Public Business. - Local Services (Temporary Economies) (No. 2) Bill, 1933—Committee (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:—
11. In sub-section (3), line 44, after the word "authority" to add the words "but shall not include any county surveyor or assistant county surveyor with professional qualifications in the employment of such local authority".

On amendment No. 11. When we last left this matter, we were asking the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to take into consideration the position generally of county surveyors and county engineers; the special position they occupy with regard to the very large amount of money that is being spent on the one hand, and also the special position they occupy in the general and developing outlook on the carrying on of local administration. The Minister has had time to look into the matter further since then, but there is just one additional aspect of the matter which I should like to put before him. If you take the expenditure on road maintenance and road construction alone, taking the last most convenient figures, because they are the figures of the last year that I can conveniently lay my hands on for expenditure for the Road Fund as well as the amount spent by local bodies in the Department of Local Government, the total amount of money spent on the maintenance of roads in 1931-32 was £1,626,004. The total amount of money available for improvement on roads for that year was £521,341, so that the total amount of money that year for maintenance and improvement of roads ran to £2,147,318. If the salaries of the county surveyors only ran to one per cent. of the total amount of money spent on road construction and road maintenance that year, Deputies have to remember that that is work which is really only part of their duties, though I admit a considerable part and that one per cent. would mean for the average county surveyor £795. I am sure that the Minister will not tell us that the average salary of the county surveyors is anything as high as that. I submit that salaries that amount to only one per cent. of the total amount of money expended on road work alone is a very moderate salary for men of the technical and professional class.

I think the Minister will find that when a certain class of road work has been done in some counties under the Board of Works and the Land Commission, the overhead cost ran to about 10 per cent. of the total amount of money that was expended. At present there are some counties in which the county surveyors carry out the work for the Board of Works. I think the Minister will find that they are allowed 4 per cent. of the cost of the works as their overhead charges. That 4 per cent. is divided, no doubt, between the overhead charges of various kinds, the county surveyors, the assistant county surveyors and, perhaps, the clerical class; but that is the figure—4 per cent. for carrying out part of the road work that they do for the Office of Public Works. Less than one per cent. of the total money spent on roads is the whole and inclusive salary though, as I mentioned before, they have a much wider flung responsibility and a responsibility that is developing and enlarging as the years pass by.

In these circumstances I think there is no case at all for making the cut which the present Bill proposes to make in the salaries of the county surveyors. I think also that the Minister will find strange anomalies in some counties. He will find that there are certain counties where the county secretary will come under Schedule 1 for a comparatively small cut, whereas the county surveyor with a smaller salary will come under Schedule 2. Again, while the county secretary has a peculiar type of responsibility, the county surveyor, in the matter of his effectiveness in controlling expenditure and in the other type of responsibility he bears, is certainly very little below the county secretary in the matter of importance and responsibility. So that in that direction the Minister will find that not only is there no case for cuts in respect of the county surveyor's salary but the application of the Second Schedule to the county surveyors as distinct from the First Schedule makes that wrong and injustice even greater. The Minister appears to have nothing to say in reply. But again I put it to him that the salaries of the county surveyors are less than one per cent. of the total amount of money that they control on road expenditure alone and that the Board of Works allows 4 per cent in respect of charges for county surveyors for work carried out in certain counties.

I would like to understand the comparison that Deputy Mulcahy has suggested. If I follow him correctly the Deputy states that the county surveyors are doing work for the Office of Public Works. Might I ask him if the work done for the Board of Works by the county surveyors would not be jobs of about £200 each? I gather also that the total amount that the county surveyor would get out of such a job would have to be divided amongst the county surveyor, the assistant surveyors and the clerical assistants. The total amount to be divided in that way for an average Board of Works job would be about £8. Surely if that is the comparison the Deputy is making it is a very useless one. What is the good of saying that the cost is 4 per cent of the total amount when the actual volume of money is so very small? After all, comparing percentages where you have, on the one hand, nearly a £1,000,000 annually being spent with, on the other hand, such an expenditure as £200, is no use to anyone. I suggest that Deputy Mulcahy has not improved the case of the engineers by making that comparison. While I have no intention whatever of saying that the engineers are being overpaid —and I am very sorry that this Bill is at all necessary—I think the Minister can very easily make a case that road work has now become so standardised that the average county surveyor has much less thinking to do than he had seven or eight years ago.

Very simple.

It is perfectly obvious that it is the same sort of job he has year after year. But I do not want to make that sort of case at all. I do hardly think the engineers themselves object to a temporary reduction of their salaries. They are patriotic enough to realise that it is inevitable in the present circumstances of the country.

I am glad to get evidence of some appreciation and interest in this matter from the silent benches on the Government side. Allowing for a moment that Deputy Moore has completely annihilated me on the subject of work done for the Office of Public Works at 4 per cent., will the Deputy who has some interest in these technical matters make some attempt to defend the action of his Party in further reducing the emoluments of those technical officers who, at the present moment, are being paid in respect of the whole of their work at less than one per cent. of the total money they control on the roads alone? I would like to hear the Deputy on that.

I support Deputy Mulcahy in what he has said in connection with the reduction of the salaries of county surveyors. In numbers of counties we have direct labour, and yet a large number of county surveyors are on the same salary in 1934 as was paid in 1914, in face of the fact that thousands of extra men are now under their control as compared with 1914. While you had an expenditure in my county of £15,000 controlled by the county surveyor in 1914, the expenditure on the roads at the present time in my county is something like £50,000. Therefore, I cannot agree with Deputies when they say now that you have the road work so centralised that the task of the county surveyor is easier and less troublesome. I have some experience of what the work is.

I said "standardised," not "centralised."

Equally wrong.

