Public Business. - Conditions of Employment Bill, 1935—Second Stage (Resumed).

I do not propose to add much to what I have already said on this Bill. I want to add only one or two comments. When speaking on the Bill on the last day I gave it a very hearty welcome as being a step forward in the direction of social legislation. The Bill has its limitations and its defects. It has a few drawbacks, but on the whole it is a step forward. It is quite natural to expect, in what I regard as an experimental step in the direction which has been indicated by the Minister, that there might be some defects. The Minister, when speaking on the Bill, said he intended at a later date to introduce what we might call legislation that would be a corollary to the present Bill. I can quite understand some defects arising in some of the sections which provide for an eight-hour day. I am sure that the Minister, in conjuction with representatives of employers and workers in such works as ready-made clothing and similar factories, may be able to arrive at a solution. In some cases a five-day week is worked. That is a growing custom or practice in many of these industries. The Minister, I think, will have to vary the section dealing with working hours in order to meet that particular section. I want to be as helpful as possible, with regard to getting this measure through the Dáil. Any point or any suggestions I offer will be offered with that intention.

The fact that the Minister is implementing many things, which by political action trade unionist workers have advocated for a long period of years in connection with annual holidays, is an advance, and an advance along proper lines. To some extent at least the position of persons in industry who are already in receipt of a fortnight's annual holidays in addition to public holidays will not be adversely affected by this measure. Provision is made for persons who are enjoying short working weeks so that they will not be affected by a reduction in wages, if they have to work less than a 48-hours week. As regards the section dealing with the registration of agreements, I think it is a very important section indeed. There may be an objection raised, but I am not raising it as an objection because I intend on the Committee Stage doing something more practical than making a suggestion. I feel at the same time that the Minister should make it clear what he means by "association" in the section. He provides that consultations and conversations may take place between representatives of the workers on the one hand and representatives of employers on the other hand. It might easily happen, and it has happened already in this country, that a number or group of disgruntled people may get together and appoint themselves into a so-called trade union. These people will give a good deal of trouble here and elsewhere. They may be revolutionary Communists or anything.

That is one of the dangers that the Minister should guard against in this Bill. I would make the suggestion to the Minister that he should regard as a trade union body any group of persons affiliated with the Irish Trade Union Congress. The Irish Trade Union Congress is really the Parliament of Irish labour. It speaks for the vast bulk of organised labour in this country. When I say that he should regard the Trade Union Congress as a body which has been able to speak for the workers in general, I might mention that it does happen too that there are many old established and genuine trade unions that are not affiliated to the Trade Union Congress. But these bodies cannot be said to be political revolutionaries or Communists. I would suggest to the Minister that he himself might put down an amendment embodying what I have just said. I do know that even to-day there is in existence one or two bodies who call themselves representatives of the working-class people of the country. They are really no such thing. This is what I would like to guard against in any future negotiations that may take place between representatives of the workers and employers. I certainly consider this section dealing with the registration of agreements the most important section in the Bill. Those who have given any considered thought to the position of the labour movement or the workers movement generally in this country must agree that for very many years it was the idea behind the minds of the greatest of those men that whilst much could be achieved and a good deal can be achieved by industrial activity and industrial action, at the same time unless that trade union activity and working-class activity generally was implemented by some political action the persons clamouring for better social conditions, etc., might as well be crying to the moon. I have advocated myself that it was quite necessary for the working-class movement to have a political wing. Now I can see in these particular sections of the Bill a good deal of what was asked for and agitated for in the past.

I must compliment the Minister on having introduced a measure which will bring a good deal of happiness to many workers. Thousands and thousands of these workers have never known what it was to have an annual holiday. Many thousands of them, of course, had too many holidays at their own expense when unemployed. This Bill is now making provision for that class of worker who never was able to have a holiday without paying very dearly for it. It confers upon those workers a very great privilege, and marks a very good step forward in this kind of social legislation.

There are, of course, as I said, some weaknesses here and there in the Bill. I have already mentioned one or two of them, but in a most friendly and helpful spirit. The point I wanted to stress is that I feel the Minister must further strengthen this section by introducing an amendment, and if not I shall endeavour to do so myself, which will provide for the proper representation of the workers themselves, because I do not think there is much fear of the other parties to this potential agreement, namely, the employers in the various industries, having any person speaking for them who is not entitled to speak for them. On the whole, this Bill will be welcomed by thousands of working class people, and, as I said, it is a good step forward in this kind of social legislation.

This Bill is a very interesting Bill, and, in many respects, a novel Bill; but, as the Irish Press said in a leading article on the Bill recently, it is in no way a revolutionary Bill. Many of the things contained in the Bill are already in existence. Many of the benefits which it purports to confer upon workers are already enjoyed by them, and these conditions have been won for the workers as a result of trade union action. But there are many provisions in the Bill which will be welcomed. There are many sections of workers who will have good reason to welcome the provisions of the Bill. For instance, there are employers who still continue the soulless practice of exploiting juvenile labour and employing female labour. There are employers who continue to pay notoriously low rates of wages and are unblushing in confessing that they have no intention of paying any higher rates of wages. There are industries existing only because of the fact that they pay very low rates of wages and do not observe decent conditions of labour. These particular industries and these particular employers are a menace to all attempts to establish reasonable rates of wages and decent conditions of labour and a menace to every well-established industry.

Will the Deputy tell us where they are?

If Deputy Minch has not been in Monasterevan recently he ought to go down there, and he will find 12 workers employed in a factory for 13 hours per day, for six days of the week, who are paid 33/- per week.

Will Deputy Norton come with me and visit Monasterevan, and he will find he is grossly exaggerating the conditions under which these people are working? I am prepared to stand over what I say.

I will be very happy to accept the invitation of the Deputy to visit Monasterevan and have an inquiry into the rates of wages paid there; but I think the Deputy should be fully informed before he goes there, so he might let me complete the story.

It is not necessary.

The Deputy asked a question, and he objects to the information. The Deputy might remember that there are a number of persons employed there from 17 to 19 years of age who are paid the magnificent wage of 5/- per week, and the application which they had to sign for employment in that industry, if it can be called an industry, bound them to accept the wholly illegal provision that they could be dismissed at a moment's notice without cause assigned.

Have you seen that?

I read a copy of it in this House, and I will give the Deputy a copy to-morrow if he has the patience to wait until then. Deputy Finian Lynch can tell the Deputy that asking a worker employed by the week to accept a provision that he can be dismissed without notice, or without cause assigned, is something which the courts have always held to be ultra vires in respect of a weekly employee.

I called at that factory, and it was absolutely denied to me that these were the conditions. I should like Deputy Norton to help me to go further into it, and I shall go with him.

I shall be most happy to accept the invitation of the Deputy.

I should like the Deputy to make it clear that I have nothing to do with this factory.

I am perfectly satisfied that the Deputy has nothing whatever to do with this. In any case, the Deputy wants to know where these industries are.

That is one, if it turns out to be a fact.

I shall let the Deputy hear what Mr. Joseph Milroy, President of the Federation of Saorstát Industries, has to say on the subject. He will not be accused of having a bias towards the Labour Party.

Give us the other factories.

Mr. Milroy, who is President of the Federation of Saorstát Industries, will give you the information.

Mention another factory. You have been on to the Monasterevan factory for some time.

The Deputy should be looking after Monasterevan.

I am looking after it.

Mr. Milroy, speaking on the subject to an Irish Times representative on the 9th of this month said: “In imposing new conditions a distinction should be made between the industries that are now paying fair wages and those in which a large number of workers are underpaid.” So we have got an admission from the President of the Federation of Saorstát Industries that this Bill does give help as far as it goes, from his point of view, but that a distinction should be made between firms paying fair rates of wages and those in which large numbers of workers are underpaid.

I am quite satisfied, but I want to know about the factories.

Later on in the course of the interview, Mr. Milroy "expressed regret because the Bill did not contain provisions to impose a drastic control on factories in regard to ventilation, heating, sanitation and general suitability. This would have dealt with many of the back-room factories." Later, in the course of the interview, Mr. Milroy, referring to the question of granting workers a week's holiday, said: "It is excellent, however, that this whole matter should have been brought into being as a result of these proposals. On many occasions the Federation have had to bring to the notice of the Minister for Industry and Commerce bad conditions in factories."

