Private Deputies' Business. - Immediate Needs of the Unemployed—Debate Resumed.

Debate resumed on the following Motion: "That the Dáil is of opinion that steps should be taken forthwith by the Executive Council to provide work or maintenance to meet the immediate needs of the unemployed."— (Deputies Morrissey and Anthony.)

When I moved the adjournment of the debate on Friday last, I was endeavouring to show how the real issues in the debate were shelved, in the speech that I followed, and I want to say, at the outset, this evening, that I consider it a very unworthy practice to endeavour to draw red herrings across the path of a debate of this importance, by trying to drive it into channels where side issues are continuously referred to. Not one single word of Deputy Gorey's speech was directed to the consideration of this motion. Not one single reference to the subject matter of this motion was contained in his speech from beginning to end. He contented himself, in the absence of any argument, because that is the assumption, or any useful contribution to the subject of the motion, with drawing the old red herrings we have heard in every utterance of his in this House, since 1923, across the track again.

On that point, it might be well to mention that we have had in this country, for a very considerable time, almost complete industrial peace. We have no strikes; we have very few disputes of any kind, and we have, in addition, low wages. Wages have been reduced steadily for a number of years, and I think it is fair to say also that conditions under which men work in this country have not been improved. We have, at the same time, an increase in the amount of unemployment, and if Deputy Gorey, in his statement on Friday last, wishes to justify the line he has taken in this debate, by references to France, America and other countries, he will very easily find that what has happened in France, and other countries, and the things that he has referred to as having had to be done there, will not bear out his argument. France is notably a country of low wages, and yet, unemployment is increasing steadily there, and has assumed very big proportions. The huge bread lines in the American cities to-day were not created by high wages. The appeal of American employers, the American Press, and economists interested in the solution of economic problems there has altogether been directed towards preventing reductions in wages an a consequent reduction in the purchasing power of the people.

I sincerely hope that before the debate closes we will have, as the President indicated to-day, a definite statement as to the immediate remedy to be applied to the awful position that exists in the country at present, and that we shall have an indication of how soon measures to deal with that position will be put into effect. The position all over the country is a terrible reproach to public representatives of all kinds. On that point I want to say that as far back as 1924 and 1925 the then leader of this Party indicated in this House the desire to co-operate with the employers towards the consideration of a solution of this question. That offer was backed up by the production two or three years ago by the organised workers in the building industry of a definite plan on paper as to the extent of their co-operation in dealing with this matter by way of a national scheme of housing that was then mooted. I do not think there is any member of this Party who would not go very far in helping towards the solution of this question and who would not be prepared to go to the very farthest limit to show that Labour recognises fully its responsibilities and its duty in this matter.

I had an opportunity, as every Deputy had within the last two or three months in his own constituency, of seeing how far the ravages of this plague of unemployment had permeated the homes of the people. As recently as Monday last, dozens of people were appealing to members of the County Council in the county I come from, at a meeting of the Board of Assistance in Clonakilty, for recommendations to obtain work on a small road improvement scheme which is starting in that area. Dozens of people in that district are going to be disappointed, and dozens of people were disappointed, in their appeals to the public assistance authority for some temporary relief to enable them to keep body and soul together and to maintain their wives and children at some level not much better than the starvation level. None of us have forgotten what we have seen in the homes of the people when we went to ask for their votes during the election. We have seen poverty-stricken homes; we have seen disappointed, miserable and depressed mothers in the homes, and we have seen, in the homes, and in the streets, and attending the schools, large numbers of hungry children. Personally, I felt that it was asking a great deal of people in that condition to record their votes for anybody. They have reached the time when they have practically given up all hope and when they begin to think that one Party in this country can do nothing for them any more than any other Party, and that generally there is not much desire to do anything. They feel that they have been completely abandoned. I urge the President to show by his declaration this evening that it is not the intention of the Government to abandon people of that description, but that it is his desire to give them some indication that they have still some right as citizens and that the obligations he has accepted of giving them work or maintenance will be honoured immediately.

I explained on Friday last one or two directions in which immediate relief could be given, because the need is terribly urgent. I would draw the attention of the Government to the opportunity of giving sanction to schemes suggested by various county surveyors for the national reconstruction of our secondary roads. I urge the Government also to consider what can be done in the matter of drainage work and the reclamation of land. The drainage legislation passed since 1925 has been practically a dead letter in a good many counties. I have yet to hear of many schemes, and indeed of any scheme in some places, being put into effect as a result of that legislation. I urge the Ministry to take the earliest opportunity of indicating by their own policy a line for local authorities to copy by embarking on work of that kind. Work of that kind is done in a small way through the Land Commission Improvement Vote at the most unsuitable time of the year. The Relief Vote associated with the Land Commission is expended usually from some time around Christmas until the end of the financial year. Work of that kind that I believe can be very usefully and reproductively done should be carried out during the summer when it is possible for people to do it well. The result that would follow from such schemes would be useful. I suggest that the President might consider utilising the Land Commission Improvement Vote as soon as he is in a position to do it, and to continue the expenditure of that money during the present hard and depressing period.

