that appear in the printed statements on our Agenda, in the Official Reports, and the public utterances of the members of that Party at cross-roads and at public platforms throughout the country. From time to time we hear great solicitude professed by Deputy Lemass and those associated with him, for the working-class people of this country, frequently referred to as the plain, common people. The plain, common people with a capital P, a capital C, and at the end a capital P. We have in the Official Reports the speeches of Deputy Lemass in which he states that he and his Party have decided to support the Bill, whilst in the next breath he tells the House that the working-man who becomes a member of the Dáil or Seanad is practically compelled to devote all his time to it and is not in a position to find any source of income to augment the allowance he receives here. I cannot square those two statements. Either the plain, common people of this country are worthy of support, or they are not. If the plain, common people of this country are to be appealed to at election times, surely any of the common or plain people are entitled to occupy any position of honour in this State, without a certain amount of financial loss, at any rate.
We have also a statement made, according to the Official Reports, by Deputy Flinn, who said: "According to Deputy O'Connell" (who is referred to by Deputy Flinn as "this man") "who does not belong to the leisured classes, who does not belong to the wealthy classes, but who does belong to a class of which there is a very small proportion in this country—those who have the wealth of the world. ...." Am I to take it from that that this is a cheap, a very cheap, sneer at the national teachers of this country? The "leisured and wealthy classes"! The national teachers of this country are to be sneered at because they have but recently emerged from a form of slavery and because they are now paid a living wage, and nothing more than a living wage. For that they are to be sneered at as the leisured or wealthy classes of this country. I am wondering whether these statements would be made on a public platform at any time, now or in the future. We were also told that in the Seanad to-day there were no Labour men, in the real sense of the term. We were told that they were of the leisured classes, and that no genuine Labour man would seek election to the Seanad or desire representation there. Let me say in answer to that second cheap sneer that of the six Labour members in the Seanad, two only are persons who have other means of livelihood or have any emoluments. Four of those Labour Senators are men who had to resign their positions of emolument when they entered the Seanad. The same is true of every Labour Deputy here, with possibly one or two exceptions. The same is true of every Labour man in the Oireachtas, with those one or two exceptions. I want to know if that is the official attitude of Fianna Fáil towards the plain, common people, and the sons of the plain, common people of this country? Personally I expected better than that; I expected to find better appreciation of the plain, common people of this country than to find Deputies indulging in cheap sneers at the workers of this country, the national teachers and others, who are told now that they are no longer workers, but members of the "leisured and wealthy classes."
I am opposing this amendment for the reasons indicated by Deputy O'Connell. No case has been made for the amendment, any more than a case has been made for the original proposal made by Deputy Thrift. As I have already said, the time may come in the near future when we may have to consider the whole position in relation to a Second Chamber—whether it is desirable to continue a Second Chamber in existence or not. Then perhaps we may approach the question from a different angle. But, so long as the Second Chamber is embodied in our Constitution, we shall, as Labour representatives, as the direct representatives of the plain, common people, as representatives, perhaps, of that leisured and wealthy class of national teachers, continue to seek and demand representation both in the Dáil and Seanad, and I hope with a measure of success.
I am also anxious to know will the Fianna Fáil Party, or Deputy Thrift's Party, or Deputy Tierney's Party, or any other party, proclaim their open hostility to the ambitions of the working classes in this country at their public meetings, and not seek, by the subtleties of reasoning which they have used, to involve many of their issues before the common plain people of the country, but come out in plain and understandable language and tell the people without any reservation what they stand for. It is only in keeping with the psychology represented in the official Opposition that they should now declare their hostility to the ambitions of the working classes. When possibly there is agreement, or a rapprochement, between certain elements in Fianna Fáil and certain elements in Cumann na nGaedheal— elements which I believe are present in both Parties—
I think the Deputy ought not to pursue that any further, and ought to keep to the amendment.
I am endeavouring to do so. When these elements have been brought together, perhaps through incidents such as this—
The Deputy ought to keep to the amendment.
——we of the Labour Party will know whom we are up against. There is, undoubtedly, an understanding between many Deputies in the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and the Fianna Fáil Party, and I am firmly convinced that the attitude taken up by Deputy Lemass and Deputy Flinn is one which, perhaps, will make an appeal to certain members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. (Deputies: "No, no.") I am glad to hear "No, no," from some Deputies. So far as Deputy Thrift's Bill is concerned, and so far as the amendment of Deputy Tierney is concerned, neither one Deputy nor the other has made any case either for the proposal or for the amendment. For the reasons, therefore, that I have indicated, I intend to oppose the amendment.
I wish to ask Deputy Anthony if he will be good enough to inform the House what proportion of Labour representatives, either in the Seanad or Dáil, were at the time of their election to either House placed in official positions in the Labour movement? What proportion came from the workshop or the factory?