I do not think I will be accused of any exaggeration in quoting Mr. Milroy, the President of the Federation of Saorstát Industries, on this matter, and I am sure Deputy Minch will exonerate Mr. Milroy from having any bias towards the Labour Party. We can leave it, therefore, being satisfied, I think, with the statement of the President of the Federation of Saorstát Industries that there are back-room factories, bad employers and underpaid workers, and that the Federation was out to do away with the low rates of wages and bad conditions of labour in many of these factories and were compelled to bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

This Bill breaks new ground in some respects in the fixation of maximum working hours in industry. And, in considering the question of a reduction prophecies, then have turned out to be no harm if, for a few moments, we were to think of the general development which has taken place in the matter of the reduction in working hours. Some time ago I happened to be reading proceedings in the British House of Commons and in the British Press of the period containing statements of persons whose names were then something that one might look on with respect in economic, social and industrial matters. At that time a Bill to fix a maximum working day of 12 hours was going through the British Parliament, and some people of the period who had a high reputation in industrial and subsidiary economic matters said it was the end of Britain. An effort to limit working hours to 12 per day was the end of Britain! Its arms had been triumphant on many battlefields; its navy was feared and respected throughout the world. In face of the fact that Britain had then reached the zenith of her military and political power in the world, these well-known economists, as they would be described, said that this concession would put Britain out of existence. They said that any attempt to reduce working hours to 12 per day was going to mean scarcity and poverty because of the scarcity, and was going to bring to an end the great British Empire which was then so triumphant in the military and naval sense. That was the viewpoint of well-known people of the period. That was the viewpoint of many people who then thought they were authoritarians in respect of social and economic matters. But the whole course of development since the 12-hour day was introduced in Great Britain has falsified all those prophecies. Instead of a scarcity there has been plenty; instead of there being a shortage there is an abundance, and we have now, in the year 1935, in spite of all those prophecies, reached the stage of economic development when poverty is an absurdity. We are at the stage when there is an abundance available for all to consume, and an abundance capable of being made available for more to consume if only we have the capacity to organise the world on the basis of making available the abundance to all who need it. Those earlier prophecies, then, have turned out to be so much waste and foolish talk.

To-day we have reached the stage when the whole problem before the world is that of distributing the deluge of production with which the world is faced so as to satisfy the needs of those who require it. In recent times there has been perhaps a more definite emphasis on the social and economic value of reducing working hours. Following on the war, and as part of the process of making the world fit for heroes to live in, representatives of various nations met at Washington and adopted the Washington Hours Convention. That was in 1919. The object then was to introduce a maximum working week of 48 hours in all industrial undertakings. And in recent years the International Labour Office at Geneva has endeavoured to secure the adoption of a draft convention for the application of a working week of 40 hours in industry. Both these ideas, and much of the public demand for the reduction of working hours that has come from many Governments, have been born out of a recognition of the fact that the workers are entitled to share in the benefits which have been produced by the mechanisation and rationalisation of industry. The Minister could have told us, in introducing the Bill, that there are many European Governments which, as a matter of economic necessity to assist in the provision of work for additional people, have found it necessary to introduce the 40-hour week in many schemes of public works, and generally there has been a recognition by many European Governments of the value of limiting hours of work in certain industries and undertakings which they can control in order to assist in the absorption of additional workers in industry. I do not say, of course, that the reduction of the working hours will automatically solve the economic problem. None but a fool would say so. What I do say is that the reduction of the working hours will help to contribute towards the solution of the unemployment problem, by bringing additional workers into industry. Learned authorities on this matter at Geneva, I think, will be able to supply the Minister with their considered views on that subject. But, aside from any contribution which a reduction in working hours may make towards the solution of the unemployment problem, there is everywhere growing a recognition of the fact that workers are entitled to participate in the benefits of mechanised and rationalised industrial effort.

I am glad, therefore, that our legislation takes the form of fixing a maximum working week in industry, but I would be more pleased if the Minister had seen fit to break new ground and, as it were, to enter the vanguard of socially enlightened nations in the matter of reducing the working week something below the 48-hour week. I would like to have seen the Minister break new ground and introduce a 40-hour week as a statutory maximum working week. I am sure the Minister realises that in practically all the undertakings, if not all, covered by this Bill, there is already a maximum working week of 48 hours and in many cases the working week is less than 48 hours. In earlier statements in the public Press, I think the Minister committed himself to a declaration that this Bill would contain a provision for the ratification of the Washington Hours Convention, but I am sure the Minister realises that this Bill does not cover all the classes referred to in the Washington Convention.

Other than transport and mining. I explained that.

I would like to know from the Minister on that aspect of the matter what it is intended to do in respect of those industries.

Those industries have to be the subject of separate legislation.

There is one class of person not referred to in this Bill and not engaged in mining, although possibly engaged in some form of transport. I refer to the workers in the Post Office service. At present many of those workers are working 48 hours a week, which is the new maximum prescribed by this Bill. The Government, however, apparently, hopes that it will be able to negotiate agreements for working a week of less than 48 hours, because in his speech on the Second Reading the Minister said: "A 44-hour week has been instituted in other industries by agreements between employers and employees. There is no necessity to amend those agreements in consequence of the passing of this measure; in fact it is not improbable that immediately upon the passage of this measure arrangements will be made to bring into consultation in accordance with the Bill the representatives of workers and employers in particular industries, with a view to having arrangements made for the enactment of regulations prescribing a shorter week than 48 hours in respect of those industries."

I assume that the initiative in that matter is going to be taken by the Minister's Department. I suggest to him that his representative at a conference of that kind will feel in a rather invidious position if, when he is urging employers to reduce their hours from a 48-hour week, he is open to the rebuff that he himself, as a member of the Executive Council, continues to employ persons for 48 hours per week. I am sure the Minister is sympathetic towards putting his own house in order. I am sure that in respect of those particular Post Office employees he is anxious that whatever general social legislation benefits workers generally should be made applicable to them. I hope, before the Minister's representative meets those employers and workers, he will be able to assure his representative that he is in the happy position of knowing that no counter-attack can be made on the Government in respect of the hours per week which it requires its own employees to work. If the Minister does that, I think he can enter a conference of that kind assured, at all events, of the good will of the Labour Party and of the good will of the workers who would be represented at a conference of that kind.

I should prefer if this Bill were being discussed in this House with the other Bills which I understand are to come. I gathered from previous statements made by the Minister that it is intended to introduce a Bill dealing with the position of shop workers; that it is intended to introduce a separate Bill dealing with the transport service; that it is intended to introduce a Bill dealing with mines, and probably with hours of night work in bakeries; but one of the difficulties which confront members of the House on this subject is that in seeking to move amendments on the Committee Stage of this Bill they may be moving amendments to matters which may be contained and automatically remedied in the other Bills which are likely to be introduced. I should like, further, if the Minister could give the House any assurance that those other Bills will be ready at an early date, or that they will be circulated before the Committee Stage of this Bill is reached. If we could have that assurance I think we would be able to see this Bill in the proper perspective, and be able to co-relate its provisions to the provisions of the other Bills which are to be introduced.

One of the provisions of this Bill, on which I heartily congratulate the Minister, is the provision by which the hours of young workers will be reduced to a maximum of 40 per week. However, there is a provision in the Bill which enables the Minister to extend the hours of young workers beyond 40 per week if it can be shown that the conditions in the industry would require the continuance at work of those young people. I dislike that section intensely, because I think the Minister will be bombarded with requests from all kinds of industrialists to the effect that it is imperative that their young workers should work 48 hours per week. I am sorry that the Minister did not set his face hard on the subject of reduction of working hours to a maximum of 40 per week, and deprive himself of the powers to extend the employment of any persons beyond 40 hours per week. I can, for instance, imagine clothing manufacturers coming to the Minister and saying that it is impossible for a clothing manufacturer to continue in operation after the young workers have left, and that consequently they must have an extension of the young workers' hours of employment. I can also imagine hosiery manufacturers coming along and saying that they would be seriously inconvenienced if their young workers were to work a maximum of only 40 hours per week, and that their whole business would be disorganised. I can imagine perhaps sweets and jam manufacturers and confectioners making an equally feasible plea to the Minister, showing that they would be seriously inconvenienced if their workers were required to cease work after working a week of 40 hours. I think all that clamour would not be healthy, and I hope the Minister will give the House an assurance that while this provision is inserted in the Bill it is to be used only in very exceptional circumstances and that we are not to understand from the Bill that a mere application from the employers concerned will automatically ensure a permit to employ young workers for a period in excess of 40 hours per week.