There is very little more for me to say on the question because I assume it is going to be dealt with by the mover of the motion and by various other Deputies. I should like, however, to say that I have never known conditions to be so severe for such a large number of people in my constituency as at the present time. I have pointed out certain instances of that. I say now, what I said in this House more than once, that it is particularly unpleasant to be parading the misery and poverty of the people here, but this is the most suitable place where we can get an opportunity of advancing reasons which may compel a speedy attempt at a remedy. What has happened in a certain portion of West Cork will happen in another portion of West Cork in a few days, when in the town of Bandon sixty men, representing a wages bill of £130 a week, will be thrown out of employment if something is not done in consequence of the closing down of a certain industry. That will be the last straw for that town which has been practically ruined in the last three or four years. One thing that strikes me about the appearance of that town, comparatively prosperous some time ago, is the number of people one finds all over the town with no work to do and with dependents most of whom also have no work to do. Nothing that can be discussed in this House is more important than this question of unemployment, and I submit to the President that if he received one mandate conclusively at the last election it was a mandate to deal with the question of unemployment. I believe that mandate overshadowed any other issue. I entreat him as representative of the people of this country in his capacity as President of the State to deal with it effectively and without further delay.

Among the many steps that could be taken to provide work for the unemployed none is more important than the reassurance to private capital. If there is one lesson taught by the experience of all Governments in the world it is that Government action for the relief of unemployment is in itself totally ineffective. Far and away the best way to deal with unemployment is to encourage private individuals all over the country to give employment and to give the necessary sense of security so that they will have some heart to engage in enterprise.

I want to take this occasion to draw attention to a recent speech made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in which he said that he expected the industrialists of this country to co-operate in the great task of building up industry and relieving unemployment. And he went on, in the latter part of the same speech, to say that if their offer failed and if persons possessing capital and industrial experience in this country did not come forward in sufficient numbers to make a serious inroad on this problem of unemployment the Government would be forced to mobilise the resources of this country. Now that statement appears to me ambiguous and, as it stands, alarming, and I think something ought to be said to assure people who might be inclined to risk something in order to give employment that the result of their so doing will not be to subject them later on to confiscation.

On this question of unemployment, I think if there could have been any doubt whatever as to its urgency and importance that doubt was removed this afternoon. It was removed in this House by the votes of the representatives of the people here. The question was put to the test as to its importance and the question of unemployment proved an easy winner. That is some proof of the sense of responsibility of Deputies as between one question and another. It showed the allegiance they owed to one question and the allegiance they owed to the other and the responsibility they felt in regard to one position as compared with the other. I think the result of that vote completely vindicated anybody who takes an interest in the question of unemployment in this House. At present it is the question that is agitating the minds of the people of every class and creed and station. I do not think we have had in this country for many years any year in which the circumstances are so trying as at the present time. Various matters have been mentioned in the debate we have listened to here this evening, some of them perhaps not very relevant to the question under discussion. But there is one thing about which I think there can be no doubt and that is that the position of the labouring man is every day becoming more difficult and unenviable. In the very recent past we have a tariff of 40 per cent, on ready-made clothing. I wonder who more avails of the advantages to be derived from the purchase of ready-made clothing than the poor man? We also have had an increase in the cost of living brought about by the increase in the cost of butter. I wonder will the poor man and his family be able to reach it in the future? These are considerations that should weigh with any Government with a sense of responsibility. Before they embark on the policy of penalising unfortunate individuals who are in a defenceless position they should consider in the first place how the question of unemployment can be dealt with. Before they inflict upon him the undue burden of bearing the cost of those tariffs they should see first and foremost that he is in a position to bear these expenses and that they will put him in a position to do so. I do not think it is likely that all these things are tending to improve industry in the near future. There may be a number of industries that may be likely to be improved, but who will bear the cost in these matters? It is inevitable I consider that if these expenses are to be incurred as they are now being incurred and if the poor man is to bear them something must be done to equalise the position of those men as compared with the recent past.

Something must be done because on the wages that have obtained in the recent past and taking into account the increased cost of living, a man cannot afford to live and rear his family. I say this is a very important and serious question for the Government and one that needs their immediate and serious consideration. In the constituency of which I am one of the representatives I regret to say that many of the people—it is a very congested area—have very low valuations and depression is very acute at the present time. Many of the people there have to earn their living as migratory labourers. I regret to say that recently it has come to my knowledge some of the people who migrated to England for that purpose have come back, having been met with the answer "We have 2,000,000 of our own people unemployed, we cannot afford to give you employment, you must go back and seek employment in your own country." These are facts which I am submitting for the consideration of the Government.

