Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Friday, 24 May 1929

Vol. 30 No. 3

Private Members' Business. - Shipment of Cattle in Dublin.

Debate resumed on motion:
"That having regard to the lack of proper facilities for the shipment of cattle from Dublin port and the fact that the carrying trade from the Free State to British ports is practically non-competitive, the Dáil is of opinion that the Executive Council should confer with the Dublin Commissioners, the Dublin Port and Docks Board, and the Cattle Traders' Association with a view to the erection of suitable municipal lairages at the North Wall and for facilities for berthage convenient thereto." (John F. O'Hanlon.)

I have not much additional to say upon this motion to what I have already said. I have recounted certain attempts that were made to get members of the Cattle Traders' Association, and the Cattle Exporters' Association into a conference with other interests concerned on these various matters. I suggest to Deputy O'Hanlon that his purpose could be best served in this way. There are three questions brought out in this motion: one is the matter which is implied in the second assumption, the fact that the carrying trade, from the Free State to British ports, is practically non-competitive. I presume that the point of that is that some action is thought to be required on the question of freights. The other two points are those directly referred to —that is, the provision of suitable municipal lairages at the North Wall, and facilities for berthage convenience there, too. I think these three are joined up by what was said in the Seanad—a remark I previously referred to—when it was alleged that what the cattle exporters of this country wanted was to get some element of competition in order to bring down freights, and that they could not possibly get that competition unless they had places where beasts could be held for inspection, and unless they had berthage facilities close at hand.

I would suggest again that the Cattle Traders' Association, or the Cattle Exporters' Association, or both, should come to a meeting, which I am prepared to summon, with representatives of the railway companies and shipping companies, and let us have properly threshed out this question of freights, and come to some determination as to what the freights in fact are, and some approach to agreement as to the exact percentage increase since 1914. When that matter has been determined, if one side thinks the rates as then determined are still too high, and if the other people say that although they may appear to be too high they are warranted by circumstances and cannot be brought down, then undoubtedly the question of the opening up of competition will have to be gone into. Competition can only be obtained by the encouragement of a sort of a tramp steamer trade, or encouraging regular sailings by boats that would be chartered by some of those associations. For that it is necessary to have the two other facilities spoken of, lairage accommodation and berthage facilities close at hand. So on the question of freights I shall take steps to summon a conference of the three parties concerned, and to get that presided over by some person not joined up with any of the three interests that are to confer.

On the second matter, the question of lairage and facilities for berthage, Deputy O'Hanlon's motion deals with municipal lairages. At one time it seemed to me he did not stress that word very much, or care whether it was in or not. Any scheme that the Senator concerned spoke of as likely to be laid before the Minister for Agriculture was a project for municipal lairages. The first approach there should be to the Dublin City Commissioners, and I again invite the Cattle Traders' Association, and those concerned with those lairages, to put their scheme before the Dublin Commissioners. If the Dublin Commissioners are ready to accept the scheme, finance it, and carry it out, well and good. If not, they should then seek an interview, and the interview will be arranged or any sort of a conference called with the Dublin City Commissioners. But the proper approach is first to the Dublin City Commissioners and thereafter through the Commissioners to whoever is the proper Minister, probably the Minister for Agriculture. Facilities for berthage is a subsidiary question to the matter of lairages, because it depends upon where the lairages are to be situated, but, again, I repeat my invitation to the Cattle Exporters' Association to pass on to me any correspondence they have had with the Port and Docks Board as to facilities for berthage and the answer given to them by that Board, and if the attitude taken up by that Board seems unreasonable I shall make it my business to get in touch with them and have the matter threshed out. These are the three matters dealt with in the motion, and I am making these suggestions to the Deputy as a better way out: I will write to the Cattle Traders asking them to meet the other people interested on the question of freights; I invite them to approach the Dublin Commissioners on the question of lairages and to get the Commissioners to make their approach to the Government afterwards, and if approach is made I shall see that that further conference is arranged.

As a member of the Cattle Exporters' Association I desire to say that we are satisfied with the explanation of the Minister. What we would like is that this conference should not be delayed. This motion has been before the House for 13 or 14 months and in that time the cattle trade has suffered from the exorbitant freights. They may say they come from the exporters themselves. They do not, they all go back to the producers. We feel that, owing to the unnecessarily heavy freights charged at present, unless some action is taken the matter will be found to be bearing too heavily on the cattle trade. The time has arrived when something should be done to reduce the freights. I ask the Minister to call a conference as soon as possible, and, speaking on behalf of the Cattle Exporters' Association, I say we are prepared to take part in it at any time.

The reason I intervene in this debate is that an unfair use of the rights and privileges of this House has been attempted to some extent to make what appears to me to be a most unjustifiable attack upon an old Dublin company. The old Dublin company attacked under this resolution is the British and Irish Steam Packet Company. Those of us who have had association extending over some years with this city will recognise in this company an institution which was giving employment to large numbers in our city, a company which has a very honourable record and a company which has done an amount of useful work for the city. That company has been subjected to attack, to my mind very unfairly, under the rules and privileges of this House. Not alone has the company been attacked, I am sorry to say, but the respected manager of the company has been singled out by name in this House and has been the subject of attack.

On a point of order, I would like to ask Deputy Good is he talking of an old Dublin company now or of a new English company? Is this a Dublin company or an English company?

That is not a point of order with all respect. That company trades in Dublin under the name, as the Deputy will find out, and I can refer to other Deputies here in this House who have had business relations with the company, of the British and Irish Steampacket Company.

Where is it registered?

It is a member of the Coasts combine but trades in Dublin under the name I mentioned. It is known in Dublin under that name and has been in existence in Dublin for a great number of years. I did not interrupt the Deputy when he was making these attacks, and I hope the Deputy will extend the same courtesy to me.

I did not attack Deputy Good, but I do say that when he is defending anyone he should stick to facts and not misrepresent by stating that this is an old Dublin Company when it is not a Dublin Company.

I suggest that Deputy O'Hanlon should deal with that when replying.

I am sorry I have to deal with this matter, but I hope that by doing so we will prevent the rules of the House being availed of under similar circumstances in the future. In some respects there is something to be said for the Deputy because he is not a member of any of the Dublin constituencies.