Here again I think I must raise the case of the Post Office classes. There are in the Post Office quite a number of persons employed for 48 hours per week. They are persons under 18 years of age. I should like to know from the Minister whether those people are to be treated in the same way as any workers employed in an outside industry. I should like, for instance, to know whether a boy messenger in the Post Office, or a store boy employed in the Post Office factory or for work in connection with the Post Office factory, is to be treated in the same way as a person similarly graded in outside employment. It would seem to be an obvious anomaly if the State were to employ persons under 18 years of age for 48 hours per week, while at the same time the Minister was engaged in a kind of social crusade, asking employers to agree not to employ their workers for more than 40 hours per week. That is a matter which I should like the Minister to look into. I hope we can have some assurance from him that in this respect the State is going to lead by good example and by showing employers generally that it is above the reproach of lagging behind in the matter of conditions of employment.

This Bill makes provisions for holidays for all workers. It also makes provision for payment for Bank Holidays to all workers affected by the Bill. In some respects that will be a considerable advantage to many sections of workers. Of course, as the Minister knows, the workers in many of the industries referred to in this Bill are already allowed holidays, but there are many employers who do not concede holidays to their workers. There are many industries where no holidays are allowed to workers, and there are of course many employers in the country who think that holidays are the privilege of the employer and the well-to-do classes, and that it is evidence of the insubordination and indiscipline of the age if the workers dream of asking for holidays so that they might recuperate from a year of industrial toil. I am sorry that the Minister has not fixed a higher period of holidays than is provided in the Bill. Six days holidays are, of course, much better than no holidays, but the Minister will hardly contend that six days holidays, after 51 weeks of grinding industrial toil, are sufficient to enable workers to recuperate from that strenuous ordeal.

There is, however, a more enlightened view nowadays on the value of holidays. Most good employers and the State itself recognise that holidays are advantageous from a health point of view, that they are advantageous from a national point of view in giving us a healthier population. Broad-minded employers realise that the granting of holidays to their workers with pay has the effect of producing more efficient and more contented workers, and to that extent, an employer himself shares in the general benefit which accrues to the workers as a result of obtaining holidays with pay. I hope the Minister will not resist an amendment on the Committee Stage to increase holidays substantially above the figure specified in the Bill. If the Minister is agreeable he will find that most good employers will assent to the proposition and even those who might not be converted to the value of holidays at the moment would, I think, in a very short time realise that there were obvious advantages from a national and an industrial standpoint in conceding workers holidays for the purposes of recuperation from toil, so that they might become even more efficient workers.

The section of this Bill which is most important is Section 42, which deals with the wages agreements register. I read very closely the speech which was made by the Minister when he was introducing the Bill. If this section is to be used in the way indicated then by the Minister, I think it is a good section, but when the Act is in operation it will not be the Minister who will be interpreting its provisions; it will be the courts that will be interpreting the provisions and the Minister's intention on the Second Reading will be of little avail if any flaw is subsequently discovered. This section, in my opinion, will need very careful consideration. I have observed in the Press that there is a controversy on this section raging between the Minister, speaking here, and the Traders Union Congress, speaking outside. I think the Minister would have been wise if he had consulted the Trades Union Congress in connection with this particular section. Indeed, I think he would have been wise if he had consulted them in connection with the whole Bill. It is said—I have no evidence of the truth of the statement—that the Federation of Saorstát Manufacturers were consulted during the preparation of this Bill. I do not know whether that statement is true. I find it difficult to believe that the Minister would consult the employers and not the trade unionists. I mention the matter for the purpose of giving the Minister an opportunity of denying a statement which has secured widespread circulation. I think, on the whole, the Minister would have been wise if he had consulted the Trades Union Congress and then one would not object if he consulted the employers. I think it would have been an advantage to the Minister if he had consulted both sides.

In respect to Section 42, I think the Minister has committed a serious error of judgment in not consulting the Trades Union Congress. Reading the section, one can see clearly that it is intended to provide for a situation where the employers and the workers come together and negotiate an agreement for a minimum period of 12 months. That agreement can be subsequently registered in the wages agreements register which is to be kept by the Minister in the future. Once the Minister is satisfied that the workers and the employers are substantially representative of the industry in the particular part of the country concerned, or in the whole country, that agreement thereupon becomes binding on the employers generally. I have considerable sympathy with the viewpoint expressed by the Minister when he said that one often find cases where 80 per cent. of the employers and 80 per cent. of the workers are prepared to negotiate an agreement providing for the payment of certain wages and the observance of certain conditions of labour; but the continuity of that agreement is imperilled by 20 per cent. of the employers representing, perhaps, a very small minority of the article in production saying they are not prepared to observe the agreement and consequently they enter into a fierce cut-throat competition with other employers who are prepared to pay better rates.

If this section enables an agreement to be made between the workers and the employers, both substantially representative of the industry, and that agreement is to be binding on the remainder of the industry, one can understand the obvious advantages of an arrangement of that kind. The fear expressed by the Trades Union Congress is that this particular section, as drawn, is intended to anchor the workers to fixed conditions and is intended to put into the hands of the employers a weapon by which the existing rates of wages will be legally enforceable, and where the power of the courts may be invoked to prevent a worker withdrawing his labour in certain circumstances. I would like to know from the Minister what meaning he attaches to this section. Is this section intended to be an instrument by which, once a wage agreement is in operation in a particular industry, the employer can go to the courts? Let us say a strike is threatened in that industry because, in the opinion of the union or the workers, the employer has offended in some respect, or let us say a strike takes place because of sympathetic action by the workers in that industry with the workers in another industry. I would like to know from the Minister if it is within the power of the employer to go to the courts and say that there is an agreement in operation which had not been terminated and consequently any attempt by the workers to withdraw their labour while that agreement was in operation was something which was an offence under the section?

Will the Minister say whether this section, in his opinion, can be construed as compelling the workers to work in this industry, once the rates of wages referred to in the agreement are paid? That is a very important consideration, because the trade union movement in this country is naturally anxious to ensure that nothing will be done by any side-wind to invade the natural rights of the workers to withdraw their labour. The right to strike has always been conceded to be a natural right. Theological and ecclesiastical authorities have always conceded the undeniable right of the worker to withdraw his labour if he feels he is not securing a just reward for his efforts.

Is that not a Committee question?

I do not think so.

It appears to me to be the interpretation of a clause.

I think possibly Deputy Good is just as enthusiastic on this section as he was on the Budget the other day.

We will talk about those matters at the proper time.

By his enthusiasm for this section Deputy Good may cause as many problems for the Minister as he did for the Government by his enthusiasm over the Budget. If he wants to help the Minister on this section he had better not show such a keen interest in it.

It is only fair that this matter should be discussed in accordance with the rules of the House. We are on the Second Reading, and Deputy Norton introduces a Committee matter.

I am surprised at Deputy Good saying that this is a small matter and a Committee matter.

I have not said anything at all about it beyond that it is purely a Committee matter.

I think if any effort is made in this section to interfere with the right of the workers to withdraw their labour, then the Bill takes on an entirely new aspect. So far as this Party is concerned, we would not stand at all for a Bill which attempted to invade the right of the workers to withdraw their labour, and I fear that that is a possible interpretation of this section.

I should like also to refer to subsection (4) of Section 42. If the Minister looks at the last few lines there, he will see that a certain set of circumstances are envisaged by which, I think, it is possible, as the section stands, actually to reduce the rates of wages of certain classes of workers. If, for instance, employers in a certain industry concede to certain classes of workers in that industry, certain ex gratia payments in respect of the work they are doing, and if an agreement were subsequently made affecting the whole industry, it seems to me that, if the subsequent agreement provided for rates of wages less than the special rates which were enjoyed by that section of the workers, they would, under that section, lose the additional benefits they had enjoyed hitherto. My reason for saying that is that it is provided in the section that the rates registered are “legally enforceable by any such employer, to any such worker, and shall be enforceable by any such employer or any such worker in any court accordingly, notwithstanding any contract or agreement between such employer and such worker to the contrary or inconsistent therewith.” I think that the Minister, during the Committee Stage, should amend that section in order to ensure that nothing will be done, either by the registration of the agreements, or by the enforceability of the rates of wages, to affect in any way the right of workers to obtain rates of wages higher than the rates registered in the agreement. Furthermore, I think that in respect of the whole section, the Minister should make sure that what is provided for in these agreements, in respect of minimum rates of wages, will not also hold with regard to maximum rates. In that way, I think that he would remove from the section what I think is a blemish, and a serious blemish, not alone on the section itself but on the whole Bill. On the whole, and provided that the matter to which I have referred is satisfactorily explained and that there is no interference with the right of the workers to strike, I think that the Bill has many advantages.