Rightly or wrongly a certain situation has arisen in the country at the present time, one which is calculated to bring to the doors of the poor very serious consequences. It is also another matter upon which I would like to appeal to the representative of the Ministry who will have to deal with the question. I do not wish to suggest that people have been deliberately misled into the belief that they would not have any responsibility for the payment of land annuities in future but, be that so or not, it is a fact staring us in the face that land annuities are not being paid and that people who can least afford it at the present time are likely to be penalised with serious cost as the result of being brought into court. That is very serious expense which the people of this country, and particularly the people of the constituency of which I am one of the representatives, can least afford. I do not desire, lest it might be construed as hostility to the Government, to suggest that it was as a result of misrepresentation made to these people that they incurred these debts but the fact is that they have incurred them. Let the President say that such is not the case if he wishes, that at the present time there has not been a very serious accumulation of arrears in the way of land annuities and that these people are not walking up against very serious trouble for themselves and serious trouble for the ratepayers of the country.

It has come to my knowledge from the public Press, be it well founded or ill-founded, that for the first time in the County Mayo a certain deduction has been made from the agricultural grant as a result of arrears of land annuities. That is a state of affairs that did not exist previously because one thing was remarkable. Poor though the people of the county are, they certainly stood out on their own —I think I am absolutely correct in stating this—with regard to the payment of land annuities and rates. It was regularly brought home to them that if they paid their land annuities in time, as a result of the payment of these annuities they would receive certain benefits in getting the full amount of the agricultural grant. That state of affairs has changed, I am sorry to think, for the sake of the people concerned. The difficulties confronting them in the future will be very serious both for the people themselves and the Government. I hope that in the situation now existing those responsible will not land these people into serious trouble in the way of legal costs by bringing them into court, a situation that in my opinion could have been avoided if the people were not led to a wrong position—I do not like to go the distance of saying—by misrepresentation, but the fact is there staring us in the face. Let us hope that in the future some remedy will be found.

There has always been a disposition on the part of the Government, whoever was in office, to have some consideration for the Gaeltacht. The Gaeltacht forms the greater part of the county which I represent, and I hope that the people who have the misfortune of being in poor circumstances there will receive the consideration which they deserve. The position of the labouring man just now is undoubtedly very serious, and I am sorry to think that the actions of the Government in the recent past are not going to make that position easier because the alarming increase that has occurred in the cost of living as a result of the very substantial tariffs imposed will make it very difficult for them to make ends meet. If it was difficult for them to do so in the past I do not know how much more difficult it will be in the future.

Very briefly I wish to intervene in the debate, and to say that Deputies in this House might remember that at this very hour thousands of women and children in this city are making ready to settle down for the night in rooms that are crawling with vermin, in rooms that are filthy beyond description, in houses that have been repeatedly condemned by the public authority as unfit for human habitation, and in accommodation which I have no hesitation in saying could be arraigned at law, and if there was any person sufficiently public spirited the proprietors and renters of that accommodation should be punished under the existing law for allowing human beings to dwell in these houses. There are families in Dublin to-night settling down in coal cellars under the street for their night's rest. There are families, to go no farther than one street, in Gardiner Street to-night, who are making their beds under the street in a coal cellar with an open sewer outside the door. There is scope there for the employment of seventy per cent. of the unemployed in Dublin. There should be, and I believe there is, the will to carry out the necessary reform in the housing of the poor in this city on the Front Bench of the House. I can only hope there will be found in the ranks of the Labour Party a spirit of co-operation to facilitate the reform which I envisage.

It is well to say that nobody expects that a labourer who will be employed in the work of rehousing the poor should make an unequal sacrifice in facilitating that reform. The community should make a sacrifice and a substantial sacrifice; the financiers should make a sacrifice and a substantial sacrifice, and if Labour are called upon to make a sacrifice, they should make it too. I want to throw out this suggestion—I do not want to go into detail, because it would take much too long. You are paying an enormous amount in unemployment insurance, not the dole, because, thank God, there is no man in receipt of a dole from anybody. They are in receipt of unemployment insurance for which they paid. It would be infinitely better to provide a man with work than to provide him with sustenance. I know these men and I know that a great many of them, 90 per cent. of them, would sooner have work than sustenance. If the Labour Party got together with the responsible Minister, I think they could devise some scheme whereby unemployment insurance could be used as the nucleus of a fund for specific schemes. If a scheme of housing of the poor were adopted, I suggest that the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Department of Local Government should come together and certify that, for want of a better term, as a necessary scheme, and that legislation should be passed through the House making work available for every unemployed labourer and making it possible for a housing scheme to be financed by paying part of the cost of labour with the funds that would otherwise be spent on unemployment insurance.