I am not considering the question of the Boards of Works jobs at all, but I know that there is more work now thrown upon the officials. Personally, if I had my way, the county surveyors would not take over that work at all from the Board of Works. If the Minister is able to give any concession, I would appeal to him to consider the fact that men with over 30 years' service in the employment of public bodies are entitled to consideration. They have not received any increase in salaries for the last ten or 15 years. While other officials may have received increases, the county surveyors' salaries have not been increased. Take a county surveyor with 34 years' service with a salary of £500 a year. I consider that is not an extortionate or a large salary. A younger man may get into the position at £400 a year, but he has a longer time to serve and he may chance to get back in the years before him, when times get better, something that will make up for what he is not getting now. But it is different with a man who has 34 years' service. Any official who has given 34 years' service, and with a salary of £500 a year should not be touched by this Bill.

I think we should hear Deputy Briscoe on this.

I was going to ask the Deputy to tell the House the salaries paid to the county surveyors.

Let Deputy Briscoe tell us.

I am asking the Minister to say if the salary of the county surveyor in North Tipperary is £787 or is the average salary for the county surveyors in the whole country £795.

Mr. Kelly

Will the Deputy say they are very badly paid?

I say that they are poorly enough paid considering the responsibilities they have, and I am asking the Minister to justify the cut that is being imposed upon them here. I am also asking all the technical people on the far side if they will justify, in respect to county engineers, a salary less than 1 per cent. of the expenditure on road work.

Surely there must be some other figures to be quoted in order to show what is the relative position. Take doctors' salaries, for instance, and lawyers' salaries. The 1 per cent. provides no basis of comparison with them.

Give us any figures.

What has been mentioned is 1 per cent., say, of £1,000,000. It may be much more, relatively, than doctors are getting, or even lawyers. How do we know? Nobody could answer a question like the question the Deputy has asked.

Is there any information of that kind available?

It is Deputy Mulcahy's duty, if he wants us to answer a question——

What about making a case for the cut?

It has been made several times. Possibly the way in which it has been made has not satisfied the Deputy, but I know I made it several times.

Deputy Mulcahy asks us to answer the question whether 1 per cent. of £1,000,000 is enough to give county engineers. I say nobody could answer that question, and I do not think Deputy Mulcahy has any real meaning behind it.

I would like to make a suggestion to Deputy Moore, and those Deputies over there who are backing up the Minister, if they are backing up the Minister. So far, the Minister has given no indication as to what his attitude on this amendment is. He has not mentioned whether he is accepting it or not, and we will presume he is not. He has given the House no justification, and my suggestion to Deputy Moore, and other Deputies on the opposite benches, is that the onus is on the person who proposes the cut to justify it. I suggest, also, that the Minister might leave the House, because he is certainly not much help to Deputies in the course of this discussion, so far as giving any information of the intention of the Government, or any justification of the action of the Government in this matter is concerned. Apparently he has no function here, with the exception of sitting over there and looking pleasant. He is carrying out a disagreeable and an unfair task, but he certainly has not contributed, in any way, to help the House to solve the matter by giving information. It would seem that Deputy Moore's idea is that it is the duty of the Opposition to find justification for these cuts. Of course, that is perfectly absurd.

I want to support the amendment put forward by Deputy McGilligan in connection with the county surveyors. As has been pointed out by Deputy Everett, their work has increased considerably since prewar days, particularly since the advent of direct labour, which is now in operation in a very large number of counties. At the moment the county surveyors are called upon to do work that, before the war, they had not to do. I have heard from representatives of the county surveyors that an undertaking was given to them recently that there would be no cut in their salaries in consequence of the fact that they had made representations to the Minister with a view to getting some kind of commission paid on relief jobs. I do not know whether there is any truth in that, but I do know that there are many relief jobs going, especially minor relief schemes, and in connection with them county surveyors have been called upon to do much more work within recent years than they had to do, say, five years ago, or before that time.

They certainly have heavy tasks to perform. They are being criticised by everybody. In recent years, on the grounds of economy, certain county councils, whenever there was a vacancy for a deputy surveyor, decided not to fill the vacancy, with the result that more work has been thrown on the shoulders of the other deputy surveyors and, of course, the county surveyor. When the contract system was in operation in the country the county surveyor hardly ever had to leave his office. He depended on deputies to do the work and report to him. It was his duty to prepare statements in regard to the payment of contractors. In recent years the work has changed considerably and the county surveyor is now engaged, night and day. He is hardly ever at home owing to the fact that there are so many different schemes being carried out in different parts of the county.

I think the Minister ought to agree to the amendment in so far as those people are concerned. I do not agree with the view that these men are too well paid. They are men of high professional ability, men who have had to educate themselves very thoroughly in order to undertake the duties upon which they are engaged. They certainly have a great deal more work to do now than when they were first appointed.

The Minister has broken his silence in order to ask Deputy Mulcahy whether he considered those officials were not sufficiently well paid. I would like to ask the Minister, as one of those on the opposite benches who does know something about local administration, and has had some practical experience of it, does he consider, in view of the increased work placed upon these officials within the last ten or twelve years, that they are overpaid? I hope he will answer that. He made another interjection and I am sorry he did not make it in time to stop Deputy Moore from putting his two feet into it. Deputy Moore told us that the work of county surveyors had been lightened, that the roads were being standardised and the county surveyors had to do less thinking. I fancy Deputy Moore must have been thinking of members of the Fianna Fáil Party rather than of county surveyors when he said they had to do less thinking. I think Deputies over there are becoming standardised in their opinions.