The Minister mentioned that other Bills, cognate to this matter, will be introduced in due course, and I hope that he will endeavour to ensure that these other Bills will be circulated before we reach the Committee Stage of this Bill. If the Minister does that, I think that we will be able to see this Bill in a very much better light. Finally I appeal to the Minister to defer the Committee Stage of this Bill for at least three weeks so that the ramifications of this highly complex measure may be properly considered and so that all Parties may have an opportunity of considering the amendments they propose to submit on the Committee Stage.

Mr. Lynch

If this Bill had even the one effect of putting an end to the exploitation of juvenile labour, that has become so prevalent in recent years, it would commend itself to me for that reason alone. I think it is generally accepted or, at least, it is very much a matter of common rumour, that very many of the industries that have been started as a result of the high tariffs imposed have gone in largely for juvenile labour. I consider that that is both unfair to the youngsters employed and also to the existing Irish industries; and I was glad to hear Deputy Norton quote the President of the Federation of Saorstát Industries showing that, apparently, they are becoming alive to the fact that their interests are being injured by this practice. Personally, I think that the age of 14 is too low an age to fix as the barrier. I can see, of course, that that is the school-leaving age and that, presumably, the Minister has been guided by that fact in taking it as the minimum age at which persons may be employed in industrial work as it is defined in the Bill. With regard to employment of young persons, Deputy Norton expressed his pleasure that there was a limit of a 40-hour week for them.

A maximum.

Mr. Lynch

Yes, I said a limit. I think, personally, that that is rather on the high side. Young persons are defined in the Bill as being between the ages of 14 and 18. At that age boys and girls are growing up, and I think that 40 hours per week is rather on the high side. With reference to Section 34, where power is taken by the Minister to extend the hours of employment, I was wondering whether or not the provision in that section, giving power to deem such young person as an adult worker for the purposes of the Act, would mean that they would still be paid as juvenile workers. I was wondering whether or not it meant that, if they were to be kept on for a 48-hour week for the special purposes of this Act, they would be paid an adult rate of wages. I think that the Minister should refuse to give an extension, in the case of a juvenile worker, to a 48-hour week, unless the employer guarantees to treat such worker entirely as an adult worker and pay him an adult rate of wages. That will prevent employers attempting to get more than a 40-hour week out of persons to whom they are only paying a considerably low rate of wages.

Everyone, I think, will agree that, in the year 1935, it is time that there should be some provision for holidays for persons engaged in industry, and, personally, if Deputy Norton were to put down an amendment to make the holiday period 12 days instead of six days, I would certainly support it. I think that Irish employers have already realised that, and that the usual holiday they have been in the habit of giving their workers has been in the neighbourhood of a fortnight. I know also that in certain industries which are now being brought under the provisions of this Bill, it has not been the custom to give holidays at all, and I quite admit that in such cases, as Deputy Norton says, a holiday of even six days would be a godsend to such workers. I do not think that the employers themselves would suffer if there were an extension of that holiday from six to 12 days. The value that they would get in increased efficiency and the better health of the workers and so on would make up for the extra six days' wages that they would have to pay for the longer holidays.

Most of us have been circularised by a trade union which is not affected by this Bill. We understand from the Minister that this particular trade union will be considered in a Shop Hours Bill. I have been circularised from every town in my county by a branch of the Distributive Workers' Union. I had not heard previously that they were organised at all in Kerry. At all events in the last couple of months they have wakened and bombarded us with resolutions about shop hours and hours for clerks. I do not know when this Bill that the Minister has promised will come along or whether we will get it this session or not, but it will be a relief to the Deputies when it does come along. If the Bill succeeds in preventing the present exploitation of young people that I am informed is going on, I would certainly be very strongly in its support.

Like everybody with whom I have been speaking about this Bill so far, I welcome its introduction. I welcome it particularly from the standpoint that Deputy Norton has so ably put up. There is no necessity for me to go over the ground covered by Deputy Norton. We have heard from the Labour Party on many occasions as to the conditions of labour in the new factories. I am sure it is in the interests of everybody that those conditions should be rectified. I would like to know from the Minister whether the Class A factories which exist at present will be the standard to which other factories will be expected to conform? I am told that in addition to the Class A factories we have Class C2.

I take it, though we have not had it definitely from the Minister, that the Bill covers the activities in the building and contract trades. These trades, to my mind, create a difficulty which will have to be dealt with later in the Bill, because you will be making regulations for full-time employees which will have to extend to casual employment. That is one of the unfortunate things in the building trade, that employment in it is casual. The building trade is a very good trade for employment and its conditions are good. It has long associations and long-standing rules with the trades unions. But it is casual employment. It will be difficult to deal effectively with the points that will arise on this Bill in connection with the building trade, which is a very important trade in every country, and is certainly a very important trade in this country at present. It will be very difficult to bring this trade into full harmony with full-time employment in factories. The transport industry is apparently excepted from this Bill. That again creates a difficulty. I am sure the Minister will appreciate that transport is closely linked up with all employment and particularly with employment in the building trade into which transport enters very largely. If we have a Bill which will regulate all the conditions of employment outside transport, then the position arises that if transport is still left unsettled, it will cause a difficulty for the building trade. In that connection, I would like to support the matter that was raised by Deputy Norton—that we should, as far as possible, have a picture of the succeeding Bills which the Minister has mentioned, before the Committee Stage of this Bill is dealt with, so that matters can be harmonised.

The broad view I take of this Bill is that if it is a Bill that would be successful in its working, it will meet the hearty co-operation of all trades unions. But, on the other hand, if it is a Bill that is put in such a way as something to be avoided as far as possible, it will create great difficulties. That is particularly brought home to my mind in the matter of holidays. If holidays are to be of any use to the working man and if the conditions of the working man are to be benefited many difficulties will have to be solved first. Is the man to work for 12 months before he gets his holidays? That will create a great difficulty. On the other hand, if the employers and workers would like to have something equivalent to the Glasgow Fair Week, it would create a difficulty in regard to portion of the men's time particularly in the building trade which, as I have already said, is a trade of casual employment. That Glasgow system may somehow qualify him and perhaps help to get over the difficulty that may arise. These difficulties will be got over, I expect. I would like to know from the Minister whether it will be a six-day holiday or a 12-day holiday. Deputy Norton says that six additional days should be added to the six days in the Bill and Deputy Lynch suggests 12 days.

There are six days in the Bill.

Yes, six days in the Bill, but Deputy Norton pleads for six more; that would be 12 days to be paid for as holidays. In any examination of the Bill by employers and others with whom I have got in touch, we noticed that the Bill provides for the six-day holiday except in cases where the six-day would include Sunday or a bank holiday. I take it the Bill provides, as it stands, for six days paid holidays in the year. Of course, the Minister has taken a note of the cost of this Bill in connection with housing. I need not give him any figures in regard to that. He is acquainted with that side of the matter himself, but it will add a definite extra cost to building.

Overtime in factories and in the building trade is a matter that will need very careful and sympathetic consideration by all interests. Quite recently, I have had to deal with considerable factory work of which the Minister is aware. It was necessary to carry through certain works during the factory holidays and during very rushed conditions, in order that the factory could restart again after its normal holiday. That is a matter that can be provided for by application to the Minister, provided the information is available in time. We have had a rather striking case of overtime work in Dublin lately, consequent with enormous advertisement to the Hospitals Sweep and to the contractors engaged. That was a case where a big fire occurred. I take it the Minister can make provision to meet such cases, but the difficulty would be that it would not admit of the week's delay or anything of the nature of the delays that occur in other directions in the Minister's Department. Immediate consideration of the overtime conditions would be required, and the facilities should be given at once without any delay. In some of the factories of which I have knowledge and with which the Minister is friendly in the constituency that we both represent, there are certain processes of manufacture which necessitate overtime. That applies to a very small proportion of the factory workers but it is an essential portion of the manufacture. I take it the Minister will carefully consider these matters and not put any great handicap in the way of dealing with the factory work.