Thank God!

He comes from a constituency that possibly has not very close business relations with Dublin and therefore, to some extent, there is some justification for his ignorance about this old Dublin Company. Not satisfied with attacking the company, he proceeds further to deal by name with the manager of that company. It has been my privilege to have been a member of this House for the past six years and I can recall no similar circumstances on the part of any Deputies in this House naming any particular individual and thereby attempting to hold him up to odium.

We, business men in Dublin, are justly proud of some of those men who have done much towards building up the industries which give a certain amount of employment in our city. Knowing Mr. Barry for a number of years, I can say this of him, that he is a citizen of which every citizen of Dublin is justly proud, and nothing that Northern Deputies can say in this House will in any way take from the respect that we feel for that citizen. I am sorry that the privileges and regulations of this House have been availed of to make such an attack on a respectable citizen. Such was the attack that the Ceann Comhairle found it his duty to intervene and draw the Deputy's attention to the statements he was making about this citizen. I trust that when the verbatim report of this debate reaches the Deputy he will feel it his duty to send an apology to that citizen.

I have the verbatim report here and I stand over it.

I regret it is my duty to have to refer to those two matters. This company is being attacked because it is a member of a combine. Those of us who have close business relations with this city and with business, as it is done in other places, know that we are living in an age of combines. It is only a few years ago that the Minister for Industry and Commerce in this House brought in a Bill to amalgamate the railways in the Free State. He said that there were too many boards and too many directors and that the overhead expenses involved in running all these various establishments and companies were too large, too great a burden, and that all these companies should be amalgamated in one combine. The House agreed with that. Whether if it were to come forward at the moment we would still be of the same view is another question. That is the tendency of the age. If a company is to exist to-day, in many circumstances it is necessary that it should be a member of a combine, and because a company is a member of a combine it should not, for that particular reason, be held up to odium in this House. We have, as I said, the case of a number of small companies. Small companies are not economic at present. They are not able to carry through business at the rates combines can carry them through, and for that reason it is essential that small companies should be identified with each other or amalgamated in order that they may compete against combines. Any business man will tell you of the accuracy of that statement.

Another thing I object to is that the lairages and the cattle market in Dublin have been held up to a certain amount of ridicule. The lairages of Dublin, and I happen to know something of them, will compare favourably with the lairages to be found in any other seaport in the United Kingdom. I have been in lairages in other ports, and from my point of view I would be inclined to say that the accommodation at our own port was superior, but for the purposes of the argument I will only say that it is as good as is to be found. Other Deputies who have experience of this matter can give their views. I will give mine, unbiased, on the subject. If that be so, why is our port held up to odium? The effect of this when it gets into the Press will be to give the impression that the conveniences in Dublin are not what they ought to be, that it is not up-to-date, and people will say, "we will send our cattle via Belfast."

That is what they are doing at present.

I do not know that that is not what the Deputy wants done. I do not want that done. The effect of unjustifiable criticism of this character is to injure not alone the company which does the trade but the Port of Dublin. The Port of Dublin might possibly be improved, but I think the same criticism can be offered of any port or any system that has been in existence for a number of years. I do not say it is above criticism, but let our criticism be fair and helpful. Do not let our criticism be damaging. The cattle market has been attacked. It is an old institution, possibly if we had town-planning in Dublin to-day it would be found that the cattle markets might be placed in closer proximity to our port. As the cattle market stands at the moment it compares very favourably with any market I know of, and I have been in a number of them. You will get facilities in the Dublin market that you will not get in others. Other members of the House can speak more closely of the work of the Dublin market than I can, but it is an institution that has been well looked after and well kept up even though it is run by the old Dublin Corporation.

It has been suggested that these matters should be taken over by the State. I do not know if they are taken over by the State that we are going to find any great improvement in them. My experience of business done by the State is not that it is better done than by some of the institutions that are carrying on at the moment. It was only a few days ago that I was reading the remarks of a man who has very considerable parliamentary experience. He happens to be the Prime Minister of the Parliament of Australia. He was speaking on the subject of business done under State control some little time ago, when he was over here at one of these Imperial Conferences. In the connection of State doing business I was rather struck by the words of this statesman. Mr. Bruce, as you are aware, is the Prime Minister of the Parliament of Australia. He is a man who was trained in one of the universities at the other side and he is looked upon as one of the most up-to-date in connection with the experiences of government. His opinion is very highly valued. This is what he said, speaking on the subject of business being carried on by a Government: "Governments have certain things they can do reasonably well, but I can assure you that Governments are not really capable of initiating great schemes, sifting them to the bottom and carrying them through."

The Shannon scheme.

We will leave that alone for the moment. I have spoken previously on that subject. Mr. Bruce went on: "It is only rather by good luck when they pull a good one off."

I know that that view of an experienced statesman will not be accepted by the Labour Party, but it is a view that will have a good deal of weight with those outside this House. Some of us who have had to do with business for a number of years have seen governments doing business, we have seen corporations doing business, and we have seen business carried through by business men. I have yet to learn that the State is a good medium through which to do business. When I see the difficulties that the State is confronted with—we all see them— I certainly have come to the conclusion that there is a good deal of truth in what was said by Mr. Bruce, that it is only a matter of good luck when a government pulls off some business successfully. I do not want to take up the time of the House dealing with these matters further. What I want to impress on Deputies is that things in our city may not be ideal—they can be im-proved—but let the criticism that we have to offer be helpful so that they may be improved. Do not have that condemnation and useless criticism that we sometimes hear of things in Dublin, that they are old, worthless and out of date. Also, may I express the hope that when we come to speak of business men in the future in this House we will give to them, at all events, the credit that is due to them.

I was very glad to hear Deputy Good advising the Deputies in this House to pay the respect which is due to the business men and industrialists of Saorstát Eireann. I remember when the question of tariffs and of safeguarding our industries was mooted in this House, Deputy Good, I think, did not pay our industrialists or the people who sunk their money in industry in this country the compliment they deserved.

I hope my criticism has always been of a constructive character. I have always tried to make it so.

