Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 4 Nov 1936

Vol. 64 No. 1

Private Deputies' Business. - Economic War—Motion to Appoint Committee.

I move:—

That a committee consisting of 11 Deputies be set up to make recommendations:—

(1) as to how the land and agricultural interests of the nation can best be preserved and assisted during the economic war; and

(2) as to how the economic war can best and most expeditiously be brought to a successful conclusion;

That five Deputies be selected by the chief Opposition Party to represent the Government Party on the said committee;

That four Deputies be selected from the chief Opposition Party by the Government Party to serve on the said committee;

That two Deputies, not being members of the Government or Opposition Parties, be selected by the Government and Opposition Parties combined; and

That, in the event of any of the Parties of the House failing to make the aforementioned selections, the Committee of Selection nominate 11 Deputies to serve on the said committee.

This motion, as is apparent on the face of it, is directed in the first place towards securing some relief for the agricultural industry which is and must remain during the continuance of the economic war, the principal sufferer from that disastrous event. It is directed, in the second place, towards the determination of that extraordinary and mutually destructive condition of affairs, by so far as possible, bringing to bear the utmost pressure which this Dáil, as the sovereign assembly of the Irish people, is capable of exercising. When this very unfortunate condition of affairs was first precipitated while, in Government circles, regret was generally expressed, that regret was tempered by the pious hope that it might eventually prove a blessing in disguise. This hope again was based on apparently two beliefs— first of all, a belief that wholesale tariffs would be imposed on foreign manufactured commodities, particularly commodities manufactured in England, with the whole-hearted consent and the enthusiastic co-operation of the Irish people in whom, it was believed, something like a war frenzy could be aroused and that they could be induced to regard any attempt to criticise that tariff policy as treasonable conduct on the part of the critics. The Government believed that that weapon could be used at the same time to further their own political interests. The second belief on which it was based was, that the British retaliatory tariff policy, being directed mainly against Irish live-stock industry would, on the one hand, assist the Government's own tillage policy and that on the other hand, so far as the adverse repercussions of the economic war were concerned, they would be restricted mainly to the larger farmers, the attacking of whom by such names as graziers, ranchers and grabbers could all be counted upon as good politics in Ireland. If these larger farmers who should happen to have capital—a small minority—could be induced to spend that capital in sending good money after bad, in what in many cases was a futile attempt to hold on to their property, and if at the time those farmers who had no capital or very little capital—the great majority of the big farmers happen to have very little capital—could be induced or forced cut of their holdings, which could then be divided amongst the supporters of the Fianna Fáil Party, then the clouds of the economic war would not be without their silver lining.

With regard to the present Government's industrial policy, which is partly a consequence of the economic war, I do not intend to go into it at any length as it does not arise directly out of this motion. I shall content myself by remarking that two very great powers—one a nation illustrating the extreme expression of Capitalism, the other of Communism—have agreed if, in nothing else, on the method of industrialising a purely agricultural country. Both the United States and Soviet Russia have built up a great industrial arm by increasing their exports of agricultural produce and raw materials—such commodities as wheat, sugar, cotton, tobacco, etc. This is the only country I know, as far as I have read history, where an attempt has been made to build up new industries by curtailing the export trade of the country's greatest and most extensive industry, practically its sole industry—agriculture.

Now, as regards the agricultural policy, I think that it will be generally admitted by all sides that whatever advantages there may be in the wheat-growing policy, it can be no substitute for the live-stock export trade. I think that that is admitted by all sides. Even if we assume that the Government's present policy had reached the peak point of success and that we were now in a position to grow all our own wheat and all our own sugar, or at least all our own sugar and wheat that would be adequate for our own needs, the amount of arable land required for that purpose would be only a small fraction of the arable land in Ireland, and the question then immediately arises: What is to be done with the remainder? Again, it is axiomatic that an increase in the area of tillage or of land under cultivation in the country is bound to lead to an increase in the live-stock population of the country, and if that is the case, what can that lead to eventually unless to a further slaughter of the innocents—more uneconomic calf schemes—if, at the same time, our mature live-stock trade is being curtailed?

There is, economically speaking at all events, no real opposition between the tillage farmer and the live-stock farmer, and no opposition or no antagonism between the larger farmer and the smaller farmer or between any class of farmer and the farm labourer who, individually, receives very little attention from anybody. They are all part and parcel of the same great industry, but just like so many different departments in, say, the Ford factory, all these various sections must sink or swim together and you cannot take them separately; you cannot attack one section and think to destroy that without injuring the others also. I hear a lot of talk in this House and in other places about the rancher. One would imagine that that sort of thing should be worn out long ago. The land war was fought in this country, not in our time, but in the time of our fathers and our grandfathers. In that day, undoubtedly, the rancher was a serious menace to this country and to the people of this nation. To-day, however, the rancher, to all intents and purposes is a thing of the past. I even still hear talk about the rancher, his herd and his dog, but so far as my experience goes, at the present time, the number of farm labourers and grooms and gardeners and various other types of employees employed by such men completely obscures the cases of the man with one herd and a dog. In my experience, those people in most cases spend a great deal more on their land than they take out of it, because they generally had private means and they really subsidised agriculture out of their own private resources. To-day, the Government is spending something like £8,000,000 a year in subsidising agriculture. These people, however, probably subsidised agriculture to as big an extent out of their own pockets, and furthermore, not alone did they do that but they were also subsidising agriculture generally by paying higher prices for live stock than would be paid if the live stock were purchased only by means of the ordinary dealer. In the same way they also helped by paying good prices for hay, oats and root crops generally and by giving employment to the sons of small farmers. It must also be remembered that they were great contributors to rates and taxation generally.