There are also rush periods in factories. In factories in Dublin we get a Christmas rush. You cannot stock perishable articles beyond a certain limit which covers a very few days, and when the rush comes you will not be able to supply the goods to the people unless facilities are given to cover this. It does not seem to me to create any great difficulty, because the workers on overtime will be working under proper conditions, at the proper hours, and ample provision will be made for holidays at other times.

In all factories the question of repairs to machinery is a very serious item. A break-down in machinery may be easily dealt with and the factory kept efficient the following day by the employment of overtime. That, of course, is a matter of efficiency and I am quite sure the Minister has it in view and will deal with it on proper lines. Of course, it would be an appalling thing if the fitters in a factory could not work overtime to enable the staff to carry on work the following day.

I think the matter I have already raised as regards the inclusion of Sundays and bank holidays in the period of six days, which I think is the provision in the Bill, is not quite fair to the workers. If possible, a worker should be able to take the advantage of, say, Easter Sunday and the following day in his holiday and get the six days in addition and thus get a reasonable holiday. Therefore, I think that the Sunday should not be included in the holidays and that the six days' holiday agreed upon should be paid for, if it is decided upon, but that it should be possible for the worker to get a better holiday by leaving on the Saturday and getting the Sunday and the Monday.

A peculiar case was put to me and I put it to the Minister as it came to me: will it be possible for a worker to take six days' pay instead of taking the holiday? That has already been applied for by some workers. It is quite conceivable that it would be a godsend for the worker who had a sick family to get an extra week's wages. If his work is outdoor work, he may not require the holiday if his health is good, and it may be a godsend to him to have facilities for dealing with that in another way.

I hope the Minister will take special note of the question of the partially continuous process. I think he has already been written to in connection with it. There is also a difficulty in some factories with regard to the meal hour. When some processes are started, it is essential that they should go through the whole day shift continuously. That is met by sending out the employees at different hours to their meals and I take it there will not be any objection to that under the Bill. It is an essential thing in the factory that the running should be kept up continuously for the whole day's work.

There is also a point in connection with the building trade which is very important in order to make this Bill a success. It is not intended, I take it, by any Party to put a hardship on any section of the community in the carrying out of the Bill. In cases where contracts have to be made 12 or 18 months ahead it is essential that an adjustment should be made and that the extra cost involved should be considered and dealt with. Some contracts run into two years. If provision is made for dealing with this matter there will be no hardship involved, but if no provision is made a very serious tax will be imposed.

The most important matter I have to mention on this stage of the Bill is that referred to by Deputy Norton, and that is allowing sufficient time to elapse so that those engaged in industry may get in touch with the Minister or with their representatives in this House in order that the House will have a true appreciation of the difficulties that may be met with and decided upon the best way of getting over those difficulties. I do not put this forward in any spirit of creating difficulties for the passage of the Bill, which I have no doubt will pass, but if the Bill is to be 100 per cent. efficient, all the information should be before the House, and the matter should be dealt with in this House in as permanent a way as possible, rather than letting it go to the other House and discovering difficulties which eventually will have to be met.

With reference to Section 19, which provides for six days holidays, it will not be necessary, I take it, that all the people in the workshop should go on holiday in the same week?

I am sorry Deputy Norton has left the House, because I would have liked to have had further enlightenment about this celebrated Monasterevan factory, which he has on two occasions hit so hard. If there had been in that factory in its initial stages bad conditions. I am happy to announce that those conditions seem to have gone. I visited the place the other day and those conditions no longer apply. This employer has brought in tons upon tons of heavy machinery and is giving work, I believe, to 40 men. I would be glad if Deputy Norton would visit the place himself. This employer has asked me to invite him.

He is going there with the Deputy.

I would be delighted to go with him. This Bill apparently has the sympathy of the whole House. Although it is a simple Bill, it is probably the most difficult that this House has been asked to consider. Its ramifications are extraordinarily wide. Probably it will have a very big influence in bettering the conditions that exist in industry, but it is wrong to say, as Deputy Norton said, when he started like a howling storm, that every industry in this country conducted business more or less under conditions that were a scandal to the country.

He did not say that at all.

One would gather that from his opening remarks. Deputy Davin should keep quiet. As he came to the end of his speech, Deputy Norton said something kind of the employers. Deputy Norton can understand that an interest in labour is not confined to the Labour Benches. There are others who have the social welfare of labour as much at heart as many of the Deputies on the Labour Benches. Not only do they show that by giving good employment and by trying to bring about good conditions but in their spare time, when they need not do it, they show an interest in labour. I challenge Deputy Norton to come to any part of Kildare and to meet me on any platform on that question. I hope in future we will get on better in this House when it comes to a question of labour and employer or business and industry.

Minch, Norton and Company.

Deputy Norton seems to have got great credit from other speakers. He seems to be the one bright spot so far as regards this Bill. In the beginning of his speech he took us back to the days when the 12-hour day was introduced in England, and said that it was thought that England, with her battleships and victorious armies, was lost, that the power, stability and strength of Britain would be weakened by the introduction of the 12-hour day. What all that had to do with this little green piece of paper I do not know. By degrees we were taken to Washington, and then to the Bureau of Labour at the League of Nations. Then we had references to rationalisation and mechanisation of industry. We did not get very far in that. Back we came to the question of over-production and under-consumption, and the explanation that all these new laws and regulations to bring about proper conditions in industry ultimately brought about a condition of affairs where we had over-production to such an extent that the world was not able to consume as much as was produced. Instead of the improvement we have a lot of poverty.

However, if this Bill is to go into the question of the stabilisation of production by means of which industry is to be so controlled that equality of brains is to be found and equality of brawn is to be supplied and every single industry will produce just enough to meet consumption, I congratulate the Minister on having achieved a miracle. But, unfortunately, all those pious hopes with which Deputy Norton started his speech were tailed off. The Deputy drifted away and the howling storm became a very small breeze indeed. The first thing I would like to ask the Minister is as to the question of the agreement that will be made. It would seem that some previous speaker suggested that in the event of an agreement made and solemnly entered into between employer and worker and being disputed by one side or the other it would be taken to a court of arbitration for decision and that decision need only be binding on one side. In other words, Deputy Norton would seem to want it both ways. The Labour Party know very well that, even with the best organised labour, where you have an agreement duly signed, sometimes they themselves cannot get men to carry out that agreement if they choose not to do it. I was wondering how the Minister intends to carry out an agreement where men, whether organised or unorganised, intend to cast aside the award of arbitration—how he can enforce the decision and get the men to return to work. It cannot be done. I would like that the agreement suggested in this Bill should be more fully explained. I would not be so foolish as to say that that is a general habit. On the contrary, it is not, but I know that it exists. The whole crux of this thing is, how you are going to get good, efficient and happy labour, men who will not strike and who will take an interest in their employer's business and help him in competition. I hope that this Bill is not going to bring about socialisation of business, where initiative is to be destroyed and nobody will enter into private competition because of rules and regulations. If that was to result from the Bill, then it would be one of the worst measures ever introduced.

What section is that?

I am not suggesting it is a section, but I am suggesting that if these conditions are brought about it would do a lot to stultify private enterprise and to kill private initiative.

Labour in this country deserves well of this House, and deserves the fullest consideration from the members of all Parties. It should be the desire of Deputies to give all the help they can to the Minister and his advisers to improve the Bill; to make it as good a one as possible for labour. In order to do that it is not necessary that anybody should come into this House in the name of labour. Those who are not here under that name are, I am sure, quite prepared to fight for labour, if necessary. I hope that the House will consider this Bill in a non-party spirit, and that Deputies will act fearlessly and courageously in putting forward suggestions that will result in making it a really good Bill, suggestions which, I hope, the Minister may see his way to accept. Members of the House in doing that will be doing a good turn to the workers of the country.