Or the publichouse?
Or the publichouse? What proportion came from the rank and file of the common people, which Deputy Anthony gets up to talk about?
Ninety-seven per cent., to be accurate.
This has nothing to do with the amendment.
It has to do with the statement which Deputy Anthony has made. I challenge him to deny that 97 per cent. of the Labour representatives, both in this House and in the Seanad, were, prior to their election, placed in sheltered positions?
Who placed them there?
The machinery which they themselves built up.
The workers put them there.
Perhaps it would be no harm if I pointed out that there is nothing, either in the Bill or in the amendment, about Labour representatives, and I am not going to listen to one word more about them.
I submit that there has been an unfair attack, or rather a misrepresentation, by Deputy Anthony with regard to our attitude on this question, and I think that it is only fair that I should be allowed to express my views.
Both sides have been allowed to express their view on the matter and I will not hear any more about it.
I have made the point which I wanted to make and the House can investigate the truth of the two statements. So far as Deputy Anthony's comment on the elements within this Party is concerned, I should like to remind him that the Seanad elections proved that there are also elements within the Labour Party, and that the best element was defeated in that election.
The Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy Flinn has made a fairly decent attempt to follow the very undesirable line laid down by Deputy Flinn when he spoke last Friday. Deputy Flinn, in my opinion, very unnecessarily dragged my name into the discussion on this particular motion and amendment, and in such a way as to prove quite conclusively to me, at any rate, that he misunderstands, deliberately or otherwise, the position which I occupy as a Labour representative in this House. Deputy Flinn, in speaking about leisured positions which members of this Party occupy, asked the question: "Would Deputy O'Connell be prevented from going into the Seanad? Would he have to leave his job? Would Deputy Davin? Mind, I am not attacking any of them in this manner, but they have other means of livelihood." I think I am entitled to explain the position which I occupy in this House. I would not dream of doing so were it not for the reflection which I think Deputy Flinn has endeavoured to cast upon me, and the misrepresentation which he has attempted to apply to me and to the position which I occupy. Before I ever came into the House I was the Irish representative of the Railway Clerks' Association of Great Britain and Ireland on the Executive Committee of that Association.
Is this by way of personal explanation?
It is. I think I am entitled to remove the misapprehension which has been created by the insinuation which Deputy Flinn has made in that question.
You are helping to keep English Unions operating in this country.
I am proud to admit that I am still a member of that same organisation, and that I occupied every position of honour which could be given to me by the members of that Association before I came in here. At any rate, Deputy Cooney knows well that at a particular period I had to make application for permission to attend the executive meetings of that organisation. When I applied for leave with loss of pay it was refused, and I fought and won the right from the company with which I am employed to attend executive meetings on leave with loss of pay. I attend this House to-night by sacrificing a day's pay. I wonder how many Deputies in the Fianna Fáil Party who are solicitors, barristers, etc, suffer the loss which I suffer in order to attend properly to my duties here?
I think the Deputy ought to leave it at that.
You have your job if you lose your seat.
In other words, I am nominally in the employment of the railway company. I suppose Deputy Cooney is not employed by the same publican by whom he was employed before he came into the House.
That is worthy of Deputy Davin.
The speech of Deputy Anthony was the most amusing production I have listened to since I came into the House. Whatever bee he has in his bonnet he seems to be called upon to give an elaborate defence of the Irish Labour Party in the Dáil against the attack of the Fianna Fáil Party. He states inter alia that the plain people of the country are entitled to occupy any position of honour in this State without financial loss. Nobody has ever disputed that. Nobody in this Party has ever disputed the right of the humblest citizen or individual to attain to the premier position of honour or importance in the State. Deputy Anthony, by using phrases of that nature, which will probably appear in the papers to-morrow, seeks, whether deliberately or not, to misrepresent the attitude of this Party to what he describes as the plain people of the country. In our experience of public boards recently we have often found the much discussed and much-abused plain man's son, the poor man's child, and the long-suffering plain people, used for propaganda purposes. I think that the long-suffering, plain people have been crucified in a manner in which they were never crucified before in Deputy Anthony's speech to-night.
The plain people will not suffer very much if Deputies keep to this amendment.
Deputy Anthony referred to Deputy Lemass's speech at the introduction of this Bill and said he was surprised that Deputy Lemass should have taken up the attitude he did. I am not going to defend Deputy Lemass from the attacks of Deputy Anthony; Deputy Lemass is far better able to do that himself. There was one paragraph in the speech of Deputy Lemass that Deputy Anthony forgot to quote, which he would have found on the same page: "We think that if the Seanad could possibly at any time serve a useful function in the government of this State then its members could be provided with an allowance which would make it possible for the poorest member of this community to fulfil all the functions of membership." That expresses, I think, the attitude of the Fianna Fáil Party towards the statement of hostility and all that sort of thing by Deputy Anthony. He wants us to tell the people off public platforms what we stand for. Deputy Anthony is well aware from the speeches of this Party in the House and outside, what this Party stands for in relation to the working classes.