Now, I hold no brief for those people and, as I say, they are practically a thing of the past; but in dealing with a serious situation like the present, it is a very foolish thing to be carried away by purely political catch-cries and not to give due value to all the factors in the situation. We should realise that the people who were engaged in this country in farming in a big way were not altogether a loss, but in many cases an asset. I should also like to make the point that it is not only those people who have suffered through the economic war. In the beginning they were probably the biggest sufferers, but the blow has been passed on since then. As I say, the class of people to whom I am referring are practically a thing of the past, and their disappearance has been due even more to economic circumstances than to the very drastic land legislation which has been carried out in this country, and rightly carried out, during the last 50 years. Before this century was ushered in, however, it was nothing unusual for a County Meath grazier to purchase three and four year old cattle in, say, County Galway, at, let us say, £7 or £8 a head and to sell them after a summer's season on the grass of Meath at £18 or £20. That was the case in those days, because in those days good land was valuable; but things have changed very much since then. To-day, an acre of land in the poorest part of Connemara may well be worth a great deal more than an equal amount of the best land in Meath. The Great War changed the whole position, and since then the value of cattle is regulated, not by what the wealthy or the large farmer is prepared to give, but by what the small farmer, who reared the calf, is prepared to take. At the outset, as I say, it was the large farmer who suffered most, but that depression in agriculture in Ireland did not begin with the economic war; it began in 1921, at the time when the Treaty negotiations were going on. At that time there was a cataclysmic fall in the price of live stock in the spring of that year, and the blow came only in the autumn, and many of those farmers lost as much as £10 and £15 a head on cattle they had purchased in the previous spring. It must also be remembered in this connection, that many of those farmers were paying very high prices for their land which they had hired for grazing purposes on the eleven months' purchase system, and those farmers continued to lose money continuously in that way while still dealing in a falling market. The small farmer, however, escaped that shock because he had already sold his cattle, and even though in subsequent years he did not get as high a price, yet, because he raised his own cattle, or bought them very young and cheap, he was not hurt so much, whereas the larger farmer continued to feel the full force of that depression all along.

The second crisis came when the economic war was started, and it was a decisive blow to a great many of the larger farmers, particularly those who had bought land and paid a high price for it. When that came about the value of live stock was halved. They decided on different ways to meet the difficulty. Some of them tried to reduce the number of stock on their land, and some even went to the extent of not stocking their land at all. That had a repercussion on smaller farmers, who saw no hope of selling any store cattle. Others met the situation by selling their land to the Land Commission. That made it still more difficult for the small farmers. The third way the situation was met was by a change in the system of farming. Because the Government was hostile to their methods large farmers adopted the same system as small farmers, by going into dairying, the growing of corn, and mixed farming, so that small farmers eventually were in a worse position than the large farmers. After the beginning of the economic war it was impossible for farmers to sell their cattle. They stood in the fairs all day, and it was practically only as a charity that they could be got rid of.

I do not know whether agriculture is different to any other industry we have. The success of other industries is understood to depend on specialisation and on the provision of labour. I do not know whether it will prove feasible in the case of agriculture to have the same system of farming adopted throughout the country from Buncrana in Donegal to Bantry Bay in Cork. I would not be surprised if it was eventually found that the revolt against those who specialised in the production of beef and other types of farming had not the same result as the revolt of the members against the belly in the world's oldest fable. However, this so-called economic war has demonstrated that if the larger farmer cannot make a profit on big cattle, the small farmer cannot make a profit on little cattle, and the tillage farmer, unless he receives doles from the Government, cannot make a profit out of his crops, and farm labourers cannot get employment.

The economic war has certainly proved one point that I would like to drive home, that the larger farmer is in the same position as the smaller farmer, except to the extent to which tillage is subsidised by the Government. If that is the position of farmers, how can the lot of the unfortunate agricultural workers be bettered? There is a Bill before the Dáil at present to deal with the position of the agricultural labourers. What can be done by legislation if the money is not there to give the labourers a decent living wage? Before the position of the agricultural labourers can be improved, the agricultural industry as a whole must be improved. The seriousness of our position is shown by the figures dealing with our economic position. I admit that things are not as bad now as when this motion was put down. At that time our adverse trade balance was actually £2,000,000 more than our total export trade. It was an extraordinary state of affairs. There is still a sufficient margin between our exports and imports to make everybody who takes an interest in the affairs of this country look upon the position as extremely grave. We have also a very serious position from the point of view of unemployment. In the agricultural industry alone, the fact that production in recent years is down by a total of £25,000,000 is very serious, but, on top of that, we have to face the fact that taxation since the Fianna Fáil Government came into office has gone up by approximately £4 per head of the population. These facts are certainly deplorable.

There is certainly something ridiculous about the present situation. If there was any justification for it, any great principle at stake, or any great prize to be won, the Irish people are not a people that could be driven to surrender by any form of privation. The question arises: what is it all about? I must say that the longer the economic war lasts the more puzzled I become. It is apparently a war on two fronts, the political front and the economic front. It is certainly serious from our point of view, because there is intense suffering amongst the agricultural population, suffering that has been increased by the higher cost of living which has been passed on to the general public. It is not a matter for joking. It is serious, and the question is, what are we doing to bring this situation to an end? On the economic front, apparently, we have not been able to do anything or to hit back. The relief that was given by the coal-cattle pact was at a time when Great Britain was in rather a difficult position over sanctions, and when the Italians had cancelled orders for coal value for several millions. At that time England was on the verge of a coal strike, but the orders from this country came to the rescue. As regards the economic front, we do not appear to be waging this war with any effect or to make it likely that Great Britain will bow the knee or accept any proposals we make. We have the same situation on the political front. I remember that when the question of sanctions arose our representative in Geneva gave the British every assistance in his power. From the military point of view, this country is not of very much importance, but its moral position is extremely important. Our influence, particularly in the United States, plays a very important part and if that country had adopted sanctions like other powers, the whole position would be changed. That moral support was thrown wholeheartedly behind England in the campaign. There is this position with regard to Spain, that we are standing shoulder to shoulder with Great Britain in whatever her policy happens to be.