I suppose so, from the Deputy's point of view. This is an important motion that Deputy O'Hanlon has moved. It opens up a very big and vital question. As the Minister pointed out the other day, when speaking to this motion, this whole question has got to be hung up until the Ports and Harbours Tribunal reports to the House. We have heard many complaints from various sections of the community, traders, shippers and so on, and even from some of our port authorities, of the manner in which business is being done through our ports—complaints of increased rates, the want of berthage and lairage accommodation, etc.—but when the Minister appointed a tribunal to investigate all these complaints I wonder did all these people come forward and tell exactly the position of affairs I am afraid they did not. If I remember aright, when the Tribunal sat in Dublin, Cork and elsewhere, everyone who appeared before them, instead of bearing out these complaints told them that everything in the garden was lovely. The moment they had gone away we had a repetition of the complaints. It is a very reasonable complaint for us to make nowadays, seven years after the Treaty, that we find many of our ports—I presume the Port of Dublin is in the same position as the Port of Cork—absolutely controlled by foreign statutes of about the time of George IV, 1820, statutes 110 years old. How business men on these Boards tolerate that position and expect to do good business, and the country to develop industrially and commercially, passes my comprehension. We will take the Port of Cork, for instance.

The Port of Cork is not mentioned in this motion at all.

I think the discussion has ranged round ports in general as well as the question of berthage and lairages. However, I will not touch upon the Port of Cork, but I make that statement. We are aware that it is almost impossible to get berthage or lairage accommodation——

I think Deputy Hennessy would be quite in order in referring to Cork port. The motion states that the carrying trade from the Free State to British ports is practically non-competitive. The fact that the Port of Cork is suffering from a stranglehold so far as the carrying companies are concerned, brings it within the motion, and I think Deputy Hennessy is quite in order in referring to the conditions at the Port of Cork.

I am afraid that Cork will have to have a motion of its own.

It is very hard to have any discussion here without bringing in Cork.

The same stranglehold, Coast Lines, Limited, control the shipping from Cork the same as they do from Dublin. It is an English combine, pure and simple.

In the port of Dublin or of Cork, if Deputy Good, Deputy Anthony and myself decided to form a company——

We would not get a halfpenny capital.

We would raise the wind somehow, and having formed our company, purchased our ships and registered them in the State, would we get berthage accommodation either in Cork or Dublin? I doubt it. Sooner or later the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and the Minister for Agriculture must seriously tackle this question of berthage accommodation and freights. I believe it is a matter that will require legislation, and, as the Minister for Industry and Commerce has done in the case of big schemes, such as the Shannon scheme, we must be prepared to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, if we are to get rid of these combines which have this country economically by the throat. I was talking yesterday to a cattle shipper, who told me that the freights on cattle are about 300 per cent. over pre-war rates.

What profits are they getting?

We were discussing in this House yesterday a very important question, affecting the position of our flour millers, and when these people made application for relief the shippers threatened this House and all concerned that if we dared to put a tariff on flour they would increase the freights on cattle by 1/-, and on pigs and sheep by a penny per head.

When was that threat made? I have no knowledge of it.

The Deputy will find it in the Report of the Tariff Commission. When rates are 300 per cent. over pre-war rates surely there is a case for investigation. We welcome the Minister's proposal. It is a practical suggestion, namely, that the people interested—the shippers, the shipping companies and railway companies—should get down to a conference immediately, and if they do not reach a satisfactory agreement it would then be a question for the Minister to get after the question of rates. Surely, he and his Department are in a position to get correct figures and statistics from the shipping companies.

Even though Deputy Good would deprecate any Deputy speaking on this subject unless he represented Dublin City or County, I will presume to say a few words on the motion. First of all, I would appeal to Deputy O'Hanlon to reconsider his decision to press this motion to a division in view of the fact that the Report of the Ports and Harbours Tribunal will shortly be presented to the Executive Council. On the consideration of that Report we will be in a better position to make up our minds on this question. The provision of municipal lairages would not necessarily be better than the present accommodation, and also, as Deputy Moore pointed out on the last day, it is hard to understand how the Government could interfere with the municipality in this matter. I think that there is a feeling in every part of the House, however, that Government action of some sort is necessary. As Deputy Hennessy pointed out, the Government is now seven years in control, but the same regulations hold and, not only that, things have to a certain extent got worse with the shipping business, which has gone practically altogether into the hands of foreign companies, and there exists what is known as a shipping ring. We, on these benches, and also, I think, Deputies opposite, believe that something should be done to break that ring.

For that reason we think that anything, no matter what motion, that would force the Government to do something is better than the present state of affairs. I believe that if this motion went to a division it would have a considerable volume of support, but I appeal to the Deputy to wait until the report of the Ports and Harbours Tribunal is issued before proceeding further as we can see how we stand in the matter and what their recommendations are. It is possible that a stronger and clearer resolution could then be put down by Deputy O'Hanlon which would practically have the unanimous support of the House.

Mr. Byrne

As one of the members for the City of Dublin, and as one who has been in business in that city for practically a quarter of a century, I suppose I have some idea of what the people think so far as the present arrangements for shipping are concerned. It is only right I think, to say that the citizens of Dublin view with very considerable alarm the position which prevails under the present combine. Deputy Good referred to the employment given by these companies. The citizens of Dublin appreciate that employment and have no wish to depreciate the value of these companies nor to say anything that would lessen the prestige of the Port of Dublin, but they cannot shut their eyes to the fact that every Irish carrying company that existed in the city has ceased to exist as an Irish company. The old City of Dublin Steampacket Company is gone. The British and Irish Company is gone.

The British and Irish Company is in existence.

Mr. Byrne

Will Deputy Good allow me to finish? The Palgrave-Murphy Company, and the Michael Murphy Company have gone under the control and management of the British combine. These companies ceased to exist as Irish concerns and they are to all intents and purposes English companies. It is right that this House should look these facts in the face.

What facts?