Your votes in the county councils prove that.
You will see my vote in the county council given yesterday. Deputy Anthony is familiar with the declarations of the leaders of this Party as to the duty of the State to provide work for the people of the working classes, while Deputy Anthony and his Party are supporting a Government that denies that duty and always opposes it.
What exactly does Deputy Mullins mean by that?
What I mean by that statement is that—since Deputy O'Connell seems to be so obtuse as not to understand—this Party of which I am a member has definitely declared time after time that it is the duty of the modern State to provide work for the people. The Government in power here does not accept that view of the position, and they have declared it time after time. Yet Deputy Anthony's Party has consistently supported that Government.
That is absolutely untrue.
It is absolutely true.
It is absolutely untrue, and Deputy Mullins ought not to say it. He knows it is untrue.
He is muddle-headed.
Deputy Anthony's Party have consistently supported the Government Party.
That is absolutely untrue.
He is suffering from loss of memory. Let him look at the division lists to-night.
This Bill is very desirable at the present moment when the Minister for Finance is looking all round for economies. It might be much better if he made these economies at the expense of a useless Second Chamber rather than at the expense, if the Press is to be believed, of the night schools in the various cities. I hope Deputy Tierney's amendment will not be carried, and that the House will give its support to the Bill as it stands.
What Party is supporting the Government now?
We do not know what side the Government is going to take.
Who started it? Send for the man who refused to resume the debate.
I think the mistake is that we are taking a motion made by a certain Deputy much too seriously. This debate began by a series of championships of one Deputy by another which developed ultimately, as practically every debate does develop ultimately, to the point at which Deputy Anthony stands up to chide the Fianna Fáil Party for their lack of devotion to the plain common people of Ireland. I do not think that the speech of Deputy Anthony is at all going to make the plain common people suffer in the terrible manner suggested by Deputy Mullins, because, fortunately, the plain common people of Ireland have not had to listen to that speech and to endure it as we have had. But we who know Deputy Anthony, and know his little weakness, remember how a former Anthony sacrificed the world and a throne for the sake of his devotion to not the most beautiful cause in the world, and we know that very often Deputy Anthony feels the same sort of devotion to a worthy gentleman who sometimes sits opposite that his illustrious predecessor did to the president of that particular Egyptian State. Therefore, we do not worry very much about what he says.
But to get back, we are opposed, as Deputy Lemass laid down, to the Seanad as a whole because we do not believe that the Seanad discharges any useful functions in this State. As we do not think it serves any useful purpose we do not feel that we should be called upon or that the people should be called upon to support it. For that reason and because it goes a certain way with us even if it does not go the whole way we are compelled by virtue of our previous declarations of antagonism to the Seanad as at present constituted, and because of the purposes for which we believe it was founded, to vote for Deputy Thrift's Bill and to support it—but only to that extent. We realise in doing that, that our position may be somewhat ambiguous. We realise that we may lay ourselves open to the charge laid against us by Deputy O'Connell that we are trying to restrict the membership of this assembly to a certain class in this country who have the leisure and the wealth that will enable them to attend it. I think that is very unfair. That is not our attitude at all. If we believed there was any place in the constitution of this State for a Seanad, that it had any proper functions or that it was possible for it to do any proper work, then we would adopt the principle which Deputy Lemass also mentioned in his speech: we would say that every class and section of this community should be represented there, and represented in such a way as would enable them to perform their functions as members of that assembly in a proper manner. But we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the present Seanad has not, under the present Constitution, any real, essential function in this State. We cannot shut our eyes to that fact and, therefore, we do not feel we would be justified in allowing an opportunity for reducing that wasteful expenditure which the maintenance of it entails to pass and for that reason we support, much against our will, Deputy Thrift's Bill.
I am not prepared to support Deputy Thrift's proposal, because I think the time is not opportune for the final consideration of salaries of the members of the Seanad. I believe that the method of election of candidates for the Seanad adopted at the last election cannot continue, and I believe that ultimately the provisions for their election will have to be so amended that they will go back to a reconstructed constituency. I believe also that party polities and party organisation will not exist to the same extent for election of members of the Seanad as it does for election of members to this House. I believe that candidates for the Seanad will have to bear their own expenses, which will be very considerable. The bearing of those expenses must be remembered when considering the salary to be attached to membership of the Seanad. For that reason and for other reasons, I prefer Deputy Tierney's amendment, and I hope it will pass. I do not like to interpret people's motives, but somehow I think the Fianna Fáil Party know and hope that Deputy Thrift's proposal will be defeated, and this, on their part, is a cheap exhibition of economy.