I am not criticising that attitude any more than to say that if we are at war then we should adopt a different attitude. If we are not going to have a real war and to fight it seriously, then there is no reason why we should not make peace. I regret that some attempt has not been made to end this whole miserable matter. Can we segregate the two parts? Can we segregate the economic end of it from the political end and settle that, or, better still, why not settle all our troubles together? I am not necessarily talking of a final settlement. It was well said during the Treaty debates—it is a saying that will probably ever remain fresh in the minds of the people—"that this was no more a final settlement than that we are the final generation." We here who are only temporary representatives in what may perhaps be only a temporary Assembly can no more bind the future than we can alter the past. The time in which we have to work and sow and reap is the present, and it is on that that we will be judged. I know that there are a great many people in this country, sincere people whose political convictions are as sacred to them as their religion. I know there are a great many people in this country who would not be prepared to accept any settlement that any British Government could afford to make. I know there are numbers of people in the country who, even if we got to-morrow the fullest measure of freedom that it is possible for any people to enjoy, call it republic or whatever name you like—even if the complete unity of the country were achieved—at the same time would still feel it their duty to resist by every means in their power the advance of any nation flying an Imperial flag. Now there are such people, and Ireland is not the only country that has such people—genuine pacifists and genuine anti-Imperialists. There are such men in England probably more than there are here. George Lansbury, when the question of sanctions against Italy was prominent in England and in spite of the overwhelming opposition of his own Party, did homage to what he believed to be the higher peace than that of Geneva, and deserves credit from everyone who is fair-minded in such matters. Governments must govern according to the standards of their own time. But no Government and no man has the right to proclaim a higher gospel than that of the Almighty Himself—to say: "He may be prepared to permit and suffer evil, but not I; I must insist on stamping it out irrespective of what the cost be to the people whose destinies I control."

I have been in this Dáil ever since it was set up. I have seen many occasions when an offer of co-operation, or the acceptance of an offer of co-operation by Deputies now on the Government Benches, would have altered very much for the better the course of our recent history. I remember the occasion of the Treaty debates when Michael Collins asked to have a Joint Committee of Public Safety established so that peace and order could be preserved in the country during the interregnum between the departure of the British and the establishment of the first native Government in this country. I have in mind also an occasion when a vitally important election was being held in Northern Ireland, an election which was to a great extent going to decide the fate of the boundary, and when an effort was made to face the situation in the North with a united front. If we had got that, while I do not say that we would have no boundary, I think that at all events we would have a better situation than we have at present. I also have in mind the time when the Ultimate Financial Settlement was being negotiated. An appeal was made, if not for co-operation to get the best terms that we could, at least for the charity of silence. On those occasions there was no co-operation. I believe that the present is a situation when such co-operation could not be but helpful, and I believe that no Party as an individual Party could suffer by having it. If we had it, I believe that Ireland as a whole would gain.

In putting down this resolution I have made a slight alteration in the method by which the committee is to be selected if the resolution is accepted. I believe that the findings of such a committee would be much more influential than that of a committee formed in the ordinary way. I think if at all possible the system I propose should be adopted, but if anybody sees an insurmountable obstacle in the way, then the alternative is there. I have put down this resolution in all sincerity, in the interests of the people as a whole, and particularly in the interests of the agricultural community—every section of it from the biggest farmer down to the poorest agricultural labourer. I have put it down in the hope that some solution will be found, first of all to bring the economic war itself to a termination. If that cannot be done immediately, then there is no reason why such a committee could not hammer out some means whereby the present very onerous burdens of this conflict would be put on a broader basis than that on which they rest at present. As I have said, I have put down the resolution in all sincerity, and I believe that if the Dáil accepts it in that spirit it will lead to good results.

I am glad to second this motion, because I am thoroughly in sympathy with the spirit of it, although I confess doubts as to whether the actual machinery proposed is well adapted to secure the ends which Deputy Bourke has in view. Before I go any further, I should like to take exception to one or two of his concluding observations that are not perhaps strictly relevant to this motion, but are too important to pass over in silence. I cannot agree that the attitude of this country, either in regard to our obligations in Geneva and the several gross breaches of faith by Italy, which we felt called upon to join with the other nations in condemning, or in relation to the civil war in Spain, can be properly described as support of Great Britain. In my view our attitude on those matters must have been what it was even if Great Britain had never existed.

I quite agree with the Deputy on the doubtful relevancy of those matters.

I have finished with them, in any case. Deputy Bourke made some trenchant observations about the peculiar nature of what he describes as this economic war, but I should like to go a little bit further and to ask is there any sense in calling it an economic war at all? On our side I am not aware of any hostilities whatever. So far as I know, we are carrying on no military operations against the so-called enemy. On the other side, if the British were indeed endeavouring to break this country—as I see alleged at Fianna Fáil Ard Fheiseanna and elsewhere—by brutal methods and the big stick, they could have done enormously more than they have actually done. They would and must obviously have done enormously more. They have, in fact, confined themselves to revenue-producing tariffs, and have aimed at getting from those tariffs the exact amount, as nearly as possible, that they claim to be due to them. It seems to me that a procedure of that sort cannot, with any verbal correctness, be described as an economic war, and still less does it seem sensible to talk about an economic war when you bear in mind that our economic relations with the alleged enemy are far more intimate than our economic relations with any other country in the world; that, in spite of whatever damage has been done by the policy of the present Government, the volume of our trade with that country is immensely greater than the volume of our trade with any other country; and that, in spite of all the talk of alternative markets, and all the trade agreements that were accomplished with various other countries, it has to be admitted that the total value of all those agreements is insignificant compared with the value of the coal-cattle pact and the trade agreement of 1936 with Great Britain.