Mr. Byrne

The facts that we have ceased to have carrying companies belonging to this country. They are no longer Irish companies, and every penny of goods carried from this country is carried in the bottoms of English ships. As Deputy Hennessy said, this motion gives rise to an important and grave problem. The external trade of this country is no mean trade. It is valued at something like £100,000,000 sterling, and 97 per cent. of that trade goes to British ports. As somebody in this House has said, it is practically a non-competitive trade. There is nobody to bring down rates or to see that only a fair margin of profit exists for the companies. These companies can sit down and demand any rates they like. As a business man who has to pay freights I realise the exorbitant charges made. Is it not time that something should be done to face this problem, which is a very important problem as far as the future of the State is concerned? Is it not time that something should be done to avail ourselves of this great carrying trade for the profit of the country? Is it not time that an effort should be made to set up an Irish mercantile marine? Are we ever to tackle the problem of ships coming in here year after year, carrying cargoes and going out in ballast? Deputy Hennessy, in my opinion, is perfectly right in saying that this is a most important problem and that Deputy O'Hanlon's motion raises far greater issues than the mere issues connected with the lairage and berthage question to which he has referred.

We have been told by Deputy Good in the course of his speech that anything handled by the State is generally a failure. I am not one who advocates as a rule the running of any system on State lines. I prefer in every case to see the operation of private enterprise, but we must remember that this country is faced with a position of affairs in which it would be utterly impossible, in my opinion as a business man, that this question could ever be properly handled by private enterprise and made a success. When Deputy Good informed this House that several States had interfered in matters of the kind under discussion and had never made a success of them, I would remind him that a little country, like ours in many respects, the country of Denmark, has organised a mercantile marine and that mercantile marine brings in a revenue to the Danish people of £11,000,000 per annum.

It is not the property of the State.

Mr. Byrne

It is the property of the Danish people. I would prefer to see private enterprise dealing with this problem if it were humanly possible for it to operate in face of the combine which controls the carrying trade of the country at present, but I fail to see how it would be humanly possible for private individuals to tackle the problem under present conditions. I remember in the old days when the firm of Palgrave Murphy gave us direct shipping from Dublin with Cadiz, Oporto and other places. To-day no such facilities exist. Surely it is in the interests of the country that it should have direct shipping from this city to every quarter of the globe. I would remind Deputy Good that other countries faced with problems of this kind found ways and means of dealing with them, by levying tariffs and dues which prevented the indirect shipment taking place. I suppose two-thirds of the goods coming into this country from the United States have to pass through British ports. That means that every Irish importer has to pay five or ten per cent. extra carriage on these goods. These are matters, in my opinion, of great importance.

I would ask are the rates charged by the carrying trade to Dublin so satisfactory that it is not the duty of the House to give them consideration, and if they are not, is it not really the proper function of this House to consider a matter of such outstanding magnitude? I would like to quote one or two items to show the freights that are being charged at the present moment. Bacon brought from Denmark is landed in Grimsby at 24/3 per ton. To bring Irish bacon from Cork to Liverpool costs 37/2 per ton, and to land it in Manchester costs 41/4. Butter landed in Grimsby from Denmark costs 35/6 per ton. Butter from Cork landed in Manchester costs 45/- per ton. Some time ago the "Irish Times" dealt with this very important problem, and quoted a representative from the Manchester Chamber of Commerce as saying: "There must be something radically wrong when it is cheaper to bring produce all the way across the North Sea than from places on our doorstep, and when Ireland's national geographical advantage is converted into a disadvantage." The problem raised by the motion of Deputy O'Hanlon is, in my opinion, a problem of outstanding importance. No matter what side of the House a Deputy belongs to, one thing he should have at heart is the interest of his own country before any country in the world. The interest of our country will never be served by the present British monopoly which carries everything we have to export from our ports. If there is one problem which should be tackled by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce I suggest it is the transport problem as it exists at present. I say that it is not impossible for that problem to be tackled satisfactorily by the State. I say the satisfactory solution of the problem would mean providing many millions sterling for the State. The revenue that would accrue would, in my opinion, wipe out the present adverse trade balance.

These are factors that, as a Deputy representing the City of Dublin, it is my duty to bring before the House, particularly when Deputy Good makes use of the remarks that he has made use of. I would deplore anything in the nature of a personal attack on Mr. Barry. I feel sure that if Deputy O'Hanlon made such an attack it was not intended by him in a personal way. I do not know whether he made any such attack. I would say, as one who has the interest of the city at heart just as deeply as Deputy Good and as one representing the city, that this question of transport is a question of outstanding importance and a question that should receive the earliest and earnest consideration of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Upon its solution there is no doubt a great fillip would be given to trade and a great improvement in the adverse trade balance would be made, to the advantage of the people generally and especially the people of the City of Dublin, whom I have the honour to represent.

I am glad to welcome the widely distributed opinion which is shown in this House in relation to this problem. I welcome the contributions of Deputy Byrne, Deputy O'Hanlon and Deputy Hennessy and members on our own benches, in so far as they illustrate that this problem, as a problem, has now come home to representatives of all Parties in the House and in this State. I disagree with a great deal that has been said by Deputy Byrne, which, I think, will be in the minds of most members of the House, in relation to the efficiency and the effectiveness of purely State interference in the matter. To me it is a problem which I personally have been up against the whole of my life. It is a problem which the firm to which I belonged for forty years have been engaged in an attempt to fight and solve. I am not satisfied that the solution is going to be in State action as such. The nigger in the wood pile is Deputy Good and all that Deputy Good represents. It is a fact that right through the whole industrial, commercial, financial and political machine of this country, Deputy Good and the mentality of Deputy Good exists and dominates the position. The army of peaceful economic penetration is in possession of all the key positions of commerce, of credit, and of transport.

The problem which we have to face in this country is not the problem which other countries have to face—the problem of dealing with the enemy outside our shores. The problem we have to face is the problem of dealing with the enemy who is entrenched in our own home and who pretends to speak in our name. If this problem is to be solved there will be a definite duty and a definite function to be performed by the Government. That would be a function purely and simply, in my opinion, of protecting and making effective the efforts of those who are not in the Government.