Like some previous speakers, I think a great mistake has been made in the discussion of this Bill. I think we should get far more profit by discussing the subject rather than by discussing persons. From all sides of the House there is an admission that there was very good reason for introducing this Bill in order to have the question discussed. I do not think that Deputy Thrift meant more than that the matter should be thoroughly discussed in all its bearings, and a wise conclusion come to. He is not, I think, wedded to any particular sum. His is a proposal which was pressed into prominence by the long drawn out debates which we had on the constitution of the Seanad in the year which has passed. I think Deputy Lemass, when speaking, was, to use Deputy MacEntee's phrase, in a "very ambiguous position." I thought there was, to say the least, a great lack of courtesy in that he suggested it was a sort of presumption on the part of Deputy Thrift to propose any matter for discussion in this House. He said a great many things which Deputy Thrift, if he were in any way thin-skinned, might take exception to. Then he said: "I agree with the Bill." I do not think that the proposer or the supporter of a measure should be the actual test of the measure. Subjects are proposed for discussion in this House, and I hope we have not lost sight of the duty we owe to those who sent us here to come to a sensible conclusion on these subjects.
As regards Deputy Tierney's amendment, I never saw it or heard about it until it reached me by post, nor do I think there is any collusion in the matter at all. Seeing that this was a matter which affected the Seanad, it was only reasonable, when this proposal was brought forward, that somebody should move that a Committee consider the whole matter and come to the best conclusion. The question does not rest there. When the Report of the Committee comes before this House, we shall be free to criticise it and to put forward arguments for and against the provisions of the Bill. There is no reason why we should have introduced heat into the matter or referred to where we are working or anything like that. I think it is laid down as a recognised principle that there should be a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. On that, there is surely room for discussion in this Bill. Therefore, I support the amendment.
Since it is seldom that Deputy Thrift allows his better instincts and judgment to overcome him so as to do something that is really in the interests of the country, I think we should take full advantage of it when it does occur. One thing to me is very peculiar, and that is the action of the Labour Party—not so much their action in voting against the Bill as the reasons they gave for voting both against the Bill and the amendment. It is quite easy for them to say that we, on this side, are supporting the Bill because we are against the poor man's son. But that is not correct. Nobody knows that better than the Labour Party. We shall be always glad to defend the poor man's son, just as we would be glad to defend Deputy O'Connell and Deputy Anthony, because we know they might be described as horny-handed sons of toil. We would be always glad to defend them because they can boast of being hard-working, labouring men, representing the hard-working, labouring men of the country. But perhaps they would look at the matter this way: if ten per cent. of the horny-handed, labouring men's sons in the country could get £200 a year in salary for work of some kind, they would be very glad to take advantage of it.
Now we know where we are.
It would be better than the dole. Their attitude in electing Senators and others makes me very doubtful. I am of opinion that the Labour Party, being committed to a certain policy heretofore, are opposing this Bill and amendment against their will. I believe they are not at all in earnest in opposing this, but they are more or less compromised in supporting the policy of the Government in certain other matters.
What has the Government to do with this Bill?
For instance, without being disrespectful in any way, I might mention the Vice-Chair of this House. It is quite reasonable that if the Labour Party support a Bill brought forward here to reduce the salaries of Senators, it would be expected that they would be prepared to support a measure which would reduce the salary of the Vice-Chairman of this House from £1,000 to £600 or £700. Because they have acquiesced in a policy of that kind and because their hands are tied in a certain matter, they go on to oppose this measure——
I repudiate that completely. That insinuation is beneath any decent man.
I meant no disrespect to the Vice-Chair in mentioning this matter, but I say that the hands of the Labour Party are tied. Surely it is easy enough to see that it is not in the interests of the poor man's son that the Labour Party declined to support the Bill or the amendment. If Deputy Anthony at the next election loses his seat in Cork ——
I have a better job to go back to, thank God.
It would be much better to come back to the Seanad, if the salary is left as it is, than to come back if the salary were reduced to £200. If the same thing happened Deputy O'Connell, it would be nicer to come back to the Seanad at £360 than to come back at £200. I think if the Labour Party were in earnest they would set a headline for the proper quarters and start from the top where a start should have been made long ago; they would support this measure and, in doing that, they would be doing a very good thing for the Labour men of the country whom they are very glad to talk about when they say they are upholding their rights. That should be the case particularly at the present moment when the Minister for Finance is in such difficulties. We are really very anxious to help him out of those difficulties.