It is fantastic to talk about an economic war when, in fact, subject to the collection by Great Britain of a certain fixed amount of revenue by tariffs, the two countries are doing everything they can think of to expand their trade with each other and to improve their economic relations with each other. But, while I contend that there is no economic war, there is an exceedingly damaging financial dispute and there is a dislocation of our trade with Great Britain that ought to be put a stop to. This motion will be of great value if it succeeds in extracting from the spokesmen of the Government some statement as to what the Government are now thinking and doing about this financial dispute. We do not yet know whether they are making any attempt to settle it by way of compromise; or whether, in order to bring the dispute to an end, a single offer has been made to Great Britain to pay less than we are at present paying, because in spite of every attempt to conceal it, it cannot be concealed that we are, in fact, paying to Great Britain the entire amount in dispute. We have a right to ask the Government, and I do ask the Government, are they making any proposals at all, or have they, at any time, made proposals to Great Britain for compromise on the basis of paying Great Britain something less than we are actually paying them now, whether we like it or not?

This matter of our agricultural exports was important enough already, but it has taken a new and an added importance from the emergence of the legislative proposals to provide a minimum wage for agricultural labourers. If those proposals are to do any good at all, they must be accompanied by such a settlement of the financial dispute with Great Britain as will put the farmers in a position to pay the increased wages that we wish to see paid. Nobody is more conscious than I of the exceedingly unsatisfactory position of agricultural labourers, and of the very unsatisfactory wages they receive compared with workers in other industries, and nobody is more eager than I am to see that situation altered, but the Government's proposals for introducing a minimum wage will have no useful effect at all—and will probably have, on the whole, a bad effect rather than a good one—unless something is simultaneously done to put the farming industry in such a position that better wages can be paid. I commend those considerations to the Government's attention. I ask them to discard any jingoism that may be lingering in their minds; to look at the facts as they actually are; to tell us if they have done anything towards making a businesslike arrangement with Great Britain which need sacrifice no one's pride or dignity, which need sacrifice no principle of any sort, but which would simply embody a realisation of hard facts. I think we have a right to expect them to be frank with us as to what they are doing and thinking about this matter, and I appeal to them not only to be frank, but to be sensible.

It had been my intention merely to second Deputy Bourke's motion, as I felt quite sure that the House, having heard this discussion so often, would possibly desire that those speaking to this motion would not try to go outside the spirit in which the motion was introduced. There is no doubt that the sincerity of the introducer of this notice of motion must have been felt by the few who are in the House. It must have been recognised as an endeavour in all sincerity to raise the matter beyond the plane of Party politics. I remember when the President was speaking on this question here in general terms he stated quite frankly and quite freely that the land annuities were being collected in the most harmful way possible, and in considering his own submission I tried to connect it up with the second part of this motion, namely, can there not be some attempt made to settle this dispute between the two countries? It is a money dispute as we all know and, no matter whether we remove partition, or have new Constitution Bills or new External Affairs Bills, money talks all the time, and it is a question of seeing whether there can be a compromise at any time to cut or reduce the amount we have to pay.

This year the farming community have had a very bad harvest. That is not the responsibility of any Government Department. These are things we have to face up to and accept. Deputies who come from districts where grain is grown will admit that in spite of enhanced prices, the agricultural community have felt the blow of this year's harvest of their grain, whether it is wheat, barley, or oats. Everybody agrees that the prolific yield of the previous harvest failed to stay—nobody could have expected it. It was one of the greatest records in yield that statistical facts can show us in this country. This year, not only has the yield been considerably less than last year, but I should think it was one of the worst within the last decade or more. Despite the tremendous efforts made to enable the farmers to have a means of revenue by the introduction of a wheat policy, I think it will be agreed that the revenue obtained by the farming community has been reduced considerably owing to the bad harvest this year. I believe that there are about 57,000 acres less under oats than last year and about 9,000 acres less under barley, but that this has been more or less compensated for by an increase in the wheat acreage to 250,000 acres. Farmers whom I have met have informed me that, despite the enhanced prices, their payments for grain are not at all in keeping with what they got last year.

This brings us to the question of why we cannot make these bad years more secure by having our agricultural activities on a normal basis. We cannot have them on a normal basis while we are engaged in a dispute over money with a country which takes and can take everything that this country can produce. I think that the time has arrived when some consideration might be given to a settlement, if a settlement is at all possible or will ever be possible, of this dispute. First of all, it was a question of mere money. Then a quota was imposed on our live stock which led up to the Bill for the slaughtering of calves. Nearly 500,000 calves were slaughtered, a sum of 10/-being given for each calf skin. If there had been no quota imposed on us, and I do not believe there would have been a quota imposed if the relations between the two countries had not been inflamed by this dispute over the land annuities, we would have to-day 400,000 more cattle which would increase the revenue of every farmer no matter to what Party he belonged, and I am sure the independence of the country or the future of Ireland would be in no way interfered with. It is always the same in business matters. You cannot get away from it by phrases or slogans or anything like that—the losses remain. If we are stupid enough to carry on on the lines on which we have been carrying on, we must make up our minds definitely that we intend to bear the losses. We have had bitter debates in the House in the past on this matter, but I hope this motion will be received by the Government in the spirit in which it is introduced; that there will not be an atmosphere of trying to score over each other or hurl epithets of an unpleasant nature at each other, but that we shall see if the House can agree in some way to approach this matter in the way that the country expects.

Deputy MacDermot referred to the question of agricultural wages. Unless we have a ready market for what this country can produce, and have no wrenches thrown into the machinery, the problem of the agricultural worker is an insoluble one, and he can never be brought up to a rate of wages which every member of the House would desire. There is not one of us here but realises that the wage available to the agricultural worker after the farmer has discharged his liabilities is a low wage, an uneconomic wage, a demoralising and unfair wage. Until we face up to that, as it is our duty to do, irrespective of Party, no legislation produced in this House will make one bit of difference. We have now a tremendous campaign about the question of the slums. I believe that the question of the agricultural wage-earner is just as big a one. At the moment, he is not able to keep his house in any kind of comfort, and when he gets a new house he will naturally fail to keep it in the way it was given to him. As time goes on, deterioration sets in, not only in the man himself, but in the house he is trying to keep up. To raise the standard is the essential thing for us, and we will never be able to do that for the agricultural labourers or the farmers as long as we are engaged in a dispute which is affecting the prosperity of the farming community.