Does Deputy Moore know anything whatever about the work which has to be performed by a county surveyor? There are, I am sure, many of his colleagues who do know, who are members of county councils and who are well aware that every day more duty, greater work, is being placed on the shoulders of the county surveyors and the assistant surveyors by the Department of Local Government. Does the Deputy know that, apart from an enormous increase in their duties regarding road work there are many other duties being placed upon the shoulders of county and assistant surveyors by the Department of Local Government? Their work has been tremendously increased. They have to supervise the expenditure of the comparatively huge sums placed at the disposal of county councils. They have to see that those moneys are properly and efficiently spent. County surveyors, in many cases, have to be out from 7 o'clock in the morning until, very often, 10 o'clock at night.

And perhaps out all night.

Very often, as Deputy Corish says, later. Those in touch with the work that county surveyors have to do know that is quite true. The Minister for Local Government, and his officials, know quite well that if that were not so, sums far greater than anything that is going to be saved by this Bill would be wasted. I want the Minister to try to justify the cut in respect of these officers. I am not surprised at his silence, because even the Minister, who is so glib, if I might say so without offence, as the Minister can be when he likes, would find it very hard to get his tongue round an apology for this particular cut. It would be interesting if the Minister would show us why this cut should be enforced, and how he can reconcile the work placed on the county surveyors by his Department with Deputy Moore's views of what the duties of county surveyors are.

The Deputy said that I put my two feet into it by the statement that the road work of the county surveyors had become standardised in recent years. Then he went on with his speech, but he did not show for a moment where that statement was wrong. Instead he gave very substantial support to my statement. He said that the county surveyor is out from 11 in the morning until 11 at night on the roads. Would that not indicate that he had not very much time for thinking? He is travelling and inspecting— doing routine work the whole time, the same work that he has been doing in the same way for years past? It looks to me as if Deputy Morrissey had slipped his feet into it himself. He certainly did not indicate to me where my statement was wrong. As a matter of fact, it is obvious that the ordinary work of county surveyors in the supervising of road construction, road improvement, tar spraying and so on certainly has been standardised. A surveyor would deny that there has been practically no change whatever in that work for years.

With regard to Deputy O'Sullivan's invitation to the Minister to justify the cut, it appears to me the Minister need not go to that length when Deputy O'Sullivan and his colleagues have so justified it in the past fortnight. Have not Deputies on the opposite side continued to assert day after day that the country is on the verge of bankruptcy, that there is now practically no net national income? Surely there need be no further justification for the reduction of salaries than that? Is it not the case that Opposition Deputies by every speech they make are justifying a Bill of this kind? How can they say one day that the farmer is absolutely bankrupt and attack cuts of this kind the next? We are challenged: "Will anybody dare to say that there is a farm in the country paying its way at the present time?" That challenge was thrown out the other day. Then we have jibes at the new industries and at the effort of the present Government to develop industry. Where, then, is the national income to come from to maintain the same salaries that obtained during the very prosperous régime of Cumann na nGaedheal? I think it would be mere waste of time to add anything to what Deputies themselves have contributed in justification of this Bill.

We have been told that there has been no case made for the amendment. Deputy Moore was probably outside this House and, on his own argument about the surveyors, not thinking, at the time when I made my statement about the amendment. I should like to repeat it in brief for him. There are no people with professional qualifications in this country occupying posts with local authorities who have had to pass such a severe test as county surveyors—I mean on the engineering side. Engineers have difficult examinations to pass to get their professional qualifications at all. Then there is an examination which qualifies for these posts, and it is regarded as so difficult that men who have got first class degrees in engineering science in different ways have found it necessary to sit not merely once but two or three times before they can get the professional qualification of this very special kind. After they have got it they do not get posts. They have got to wait until a post is vacant, and they have to run in competition with others of their professional brethren who have got this second qualification of a very difficult kind. So that a man who does get into one of these posts does represent a very big amount of money capitalised and a very big amount of time in his professional qualifications. That, piled up on him, represents some value to the people of the country.

It is without doubt a most difficult post for anybody even with professional qualifications to get. There are a limited number of posts. They are open only to the very cream of the profession, who have been able to get these high degrees and, having got them, does not mean that a man will get a post, but some of the lucky ones do. The salaries that these men have been getting were stereotyped years ago, and they were stereotyped, despite Deputy Moore's second set of assertions, when the work that these people had to do was very much simpler, very much less laborious and entailed less working time than the duties attached to the same posts do to-day. I suggest that what I have said, if it is not contradicted—and I have not heard it contradicted yet; I have heard it assented to by the Minister—if what I have said is true then it is a prima facie case that these men deserve special consideration even if cuts are due.

What is the reason for the cuts? The Deputy said that these men are wise enough and patriotic enough to realise that this is an inevitable necessity. Why? He talks about speeches that we make about bankruptey. Has he ever been within the area of happiness radiated by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on that side? Does he not know that that Minister has asserted that there is every index of prosperity that a man may look for present to the view in this country at the moment? There were never so many cash sales. There was never such cash business. All the articles that mark an upward surge in the standard of living in this country, the importation of which represents a tremendous sign of an increased standard of living in the country are being bought in increasing quantities. So far as the Minister has been able to search through the articles imported into the country, he has found fresh importations of every article, the importation of which represents increasing prosperity. Then there is increased productivity in the country. There is a vast amount of new wealth being created from the soil of the country. There is an extension of tillage and we are going on to a further extension. In that is there not a prima facie case for deserved special consideration for these men, even if cuts are due? If the Deputy believes his own Minister for Industry and Commerce, then there is no necessity for any cut, and there is especially no necessity for a cut on this specially deserving class of officials.