That is a rough suggestion, but possibly it contains the germ which may prove the solution of the principal evil of unemployment, which is not poverty, which is not hunger, but the demoralisation which results to the men whose bodies and souls are kept together and who are allowed to deteriorate in the idleness which they detest.

In my own constituency hundreds of men are in hunger simply because they are watching the trawlers coming from France and England taking their livelihood away every night. I spoke of that six weeks ago in this Dáil, and the President said on that occasion that it was his intention to deal with those trawlers as pirates should be dealt with. I submitted to him and to the House that the matter is a matter of utter urgency, that these men in West and North-West Donegal who want to earn their living and do not want sustenance or alms, who want nothing but the right and opportunity of earning their living, were entitled to protection from his Government. I was encouraged when the President announced that he was going to come to their assistance and deal with the pirates who were robbing them of their property. I told them that, and I told them that they might expect assistance. I have seen nothing happen yet. I am still in high hope and I am sure they are still in high hope, and if the President is in a position to refer to the plight of our fishermen in the west and north-west seaboard, I can assure him that anything he has to say will be heard with attention and with gratitude by these men and their families. I do not require to tell him the facts. He knows them as well as I do. And if he can say anything tonight which will hold out hope to the fathers of families who are crushing their children together in indecent and immoral propinquity in the City of Dublin that he will come to their aid and discharge the Christian duty of a Christian State to make it possible for a Catholic family to be reared in a Catholic way, it will secure for him the loyal allegiance of a great many people who may not sympathise with his politics so enthusiastically.

The motion having been accepted by the Government, the question now is wholly one of method, and my only reason for rising is to ask the Government that in considering their method of dealing with this problem, they will, as far as possible, concentrate on productive work, that they will not lightly embark on work merely for the sake of providing work, that they will endeavour to do the things that are most urgently needed, and do things that will add to the health of the people and encourage them in the possibly harder times that are before them. I think it is the case that no State can spend money on things that are unproductive or even only remotely productive, and at the same time have the same amount of money to give to works that are of national urgency or that would be of direct immediate benefit to the community. For instance, if a million pounds were given to a work like afforestation which, though desirable in itself, would be only remotely productive, that would mean that the money available for housing purposes, say, would be correspondingly reduced. I do not think that it would be held in the House that the Government has unlimited resources to give for any type of work; and it would be a very unwise thing if, in giving a grant now, the Government were to give it for purposes that would mean that such urgent work as housing for instance, would have to go with less money than it deserves. I agree with the last speaker that housing is far the most urgent problem before the country at present. I believe there is nobody in the Dáil, not even Deputy Dillon, who realises the urgency of it. I have met men within the last few weeks who were on the verge of being demented through thinking of the housing conditions under which their families have to live, and I believe that the Government would be justified in treating the question of housing as a matter of national emergency and in taking the very boldest methods of dealing with it. For that reason I urge that if they are giving money now, it will be for purposes that will be productive and thus enable money to be available for housing, that if they are giving money for other purposes than housing, it will be money that will be applicable to work that will enable more money to be available for housing, and that as far as possible if a grant for housing, for instance, would not meet the conditions in every county that the grant will be given for purposes such as drainage, and particularly for bog drainage, that would be an encouragement to the people and facilitate them in their everyday work. In making that point, I am influenced by this reason: According to most authorities the low prices that we are now face to face with, and the trade depression that we are face to face with, may last for a good many years. In that case we shall probably have to face this fact: that there will be less and less money available for public work of any kind. On that account it would be very important that any money we have to spend now will be spent on work that will be a direct benefit to the country, that will relieve the most urgent requirements of the people, works such as housing and drainage and anything that will add to the productive capacity of the country. There is one point that seems to me might well be considered in that connection. A great deal of land has fallen out of cultivation in recent years. There are derelict farms in almost every parish in the country, and it should not be beyond the organising capacity of the community to make use of those farms. It does look a sorry thing; it looks like a complete failure of the intelligence of the community that we should have in every town a large number of people who are in a state of semi-starvation, and that, at the same time, there are in the district tracts of fertile land that have not been cultivated for years. That is a state of things that we know exists at the present time, and I suggest to the Government that they should give some attention to the matter. In many cases these farms are neither paying rates nor annuities, and surely it should be possible to make some use of them, so that food for the unemployed at least should be raised on them.

At the end of the Great War there was a new rich, and at the end of ten years of world wide depression since the Great War the new rich have become the new poor. To-day around the Free State the unemployed question has developed from what was known as the old poor, and overflown into the category known as the new poor, in which category are included shopkeepers, farmers, clerks, assistants and all these members of the community of every class and of every description.