Who is supporting the Government now?
When we see the Minister for Finance cutting such a sorry figure in trying to balance his Budget, I think we should take a charitable view and help him out even by passing this Bill. The manner in which the Minister for Finance is trying to practise economy reminds me of a miserly housewife in Dublin who would go out to search the dustbins before the poor people could come along.
Or the banks.
You could not imagine the Minister for Finance doing that. He might go with his hat in his hand. When the Minister for Finance is cutting such a sorry figure, it is up to the Labour Party to help him by reducing the salaries of the Senators, who are certainly a very great encumbrance on the country as it is at present.
How many "encumbrances" did you put in?
The Labour Party are always very anxious to do something original. They would like to do something original at all times if they could. When a Bill is brought forward by Deputy Thrift, on the one side, and an amendment is brought forward by Deputy Tierney, on the other, the Labour Party is anxious to wait to see how it will be taken. They say: "We could not support that Bill, and we could not support the amendment." It is a nice thing to come in between, as it is a nice thing to vote for the Government one moment and to vote against it the next moment. But it would be better to have a clear-cut policy on the question of expenditure and salaries, and if the Labour Party were in earnest in their purpose, they would certainly support the Bill and have it passed.
As far as the policy of the Government on this matter is concerned, the question is being left to an open vote of the House. There are no Whips on, and Deputies are quite free to vote in whatever way appears to them best. I do not know whether or not the same thing applies to those who profess such a remarkable spirit of independence— whether or not they are free to vote as they consider best.
They always do.
I have had evidence of that already. The question amounts to this: There are two important institutions in the Oireachtas. I am supporting the amendment because I consider that, as a matter of courtesy to, and due consideration for, the other institution, its members should be consulted in a matter of this sort before a decision is taken. The Oireachtas (Payment of Members) Act was passed five or six years ago. They were consulted upon that occasion, and I consider that it would be not alone courteous but wise that they should be consulted on this occasion. I differ very much from some of the speakers who have addressed themselves to this subject and who would suggest that the saving which it is proposed to effect by this measure, if passed, would be immediately available for another purpose. It is only the very innocent who make those pronouncements. I have been hearing them all my life. I think that the merits of this question, and of many other questions, ought to be considered and not the motives which are attributed to others. I do not think the matter should be discussed as if nobody was entitled to express an opinion except those who have their eye upon some popular move elsewhere. We are not going to make for confidence in public life if matters are to be discussed in that way. The sum of money involved is not very considerable. The saving which it is proposed to effect is not going materially to affect any other sphere of activity in the State. If it is said that the cost is prohibitive, I can say with truth that the majority of the members of the Seanad have as keen a conception of public duty, and as keen an appreciation of the necessity for economy, as most of those who have been anxious to make profession in that respect in this House.
Our attitude on this matter is clear and definite. We do not desire the existence any longer than we can help of the Chamber known as the Seanad, as at present constituted. We do not think that that institution has, so far, justified itself. We do not attempt to say that some institution of the kind might not be advantageous to the country. It might happen that a second Chamber of some kind might be necessary and helpful, and if it were really helpful we would be satisfied to pay the cost, whatever it would be. We should like anybody with doubts in their mind to know that we believe in paying every man a fair day's wages for any duties he performs for the State or otherwise. We do not believe in cheese-paring economies at the expense of efficiency. It is not with motives of that kind that we shall vote as we propose to vote on this Bill and amendment. We definitely stand for the abolition of that body as at present constituted. It may be that we have not the power now, and may not have the power, to abolish it. But if an opportunity does present itself to decrease the power or the cost of that institution, we are going to make use of it. We are now offered an opportunity of reducing the cost to the country of an institution which we claim has not fulfilled any useful purpose. The cost may not be very great in proportion to the whole expenditure of the country, but the expense, such as it is, has not been warranted, in our opinion. An opportunity is given us to reduce the expense. The President says that the sum is immaterial. It may be, but on principle we will vote for the reduction of the expense. We do not desire to enter more than is necessary into motives; certainly we do not desire to enter into personalities in this matter. Although we know we will be misrepresented, we cannot help it. We know that our attitude will be misrepresented on all sides. That is bound to happen; it is the ordinary routine of public life. But we do say, whether a Senator belongs to the Labour Party or to any other Party, we believe that when a fair amount of work is done for the country, he should be paid, and paid a proper salary or a wage, whatever you like to call it, for whatever work he does for the community.