This Bill is going to save £35,000. Supposing it should happen that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is not believed by Deputy Moore and that Deputy Moore is right in not believing him, that the country is somewhat perilously near bankruptcy, does the Deputy believe that a saving of £35,000 from the people who are hit here is going to save the country and going to stave off bankruptcy? Let us take the famous formula of 66 to 1. This saving here represents a saving of one sixty-sixth of £35,000 in England. Supposing in the critical days of 1931 when it was realised that England was in a somewhat parlous condition, someone had come forward with a suggestion for a saving of £500, would he have been referred to as the saviour of the country? That is what this represents in England. Does Deputy Moore think it is worth robbing good officials carrying out very onerous duties, and in the course of carrying out these duties saving a big amount of money for the local authorities, of that small amount of money when no case has been made out against them? Is it worth while for the equivalent on the formula, of a saving of £500 in England? Is that worth while? I want to give him one last thing to ponder over when he is not in the House, and when he may be thinking. There is a Secret Service Vote in the Estimates this year. It has gone up by 150 per cent. The increase in it this year certainly represents ten times the amount that will be saved from county surveyors and assistant county surveyors. Would the Deputy rather spend that money on secret service or on the decent, open service that county surveyors and assistant county surveyors give to the local authorities in the country? Does he think that there is a case made now for the Bill or for the amendment?

I hope the Minister is going to resist this amendment. Deputy McGilligan argued that the object of this amendment was to save from the proposed cuts certain gentlemen whom he described as the cream of the profession, a few lucky ones who have secured very remunerative appointments either as county or as assistant county surveyors. The Deputy's argument could apply to practically every profession. He said there were only a limited number of county surveyors. He could also argue that the number of county medical officers of health is limited, and that these are the cream of the medical profession.

And has argued it.

The Deputy could take every other profession and apply the same argument to it: to the legal profession and to the few exclusive legal gentlemen who have permanent appointments under borough and other local authorities. On that argument we could get to the point where the cream of every profession would be specially provided for as against the less fortunate and, shall we say, less intelligent members of the profession. The brilliant members, according to the Deputy, should be specially provided for, simply because they had secured good appointments. The Deputy also spoke about the five, six and in some cases, he said, ten years that these people have to spend studying in order to qualify. The Deputy put up the strange argument for his amendment that the work of these men had been increased year by year. If that is so, why did not Deputy Mulcahy and himself come to their assistance during the years they sat on these benches? I imagine they would hardly give the present Government the credit for all the increased work that, according to them, has been thrown on these county and assistant county surveyors. Deputy Morrissey talked about county surveyors being out at work from seven o'clock in the morning until 11 o'clock at night, and said that sometimes they were out all night.

I did not say any such thing. Deputy Corish said that.

Deputy Morrissey, following an interjection by Deputy Corish, said: "Yes, and out all night."

Deputy Corish knew what he was talking about.

And Deputy Morrissey backed up that particular statement. I challenge Deputy Morrissey or Deputy Corish to tell us how and under what circumstances county surveyors have been working all night.

I did not say that they were working all night. I said it frequently happened that they had to be away for a night from the town in which they resided. That would happen where some important work was being carried out at the far end of a county and in connection with which it would be absolutely necessary for them to be on the spot when work was being resumed in the morning.

I am glad the Deputy has made that statement because I am just coming to that point. Twenty years ago these gentlemen had bicycles. Now they have motor cars and they get a very generous allowance for the running of their motor cars. Deputy Morrissey must know that the local authorities sent up resolutions to Deputy Mulcahy when he was Minister for Local Government asking that the members of the local councils be given the same travelling expenses and allowances as county and assistant county surveyors.

What are the allowances?

Sixpence a mile for a motor car.

But the total sum they receive is not to exceed a certain amount.

Sure it is a cushy job they have.

They are not members of the Corporation.

And if they are away from their home for a night they get a subsistence allowance. Deputy Morrissey made a pitiful case for them, as if they had to sit by the roadside during the night with a red lamp to prevent somebody from falling into a hole. It is the poor night watchman who has to do that job. The county surveyor makes sure that he is not out all night.

The Deputy's imagination is running away with him.

The Deputy made some very far-fetched statements, especially when he talked of the county surveyors being out all night.

Was the Deputy ever out all night?

He has hardly come home yet, I think.

What I find fault with in Deputy McGilligan's argument is this: that if he feels so much for these men why did he not get his Party, when they were in power, to give them increases and reward them for all this extra work that he talks about?

And, therefore, you will cut them.

I think that if the Deputy inquires he will find that we did improve the position of people appointed during our time. We fixed scales that made provision for annual increases.

That is the very point that I wanted to have brought out, because the argument from the other side all through on this amendment has been that these men are in the same position now as they were in 1914; that they have not got a penny of an increase since.

Some of them.

In the case that I referred to, the official was responsible for an expenditure of £15,000 in 1914 when his salary was £500 a year. Last year he was responsible for an expenditure of £50,000 and his salary is still £500. He has had no increase.

May I say that this is not the first time we debated this question. We debated it on last Tuesday week, when I made any observations that I had to make on it in reply to Deputy McGilligan and others who spoke.