Rural Ireland to-day is a dull place. Everybody knows that. It is dull by reason of economic facts, despite the tremendous efforts that are being made —I give credit where credit is due— to establish new industries and try to help the farming industry by artificial means. Because life is dull in the rural areas, we have criticism of our dance halls and of our young people clearing out of the country or pouring into the towns. Until we make rural life attractive and dignified, and until we make country life worth while, we will never cure these ills. We will never stop the best of our rural community clearing away into the towns or seeking a livelihood in some other country. I am quite certain that is the truth. I am satisfied that when the Agricultural Wages Bill is brought in here—a Bill under which higher wages are to be paid— what will happen will be, as happened in England, that the farmer will let one of his men go, and so one man less will be employed on that farm. To-day the farmer is not able to pay a proper agricultural wage to his labourers. This is a case of putting the hypodermic needle into the sick man, but that will not cure him. It will have the effect only of making him stagger. Under the present system you cannot have the agricultural industry healthy, and the sick man cannot be turned into a virile, sound man. This dispute with Great Britain will have to be settled, and settled with dignity and honour to both countries.

Deputy Seamus Bourke to conclude.

Mr. Bourke

Will not the Minister speak first?

The Government are not accepting the proposals outlined by Deputy Bourke in his motion. I do not think I need detain the House in going into the reasons. It is noteworthy that none of the Deputies who have addressed themselves to the motion have dealt with the kernel of the matter, which is that a committee representing the Opposition as well as the Government Party in this House should be set up to make recommendations:—

(1) as to how the land and agricultural interests of the nation can best be preserved and assisted during the economic war; and

(2) as to how the economic war can best and most expeditiously be brought to a successful conclusion.

No argument whatever has been adduced to show that there would be any utility in setting up such a committee. I cannot agree that it would serve any useful purpose. I sympathise with and appreciate the speeches made by some of the Deputies. I appreciate their point of view, and I sympathise with their desire to co-operate with the Government in a certain measure, but I suggest that this is not the way in which any co-operation can be brought about. The Government have a certain policy which they are carrying into effect with the assistance of the majority of this House. We have had an endless discussion during the last few years on this question of the economic war, and I think the position is fairly well understood by Deputies, and indeed by our people generally. In conclusion, I want to say that I cannot see that any useful purpose would be served by the setting up of this committee, and I do not accept the proposal.

While one must agree with what the Minister for Education has said—that none of the Deputies who have spoken has produced very much argument in support of the motion—still the House will understand my position. I am not in the confidence of the proposers of the motion, but I think this might be taken as an opportunity of making in all seriousness an appeal for something to be done. We have now had almost four and a half years of this financial dispute, and while Providence blessed us—and we humbly thank Him for it— with good seasons and good weather for the saving of our crops in recent years, we were this year reminded of what the weather can do. Speaking as one coming from the heart of the country and as one engaged all his life in agriculture, I would add my appeal to the Government to do something in regard to this matter. We are all, I think, sympathetic towards Government policy so far as the establishment of industries is concerned, but I would respectfully point out to them that the success of their industrial policy is bound up with the purchasing power of the consumer, and as our country is made up largely of people who make a livelihood out of agriculture, I suggest that it would be a sound economic proposition to improve the position of the agricultural community. In that way you will have a natural subsidisation, if I might use the word, of industry. I do not know whether the Front Bench Members of the Government realise where we stand in the country to-day. In my part of the country anyhow we have not the name of neglecting to save what Providence sends us. But a great deal of our crops this year has been lost. In addition to that at the present moment the price of the meal mixture that we use is far too high considering the price we get for our live stock. Some of the Government policy might be very well for people who are living in the neighbourhood of large cities where the farmer can turn his crops into cash. Our situation does not lend itself to that. We would far rather use the crops that we produce and keep the labour going on the farm all the year round than have seasonal work and doing with less labour in winter time. In my part of the country we always strive to use what we grow and we produce the best. I do not propose to reiterate the arguments that are used so often in this House, but I speak with all sincerity. I have no axe to grind in this matter further than trying to help my fellow-farmers.

The Minister for Education says that the majority in this House is with the Government. He is perfectly right in that. Still, with all respect, I would point out that this economic dispute is a thing that cannot go on for ever. The Government is exhausting every means in its power in the endeavour to compensate for the disturbance to our industries caused by that dispute. But, after all, no matter what bounties the farmer gets, the people themselves have in the end to bear the cost of these subsidies. The motion asks for the termination of this economic dispute. Perhaps it would be impertinent on my part to suggest to the Government how that could be done. But were the Government to address themselves to that question they would find it could be done and the evil could be cured. The present procedure of collecting annuities is to my mind like employing a Rolls Royce motor car to collect the rents of labourers' cottages. These annuities are being collected in a most expensive way on both sides of the Border. They are being collected with the maximum of trouble. That sort of thing cannot go on without having its serious effects upon the country. Some people tell us that the farmer is being recouped for the British tax on his live stock and farm produce; still the fact remains that on a full-grown beast there is a duty of £4 5s., which the farmer has to pay. That, surely, is not as it should be. Reference has been made even to-day to the fresh agreement made at the beginning of this year and the useful effect it has had on the country. If the results were in the same ratio in respect of the ending of this dispute as in the case of the pact made at the beginning of the year, we might, as farming people, look forward to better times. I do not know whether or not this resolution is the best type of resolution in its present form. I speak to it for the purpose of appealing to the Government to address themselves afresh to this question and end the economic dispute.