An opportunity is given us now to express our opinion on the Seanad by our votes. We have said that the Seanad has not fulfilled its functions. We intend to vote for the Bill and against the amendment in order to show that we are not satisfied with that institution. I was sorry that personalities in any sense were introduced into the discussion of a measure of this kind. It does not help matters, although probably I have been guilty of it myself. Nevertheless, I agree that it does not help to have an orderly discussion on a matter of this kind, that has certainly serious and vital effects on the nation, but I suppose it is bound to happen that personalities will be introduced? Pious talk by me will not stop it. But we desire to discuss this thing on its merits, and we want to vote for it on its merits. We know that whatever we say our motives, and probably the motives of the proposer of the Bill, and maybe the motives of the mover of the amendment, will be misrepresented. They will certainly be discussed, and in that connection it has been several times remarked in my hearing, and not alone by members of our own Party, that it was strange that this Bill, or some Bill like it, was not introduced by any Party until the recent election to the Seanad had taken place. The Seanad had been in existence for close on six years, and until certain people were reelected, people mostly of one point of view, a Bill of this kind was not introduced. Deputy Thrift is probably aware that remarks of that kind have been made, and probably he will answer them when he is given an opportunity to reply. But these things are said and will continue to be said, and whoever might introduce a Bill of this kind, people will naturally look for motives. Without imputing motives to anybody, it is only nataural that these things should arise. They have got to be met and discussed, and it is just as well to have any discussion that may take place on them carried on in the open and let men know what exactly is being said and to let them hear the answers.
Our Party as a Party will vote on this occasion. Among ourselves we have discussed it, and I think we are all of one mind with regard to the position of the Second Chamber. The opportunity thus afforded to demonstrate by our votes that we have no use for that institution as at present constituted is given us and we will vote in that spirit for the reduction of the expense—not that it means such a great deal, perhaps, to the Minister for Finance, but whether it does or not, we regard it as a matter of principle. It does not matter who is involved. On the question of principle, that that institution has not served its purpose, has not been worth the expense to which it has put the nation, we will vote against the amendment and for the Bill.
I want to introduce a few personalities into this debate.
That is no trouble to you. Nobody can do it better.
I have taken a good many Bills to the Seanad, and I know the Seanad as an institution fairly well. It is rather amusing to sit here and listen to certain Deputies patronising Senators, pointing out that they have not earned their money, and so on. They more or less suggest that Senators are incapable of the sort of efficiency that one would expect from legislators. That sort of patronage from, say, Deputy Clery, is most amusing to me. I have been in the Seanad very often. I have seen the Seanad operating on the mistakes made in the Dáil and putting them right, and I want to say this, that if Deputy Clery—I pick him out as a Deputy who has made a contribution to this debate this evening—is worth £400 a year—or whatever it is—£360—I do not know; it is a sum in proportion, so that it does not matter——
What are you worth?
If he is worth £360 as a Deputy, members of the Seanad are worth it, because there is no comparison from any point of view —from the point of view of education, efficiency or the contribution that may be made to any subject. Deputies ought really to develop a sense of humour and to give up this matter of patronage.
There are people in the Seanad, people who have made a success in this country of their own particular businesses, people who have made contributions to the business life, to labour, to the arts, to everything which makes a country distinguished. And when I find unknown Deputies, Deputies who have done nothing but shout on platforms, getting up and patronising the Senators, pointing out that they are not worth this and discussing whether they are worth £200 or £300—well, the merits of the case are arguable, but the Deputies who think in these terms, who make these comparisons, should begin to think of themselves and of the reactions of the arguments they use in their own case. Deputy O'Kelly is very much afraid that their attitude will be misrepresented. This is a piece of window-dressing. All this debate on the Fianna Fáil side is a piece of window-dressing, as Deputy Hennessy stated. They have used the Seanad to put some of their undesirables into it.
I think that is out of order.
I withdraw that.
Oh, let him off. Let him go ahead.
There were people to whom they were under certain obligations. They had to find places for them, and these people who talk so much about the Seanad, just come along in the most cynical fashion and place them in the Seanad.
What about Alice in Blunderland?
They used the votes they had in the Dáil to place them in the Seanad.
On a point of order. The Minister prefaced his statement by saying that he wanted to go into personalities. Would he be so kind as to tell the House who are the Senators we gave jobs to? That will be personalities. Name them.
Yes, I will name them. Look up the lists and you will see. I have not got them at my finger-ends, but I think they put in six or seven Senators. They put them in by the votes that they command in this House.
You did not know how to do it.
These were the people that they were under certain obligations to, and all those Deputies across the way who object to the Seanad, who think that that body is not fulfilling its proper functions, come along in the most cynical fashion and use the votes that they have in this House to put certain persons to whom they are under obligations into the Seanad.
What did the Government do?
You can tell me that. I am telling you what you did. Now they come along with a white sheet and with a catch in their voices, and Deputy O'Kelly is afraid that their attitude on the Seanad will be misrepresented. Cheap humbug.