I must say that we have got a tremendous amount of help from the Minister on all these amendments. I am sorry Deputy Corry is not here to-night but he is well represented by Deputy Briscoe. The only person who dares to put up a case against these amendments is a person like Deputy Corry. The Minister really knows that he has no case. He knows he is compelled to introduce these cuts and that he has no justification for them. Hence his silence. As has been pointed out, the Minister is not always so silent. Yet he has come here on amendment after amendment and failed to justify them. Not a single justification has been put forward for them. We have got some dialectics from Deputy Briscoe. His whole argument was based on this: he confessed that he did not accept what was said on this side. What is the good of wasting time on that? Either he thinks there ought to be a decrease or he does not. Would anybody who knows the facts agree with Deputy Moore that the work on the roads at the present time is not a much more serious proposition for those primarily responsible for it, namely, the engineers, than it was years ago? These engineers cannot go around with their eyes shut. Mistakes made now in the laying down of roads would land the county authorities in thousands of pounds expense. That was not so before. The making of the modern type of road, the tar macadam road, for instance, requires much more technical skill and calls for the exercise of far more responsibility on the part of county surveyors and assistant county surveyors than the old system of road-making did. As to the country not being able to bear this expense, will the members of the Government, and aspiring members of the Government, just think of this: that it is they who are imposing these cuts and introducing this Bill? The official statement from the benches opposite is that the country was never so prosperous, and we have had statements from the understudy of the Minister for Local Government, Deputy Corry, that the farmers are £40 a year better off now than they were two years ago. It is the people making these statements who are producing these cuts. They should produce justification for it. It is quite obvious that they did not believe what they were stating in the other case. Supposing they do believe it is good economy to make savings amounting to a couple of pounds, because that is all it will amount to, in the salaries of people upon whom there rests such great responsibility, while at the same time keeping expenditure at the same amount?

About £100,000 is being spent on roads, while £20 or £30 is to be saved on the salary of the official responsible for expenditure in each county. Is that common sense or good economy? You are not merely keeping expenditure at the same figure, in order to provide employment, but you are helping it on. Yet it is proposed to cut 2½d. off the salary of a man in the pivotal position of county engineer. Surely that is the purest camouflage; there can be no sincerity about it? Not only that, it is absolutely stupid when nothing is done to make a saving in bigger matters. In fact there is increased expenditure, but a cut is to be made in the salary of the man in charge of the work. If the state of the country is as many people believe it to be, this Bill is of no help. If a man is bankrupt for thousands of pounds a saving of 2½d. will not help. That is what this Bill is doing. We have heard the case for it, not from the Minister but from Deputy Moore and Deputy Briscoe. I wonder if any Deputy is convinced by the case they made, even on their own side. Why is it necessary in the past couple of weeks that members of the Government and of their Party should sneer at the service given by these officials? Practically, that is what we had from Deputy Briscoe.

When did I sneer at them?

That is the way I took it. That impression was left on my mind regarding the work of these people.

I challenge the Deputy to say what I sneered at.

I am not going to quote what the Deputy said. I am not responsible for that.

I am responsible for seeing that what is quoted is correct.

I am giving the impression that was left on my mind. I have many things to be responsible for but I am not responsible for what the Deputy meant. We have continual sneers at public servants whose salaries are going to be cut, officials who have serious burdens placed upon their shoulders. At least, let us not have the mock sympathy that they, more or less, get. Let us realise the excellent work that they are doing, even though we are sorry that we cannot show our appreciation in a practical way. Apparently the only practical way that we can show our appreciation is to give them an opportunity of showing their patriotism, by allowing them to jump in and say: "Cut our salaries; cut them more. After all, you are only saving £30,000, make it £100,000."

I want to deny the suggestion that I sneered at any public officials. If my remarks were interpreted in that way I desire to say that the sneers might possibly have been at the arguments of the Opposition.

They will never be interpreted in that way.

Deputy Moore suggested that in view of the standardisation of the roads, county surveyors had less work to do now. In my opinion the position works out the other way. In the old days most of the roads were under contract, and it was only necessary for a county surveyor to sit in his office and to specify what tonnage should be placed on each road during the 12 months. Now he has to prepare specifications for each road, which have to be submitted to the Department. In many cases he has to meet inspectors and to alter these specifications. The standardisation of the roads has given more work to county surveyors.

I did not assert that county surveyors have less work to do to-day. What I said was that if the Minister wanted to do so, as road work has become so standardised, there is a good claim for saying that the duties of county surveyors are less difficult than they were.

The Minister has not made that claim. He has been very careful not to do it.

There is a great tendency to misrepresent what Deputies say.

I did not want to do so deliberately.

I have no grievance against county surveyors or their assistants regarding their salaries. I think they are an admirable body of men, and that they are doing most creditable work. Deputy O'Sullivan stated that the case for these cuts was made by Deputy Briscoe and by myself, and he then proceeded to associate me with sneers at county officials. That was a most unscrupulous thing to do, and if it became a general practice it would be almost impossible to debate any subject. With regard to Deputy McGilligan's statement, I would not, of course, accept his description of the speech of the Minister for Industry and Commerce the other evening, with regard to the present economic situation. I noticed that the Deputy ran away from the position of his Party with regard to the present condition of the country. He did not attempt to hold to the position that has been taken up in the past fortnight, that the country was on the verge of bankruptcy——

But I do hold to it.

——and that there is practically no national income to pay anyone. All the Deputy succeeded in doing, as far as I could see, was to establish a paradox, in as much as those who claimed that the country is bankrupt are urging that salaries should remain as they are, while those who consider that the country is prosperous are proposing a slight cut in salaries.

The situation is even more topsyturvy than that.

I am satisfied that this Bill has to go through and that this amendment should be resisted. As I said previously, I am rather sorry that that is the position, and that it could not be avoided.

Question put.
The Committee divided:—Tá 40; Níl 51.

  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Davitt, Robert Emmet.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Wall, Nicholas.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.)
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies O'Leary and O'Donovan: Níl: Deputies Little and Traynor.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment negatived.

I move amendment No. 12:—

In sub-section (3) to delete lines 45 and 46.

I put down amendment No. 12 for the purpose of ascertaining what is supposed to be included in this definition clause.

A variety of people called in for special services. A barrister, for instance, could be engaged in the case.

Does the Minister mean to say that he would pay him, in any case, a fee above this level? The Minister should give us a serious case.

That is one. There is the case of consulting engineers and, also, the case of lawyers who are paid for each particular case, instead of receiving a general retainer. These are the people it is intended to cover.

I am against it even on that explanation.

Amendment put and declared negatived.