Commercial interests of all sorts and kinds are regimented behind this transport monopoly. And if you hit that transport monopoly in any single one of its widely flung tentacles in Irish commercial life, you will find that like the squid it will harden up on every one of its tentacles and you will find that you are fighting the whole machine. You will be fighting the whole machine that controls insurance, that controls larger distribution, that controls credit and that controls transport generally. The hand is the hand of Esau but the voice is the voice of Jacob—not Jacob in this case but Good. Damn good for Good, but very bad for this country.

Deputy Hennessy suggested that the Minister for Industry and Commerce could get exact figures. I believe that the Minister for Industry and Commerce does want this information. I believe quite frankly that if the Minister for Industry and Commerce could get information and if he could help he would be anxious to act upon it. I think he knows the problem. He knows that the enemy is in our own house, but what figures can he get? Their balance sheet of five per cent.? What does that mean?

Here is a very simple story. A new splendid boat came into the City of Cork for one of the members of this combine. A Cork shipper was standing on the quay with the managing director of that particular line. He said, "How much do you think that ship cost?" She was replacing a ship which was supposed to cost £60,000. She stood in their books at the figure of £60,000. The Cork shipper was told that she cost £380,000 and her cabins were not yet in her. The comment made by that managing director for the purpose of transmission to the commercial community of Cork was: "They will have to wait a long time for a reduction of the freights."

It took us four years to discover that that ship was built by themselves, and the figure at which it appeared in their books was purely a matter for themselves. We have got to earn interest upon £360,000 when that £360,000 may represent any sum, in fact, different to £360,000. You had a ship which was written down to £25,000 belonging to one branch of the Octopus. She was transferred to another branch of the Octopus at £80,000, because that was the branch that was capable of earning money on £80,000 and not because her value had changed in the slightest degree. A ship which had been temporarily upon the Irish service was converted at a cost of £40,000 or £50,000 to make it suitable for the Scotch service, and the cost of the conversion was charged up to the Irish service, and interest had to be paid upon that.

You go further through their accounts and you find that they borrow money from each other. They borrow money, at any rate, that suits them through each other, and no accountant could contest the accuracy of their accounts upon that ground. If, for instance, one of them accumulates, say, £15,000 or £20,000 profit he is told to transfer that at any particular interest which the central organisation decides to any particular branch of that organisation. He can transfer it at an interest of one, two, three or ten per cent. How can the Minister for Industry and Commerce, not knowing anything of these facts—there is no means whatever by which the Minister for Industry and Commerce can know these facts—be able to find from any particular balance sheet whether the profits made are extravagant or otherwise?

It is impossible at the present moment for the Minister for Industry and Commerce, with the whole of the balance sheet and all the information that he could possibly take from those people, to form an opinion as to what is actually going on unless he knew from inside.

Move on again. Let us say for a moment that we are going to send a competing service into the city of Cork, into Dublin or some other place. You will find that every single piece of property on the quay, every economic loading berth, is backed by property which is owned by the combine or those interested in it, and you can only buy it against a covenant not to use it for shipping purposes. I have seen dozens of those contracts. If I buy a piece of property on the Cork quays at present I find I can use it for rearing antelopes. I cannot use it for coal. I cannot use it for shipping; I cannot use it for storing grain. That sort of thing has been going on for a considerable number of years, and that invisible stranglehold is there. If you send a ship to Dublin City to load in competition with a ship that has an economic berth you are beaten from the day you go in. We send in some more ships in competition and first, there is a rate cutting. After the rate has been cut for a certain time there is an attempt to buy you, and generally that is successful, because a good many of the lines that come in to compete come in to be bought out.

A man came to me in Liverpool one time and told me he was running a ship to Ireland for a particular and specific purpose. I knew his financial position to a hair. He asked me if I would not come in with him and I said "No." He said "Why?" and I said "Do you know what you are up against?""I think I do," he said. He added "What do you think I want?" I said "In the first place, you will not get an economic loading berth." He said "I think I can get over that," and for certain reasons which were very exceptional reasons for a time he did. Then I told him the second thing that would happen, assuming that he could do that, was that he would be beaten out by the weight of money. He said "No, I will not. I am going deliberately to restrict myself to a small trade. It will not pay them to break their freight price on their gross traffic for the small amount that I am going to do." I said "Wise man." Then I said "The third thing that will happen will be that you will be bought out. You cannot be frozen out, you cannot be beaten out, but you will be bought out," and his answer was, "Mr. Flinn, what do you think I am going in for?" and he was bought out.

That is the history of a good deal of the competition. Anyone who knows anything about what has been occurring in Ireland for the last few years will be able to identify three, four, and possibly five, enterprises of that kind. Then you find the man who cannot be shifted like that. There was a line coming into Cork from the continent, so the Octopus came to him and said: "You are coming into Cork in competition with us," and the man said "Yes, I am.""Well," said the Octopus, "You call at Havre." He said "Yes.""Well," said the other, "we do not and if you are not out of Cork next week we will call at Havre," and he cleared out of Cork. The idea that it is easy for anyone to go into competition and to get away with it, having regard to the existence of these people's far-flung commercial associations, their covenanted rights in harbours and, above all, the support of Deputy Good—the idea that it is easy for us to get through that stranglehold certainly shows a lack of knowledge of the position.

Now I will come to what I call the Deputy Good element. In the City of Cork the local representative of the Octopus charges 6s. 8d. for each consignment coming in for clearing it through the customs, whether you clear it or they clear it. If you do all the work they still charge you the money and the commercial community in Cork have apparently not been able to solve that little riddle. You would imagine they would protest and kick up blue blazes about it, but this is actually what did happen. At a meeting of a certain trade at which the question was raised as to the 6s. 8d. for which nothing was being done in this particular case, because it often paid the people to clear the goods themselves, the suggestion was made that they should protest. Do you know what that body actually advocated? They advocated not that the 6s. 8d. should be reduced, but that it should be increased, that they should be asked to pay more for that service. And why? Because that charge was a heavy charge upon people who were getting small consignments, small parcels of goods, but it was a protection for those who were engaged in the larger trade of distribution and it paid them to use the shipping companies for the purpose of hitting their smaller competitors.