Will the Minister tell us why the editor and the office boy of the Minister's newspaper were put into the Seanad after that newspaper failed?
You can make your speech afterwards.
Will he tell us that?
I do not make Deputy Lemass's speeches for him. He ought to be capable of making them himself. Let me make my own points.
Are they your own points?
Everyone of them— copyright. There is no fear that the attitude of Deputies on the opposite benches will be misrepresented. Everybody knows what their attitude really is. Deputy Hennessy expressed it. It is the old attitude. They would rather see the present salary left as it is. I am perfectly satisfied that 75 per cent. of the Deputies on the opposite benches would like to see the present salary left as it is, but they must keep up this humbug. They would very much rather vote for Deputy Tierney's amendment than for Deputy Thrift's proposal, but they still must keep up the humbug, and they will all walk into the Lobby and vote for Deputy Thrift's proposal, hoping sincerely that Deputy Tierney's amendment will be carried, and regretting if the salary is not left as it is. That is their attitude.
Well, follow us and make sure that the motion is carried. Come in with us.
I think I will vote for Deputy Tierney's amendment. I have to listen to Deputy Thrift yet, but I think I will vote for the amendment. I am not speaking at the moment of my own attitude. That is known. I am speaking of the attitude of Deputies opposite. So that Deputy O'Kelly need not worry and need not be too much afraid of misrepresentation. I think it was St. Augustine who said: "Suffering is the true purpose of life," and Deputies there went through an amount of real suffering to show the purity of their motives—
You did not suffer.
Not a bit—to make clear to the country their position in regard to the Seanad, to make clear that they are still consistent. I want the Dáil to mark this, that I did notice that there is a slight change of attitude in regard to the Seanad—the cow is again for sale in a certain way. There is a slight change of attitude in regard to the Seanad. Deputy O'Kelly said that he objected to the Seanad in its present form. I remember about a year ago that there was to be no Seanad at all under any circumstances; that in this really democratic country, where we have such a reverence for democratic forms a Seanad was out of date. But now the Seanad, as at present constituted, is wrong. That is a little bit of an advance, and I wonder if that advance has anything to do with the fact that certain members of the Fianna Fáil Party are enjoying the emoluments that are attached to the office of Senator at present.
We are suffering misrepresentation now, in silence, strange to say.
Whatever the reasons may be, it is an advance, and I want to congratulate Deputy O'Kelly—I presume he is speaking for his Party—that the attitude of his Party now is that the Seanad, as at present constituted, is not exactly just what they want. We will find, I think, when they come to constitute a Seanad, that there will not be very radical changes and that possibly there might be good reasons for increasing the salary.
Is the Minister aware that there will be a majority for Deputy Thrift's Bill?
I do not think that the Minister for Agriculture has added very much to this debate. Possibly the Minister for Agriculture is suffering a little more than his rather painful speech would give one to understand, because for a long number of years the Minister for Agriculture was in the proud position of a dictator, when it was not even necessary, on far more drastic measures than the reduction of Senators' salaries from £360 to £200, to suggest that the easy way out of appointing a Committee would be necessary, because they were in strength then, there was no real opposition against them, the fait accompli could always be called into play—the accomplished fact. But now circumstances have changed, and we who have been speeching on platforms and who have been telling the plain people that economies were necessary, are here in strength, and we are prepared to debate questions of economy and efficiency. But I hope in the future, when the question of economy does come up on the various Estimates that we shall be discussing, that we shall have rather better contributions to the debates than those from our most efficient Minister for Agriculture.
This country is threatened with further taxation; this country is not able to balance its Budget; this country, we are told, has no money for reproductive work; it has no money to deal with the unemployed; it has no money to help to save the Gaeltacht. We remember when the Gaeltacht and other questions were being discussed that the Minister for Agriculture took up the flippant attitude which he again brings into this debate to-night. No suggestion of any kind that could come from this side of the House was worthy of the slightest consideration. I, at least, as one member of this Party, believe that that is not the attitude of the Party opposite, that the Party opposite realise—if they are true to the interests of their constituents they must realise—that the situation in the country is too serious to be passed off in the rather flippant and personal way in which the Minister for Agriculture tried to pass it off to-night.