I move amendment No. 12a:—

At the end of sub-section (3), page 2, to add the following words and figures:

"the expression ‘the current local financial year' means the local financial year beginning on the 1st day of April, 1934."

This amendment makes the Bill apply to the financial year 1934-35 instead of the calendar year 1934. It was thought when the Bill was originally drafted that it would be through the Oireachtas before now. It has been making a rather weary progress through the Dáil, and we had to alter the date in order to make it coincide with the financial year.

Amendment No. 12a will be taken as covering a whole series of amendments—Nos. 19, 23, 48 and 51.

Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 3.
(1) In this Act (save as is otherwise expressly provided) the word "salary" includes all salary, pay, wages, commission, fees, and other remuneration whether fixed or paid under statute, order, or regulation or otherwise howsoever, and whether calculated by reference to a period of time or by reference to work done, or on any other basis, and also includes allowances and benefits (whether paid in money or given otherwise than in money) forming part of the remuneration attached to an office, but does not include any of the following payments, that is to say:—
(a) payments made by way of allowance for or reimbursement of specific expenses incurred;
(b) payments (whether separate or included in other remuneration) which are expressly made as an allowance for or towards necessary equipment;
(c) payments made by or on behalf of a Department of State;
(d) payments by way of fees or other remuneration paid in pursuance of Section 17 of the Juries Act, 1927 (No. 23 of 1927);
(e) payments by a registration officer as part of the registration expenses referred to in Section 12 of the Electoral Act, 1923 (No. 12 of 1923);
(f) payments by way of fees or other remuneration paid to an an officer of a local authority the amounts of which such officer is required either by statute or by contract to hand over to the local authority by which such officer is employed; and
(g) payments by way of fees payable to registrars of births, deaths, and marriages under Section 54 of the Registration of Births and Deaths (Ireland) Act, 1863 and under Section 21 of the Registration of Marriages Act (Ireland) 1863.
(2) Where a person holds two or more offices from the salaries of which deductions are required by this Act to be made, his salary for the purposes of such deductions shall be taken to be the aggregate amount of the respective salaries of those offices and such aggregate amount shall be subject to such deduction as would be appropriate if it were the salary of one office.
(3) Where a person, who is in receipt of a salary from which a deduction is required by this Act to be made, earns and becomes entitled to be paid during the year 1934 special remuneration (in addition to his normal salary) in respect of services rendered to a local authority by him during that year or any part thereof, the annual rate of his salary for the purposes of this Act shall be taken to be the aggregate of the following amounts, that is to say:—
(a) the annual rate of his normal salary, and
(b) the total amount of such special remuneration earned by and payable to him in the year 1934.

On behalf of Deputy Peadar Doyle I move amendment No. 13:—

SECTION 3.

13. Before Section 3 to insert a new section as follows:—

"(1) This Act shall only apply to such local authorities as shall determine to adopt same in the manner in this section hereinafter provided.

(2) Within one month after the passing of this Act the Chief Executive Officer of every local authority shall summon a meeting of the members of the local authority of which not less than seven days' notice shall be given in the manner in which notices of meetings of the local authority are usually given, at which meeting the local authority shall decide by a majority of the members present at such meeting whether the Act shall be adopted or not. In the case of an equality of votes the Act shall be deemed not to have been adopted.

(3) A certificate in writing of the chief executive officer of the local authority countersigned by the chairman of the meeting shall be conclusive evidence of the adoption of the Act.

(4) The decision as to whether the Act shall be adopted or not shall be a reserved function of the Councils of the County Boroughs of Dublin and Cork and the Borough of Dun Laoghaire."

This is a completely new section. Section 2 of the new section provides for giving special notice. Notice has to be given of the calling of the meeting to consider the adoption of the Act and "the local authority shall decide by a majority of the members present at such meeting whether the Act shall be adopted or not." If there is a tie the Act shall be deemed not to have been adopted. Sub-section (3) of the new section provides that a certificate in writing of the chief executive officer of the local authority, countersigned by the chairman of the meeting, shall be conclusive evidence of the adoption of the Act and sub-section (4) provides that whether the Act shall be adopted or not shall be a reserved function of the Councils of the County Boroughs of Dublin and Cork and the Borough of Dun Laoghaire. The only argument that can be urged for a Bill of this kind is that the local authorities want it. The Vice President contends that the people all over the country are jumping for this Bill, and that they will not be happy until they get it? He contends that they have been passing resolutions in favour of it.

I am, of course, enlarging on the Vice-President's contention, but that is, I think, the effect of it. I made some researches to find out what local authorities in the country are demanding this Bill. I find there is one. The North Tipperary County Council has shown a limited desire for it in relation to salaries, and that they should be given power to effect a cut. As far as I can read the discussion that went on at the North Tipperary County Council, that action is directed against two officers. It is noteworthy of remark that the salary scale for those two officials has been sanctioned by the Department over which the Vice-President presides at higher rates than the County Council desires. The North Tipperary County Council desires to have local option in the matter. For that reason, and that only, that part of the county has indicated any desire to have the cut achieved. I find that resolutions of protest have been passed by the Dublin Corporation, the Dublin Board of Assistance, the Drogheda Corporation, the Waterford Corporation, the Cork Corporation, the Dun Laoghaire Borough Council, the Dundalk Urban District Council, the Cork Vocational Education Committee, the Clare Vocational Education Committee, the Waterford County Board of Health——

Were the resolutions unanimous?

The Deputy does not understand?

I do not know what you mean.