I desire to repeat what I said earlier, that the vast majority of employers in this country are a fine body of decent Irishmen. They deserve every encouragement. I am quite satisfied that Mr. Milroy, the Chairman of the Federation of Irish Industries, who was referred to in the course of this debate and of whom it was said that on some occasion or other he referred to the scandalous and unhygienic conditions that prevailed, to juvenile labour, and to wretched rates of wages, had in mind, if he ever made such a statement, very few employers indeed. I am sorry that the statements that he is supposed to have made were not put before the House more clearly, and that some of those employers he was supposed to be referring to were not named.

The principles underlying the Conditions of Employment Bill, which has been introduced by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, are such as to command the support of everybody. We all want better working conditions for everyone. Every liberal man in public life in any country of the world desires to see social services improved, but in that connection, above all other connections, I think hypocrisy is loathsome. We are all summoned here to fall down in adoration and to proclaim the Minister for Industry and Commerce as the greatest and most liberal man that has ever come to the country because he introduces the Conditions of Employment Bill at this stage; because he goes on record as believing that conditions which the Trade Board Acts envisaged 20 or 30 years ago are to be put into operation and a Bill is to be introduced here to save working conditions and the rates of pay for a limited section of the community. That far we are all with him, but the astonishing thing is that at that juncture he stops. We are all meant to forget that the same Minister, who is introducing legislation of that character, is a member of a Government which, by its policy, has reduced 80 per cent. of the people to conditions of slavery that no trade board that ever was set up would tolerate for half an hour.

The ultimate object of this Bill is to provide a 40-hour week for working men at trade union rates of pay. It is an objective dovoutly to be desired by everyone who has the best interests of the country at heart, but how can you expect to get the enthusiasm behind a scheme of that character which is necessary to make it a success from men who themselves are working 14 hours a day and 16 hours a day on the small farms of this country, and are not even getting a trade union wage, or a living wage, out of it: men who are going home hungry, and when they go home find the bailiff on their doorstep prepared to take away their furniture, their cattle or whatever they can get, and who are told, if they complain of that, that they are playing England's game and are sabotaging the State. Anyone who dares to raise his voice in this House or in the country in their defence is told by the President of the Executive Council with a brazen-faced impudence that is characteristic of the man that they are sabotaging the country.

I submit to the Chair that the Deputy's speech is out of order.

I have allowed the Deputy to proceed to see the direction in which he was going. Surely he must know that it is not in order to introduce all these matters into a Second Reading debate on the Conditions of Employment Bill?

I am an employer of agricultural labourers, and there are hundreds of farmers in this country who are also employers of agricultural labourers. There is not a single one of us who can pay any one of our labourers what we believe to be a living wage.

On the basis of that reasoning one could include everything—all conditions in the country—in a discussion on the Second Reading of this Bill. The Deputy must know that he cannot do that on the Second Reading of the Conditions of Employment Bill. Other means may be found by the Deputy for doing so, but not on the Second Reading of this Bill.

Am I not entitled to argue that agricultural labourers should be included in the Bill?

I take it that would be matter for the Minister for Agriculture. This Bill deals with those engaged in industrial employment.

But surely I am entitled to argue that it ought to cover labourers of every character, and that it should not subsidise industrial workers at the expense of agriculture, the one great industry that we have. I submit that agriculture is a greater industry in this country than the making of elastic or buttons.

If the Deputy wants to argue the inclusion of agricultural labourers within the provisions of this Bill I am prepared to allow him to proceed, but I am not prepared to allow him to drag in all the conditions in the agricultural industry.

We are asked here, as I have said, to join in a pæan of praise to the Minister for Industry and Commerce inasmuch as he is providing in this Bill better conditions for the working classes of this country, while at the same time we have tens of thousands of men in the country working 12 and 14 hours a day for 21/- a week and less, and we do not hear a word about them. If we do venture to say a word about them, or about the concatenation of events that brought that situation about, we are told by the President of the Executive Council, with a brazen-faced audacity which is characteristic of the man, that we are sabotaging the State: sabotaging the State because we try to point out to men who can be guilty of the folly of which the Minister for Industry and Commerce has been guilty, that if they proceed along the present lines they will destroy the State.

No man in this House is so foolish as to imagine that we can improve the conditions of workers in any branch of industry, whether it be agriculture or the manufacture of elastic or hosiery or anything else, unless the wealth of the country is conserved, and unless the purchasing power of our people is maintained. We are deliberately building up in this country social services and the amelioration of working conditions which, if the present policy continues, we will be unable to maintain, and what I am trying to point out to the Minister and to the House now is that it is absolutely worthless to be enacting legislation of this character unless we can put it into force and, having put it into force, unless we can keep it in force. All of us are glad to see a Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Bill, an Old Age Pensions Act, a Blind Persons' Pensions Act, shorter hours of work and higher standards of pay, but are people so blind or so foolish as to imagine that we can maintain these things in this country if the whole economic structure of the State is to be torn down about our ears?

Surely the economic structure of the State, or a discussion on it, does not arise on the Second Stage of this Bill. I allowed the Deputy to continue because he stated that he wanted to discuss the reasons why agricultural labourers should be included within the provisions of this measure. The question of the economic structure of the State does not, I submit, arise for discussion on the Second Reading of this Bill.

I do not desire to argue with the Chair. The Minister, in introducing this Bill, said:

"I present this Bill to the House for acceptance because it is desired."

We all agree with that. He said:

"I introduced this Bill to the House because it is practical and the machinery will work."

We all agree with that. He said:

"We are of opinion that the State can and must afford it; if there is to be industrial development, we want it to be of the right kind; there is no use in having industrial development under slave conditions."

What I say is: Yes, the Bill is desirable, we have no doubt your Department will be able to operate it; we know that if you would only conduct yourself like a sane man, the country could afford it but we warn you that you are depriving the people of the benefit of this desirable, practical legislation by destroying the means by which it can be put into operation. I am arguing that it is a travesty and a fraud to pass legislation of this kind unless we sincerely and honestly mean to put it into operation and can see our way to do it. We cannot put it into operation if we have not the means to do so. Surely, I must argue with the House that if this is all of a piece with the other social legislation which we all are anxious to see put into operation, with the other Bills which the Minister has adumbrated and which are to deal with shops and a variety of trades, it is madness to be putting up a scheme of this character if we do not, at the same time, make prudent provision for its financing. The Budget debate has revealed that our resources are dwindling. Every honest man in the country knows the reasons why our resources are dwindling. It is because a dummy sits there as Minister for Agriculture and an active politician occupies the position of Minister for Industry and Commerce. Whenever the interests of the farmer or the farm labourer are at stake, the Minister for Agriculture sits like a dummy and allows himself to be kicked here and there by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the President of the Executive Council or whoever desires to do it. These gentlemen fondly imagine they can continue to do that and, at the same time, build up a better condition of things for that section of the community for which they are responsible. They cannot. They thought they could do that for the old age pensioners. They thought they could do it for the unemployed. The Labour Party thought they could do it, too. Now, having co-operated with the Government in building up what they believed to be a most desirable system of social services, they have discovered that they allowed the sources of revenue which were to finance these social services to be destroyed.

If the Deputy does not propose to come to the measure before the House, I shall have to ask him to discontinue his speech. He is endeavouring to discuss the whole policy of the Government on the question: "That this Bill be read a Second Time."

I want to warn the House that the same thing will happen in connection with this eminently desirable legislation as has happened in connection with the Old Age Pensions Act and the Unemployment Assistance Act. Both of these measures were presented to us on similar grounds to those on which this Bill is being presented to us. They were admirable grounds—grounds that commanded the support of every section of the House. This Bill is going to meet in a couple of years with precisely the same fate with which these two measures have met. The mouths of the Labour Party will then fall open, and they will marvel that this should have come to pass. They will denounce the Government for having betrayed them and let them down. President de Valera will crack the whip, and the Labour Party will walk into the Lobby with him. I am trying to forewarn the House——

The Deputy will have to take some other opportunity to forewarn the House than the opportunity presented by the Second Reading of this measure. If the Deputy does not come to the question before the House, which relates to the Second Reading of the Conditions of Employment Bill, he must discontinue his speech.

You have, I think, ruled that it is open to me to discuss three things—whether this Bill is desirable, whether it is practicable——

I have ruled no such thing. I have ruled only that the Deputy can speak to the Second Reading of this Bill.