During the recent General Election I found that the one point that defeated those of us who stood then for the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and proceeded to ask for the suffrages of the electors was unemployment. That was the best asset that the Fianna Fáil Party had. Night after night we consulted amongst ourselves and made investigations to see if we could meet— to even a quarter or one-third—the promises made by the Fianna Fáil Party; and we failed completely to do so. We could not stand up on any platform and say to the people: "Return us who stand for the Government policy and we promise you that we will end unemployment." We could not do so because our consciences would not permit us to promise what we knew was false.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce stated that in the event of the moneyed classes or the owners of property not coming forward with their money to start industries that their capital would be mobilised for the common good. Now the other night I asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce to say whether the plans or schemes, which we were told were ready to solve the unemployment question, would be produced. We are still in the same position waiting for their production. No scheme and no provision, so far have been in evidence from the Fianna Fáil Party to help the people of this country in the solution of the unemployment question.

It was stated that the Minister had received deputations from various groups of industrial people, from people who wished to investigate the industrial possibilities. In some, if not all, of these cases the Minister asked first that these groups put up the cash. There are at the moment numbers of employers who are ready to make searching investigations within the limits of their own capacity with a view to ascertaining how they could establish new industries. These employers have completely and entirely failed. We are waiting to hear something from the Minister for Industry and Commerce as to what his plans are or in what way he intends to solve or to contribute to the solution of the unemployment question by the creation of new industries. One would have expected that before he puts into force his threat to mobilise capital and the owners of capital he would show the country what his plans are. It was undoubtedly that promise to end unemployment which won thousands of votes all through the country for the Fianna Fáil Party. We were unable to stand up to their high bidding for votes.

The people were told that we had failed to end unemployment but that the Fianna Fáil Party had a plan to do so. That Party went into the highways and by-ways of the various countries; they went into the bogs and to the farmers in the most remote places and was it about the Oath and Republic they talked or about unemployment? Their whole cry was how were the people to live, meet their debts and pay their way. They appealed to the man with the small patch of land, to the man who got only a couple of days' work in the week, and they told him that instead of trying to live and rear his family on 7/- a week they could guarantee him good employment all the year round. It was as a result of that sort of talk and of promises of that kind that men came en masse to the polls to vote for Fianna Fáil. The voters were told that we needed a change of Government in order to end unemployment. They were told that the Cumann na nGaedheal Government was responsible for the unemployment and the depression that existed. Now the people to whom these promises were made are the people who are looking to the House for relief. They are looking to the Government to redeem the promises they made and to put into operation their plan to end unemployment. The sober minded individuals in the Fianna Fáil Party know very well that they cannot produce a plan to end unemployment.

Might I ask if a Deputy is entitled to speak twice on the one Motion?

No, a Deputy is allowed to speak only once on a Motion. I have a record here that Deputy Minch spoke already for one minute, but this was by way of intervention or question. Under the circumstances I will allow him to proceed.

He is hitting very hard—he is telling the truth.

It was on that plan about which they made so many promises that Fianna Fáil at the election received a great part of the support they secured. The votes got in that way enabled them to be returned to the House in such strength that they were able to take over the Government of this country. To-day the people who sent them here expect that they will redeem the whole or the greater part of the promises made during the election. Deputy Dillon referred to the frightful housing conditions in Dublin. The Deputy can come down to the country and see for himself that we are unfortunately as badly off if not worse in the country.

What were you doing during the last ten years?

Does Deputy Corry want to make another hash of a speech? Deputy Dillon can go down to the country and see for himself that the housing conditions are just as bad in the country. The Deputy suggests the development of a tremendous housing programme. Very good. A housing programme unaccompanied by any expansion of industry or guarantee of good employment will bring you a state of things in which people will occupy houses the rents of which they will be unable to pay. These will ultimately develop into new slums. First of all the housing question will need to go hand in hand with the development of the resources of the country so that when new houses are built the new occupiers will be people who will be able to pay the rents of them; there will be no necessity for evictions and there will not be the danger of these new houses becoming in a short time, perhaps in a few years, new slums. Let the Government produce this programme to solve unemployment. If they do we on this side will be prepared to help. We on these benches have just as much nationalism and as much love of our country as those on the far side of the House. Let the Government produce their plan for the solution of unemployment and they will get little opposition from this side of the House.

I am rather sorry for the turn that this debate has taken. I feel that the last speaker spoiled rather a good constructive speech by bringing this debate down to the sordidness of Party politics. On a previous occasion in this House I felt what I want to say now and that is that I have the feeling that every Deputy in this House is as much interested in the solving of the problem of unemployment as is any member of the Labour Party or any other Party in the Dáil. Every Deputy being interested in this it should not be made a Party question. I rather regret the tone of the speech of the last speaker because of that. There is no need at this stage to go into any details as to the main factors of unemployment in this country. I could cover a whole lot of ground and I might raise political issues and delve right back into the past and into things which a lot of us want to forget. I do not believe anything can be gained by further estranging Parties in the Dáil, and further estranging Parties in the country, by ripping up things that occurred in 1922 or 1923.