One of the methods which most people have in relation to getting over the Irish shipping difficulty is to set up a company with Irish capital to run the shipping end. In the first place you have to remember that when you tackle the Cork Steam Packet Company, the British and Irish, or any other of the twenty-two companies which are associated, you tackle, roughly speaking, £250,000,000. Remember that that is £250,000,000 of fighting money, and unless you are prepared to put into the pool an amount of money which can stand up to that fight, do not imagine for a moment that the mere question of business efficiency or anything else is going to enable you to win through. Certanly not, particularly if you have at the head of your major importation and exportation services in Ireland men of the mentality of Deputy Good, or men of the mentality of the Dublin Chamber of Distributors who do not want anything of that kind.

It is not the putting up of money that is required; it is the pooling of traffic. It is a question of the putting up of traffic under conditions in which that traffic can be held to that particular new organisation in spite of the bribes, the menaces and the sabotage which will be immediately and directly used against it. If our Irish shippers had a different mentality to that of the O.B.E., if they had a different mentality to the N.C.O's of the army of economic penetration which are called the Chambers of Commerce, whose grip economically in this country is so complete that they have not got even a petty commissioned officer here, the situation would be altered. Mr. David Barry's name has been mentioned. I merely take him as an example—an office boy——

I think the Deputy ought not to mention names.

Very well, we will keep to generalities. There is no managing director of any shipping company in this country at the present moment who has the authority of an ordinary office boy.

What about Mr. Barry?

I am told I am not to allude to him personally. They are called to London, they sit around a table, they are given their instructions, and they come back and carry them out. Aye, and they come back and pretend to be acting independently when I have in my possession letters showing that they were acting under instructions and that they were lying when they said that they were speaking on their own authority and off their own bat. Now, you start again with a rival company and attempt to function. They go to one of these people, who say: "All right, this traffic of yours is hitting us. We will give you a rebate upon the nominal figure; we will give you that rebate over a series of years even, and you must state on your invoice to your customers a wrong freight."

Is the Deputy in a position to produce documents in support of that statement and put them on the records of this House?

I think if he can produce records of that kind he should give that information to the House.

The number of things that I know and that I am not allowed to prove——

What interest has Deputy Davin in this matter? In a number of things there is a difference between what one knows and what one can prove, and a difference between the things that one can prove and that one is allowed to prove. Where do I get this information? From living in it, because such agreements have been handed to those in whom I am interested. I have simply put that to you as a problem. It is a much bigger problem and a much more difficult problem than is, I think, ordinarily envisaged. But it is a problem that can be solved if we get rid of Deputy Good, if we get rid of everything that Deputy Good represents, if we tear out of the heart of this country "the fifteen." Deputy Byrne does not count—a pawn in the game.

Perhaps the Deputy would now come to the motion.

If you can get Irish industry conscious of the grip, conscious of what it is suffering on account of the grip, if you can get it determined to take the action which that consciousness of what it is suffering in that grip imposes upon it, then this problem is solvable. If these people would recognise the position with regard to the services between us and the single customer for our goods, that the complete control of shipping, of insurance, of distribution, and of credit is in the hands of Deputy Good and his associates, and that that means that they have a stranglehold upon them, that no matter what we do, no matter what we produce, no matter what the quality or the amount of our produce may be, that stranglehold can be effective to keep us poor and to keep our country depopulated, if we can get that consciousness burnt home into the minds of our people, then the shipping combine can be smashed, the grip can be broken, and this country can be allowed to function as a free economic unit instead of as an economic slave.

But it is in our own hands. The Government alone cannot do it. If the Government attempt to do it they will be hamstrung at every corner by people who are in possession of the key positions in Irish economic life. It is our business to put behind whatever government we are asking to function in this matter an educated, an informed and a determined national opinion. Then this shipping problem which, big as it is, is only one of the fingers of the grip, can be solved, and when it can be solved the whole question as to whether this country can be made a country in which a considerable population on a widely distributed standard of frugal comfort can be maintained, or whether it is going to be a little country, with a small and poor population which cannot maintain itself, maintain its present industries or develop to any position which is consonant with the hope that we have always had through the long generations of hard times that our people have served through, can be solved.

Deputy Flinn has more or less suggested that I am personally interested in this motion.

I withdraw that.

I am glad that the Deputy has withdrawn that, because I have no greater personal interest in this motion than the Deputy himself, or than any other Deputy who may be interested in the passage of laws which are for the well-being of the community at large. I join with Deputy Ryan in appealing to the mover of the motion to withdraw it, for two reasons. In the first place, the motion calls for certain inquiries, investigations and consultations with public bodies and others who are interested in the matter with a view to providing better lairage facilities in the City of Dublin. Having heard the eloquent speeches of Deputies representing the City and County of Cork, Deputy O'Hanlon will quite clearly see that it would be unfair to the people in the City and County of Cork to pass a motion which deals only with Dublin. Therefore, I hope that he will not press the motion to a division. If he does, I feel that such Deputies as Deputy Hennessy and Deputy Flinn would be bound to go into the Lobby against it, because it does not call for the same facilities for Cork Harbour as for Dublin, and as far as I can gather, Cork is suffering to a greater extent than Dublin.

The Government set up the Ports and Harbours Tribunal, and as far as I can see from reading the evidence which has been given all over the country, every opportunity has been given to every interest, wherever the Tribunal has sat and taken evidence, to put up any aspect of the problem affecting their shipping conditions.

That is so, but the Deputy will realise that, unfortunately, authority over the ports in this country has been in the hands of vested interests, who will not always give evidence before the Tribunal.

I quite agree. Any Deputy who has given consideration to the matter must agree that the setting up of a native Government here was bound to bring with it a demand for the revision of the powers and authority of harbour boards. I agree that that demand was justified and that a revision of the powers of the different harbour authorities in the Free State is long overdue. If that is the case and if the Tribunal is charged with the responsibility of dealing with the harbours and with the duty of suggesting a revision of the laws governing their administration and control, I say that this motion should apply equally in the case of Dundalk, Cork or any other port as in the case of Dublin. For that reason, I suggest that the whole matter should be left over until the House has had an opportunity of studying the Report and the recommendations of that very important Commission. Deputy Hennessy said that some of the people who have vested interests refused to give evidence before it. If they did so, and the Tribunal makes a report of any kind, affecting their interests, then it will be their loss or misfortune if they refused to give evidence.