I am arguing that the Bill is desirable. I am arguing that the Bill is practicable. I am arguing that, if the finances of the country are properly conserved, it is economically possible. But if they are not so conserved, the measure is economically impossible, and it is only fools who will vote for it and, at the same time, vote for the means of its destruction.

I point out to the Deputy for the last time that the question of the economic condition of the country does not arise on this Bill.

You are quite within your right, Sir, to rule as to order. You are quite within your right to tell me that you will not allow certain observations to be made. But I shall not accept a ruling to the effect that certain things do not affect the Bill. Economic considerations do arise, in my opinion. If, in your opinion, they do not and if you are not prepared to hear me on that aspect of the question, I shall discontinue my observations.

It is rather a pity that Deputy Dillon did not participate in the discussion on this measure earlier, as he would have saved a great deal of wasted effort. I am sure that the Minister would have withdrawn the Bill without more ado on being warned so seriously and so solemnly by Deputy Dillon, and that he would not waste the time of the House or the country by going forward with the measure. Previous to Deputy Dillon's arrival, the measure was welcomed by every section and every interest in the House. Constructive suggestions were put forward by people who had studied the measure in the hope of improving it and making it more workable and more suited for the purpose for which it was designed. With the arrival of Deputy Dillon, we were swept clean away. He raised his voice, following the example from the Gallery which was too good to be lost. He showed how he could raise his voice without the least relevance to the motion under discussion.

Deputy Norton covered the whole economic field. I was in the House when he did so.

Deputy Dillon attacked the Minister simply because he introduced reforms which were anticipated 30 years ago by the trade boards. There is nothing, he said, at all in them to shout about and there is nothing in them on which the Minister should be lionised. Deputy Dillon forgot at first, but discovered later, that the Bill brought some advantage to the workers and his natural antipathy came to the top. The Deputy sometimes poses as the workers' friend. May the Lord save the workers from friends like Deputy Dillon. We know something about friends of his ilk. We had another contribution from Deputy Minch, who hung on patiently to get an opportunity not of helping the measure but of getting after Deputy Norton because he dared to refer to one industry in Monasterevan which was not being carried on on lines that could be justified by any decent employer. Deputy Minch assured us that, since his recent visit, everything was all right. We are only awaiting the declaration of the day when Deputy Minch, Norton & Co., will go down on an excursion to Monasterevan to see the happy conditions of the workers there. I am sure we shall all be glad to accompany them. Deputy Minch accused Deputy Norton of raising a "howling storm" about this matter, but Deputy Norton's "howling storm" faded into a gentle zephyr before the onslaught of Deputy Minch. His one fear is that Deputy Norton is going to introduce a socialisation of industry which, he prophesies, will be the ruination of the country, from one angle, just as ruination from a different angle has been prophesied by Deputy Dillon.

He would much prefer, I am sure, to allow the existing condition of things to obtain where each and every employer would utilise his advantages and opportunities to exploit the unfortunate workers in unfair competition with fellow-competitors in the trade. Because this measure definitely stops that, and puts employers on a fair and level basis and ensures a decent standard of employment when tendering for contracts in that particular form of industry, Deputy Minch is afraid of his life that there is going to be a system of socialisation introduced which will have a deleterious and paralysing effect on the country. Such suggestions are certainly not very helpful. Useful suggestions were made by Deputy Beckett, a man who has given study to the question, and is deeply interested in it.

I should like to refer to another matter and that is in connection with Sunday being introduced as part of the holiday. I do not think I read the section as Deputy Beckett did. From my reading I think the intention is that when Sunday or a public holiday intervenes in the six days, it does not count as one of the six days. If that were not so it would be a pity. I think it should not be included. Another point is in connection with the leaving out of the Bill of the transport industry. Clause (c) of Section 3 says:—

"warehousing goods in any warehouse in which mechanical power is used for the movement of goods or in which goods are lifted by any mechanical appliance whether such appliance is or is not actuated by mechanical power."

If the transport industry as a whole is not included I can visualise great difficulties arising in railway depots where cranes and mechanical appliances are used regularly when lifting and handling goods.

The Bill will apply to railway employees other than the traffic grades. It will apply to railway workers employed in railway shops or doing any other form of work. It is only people engaged in traffic operations are not covered.

That is the point I was on. The people I am referring to are goods porters engaged in traffic operations and the handling and loading of waggons. They are distinct from shop workers and, naturally, fall into the traffic category. In goods stores and places of that kind the traffic employees of the railway are engaged in such work and I see an anomaly arising if the position is not cleared up. In some stores there will be no mechanical appliances and goods will be handled on different conditions to those obtaining in other places. I should like the Minister to look into that position. I think Deputy Norton has fully covered the ground from the point of view of the Labour Party. We welcome this Bill as a definite indication of the Government's intention to advance, improve and standardise the condition of the workers in industry. We do not think it has been introduced too soon. If anything it is belated but, having regard to conditions, we welcome it now. I believe that if the Minister gives attention to the points that have been placed before him, as to conditions and the effect of registration of agreements, and allows time for consultation with those who have given the greater part of their lives to the work, including the members of the Trades Union Congress, I am sure the measure will meet with a general feeling of agreement in the House, and will be a welcome boon to employees and to the country when worked in conjunction with the further measures that are promised. We are not dismal or gloomy about the forebodings of Deputy Dillon. We think the country will stand the strain if it is given a fair chance.

So many Deputies have spoken and dealt with this Bill that very little remains to be done except to say that if the provisions of the Bill are carried out it can do some good, in so far as it improves the conditions of people in some industries, and in making certain employers observe decent conditions and pay a decent rate of wages. Although Deputy Dillon has been severely criticised as being unfriendly to the provisions of the Bill, as a worker accustomed to hard work, I would issue a warning to the Minister, to members of the Government, and particularly to the members of the Labour Party, that the Bill is not going to be the heaven-sent thing to working men that they are trying to make out it will be. In fact, I am afraid it will be like the Apprenticeship Bill which set out grand conditions and provisions for work that does not exist. We were then told grand things about working conditions for work that does not exist. When speaking on a Bill of this nature we must take into consideration the general conditions prevailing not only in the industrial sphere but in every other sphere in the country. You, Sir, have ruled Deputy Dillon out on one point and I am not going to pursue that any further. I repeat with all the emphasis I can command, as one who really knows something about working conditions and hard work, that whilst this Bill will be welcomed in so far as certain industries are concerned, it is going to have very little effect in regard to the solution of one of the great problems that is engaging the attention not only of this Government but of every Government, unemployment. It has been stated that a reduction of working hours is going to relieve unemployment and provide good conditions and everything else. In my opinion that is a fallacy. It has been proved a fallacy in other countries. I am sure it will be a fallacy here. However, as the Bill has been introduced I will support the Second Reading.

I am not enamoured that many of the sections will carry out in full the intention the Minister had in framing them, until everybody recognises the fact that we are a small country, and that there is no use introducing Bills for the purpose of creating work or making grand conditions for work that does not exist. It reminds me of a person who invites one to dinner and puts silver spoons on the table while there is nothing but red herrings on the plates. It will be found that it will be like that in a great many things here. We will have lovely rules for everything. It is work I want to see, work for the thousands of men who now are unemployed. Although he was ruled out of order, that was the point behind Deputy Dillon's speech to-day. Grand conditions and grand arrangements for men who are in constant work but nothing about men who are unemployed! That is what I want Deputies and everyone in the country to face up to. While the introduction of Bills of this kind may be good in their own way, they are not going to have any effect on the one great problem, unemployment.

It was understood that business was to be interrupted at 7.30 p.m. to resume the Budget discussion but, if the House agrees, I could conclude on the Second Reading in five minutes.

I am agreeable unless some other Deputy wants to speak.

There is very little necessity for me to say much at this stage arising out of the discussion on the Second Reading. Most of the points that Deputies referred to relate to particular proposals in the Bill which can be discussed more adequately on the Committee Stage. I am naturally very gratified by the reception it has received from all Parties in the House and from Deputies representative of various interests. It will help us to mould the Bill into shape, so as to make it the basis of additional legislation for the regulation of employment, to know that it has received that good-will from all sections.