I feel that there are two methods of approach to this problem of unemployment. There is the method of solving this problem by private enterprise. The Motion in the name of Deputy Morrissey suggests State enterprise. Because it calls upon the Dáil or rather upon the Government to take steps forthwith to provide work or maintenance to meet the immediate needs of the unemployed. Apart from the fluctuations and changes in the demand for labour it might be said that the proper treatment would be by business organisation. It has also been suggested by very many economists that in crises of this character we should provide a reserve of power for fluctuations and to ease transitions.

There are of course other activities in which the State can easily indulge. Some of them have already been indicated. Afforestation and land reclamation are two which I suggest might be used as a reservoir of labour, two sources of an elastic demand able to contract and expand just as the demand in the labour market contracts or expands. It is also suggested by very many able economists that there should be, during slack periods, some reserve of employment by which an unemployed man might live until such time as he can return to his usual avocation. That may outrage the feelings of many persons who stick rigidly to old, economic theories.

We are all aware that unemployment is affected by what we come to regard as seasonal fluctuations. Every industry in this country has its seasonal period. Deputy Good is an authority on this question; so are building operatives and members of the trade unions authorities on this question. Building operatives are busier and more active in the summer season than in winter. We know there are seasonal fluctuations in every industry in this country. Those of us who live in the cities, who represent county boroughs, are aware that these fluctuations have their tragic effects on many of the operatives in the industries concerned. I have had most depressing experiences in my own home listening to the stories of unemployed people. No later than last week I had interviews with a number of men, some of whom were trained accountants, and at least one of whom was manager of a comparatively big commercial firm in this country.

I have said that many things contributed to unemployment here. We have come to the age of the machine. I suggest the machine has beaten itself. We have labour-saving machinery introduced into nearly every industry in this country. Labour-saving machinery may aim for efficiency. If you could translate the word "efficiency" as the greatest amount of production, undoubtedly the machine is efficient. I know of industries where after the introduction of labour-saving machines, fifteen to twenty men were thrown on the scrap heap. I do sympathise with President de Valera in the task he has before him, because not alone will he and his Government have to tackle a very serious economic problem and all that connotes with its attendant tragedy of unemployment, but he will, if he makes any serious attempt at all—and I give him credit that he is just as sincere in solving this question as I am—he will not alone be up against orthodox things that we know of which have contributed to seasonal fluctuations, but he will be up against the question, a very serious question, too, as to the advisability of further incursions by the aid of the machine into man's labour. It may be said, and has been said with a good deal of truth, that the age of machines has produced cheap commodities, but it has also produced unemployment not alone here but all over the world. President de Valera and his Executive Council, to whom I give all credit for all the humanities, will have a very serious and difficult task before them.

Because of the seriousness of the position, what is suggested in this Motion is that steps should be taken forthwith to provide work or maintenance to meet the immediate needs of the unemployed. I am not prone to quoting many figures in this House, but I am going to give the official figures returned to me to-day by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in relation to the number of persons unemployed in Cork city. When I say Cork city, I do not refer to the whole borough which I represent, but to the city proper. In answer to a question of mine the Minister stated that the average number of persons registered at the Cork Employment Exchange in each week of the calendar year 1931 was 3,876. That is, the average number of persons signing what is known as the live register was 3,876. The total amount of unemployment insurance benefit paid during the same year was £71,307. The House is aware that at no time does the live register, consisting of persons signing at the Labour Exchange, represent the real number unemployed in a given area. Multiplied by two—and that is putting it at the absolute minimum—the number of persons unemployed in Cork city to-day would be 7,752.

I have also received an official return from the South Cork County Board of Public Assistance, in answer to a query of mine, in which it is stated that the number of persons in receipt of home assistance for the week ending 16th April, 1932, was 2,157. The number of persons assisted for the month ending 31st March, 1932, was 7,249. The cost of home assistance for the half-year ended 31st March, 1932, was £7,676. The cost of home assistance for the year to 31st March, 1932, was £14,887. These, I suggest, are formidable figures, which go to show that there is an amount of unemployment and misery, not to talk of hunger or the underfeeding of women and children, that should not be allowed to go on indefinitely. If we are to save our people from being a race of C3 or even C4 people, something must be done immediately.