The Deputy is not entirely illiterate. He has the power of speech and we would like to hear him upon this matter. This is a local matter and the Deputy should be able to give some reason for his attitude towards these cuts. It is a very important matter. Other bodies that protested are the Waterford County Council; Deputy Cooney's area for making speeches, the Grangegorman Mental Hospital; Louth County Council, Balrothery Board of Health, South Tipperary Vocational Education Committee, and several resolutions have been sent round to Deputies who represent constituencies with such corporations. That is the result of the research that I have been able to make. So far from local bodies being agreed with this Bill, as the Vice-President would lead us to believe, there are a very large number of bodies against it. I know only one body for it—the South Tipperary County Council, that I have mentioned, and they are for it for a special reason. At any rate, it is a good thing to have an option in matters like this. The test should be whether those nearest to the people whose salaries are to be cut desire to cut them. Here is an opportunity given by this new section to members of local bodies to attend a meeting specially called, and where they will have an opportunity of discussing whether or not this Act is to be adopted. If they desire to adopt it they have an opportunity of doing so. If it is not adopted then nobody can raise any argument that the people are shouting for it. If the representatives of the people on local authorities opt against the adoption of this Act then, on that presumption, they represent the feelings of their constituents.

The only argument put forward seriously on which this measure could be based is that the people down the country and the people affected desire it. Well, it would be a good thing to test the matter. There can be very little argument against the amendment. There also might be put forward this point of argument on principle, that it has never heretofore been the practice for the Legislature to interfere with the salaries of local authorities. It certainly runs counter, as has been remarked, to the often times expressed policy of Sinn Féin with regard to local boards, because they had the idea of not merely approximating but bringing local services into line with national services —equating the salaries, giving standardised rates of pay, schedules of promotion, increments, and all the rest.

A further matter might be raised here—and it is one for the local authorities themselves to take action upon it with a view to levelling up or levelling down as the case may be —that there has been no attempt ever made on a widespread scale to regularise or standardise the conditions as between counties. There has been an attempt, as certain offices fell vacant, to get the conditions more or less standardised, according to the amount of work that has to be done in particular areas, the size of the area, and so on. There are glaring anomalies in payments at the moment. Notwithstanding that that has been recognised by the Department from time to time this measure sets out to take from people who are receiving in different counties, different rates of pay for very much the same work, a simple lump sum or a simple percentage. That is unfair. That is going to exaggerate the discrepancies and the differences that already exist. It is for county councils to make the choice for themselves, and it is for local authorities to make the choice for themselves, if there are some of them —as there are—complaining with regard to salaries. Movements arise from time to time that salaries should be raised in a particular area; at other times they rather do the mean thing and hint that salaries in neighbouring counties should be reduced, so as not to have the temptation of salaries across the way held out to their own people. Now, the people who are regarded as unequally paid are simply to have a lump sum taken off their salaries. I put forward the amendment on this main ground; the Vice-President has said—and it is the only argument for this measure—that the people in the local areas want this cut. Very well; let us test that out. As far as I can see, from the resolutions passed for and against it, there is no desire for it, but it may be said that those who have not passed resolutions are, in the main, for it. Leave it at that. Let the people who are nearest to the folk to be cut take on themselves the task of justifying the cut. Let them accept this Bill or leave it. We should not force it upon them.

It is rather amusing to hear Deputy McGilligan's suggestions, in particular when we are aware of the "Round Robins" sent out from his Party Headquarters in connection with this and other matters of the same description. I have seen members coming in here, even at the last division, trotting around the Lobby there and voting against the cut, in spite of the fact that within the last four months down in their own particular county councils they voted for a 22½ per cent. cut on their county surveyors. It is rather amusing to see the change of front. I have also seen men come into the county councils and speak absolutely in favour of a cut, but when a vote is taken they look across and think of Mick or Jack or Bill or Harry, who happens to be a first cousin, or a 31st cousin, as the case may be, and they halt. The only particular anxiety I have seen is that the lowest grade should be cut—the ordinary worker. Of course, he can put up with a cut! Anyone who has been connected with local bodies, during the last eight or nine years anyway, knows that the studied policy of the Department of Local Government was to force up salaries on all occasions. When a salary had been fixed by the county council we got notifications down that such a salary should not be paid at all; the salary should be increased by at least £300 or £400; the salary was not commensurate with the office. We heard this thing repeated all over the country, and we know very well that the local county councils at the present day are absolutely controlled. Their votes are absolutely controlled by political parties. It all depends on whether the county council happens to have a Cumann na nGaedheal majority—or is it an imperial party majority they call it now—or a Fianna Fáil majority——

Bee keepers!

——as to whether any particular policy would be adopted. We have repeatedly seen the whip-up— the gather-in. Men whom I have seen getting up and protesting vigorously against a payment of £500 or £600 or £1,000, as the case may be, to a surveyor or principal clerk or official two years ago, boldly walked into the county council recently and voted against any cut at all. Why? Because their Party Whip ordered them to do so, or they had received a circular letter from the United Ireland Party Headquarters ordering them to vote against any cut; that the policy of the Government was to reduce those salaries, and that, therefore, they were to be against a reduction. We know that is the way this matter will be decided everywhere. It will be decided on political party lines and nothing else. I have here before me, as I speak, circulars from the United Ireland Party giving a definite order to all their men down there, even in connection with the election of a doctor: "If you do not vote such a way you are to appear before the next meeting of the Party to state why you did not do it."

Is the Deputy reading?

I was thinking you were not.

I was not. I do not want to expose your corruption too much.

You were trying it on that time.

As the Deputy is so anxious, I will read it:—

"United Ireland Party,

"Anglesea Street, Cork.

"29/1/'34.

"To each member of the South Cork Board of Public Assistance.

"Dear Sir,—I would remind you that, with reference to the vacant medical officership of Cloyne, the Cork City Executive have circulated a resolution amongst all public representatives and all county executives of this organisation to the effect that such representatives, supporters of the United Ireland Party, must give their support and influence, in the making of public appointments, to candidates who are recommended from our Party, and also making a request that a promise of support should not be given until the representative was satisfied that the candidate was a loyal adherent of the organisation."