Deputy Clery, it is true, may not have as much education as the type of individual whom the Minister for Agriculture forced upon the Seanad panel of his own Party, against the wishes of the rank and file of that Party. Neither can he claim to represent the big interests in the Free State. He represents a poor constituency in the West of Ireland, and in that constituency people are starving at the present time. It is not alone in Erris that they are starving, but in every constituency along the western seaboard. Ask any member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party how we stand in regard to home assistance, how the people are living in these distant parts of the country while we are passing votes here, and being actually criticised in the Press for passing, with very little discussion, sums of money running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. It is time that a start was made somewhere. It is time that some light was thrown upon the governmental machinery, and we believe, as Deputy O'Kelly has already emphasised, that this is an opportunity for showing that we are in earnest. I hope that the start that we have made here to-night, and on the last occasion on which this Bill was under consideration, will be persisted in, that we will show the farmers, who are grousing about extra rates, who are grousing about the maintenance of the roads for the benefit of tourists, who are grousing about the maintenance of paupers who have to be kept up by enormously increasing grants for home assistance, who are grousing even about the upkeep of lunatics, who are, unfortunately, increasing also, that as well as carrying out economies on the local boards, economies can be carried out here, that this Party at any rate will endeavour, as far as ever it can, to adhere to the promises it has made.
Now there was a suggestion that because this Party put these members into the Seanad they have modified their policy since, and the Minister for Agriculture professes to find avolte face in Deputy O'Kelly's representation of the Fianna Fáil attitude as being antagonistic to the Seanad as at present constituted. We have always believed, and still believe, that the Seanad is not representative of the common people of Ireland. If it will become more representative then it will deserve better of this House. But in the past, no matter what the case made was, no matter how legislation was improved on, how defects met in this House were remedied, when vital issues involving the liberty of the citizen and measures like the Public Safety Act were passed through this House, we know the improvement and the opposition which they met with in the Seanad. I therefore ask those members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party to take a more serious view of the situation and not to be driven into the position that, because the Minister for Agriculture can make a few sarcastic remarks and create a very nice atmosphere, not quite so optimistic as it used to be, that because he can create a certain atmosphere of badinage, therefore they think all questions, with a high and mighty wave of his hand, can be dismissed. That is not so. The country expects better from the Dáil, and I think the Dáil should give them better.
Deputy Derrig is always fond of facts. When he talked of the accomplished fact I could not help thinking that he was surely describing Deputy Derrig himself. No one can expect Deputy Derrig to follow the flights of fancy of the Minister for Agriculture. I want to give Deputy Derrig a few facts. What would this result in? A saving of £160 on each of 60 Senators would result in a saving per year of £9,600. Is that of much use?
It is equivalent to the grant for the night schools in Dublin.
Deputy Derrig did not talk of the night schools, but of the starving people on the western seaboard. £9,600 and people not getting home assistance. I suppose you could not save a person from starving at much less than £1 per week in home assistance. Deputy Derrig, by passing this Bill, would save about 180 people spread over the counties in the western seaboard. That is less than 30 in each county.
May I point out to Deputy Cooper that as a matter of fact six shillings represents the average allowance for the maintenance of a family on the western seaboard? So you will have a very much larger number saved.
I do not know how you can save a family from starving at 6/-. I am inclined to be more generous than Deputy Derrig.
Ask the Minister for Local Government about it.
He is not here, but anyway I think £9,600 would not make a serious contribution to any scheme of economy.
Would the Deputy rather not give them anything?
Not in the least, but I do not think £9,600 is going to do any serious good. Imagine what Deputy Derrig and all the other Deputies would say if the Government brought in a relief scheme only of £9,600. Even when it runs into five figures they say it is inadequate. When it is ten times as much they say it is inadequate.
Would Deputy Cooper not think it proper to save 180 lives?
I did not catch the Deputy.
The amount involved, taking your figures, would mean a saving of 180 lives from death by starvation. Would the Deputy think the money badly spent in saving those?
I would not if you prove that there are 180 people who absolutely need this money, but I am inclined to think that we would save more by passing Deputy Tierney's motion. Deputy Lemass, last week, stated that a person engaged in business underwent very little loss owing to his attendance at the Seanad or Dáil. That is so with regard to those living in the neighbourhood of Dublin. I would be quite prepared to ask a Senator living in the neighbourhood of Dublin to do his duty for nothing at all, but Deputy Lemass will agree that Deputies or Senators coming from such a distance as Donegal or Kerry injures his business and is put to substantially more expense by coming here than a Senator living in Dublin. A Senator or a Deputy living in Dublin is able to attend to his business in the morning and come here afterwards. A Deputy or a Senator coming up from the country has to forego his business for three or four days, and also has to incur the expense of staying in a hotel. The solution I put forward comes under the terms of Deputy Tierney's amendment. It is that Senators should be treated like civil servants. In the Civil Service there is a scale for travelling expenses. Senators should get a subsistence allowance at the rates given to the highest grades of civil servants. I believe that would be a fair manner of dealing with the question, and certainly would come within the terms of Deputy Tierney's amendment. For that reason I support the amendment.
I do not think that I should be asked to close to-night. Therefore I move the adjournment of the debate.