As the seconder of the Motion I want to say that I appreciate the magnitude of the task that President de Valera has to face, and I have indicated that as far as my co-operation will help he has it at his disposal. I am not going to indulge in any carping criticism of President de Valera, any more than I indulged in carping criticism of ex-President Cosgrave, because I believe in some spirit of fair play. I want to give the President a fair chance to show what he can do in governing this country. Of course, I have very fundamental differences from him in policy, and I dare say will continue to have them, but I think a matter of this kind should be raised above the sordidness of Party politics. It is a matter of very deep concern for every man, woman and child in this country if we are to survive. The figures I have given are formidable figures. Every Deputy knows that these figures could be reproduced in his district. Numbers of people come to me every day when I am at home asking what is the Government going to do for them. As I said before I agree that we grew up with the rather unfortunate habit of asking the Government for everything. I have a wonderful regard for the man who believes in helping himself, but to-day, owing to the operation of the forces that I have mentioned, the age of the machine, thousands of men willing and able to work, highly-skilled craftsmen, labourers and artisans are thrown on the scrap heap and cannot get any kind of work. It is a question whether in considering this motion the President will not have to review his whole attitude and that of the Irish people in relation to the problem. It is not a question that can be decided by the President or by his Executive in one day, or even in one week, but, certainly something can be done by way of immediate relief. I have indicated one or two ways. When he is replying I want to ask the President to disclose his plans for giving effect to the motion which I understand he has agreed to accept. But I want no ambiguity about this. I want a straight answer from the President as to how he proposes to give effect to the motion.

I have asked him to disclose his plans as to how he proposes to give effect to the motion and all that it implies and when he proposes to do so. When I go back to Cork I will be asked what happened to the motion proposed by Deputy Morrissey and seconded by Dick Anthony. I want to have an assurance so that I can tell the people that the President has taken the most effective steps to deal with the problem. I do not want to go back and state that it will be done "at the earliest possible date," because, if I did so, somebody might think I was qualifying for the post of Minister. I want to be able to say that President de Valera has assured me that he will give effect to the motion in the space of a couple of weeks, and that he will start some work which will give immediate relief to those at present in need of it.

I have said something about the city of Cork, what we commonly regard as the city proper, but I would suggest to the President that there are other activities in the State besides reafforestation and reclamation that he might consider. I want to suggest to him that in some villages, with the conditions in which I am conversant, tariffs have been put on woollens. I understand that further tariffs are to be imposed. Again I must harp back to the question of the machine. From the experience I have had of the woollen industry it appears to me that tariffs have but one effect, and that is to make the mill-owners rich at the expense of the poor, and at the expense of the operatives in the woollen industry. Perhaps the President does not know that there are looms on the market now for the woollen milling industry which require only the attendance of two operatives by night and one operative by day. These looms are run off Shannon Scheme power six days a week to produce woollen goods which are highly tariffed in this country, but which give little or no employment—I speak in relative terms—to justify the imposition of these tariffs. On a previous occasion when speaking in this House on the tariffs on woollens I pointed out that one of the ablest members on the Tariff Commission, Professor Whelehan, stated that he felt in signing the Majority Report, that the most important end of the woollen industry was the spinning end. Every tack I have on my body is of Irish manufacture, and yet I know that the yarn was spun in Belgium. I ask President de Valera and his Executive to go closely into this matter.

The woollen industry to-day is fed by yarns from Belgium and France and then we are told that these tariffs are giving increased employment. To-day, even in the village of Blarney, where one of the most famous mills of the world is situate, there is unemployment. That continues week after week. Employment is found for young persons, while the fathers and mothers of these persons are signing the unemployment register. Is that attitude to tariffs to be followed in its entirety by the present Executive? I believe that President de Valera is just as sincere as I am in his desire to help the unemployed but I suggest to the President that before further tariffs are imposed on the community he will see that more employment will be given by them and not the scrappy, scraggy kind of employment which is given at present by some of the tariffed industries. Let us take the principal one of these tariffs. What class of employment do the boot industries give? It has been said that Henry Ford gives intermittent and irregular employment. That is true, but in the boot and shoe industry we have the same thing—intermittent and casual employment. It would be less demoralising for a man to be totally unemployed than to be called in one week for a couple of days, sent away and called in for a few days the following week. These workers suffer the injustice of what is known on the Labour Exchange as "the waiting week." Let me explain what the "waiting week" means, as some Deputies will not understand the term. An unemployed worker signs on at the Labour Exchange. He is called to work at the end of that week. Let us assume that the week begins on 1st January. That worker is unemployed until 8th January. He gets employment beginning on 8th January and works for two or three weeks. He again becomes unemployed and signs on for a further week. That unemployed worker gets no benefit for these two weeks unemployment.