I am glad to hear that they have opened their eyes.

That is appointment on merit all right.

It goes on:—

"The candidate for the impending appointment of medical officer in Cloyne will be Dr. O'Driscoll, presently medical officer of Ballyduff, County Waterford. Dr. O'Driscoll's association with our Party is known throughout Waterford and Cork, and also that of his family, and this Executive understands that Dr. O'Driscoll's qualifications are good, and I feel confident that the South Cork Board of Public Assistance will acquire the services of a first-class man in this gentleman. I am instructed to direct each of our supporters on the Board to vote on behalf of Dr. O'Driscoll, and I am to say that if each supporter will respond to our appeal, Dr. O'Driscoll's appointment is assured."

And it was duly assured yesterday.

That was good. It is about time we had local elections, is it not?

They are terrible people in Cork!

That is the kind of work we have going on.

Who signed it?

It is signed "Yours faithfully, J.M. Buckley, Executive Officer"—the local director of the Blue Shirts.

They are becoming a bit powerful, evidently.

That is the manner in which local appointments are being made at present and there is no doubt that the same majority that elected that gentleman would vote an extra £100 a year to his screw. You might bet that they would not cut it. There is no fear of that. Do you think that you would get a 10 per cent. cut from the local body which elected him? In faith, you would not. They would add £100 a year to him and order him to do some extra work in canvassing at the next election and order that his motor car was to be at the disposal of the organiser for travelling around the particular district concerned.

The man who was beaten by Dr. O'Driscoll got bad value.

So he did, and the man who was beaten fought for this country when Dr. O'Driscoll was in bed.

He must have given you a tonic the other day.

That is the position and that is the local body that is now going to be asked to cut the salary and that Deputy McGilligan says must not cut the salary. It is a farce, a joke.

Is he making one or alluding to one?

It is no wonder at all that we have this kind of thing being carried on and that is why Deputy McGilligan, evidently, is so anxious that these salaries shall not be cut. Dr. O'Driscoll's Party, when they were in office here, issued very definite instructions to the local bodies with regard to salaries and on each occasion it was a case of "Increase this salary and increase that salary" and "We consider that the salary apportioned to this gentleman is entirely inadequate for the office." That is the kind of letter that used to be read every month at the Cork County Council, whenever an official was appointed and the salary fixed by the council. In the case of men appointed within the last four years, we had protests from practically every councillor against the salary fixed, and that is the county council which, when there was a proposal to cut salaries by 5 per cent. or 10 per cent. the other day, voted against the cut, under the orders of J.M. Buckley, the secretary of the Cork City Executive of the U.I.P.

A great wee fellow that, is he not?

That is how it is done and that is why Deputy McGilligan comes in here with an amendment of this description.

I just want to ask a question. Will Deputy Corry deny that when approached by people with regard to positions he told them that they should get a reference from the local T.D. or Fianna Fáil clubs?

Mr. Corry rose.

Do not rise to it.

Will you deny it?

Will you submit to an inquiry on it?

I will pay £100 to any charitable purpose you name if I am unable to prove it.

Cork Deputies might settle that at the Cork County Council.

I gather from the Minister that he is pursuing his usual Cistercian practice in this matter. Has he joined the Trappists in regard to this particular matter, I wonder? This is an amendment different from the others. Has he made any case against this amendment?

The Deputy has not given me a chance yet.

I think the Ceann Comhairle was rising to put the question when Deputy O'Leary joined in. I will give the Minister a chance.

It is not worth while now. It is almost 10.30.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary speak, then?

I recognise that he is the driving force.

Did he not do it well?

As well as it could be done. We recognise that he is the real power behind the throne and that he is the power responsible for this Bill.

You are sorry that you have not some like him. A few more like him would be very useful.

I wonder whether the Minister is quite so satisfied with him? He certainly has left the whole responsibility for this Bill on his shoulders. Modesty on the Minister's part?

Yes, I am afraid so.

Extraordinary. Or is it that he knows well that he cannot justify his position? Those who had always stood for the rights of local authorities, those who shouted when there was any kind of interference with the local authorities are now the people who denounce local government. Deputy Corry cannot allow anything to be done by local authorities—they cannot be trusted. Yet we had no more staunch supporters of the principle of local government than those who now sit on those benches opposite when they were here. Now these bodies cannot be trusted, and they will decide no question on its merits—all questions will be decided on Party considerations. In this House, of course, Party considerations do not count——

Here is the proof in this circular.

——and we see that from the divisions that take place. Deputy Corry comes in, states the policy of the Government and the rest follow him blindly. They have not put up a case for any of these cuts, but Party discipline is superior to their best judgment and to the best judgment of the Minister himself. I suppose the Minister would like to get the impression abroad amongst the officials in the country that, in his heart, he is against these cuts, that really he would like to have nothing to do with these cuts, but that the bold bad men in his Party like Deputy Corry are forcing him, so let the responsibility be on the Deputy Corrys. Is that the idea? That is what is really being conveyed to the House by this continued silence on the part of the Minister. Are the local authorities, as the Minister suggests, in favour of the cut or not? Are they calling out for it? We were told that they were, and why not prove their bona fides? Why not test their bona fides before their constituents in whatever county council they act? Give them a chance of proving whether they are in favour of cuts or not, by giving them power to cut or not, as they like, and let them be answerable to their constituents, as any Deputy is answerable to his constituents. Anybody will recognise that there must be a case now being made for the abolition of local authorities. That, apparently, is what Deputy Corry stands for. I move to report progress.

Progress reported. The Committee to sit again to-morrow.