The Minister for Education blandly intervened in our discussion to-day and his contribution was to observe that the Government was carrying out a certain policy with the assistance of the majority of this House and that they did not propose to change. He had not the hardihood to elaborate that statement. I do not blame him. What that policy is he does not know nor do his colleagues. He would have got into deep water if he had tried to explain what the policy which is actuating the Government in regard to agriculture is. The September number of the Irish Trade Journal contains some facts which may be relevant to the matters under discussion at present. The Minister for Education had not seen them. If he had seen them, he would not have understood them. I shall try to explain some of them now. I do not hope that my explanation will have any effect on the members who occupy the back benches on the opposite side. I am a very ambitious man in many ways, but there are limits to what I hope to do. Even if I were able to explain these very simple figures to the Deputies opposite, it would make very little difference because, when the whip cracked, they would respond with their usual alacrity.

You were not able to convince the farmers of Galway.

I am going to convince Deputy Victory, but I have not the slightest hope of converting him. To convince him is one thing; to convert him is another. To convince him, it is necessary that he should have some intelligence and that I should have some eloquence. To convert him it is not only necessary that I should have some eloquence, but that he should have both intelligence and moral courage. No member of the Fianna Fáil Party has yet developed moral courage. I want to compare a few figures dealing with the output of agricultural products in this country in 1929-30 and 1934-35. The value of cattle produced in 1929-30 was £14,960,000. The value of cattle produced in 1934-35 was £5,653,000—a reduction of over £9,000,000 in the value of cattle alone. The value of butter produced in 1929-30 was £11,326,000, and in 1934-35 it was £7,363,000—a reduction of £4,000,000 per annum. The production of pigs in 1929-30 was valued at £8,990,000, and in 1934-35 the value of our output was £5,273,000—a reduction of about £3,700,000. The production of eggs in 1929-30 was value for £7,113,000, and in 1934-35 the value was £4,273,000—a reduction of almost £3,000,000. Sheep and lambs were valued at £3,207,000 in 1929-30, and at £1,600,000 in 1934-35— less than half.

I could go down through every item of the produce of Irish agriculture of an economic character and demonstrate that the value of the production has been reduced by from half to two-thirds. I have no doubt that if the Minister for Education had not fled from the House he would have attempted to make some defence on the ground that while the folly of Fianna Fáil had destroyed cattle and live-stock production, it had, at least, given the farmers increased wheat, increased beet, and increased peat— wheat, beet and peat. Let us examine these claims. In 1929-30 there was raised in this country 3,567,000 tons of peat. We then started a publicity campaign to make turf the second most valuable industry in the country. In the words of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, we were to make it second only to agriculture in its importance to the economic life of this country. Having spent hundreds of thousands of pounds, we succeeded in reducing the output of turf by 200,000 tons per annum. In 1934-35 we produced 3,310,000 tons of turf, which is 200,000 tons less than was produced in 1929-30.

Let us examine the Government's amazing achievements in regard to beet and wheat. It is not to be denied that the output of wheat, as between 1929-30 and 1934-35, increased in value by £600,000, and the output of sugar beet by £460,000. That represents a total increase of about £1,100,000. What does it cost the community to provide that additional value in agricultural output? It costs £2,500,000. We are spending £2,500,000 per annum in order to increase the value of the output of wheat and beet by £1,100,000. For every extra £1 put into the farmer's pocket in respect of wheat and beet, we are taking £2 10s. 0d. out of the consumer's pocket. Is it any wonder that members of the Government responsible for "codology" of that kind fly the House when somebody gets up to expose them? Not a single member of the bench of Ministers has the hard-faced audacity to sit here during this debate in the presence of the respected Deputy for Galway, whom we are happy to welcome into our midst to-day. That is the kind of policy on which the Deputy got elected in County Galway. Is it any surprise that Deputy Corry is paralysed with amazement and is unable to discover the reasons that secured the Deputy's success in Galway? Every Deputy on the Fianna Fáil Benches is amazed at the idea of the two Deputies from Galway and Wexford getting in here. It is a source of astonishment to me that the Minister for Education is in a position to say that a policy such as I have outlined is being carried out with the consent of the majority of Deputies, and with the consent of the majority of electors in Wexford and Galway. If Deputies will turn to page 135 of the September number of the Irish Trade Journal, they will discover that the exports of agricultural produce as between 1929-30 and 1934-35 have fallen by £19,000,000. There has been a reduction from £31,000,000 to £12,000,000, and the total productivity of agriculture has been reduced from £64,000,000 to £40,000,000.

Whatever steps may be taken to end that situation, one fact is absolutely certain, and it is present to the mind of every Fianna Fáil Deputy here: that is, that if that situation continues, the whole economic fabric of this country will crumple up; all our social services, the standard of living of the people, and any industrial development we have will collapse if that situation is allowed to continue. Fully 80 per cent. of the consumers are directly dependent on the prosperity of the agricultural industry. Beggar them, and you ultimately beggar the whole community. There is a slow and steady deterioration in the condition of the agricultural industry. The members of the Fianna Fáil Party have tried to shut their eyes to what was evident to everybody else. They tried to persuade themselves that there was an increasing population on the land, until the census returns showed there was a substantial decrease in the population on the land. They tried to persuade themselves that their crazy industrial policy and their crazy agricultural policy were providing employment for a large increase in the population, but the census figures showed that, far from there being an increase in the population, there was a substantial decrease. They found that all their activities in respect of both policies had been vain and futile, and, far from having assisted the community, they had materially injured the community since they came into office.

Does that induce them to mend their hand or alter their course? Not a bit of it. They are going to devote our minds for the next six months to weaving spells in a new Constitution—as if it mattered two hoots to anybody in this country what form the metaphysics which President de Valera is going to expound for the next six months happen to take, what difference it will make in any Irish homestead, what difference it will make to any good Irish nationalist; whether we are going to divide our internal relations from our external relations, horizontally or vertically, nobody in this country but President de Valera cares. No individual in the Fianna Fáil Party or the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis understands what he is up to, except that, at a given signal from the chairman, they will all stand up and cheer. And while all that balderdash is going on, and Deputy Moylan is exchanging compliments with President de Valera for the edification of the public at the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis——

This is not the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis.