The Bill has been a difficult one to prepare. It appears simple in its framework, but, naturally, there are many points at which its administration and application to present day conditions are going to create difficulties, and we will not be able to guard against dangers unless we get the combined wisdom of persons representative of the trade union movement and persons representative of employers brought to bear upon it. I am, therefore, fully agreeable to the suggestion made by Deputy Norton, and supported by Deputy Beckett, that we should have at least three weeks between Second Reading and Committee Stages. I am willing to move that the Committee Stage be taken at the commencement of the week three weeks from this.

So far as previous consultation with interested parties is concerned, the Trade Union Congress and other organisations were aware that legislation of this kind was in contemplation. There was, however, formal consultation with neither the Trade Union Congress nor the Federation of Saorstát Industries or any other body, although the Trade Union Congress, alone of the interested bodies, did in fact submit in memorandum form a series of proposals indicating the provisions they would wish to have embodied in the measure. The measure does not in many respects conform to these proposals, although in many others it does. The particular memorandum submitted by the congress covered matters that do not properly come within this Bill, but which will properly come within the Factories and Workshops Bill, to be introduced in this session.

Was there any informal conversation with any of the bodies?

At various times, representatives of the Trade Union Congress have met me in deputation to discuss matters arising out of pending legislation and for the purpose of indicating their views thereon. In some respects, we were able to agree to them and to undertake to give effect to their proposals. In other respects, we were not, and, in these respects, we will, no doubt, have discussion continued here.

Was there any informal discussion with the Federation of Saorstát Industries?

Through the Minister's liaison officer?

The Federation of Saorstát Industries were aware that this legislation was in contemplation. It was in fact publicly announced that this legislation was coming, but I have received from the Federation of Industries no representations and no proposals as yet concerning the scope or nature of the legislation. No doubt, I am going to get them.

To clear up the point, would the Minister say whether the provisions of this Bill were discussed with him, formally or informally?

Neither. It is true that in some respects the provisions of the Bill will not automatically effect a change in the conditions under which many industrial workers are employed. To a great extent, the measure is largely an enabling measure and is intended to confer power on the Department of Industry and Commerce to effect these changes after the consultations provided for with the representatives of the employers and the representatives of the workers. I think it would be very bad policy to provide in the Bill for a maximum working week of forty hours, or any other maximum working week, which would involve an immediate change in every industry, when it was not possible for us to examine the conditions of each industry, to estimate the effect of the change upon the prices of the commodities, upon employment, upon the importation of goods into the Saorstát, and upon any other factor.

In dealing with matters of this kind there are many things that have to be taken into consideration, and we can only do that industry by industry, in consultation with the parties who have the intimate knowledge of the industry which will be necessary when regulations are being framed. Therefore, the scheme of the Bill provides for the fixation of maximum hours of work on the lines of the Washington Convention, with provision for the making of regulations in respect of particular forms of industrial work with regard to lower maximum hours and other alterations of working conditions. It is true that there are bad employers; it is true that there are undesirable types of factories; and it is true that there are bad wages paid; but it is not true that these employers or these types of factories are representative of Saorstát industry as a whole. Deputy Norton was in a bit of a difficulty in speaking, and I sympathise with him. He had frequently spoken here about the bad conditions prevailing in industry when it was in the interest of his Party to do so. In the case of this Bill, it is in the interests of his Party to say that it does not go far enough and that he wants the terms of it improved. In order to put himself into a position to say that, he had in fact to take the line that it does not alter the conditions of employment in industry to any substantial extent. He cannot be right both ways any more than Deputy Dillon can be when he started his speech by saying that there was nothing new in the Bill and that it only tried to do something which the British Government thought of thirty years ago, and ended up by saying that it was going to produce a catastrophe and a number of other terrible things which he was beginning to enumerate when the Leas-Cheann Comhairle suppressed him.

I am not in a position to say definitely on what date the other Bills will be ready. The Bill for the condification and amendment of the Factories and Workshops Acts is in course of drafting at the present time and I hope to have it introduced in this session, but I could not give any undertaking that it would in fact be introduced before the Committee Stage of this Bill is taken. Apart, however, from that Bill, there is nothing in any of the other measures that are contemplated that need affect this measure. This measure is complete in so far as the classes of workers covered by it are concerned. The purpose of the other measures, apart from the Factories and Workshops Bill, will be to effect somewhat similar provision in respect of other classes of workers, such as workers employed on transport, in mining, in bakeries, or in commercial occupations. The need for having separate Bills to deal with these other occupations arises from purely legal considerations. We have to relate these Bills to Acts which are at present passed and it has happened that mining and transport, for example, have been the subject of separate legislation from the general factories and workshops code, and, consequently, must continue to be dealt with in separate legislation by us for convenience' sake.

What about State employees?

The Bill affects State employees in so far as they are engaged in the processes set out in Section 3. It would not cover such persons as the Deputy mentioned— messengers in the Post Office and persons engaged in commercial work. It relates only to persons engaged in industrial work as defined in the Bill, and so far as State employees are engaged upon industrial work of that kind, they come within the definition in Section 2, which sets out:—

The expression "industrial undertaking" means an undertaking in which industrial work is carried on by way of trade or for the purposes of gain or for the supply of any public service.

Is the Minister going to bring State conditions into conformity at least with this?

The Bill will automatically do so. I do not know if I will have to prosecute the Minister of any other Department in order to enforce the terms of the Bill. I have no doubt that if any such dispute should arise an amicable settlement can be arranged.

A number of very useful points were raised by Deputy Beckett and will require consideration. Whether persons employed in transport work in factories are or should be included in the Bill is one of those points. The question of provision for the adjustment of contracts is another, and the circumstances that will arise in connection with casual workers in respect of many parts of the Bill will also have to get attention. In so far as overtime is concerned, the general policy of the Bill is to discourage the working of overtime as a regular policy, but to permit of the working of overtime where special emergency circumstances necessitate it, or where the seasonal nature of the particular trade makes it necessary. In such cases a week's notice of the intention to work overtime is provided for in the Bill, and I have some doubts as to whether that is a practicable arrangement. There are two things to be provided for in that connection. One is the convenience of the employer who may have to work overtime unexpectedly in order to deal with an emergency situation, and the other is the administrative arrangements which have to be made in the Department to ensure that the provisions of the Act are being complied with. That is a matter which can be discussed on the Committee Stage.

Deputy Norton made, and Deputy Lynch supported, a proposal that the annual holidays period should be increased from six to 12 days. I should be somewhat hesitant in doing that without full examination of the consequences of it. We are making a beginning in the giving to workers of a legal right to annual holidays. That is going to mean holidays for the first time for many classes of workers. For example, the workers in railway shops mentioned here have not got holidays under their existing agreements. They will now become entitled to a week's holidays, with pay, for the first time. That is going to mean a fairly substantial additional charge upon many industries, and although the general view might be in favour of an extension of the holiday period — I personally am in sympathy with it—I think we should go forward in that direction only when we are satisfied as to what the consequences are going to be. Perhaps we could consider an amendment to that particular section of the Bill to provide that the week's holidays, at some subsequent period, might by agreement be extended without the necessity for fresh legislation.

If we are going to proceed along those lines I think we must know precisely what the consequences are going to be. The six days holidays provided for in the section must be six consecutive days. If a Sunday or a public holiday should occur within the six days it simply does not count. The six consecutive days would be six days not counting the Sunday or public holiday, so Deputy Beckett's suggestion is a practicable one—release the worker on Easter Saturday; his holidays start from the Tuesday and continue into the next week. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent the worker from taking a week's pay instead of holidays, in so far as the enforcement of his right to six days' holidays is left to himself. I am not so sure whether it is desirable that it should be left in this form, but that is a matter which might, perhaps, be discussed on the Committee Stage.

It is a very bad principle, and would cut across the whole spirit of the Bill.

I think that those are the only points which need to be referred to at this stage, except to mention that in one statement Deputy Lynch seemed to imply that the employment of juvenile labour in factories or industrial work in the Saorstát was a recent development consequent on high tariffs. That is not correct. Juvenile labour has been employed for many years, not merely in this but in other countries. In fact, our statistics show that the proportion of juveniles to adults in insurable employment has not increased, but, on the contrary, has shown a tendency to decrease in recent years. I am not quite clear what Deputy Dillon intended to convey in his remarks. He said that the Bill was a travesty and a fraud. I presume, therefore, that he will vote against it. If he does not we must regard himself as a travesty and a fraud.

Question put, and agreed to.
Committee Stage fixed for Tuesday the 11th June.