It will be the loss of the nation.

That is the question. I strongly appeal to Deputy O'Hanlon to withdraw the motion. It reads:—"That having regard to the lack of proper facilities for the shipment of cattle from Dublin port and the fact that the carrying trade from the Free State to British ports is practically non-competitive, the Dáil is of opinion that the Executive Council should confer... "I disagree with the wording of a motion, which says that the carrying trade to British ports from Free State ports is practically non-competitive. I suggest this to Deputy O'Hanlon and probably it might enable him to get such information as to make him change his mind: I would ask him to make inquiries regarding the number of agents employed by Cross-Channel railway and shipping companies who attend cattle fairs and call upon people who export any form of produce. Let him ascertain how many represent the B. and I. Line or the Coast Lines, the London, Midland and Scottish, and the Great Western, and when he has that information, having regard to the number of people who are acting for these three big British shipping and railway companies, I think he will change his mind on the extent to which competition is supposed to exist with cross-Channel trade here. If there was no competition, there would be no necessity for having something like 100 agents representing the three companies I referred to. I think the Deputy will get evidence to convince him in that respect without going very far. Deputy Flinn referred to the question of rebates, and suggested that rates were being charged different from the book rates agreed to by the conference which controls railway and shipping rates in this country. Deputy Flinn is a public representative and, like other Deputies, he has a public responsibility to discharge. I suggest that the Deputy will be discharging what is obviously a public responsibility if he puts before the House, and on its records, the information which he says he has with regard to that matter. He will be doing a public duty, and I think it is up to him to discharge that duty, by giving any information which he has.

I hope Deputy O'Hanlon will agree to withdraw the motion until Deputies have had an opportunity of reading the report, which, I presume, will be before them in the near future, of the Ports and Harbours Tribunal, dealing with the whole question. Deputy Flinn referred to people who came into the shipping world in order that they might be bought out. As far as I know, the people who are at the back of this motion are the people who purchased a ship for the purpose of carrying traffic for their own convenience, thinking it would be more economic for them to do so.

Deputy Davin has dropped into the error that a number of others dropped into, in stating that a certain association is behind this motion. This is my motion. There are no cattle traders or members of any other association behind it. I want to make that plain.

Having read an interview given by a representative of the Cattle Traders Exporters' Association that appeared in this day's "Irish Independent" one would be led to believe that a certain cattle organisation, or certain representatives of the cattle trade were behind it. I accept Deputy O'Hanlon's statement, but the fact is that certain people who were directly associated with the export of cattle purchased a ship some years ago. They claimed to be very patriotic Irishmen, but it was only a short time after they had purchased that ship that they sold their interest to another shipping company, one of the so-called foreign shipping companies. Deputy Byrne says that the British and Irish Steampacket Company is not an Irish shipping company. Well, I think that the Irish manager of that concern would like Deputy Byrne and Deputy Hennessy to believe that he is really more Irish than the Irish themselves. In any case the company is called the British and Irish Steampacket Company, and they bought out the ship that was purchased by a combine of cattle traders for the purpose of under-cutting cattle rates. Why did these patriotic Irishmen sell the ship they were using for the purpose of carrying on the cattle trade with the other side, at rates below those then in existence? The real cause of the failure of attempts to establish really Irish shipping companies of that kind is due to the fact that people who start these small shipping companies fail to realise that return cargoes from the other side are the only means whereby they can undercut the existing rates of the big combine. Any people interested in the future of an Irish shipping company will have to realise that that is one of the great problems to be faced if the Irish companies are going to be formed with any chance of success.

Deputy Davin has suggested that we in Cork would be bound to vote against this motion, if Deputy O'Hanlon does not exercise his discretion and withdraw it. If Deputy O'Hanlon decides to go on with it we will vote for it.

I think with Deputy Davin that this motion is badly drafted and ought to be withdrawn for the present. When Deputy O'Hanlon was introducing the motion, he made a speech which would leave certain members of the House under a completely wrong impression. He brought in the question of moving the cattle market down to the North Wall. I do not know if the Deputy is aware of it or not, but an enormous number of cattle and sheep that are shown in the cattle market come by road to the North Circular Road, and it would be extremely awkward to have cattle and sheep driven in the first instance to the North Wall. It might also be very inconvenient for the Dublin victuallers. I do not know why the Deputy decided to word the resolution as he did. The Deputy also attacked the Dublin Port and Docks Board. He was evidently completely misinformed. He said the Dublin Port and Docks Board had put every obstacle in the way of any other shipping company getting facilities, such as are given to the firms already in existence. That is absolutely incorrect. The Dublin Port and Docks Board is there to further the trade of Dublin, and through Dublin the trade of Ireland. The Deputy also mentioned the case of "The Brussels," and said that when that ship was purchased for the export of cattle and sheep from Dublin the Port and Docks Board put every obstacle in the way, by refusing to give her a berth, and in every way discouraged the project. That also was absolutely incorrect. They gave her a berth. When the owners of "The Brussels" said that the berth was rather inconvenient as their stock had to walk so many hundred yards down to the yard, they were given another berth.

On a point of order, I have the report of my speech here.

I am only giving the Deputy my impression of his speech. They gave "The Brussels" another berth opposite where the owners of "The Brussels" had a yard. They spent between £6,000 and £8,000 in making that berth in the Liffey near the Custom House available at all times of the tide for "The Brussels." Well, now "The Brussels" as an economic proposition failed, and it failed because, as Deputy Davin said, it could not get return freights. It was then sold to the British and Irish. The Port and Docks Board had nothing whatever to do with that. I just want to mention that the Port and Docks Board gave every possible facility, and spent an enormous amount of money in helping the trade established, or proposed to be established, by the owners of "The Brussels." There is no doubt, to my mind, as a member of the cattle trade, that the suggested lairage to which people could send their cattle to anybody they liked would be an advantage to the trade. I think, however, that we ought to wait until we receive the report of the Ports and Harbours Tribunal. Like Deputy Davin, I suggest that Deputy O'Hanlon should withdraw his motion for the present.