No, it is not, indeed; praise Heaven for that. We have to come here, but at least we are delivered from the necessity of attending that function. While that kind of codology is going on, every studious person in this country can see the whole economic fabric of the State withering under the blight of a Fianna Fáil Government—and Fianna Fáil Deputies must see it themselves, too. When will the members of the Fianna Fáil Party have the moral courage to prevail on their own leaders to tell the people the truth and to take such steps as are necessary to put an end to a situation which is leading our people into hopeless disaster? When will the members of the Fianna Fáil Party honestly evaluate the achievement of having increased the output of wheat and beet by £1,100,000 per annum at a cost of £2,500,000? When will they come to realise that they are throwing away the substance of our people's prosperity for the advertised folly of subsidised wheat and the inferior folly of subsidised beet sugar?

I do not believe that the proposals that Deputy Bourke put forward will do anything to remedy the situation. I believe that Deputies on the far side of the House understand the situation just as well as we do. I do not believe that a single one of them has the independence of mind or the moral courage to speak out what he honestly believes. What has to be done is to persuade the leaders of the Party of the folly of their conduct, and I think it is beginning to dawn on some of them already, but it will take time. They are learning. They have learned a good deal and they are learning more. Deputy Tom Kelly used to think that the campaigns of the Irish Press were all inspired by pure-souled honesty until they began to tear off Deputy Tom Kelly's hide and then he began to denounce the Irish Press. Then they explained that they had to tear off his hide in order to swell their circulation and that he ought not to protest in such a noble cause. Deputy Tom Kelly is learning, but it is a slow and laborious process to teach him. Deputy Moylan is learning in another sphere. I do not know whether he enjoys the experience as much as Deputy Kelly enjoys it.

Deputies opposite have come to recognise some outstanding truths since they came in here, after their tempestuous republican ardour was tempered somewhat by the sordid atmosphere of this House. They will learn that there are more ways of achieving a republic than declaring it, and that you can flirt with it almost indefinitely and get the reputation of being a true-blue republican without ever declaring a republic. Some day the rest of the Deputies of that Party will realise that you cannot maintain the prosperity or the economic security of this country by flag-wagging or trying to persuade yourself to believe that something is true which is not true. You cannot build up the prosperity of Irish agriculture on subsidised wheat or beet. You can only build up the prosperity of Irish agriculture on those crops which can be economically produced and profitably disposed of. If you cannot make Irish agriculture prosperous, you cannot build up Irish industry or maintain social services.

Some day the Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party will learn that lesson, and when they do it will be a much better thing for this country. When they do, they will do what we want them to do, they will join with us in making an end of the most imbecile struggle ever started in any country. They will end the economic war and will not be ashamed to maintain in public cordial relations with Great Britain, which is the best market we have for agricultural produce—those cordial relations which are, in fact, being maintained every day between every Department of State here and every Department of State in England. But they are being maintained in a covert, underhand way while we are told here that we are carrying on a war against Great Britain. We know perfectly well that if we seriously engaged in an economic war with Great Britain for one fortnight this country would be destroyed. If there was a real genuine cessation of all economic relations between here and Great Britain, a real boycott by us of Great Britain and a real boycott of us by Great Britain, this country would last about a month, if it lasted so long.

There is no economic war; there never has been an economic war, but there has been an attempt to pay the land annuities which Deputy Haslett has likened to collecting labourers' cottages rents in a Rolls-Royce car. We are doing that because President de Valera is too conceited to sit in the vehicle in which labourers' cottages rents ought to be collected. He wants to continue to sit in the Rolls-Royce of his own conceit. He wants to assert before the people of this country that he is right, and that what he said when he said he was going to withhold the land annuities was right, and will be for ever right, and let the Irish people pay for that indulgence. He made a mistake when he embarked upon that business. He has done this country immense injury by his campaign in regard to the land annuities. He is doing it injury at the present time, and will eventually do it an injury from which it may take years to recover.

It is for that reason that I hope the Fianna Fáil Party will come to their senses, will peruse the figures to which I have directed their attention in the current number of the Irish Trade Journal, and then go to President de Valera and tell him it is time a sensible settlement should be made in this dispute with Great Britain, that a reasonable arrangement should be made for the repayment of the bondholders who lent their money for the purchase of Irish land, and that whatever arrangement is arrived at, whatever exchange of money is required to be made between this country and Great Britain, it should be made by cheque and not by the elaborate, costly and cumbrous procedure of levying it by tariffs on the produce of Irish agricultural industry.

Deputy Dillon has changed the aspect of this debate on this motion which, by the way, he says he considers of no use whatever. He has invited Deputies of Fianna Fáil to join with them in their policy. He forgets that when he himself came in here he was not an advocate of that particular policy. When we first saw Deputy Dillon a few years ago, he was sitting on the centre benches, and since then the policy carried out by Deputy Dillon and his associates on the opposite benches has been proved so foolish that Deputy Belton walked away from them. He was followed by Deputy Dillon's colleague, Deputy MacDermot, who removed himself also, and then we find outside General O'Duffy removing himself, and lately Mr. Cronin removing himself from their midst. We wonder if that policy from which those people are removing themselves in disgust can be so wise that we should all adopt it?

Deputy Dillon put that policy to the hardheaded farmers down in County Galway and we had no need to open our lips in that constituency. Deputy Dillon's speeches there enormously increased our votes, and, as a matter of fact, when the Party organisers went down there and discovered the effect of Deputy Dillon's speeches, he was moved out of the constituency immediately. Deputy Dillon has quoted figures, but he has completely ignored the change in prices. He ignored the fact, for instance, that taking the five years previous to 1930 and comparing the prices we got for agricultural produce then and the prices we got in 1930, we find that we got £12,000,000 less in 1930 than we got in 1925. The then President of the Executive Council merrily handed over the £5,000,000 every year, and when he went over to England in an effort to make any kind of a settlement just previous to the general election, when he went over to ask for a moratorium on a paltry £250,000 on the plea that his people were not able to pay, he was told to go back home and pay up.