Many Deputies do not understand the intricacies of this unemployment insurance benefit. These workers have paid for that benefit. It is not a dole. In this House, this benefit has been frequently described as a "dole." There is no dole in this State, though there is in Great Britain. When John Bull was in charge, there was a dole in this country—or uncovenanted benefit, if you like. It had a very high-sounding title, but the short title was "dole." No man or woman paying unemployment insurance here gets anything beyond the value of his or her stamps. I hope Deputies will not talk about the "dole" again until such time as the Government does institute the dole. I hope President de Valera, when considering plans as to how to give effect to the terms of this motion, will have regard to what I have said about tariffs. I ask him to make inquiries as to the operation of tariffs and to have regard to what one of the signatories to a report on one of these tariffs—Professor Whelehan—said. He is an authority on these matters. He emphasised that the spinning industry in the old days gave more employment than all the other processes of manufacture in that industry.

[An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]

He indicated very clearly in a footnote to the Majority Report that while help might be given in this fashion in a tentative or temporary way, if there was any lasting benefit to accrue to the people by the operation of that tariff the spinning end of the woollen industry should be developed.

It may be news—I think it will be news to some Deputies who may pride themselves on the fact that they are wearing Irish manufactured tweeds— to learn that the yarn which goes to make up that material is imported from France and Belgium. In case there may be any misunderstanding about that statement I want to explain that there are only two woollen mills in this country that manufacture their own yarn. I believe there is only one, but to safeguard myself I say there may be two such mills. In face of that we are told that it will help Irish industry if we have another tariff. I invite the President, having regard to the terms of the motion on the Order Paper, to look carefully into the incidence of these tariffs. In the case of the woollen industry, I can assure him that a tariff will not mean the employment of an extra dozen persons until the yarn is spun in this country and it can be easily done. The President, in the course of his reply, may ask me: Can this yarn be economically spun in the various mills of the Saorstát? My answer is that it may not be quite economic to do so in the case of mills with a very small number of looms, but if you want to make it economic—if that is the be-all and the end-all to the solution of this problem—why not establish one mill for that special purpose? That, of course, is a question for businessmen and those connected with the industry to consider rather than for Deputies.

I want to suggest to the President that the mill owners here might do as they do on the other side of the Channel where a number of them get together and, instead of each miller spinning his own yarn, get the work done in one central mill. It spins the yarn required by the other mills. That is one possible solution of the difficulty that I referred to, though personally I do not believe in the principle of centralisation, and I feel that the President does not believe in it either. I prefer the smaller industries, knowing as I do the number of social activities that grow up around the small mills, but that is a matter I might go into on some other debate. I would suggest to the President, and I think there is no need for me to suggest it, the need for the immediate relief of our unemployed and workless in this State to-day.

The terms of the motion, I understand, have been accepted by the Government, and I ask the President to indicate how he proposes to put the motion into operation, and on what date. I do not want to be put off, as I have said earlier in my remarks, by the President telling me that it will have the attention of his Executive, at some early date. I do not want to bustle him, or to embarrass him, in any way, but the position is so very grave at the moment that we must have some indication for the workless people of this country that something is going to be done for them. I have the greatest regard, I might almost say reverence, for many of those persons, who are suffering privation and misery to-day. I have the greatest regard for them, because I feel that if I were in their position I would certainly come into conflict with somebody in this State. I make that confession openly and honestly. The endurance and patience of our unemployed to-day are something to marvel at. Thank God, I never knew what it was to want a pound or a crown, or to be unemployed, but I can feel for my fellows who are unemployed, and I have experience, day after day, as I have related, in my own home, of capable men and women, out of employment, through no fault of their own. Some are too proud to seek the assistance of such societies as the St. Vincent de Paul. They are too proud to seek the assistance even of their immediate friends. Many of them come to me, and I am sure to the Teachtaí in other parts of the Free State, telling of their economic position, and of their vicissitudes and trials. When I tell you that, no later than last week, I had a case of a man, with a wife and five children, who were about to be evicted, because they could not pay the rent for the last two or three months, and who refused the assistance of the St. Vincent de Paul visitors, and that I can multiply this case by, at least, a thousand in the city of Cork, I would not be exaggerating the position. That is one thing I do not want to do here. I do not want to conjure up any horrible things, in this House or outside it, but I am facing up to the facts of the situation, as I know them, and from experience of them, because I have been in contact with these people for many months. I ask the President to give us an indication as to how he proposes to relieve these people, and when he proposes to do it, and I feel sure that the stock of the President will go up a very great deal, if I can go home to Cork and tell my people that President de Valera has plans, and that he is about to put those plans into operation within the next couple of weeks. That would be a relief, not alone to the people who supported President de Valera and his Party, but to thousands of other persons who did not support them. As I have said, I do hope that if there is any further discussion on this motion, it will be raised above the sordidness of party politics. I have spoken in no partisan strain. I have given credit to every member of this House, who has the same feelings and the same solicitude for the unemployed as I have, and I await the reply of President de Valera with interest and with hope.

I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned until Friday, 29th April.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. to Thursday, April 28th, at 3 p.m.