Before expressing an opinion on the appeal made to me there are just a few points that I would like to clear up. I will deal first of all with the question of "The Brussels" referred to by Deputy Leonard. What I said with regard to the Port and Docks Board and the question of the berthage of "The Brussels" was that were it not for the fact that the Dublin Chamber of Commerce had several representatives on the Port and Docks Board at the time——

Might I point out to the Deputy that the Chamber of Commerce has not representatives on the Port and Docks Board.

What I meant to say was that when the Dublin Corporation was in existence, it had seven or eight representatives on the Port and Docks Board, and were it not for those representatives those who usually conduct the business of the Port and Docks Board would have obstructed the owners of "The Brussels" in getting a berth. At present no representatives are nominated on behalf of the Corporation, and I believe that the Commissioners rarely attend the meetings of the Port and Docks Board, so that the Port and Docks Board is, to all intents and purposes, in the hands of those who run the combine. I do not withdraw one word of that. The main object of Deputy Good in intervening in the debate was to defend the rights of Coast Lines. In the course of my speech, in opening the debate, I do admit that I lapsed in mentioning the name of a particular gentleman. I had referred to him in the earlier part of my speech as the representative of Coast Lines. I was quoting from a newspaper where the Minister for Finance had referred to him by name, and, unfortunately, in reading from the quotation I continued on and mentioned his name instead of just saying the representative of Coast Lines. In my opening speech, I said that Coast Lines were not giving any return to this country in the way of income tax, and I adhere to that. I also said that this combine was a monopoly that was making its business out of the farmers of Ireland and was not making any adequate return to this State for the money it was getting out of it.

I do not propose to make a long speech in replying on this motion. This motion, as Deputies are aware, was on the Order Paper for 13 months. It was a disappointment to me that I did not get an opportunity of moving it earlier, but I wish to say now that I am more than pleased that I did not get that opportunity, and that the motion was not squeezed in between other motions, because I am afraid, if that had occurred, less time would have been given to it than it has actually received. Members from all sides of the House have expressed opinions favourable to the motion. I think that if I had achieved nothing else by putting down the motion except to draw forth these unanimous expressions of opinion, thereby focussing attention on the indifference shown to our main industry in this particular matter, I would have done a great deal.

resumed the Chair.

As I have said, members on all sides of the House, and belonging to every Party, have expressed opinions favourable to the motion. They have done that, but I may say that I am not looking for any kudos for myself. I moved the motion on behalf of the farmers of the Free State and on behalf of the finances of the Free State, and I am satisfied with the results that I have obtained. I am, however, not quite satisfied with the attitude which the Minister for Industry and Commerce adopted towards the motion. He said that he was to meet yesterday the members of the Cattle Traders' Association. I may say that, in moving the motion, I did not care one crack of my finger about the Cattle Traders' Association. I look, first of all, to the producers, the farmers of this country who produce the animal. I want him to get as much profit out of what he produces as possible. I want the State to get every halfpenny of money that can be realised out of the sale of animals on the other side, so as to help to rectify our trade balance, and, as far as possible, make it favourable to this country. But, as regards the parties who come in between these two interests, I care nothing. They are well able to look after themselves. The money which the cattle traders, and other people who come in between these interests, make comes out of the farmers' pocket. He is the man that I represent. Deputy Good sneers at country representatives. Let me tell the Deputy that if the farmers in my county and the farmers of Ireland generally downed tools for one month they would soon leave Deputy Good hungry.

I did not sneer.

The Deputy did, and I object to the Deputy or anybody sneering at the men who come here from the country and who represent those who are engaged in digging wealth out of the soil of the country. As long as I represent a country constituency I will not allow Deputy Good or any gentleman in the Dublin Chamber of Commerce to make little of the people who sent me here.

The appeal that has been made to me to withdraw this motion has come from various parts of the House, and come in good faith. I do not want to close my ears to that appeal. I am prepared to withdraw the motion on one condition. The Minister for Industry and Commerce said he was prepared to have a conference between the Cattle Traders' Association, his own Department and the railway people and the shippers. I am not satisfied with that. That suggests to me that you might as well try to play Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. Where is the Minister for Agriculture? The Minister speaks on almost every subject that comes up here, and speaks very cleverly, but here is a matter of prime importance dealing with the agricultural industry and involving a sum of £20,000,000 a year to the country, and yet we have not heard a word from the Minister for Agriculture on it. The Minister for Industry and Commerce confined his speech to statements that were made in the Seanad. I want to say that was no reply to any statement made in my speech. The Minister was under the delusion that I was briefed by the Cattle Traders' Association and that the case made in the Seanad was the case made here. My case is quite a different case to that made in the Seanad. Until the Minister for Industry and Commerce tells me, and tells the House, that he is going to confer with the Minister for Agriculture when dealing with a matter affecting the agricultural industry, such as this, then I will not be satisfied that the matter has been dealt with in a proper way. The Minister for Industry and Commerce in his speech did not attempt to refute one of the statements I made in regard to the conditions under which veterinary inspections are carried out at the Port of Dublin or in other ports in the country.

He must not be aware of the conditions, and he did not bring in the Minister for Agriculture to say what the conditions are and whether they are satisfactory. I put this to the Minister for Fisheries, who is the only Minister present: Is the Government satisfied that the £20,000,000 worth of live stock leaving this country are leaving it under the best possible conditions, and, if not, are they going to take steps to ensure that they are? I want an assurance that all the Departments will be brought in to consider this important question. I believe I have the House behind me in this matter.

I can give no guarantee on behalf of the other Ministers. I understood the Minister for Industry and Commerce had come to an arrangement with Deputy O'Hanlon in regard to the conference.

No such thing.

All I can say is that I will put Deputy O'Hanlon's view before the Minister for Industry and Commerce with regard to having a representative of the Department of Agriculture present at the conference.

That is satisfactory, and with the permission of the House I withdraw the motion.

A meeting of the Cattle Traders' Association was held at which an assurance was given that a representative of the Department of Agriculture would cooperate in this matter.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.