Deputy MacDermot seems to treat this as a matter of bargaining. This is not a matter of bargaining. This is a matter of the Irish nation deciding that this money is not due. The Irish nation reaffirmed that at two successive general elections and have reaffirmed it at two by-elections recently. If Deputy Dillon and his associates want to have another trial of it, let them go down to the biggest stronghold they think they have, West Cork, let them move the writ for West Cork, and we will see what the hardheaded farmers of that constituency have to say to this policy of surrender. The Government have been elected to carry out their policy, to make whatever negotiations they consider necessary, and I think the people would not appreciate the Government handing that responsibility over to anybody else. We will take the figures Deputy Dillon has given and examine them. Let us take the price of butter which he mentioned and compare it with the statement about agricultural wages which Deputy MacDermot and Deputy Minch made. I wonder what agricultural wages could be paid by the dairy farmers of the Free State for the past three years if they were selling their butter on the English market without any tariff at the price butter was on that market? In plain language, they would be sending their milk to the creamery at 1½d. a gallon, which is the price the creameries could pay for it, were it not for the Stabilisation of Prices Bill. If, instead of introducing that Bill, the Government had said to the Irish farmer: "We will pay the full tariff on the butter going over," the price of milk at the Irish creameries would be 1½d. a gallon. Deputies know that and Deputy Bennett better than any other Deputy, because he broke away from the Party and voted for the Bill on that occasion.

He does not know any such thing, nor does the Deputy either.

You left the fold because you dared not go back to the farmers in the County Limerick and say to them: "My Party considered that 1½d. a gallon was enough for you for your milk."

Fivepence a gallon.

The average price of butter on the English market was 70/-a cwt. and any of you who likes can make that up. Deputy Dillon also spoke of the bacon business. What is the position in regard to the bacon trade? I used the figures very frequently in the Galway by-election. What were they? In the year 1935-36, the Irish farmers exported £2,000,000 worth of bacon more than they exported in 1932, and, in 1932, to feed the Irish people, we imported about £1,500,000 worth of Chinese bacon. That was good enough for the Irish people, according to Fine Gael policy, but at present we are not alone making £2,000,000 more out of our bacon, but we have the home market completely under our control, and the home market was there in its entirety for the Irish farmer because not £1 worth was imported.

Then we hear this famous argument about cattle. If the farmers have not the production this year, we were able to increase prices, and I remember seven or eight years ago when the first slump in the cattle trade came there was very little good in looking for increased prices from Britain, because you could not get them. You can get them at home—and if we are ever going to see in this country a fair wage paid to agricultural labour, it will have to be based, in the first instance, on produce for the home market. It will have to be based on that. It will have to be based on the farmer getting an economic price for his wheat, his beet, his butter, and everything that he produces and sells on the home market—not on what he exports. There are agriculturists here who know that and know it very well. I hope to see, in the very near future, as soon as we bring in our Agricultural Wages Bill and as soon as the boards are set up, a decent wage paid to the agricultural labourer—a wage that will compare favourably with the wage paid in factories and industrial concerns. I think they are entitled to it and, as far as I can, I shall see that they will get it.

This motion has been 12 months or more on the Order Paper, and Deputies seem to have changed their minds lately in regard to the advocacy of it. If we are to take the manner in which it is advocated here to-day, I think that Deputies opposite realise that the country is not with them in this matter. The country is not in favour of the kind of settlement that would be brought about either by Deputy Dillon or Deputy MacDermot. The people of this country realise that this is not a matter that can be settled by two men sitting round a table and saying, "Well, it is not due, but I shall pay you so much." Why should we? What is to prevent Britain saying the morning afterwards, "Instead of taking £5,000,000 from you, we want £8,000,000 now, and if you don't pay we shall put on tariffs"? There is nothing in the wide world to prevent their doing that. It is my opinion that the so-called economic war would not have been in existence three months if Deputies in the Opposition Party were decently led. We had cries over there month after month, and week after week, of: "Stop it and pay up." When negotiations were in progress, and when negotiations were spoken of, we had leaders on the Front Bench opposite standing up, one after another, saying, "We think you ought to pay first and negotiate afterwards." We had the ex-Minister for Justice, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, getting up in this House on the very night that Deputy Norton had gone to see whether a settlement could be arrived at, and saying, "Before there are any negotiations, the half-year's annuities now due should be handed over." That was the kind of assistance you got towards negotiation and settlement. These are the kind of people, I suppose, that are now going to act on this committee which it is proposed to set up by this motion. What kind of assistance can you expect from them? What kind of assistance can you expect from a Deputy who would come into this House, with some sense of responsibility towards his own people, I suppose, and make a suggestion of that type?

I did not intend to intervene in this debate at all, because the people of this country have shown, on every occasion on which they got an opportunity, that the viewpoint expressed over there is not their viewpoint in regard to this matter, and that they do not believe in the policy of surrender on the part of any Government in this country. We had the fulminations of Deputy Dillon and his invitation to Deputies over here to join in a policy from which every man who has any bit of sanity left has fled. Deputy Belton flew away from it. Deputy MacDermot followed him. Poor O'Duffy threw off the blue shirt and said good-bye to them, and the other day Cronin left them. I hope that the leaders of the Opposition will move the writ for West Cork. I hope they will send Deputy Dillon down there to win that election for them. If we get Deputy Dillon down there for one fortnight, we shall have such a majority that there will not be one of you will open your lips for 12 months afterwards. That is the position. It is about time Deputies over there stopped this kind of thing. After all, if we are going to get Deputies selected for this committee by the chief Opposition Party, and if these Deputies are going to be Deputies like Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, in view of the statement Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney made in this House, what can we expect?

The statements made by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, and by ex-Deputy Blythe, were, in my opinion, apart from politics, responsible for preventing any settlement of the economic war. If the farmers have suffered, these Deputies were responsible for the continuance of that suffering, and for the continuance of the economic war. I say that no Deputy, with any sense of responsibility, would stand up at the very time that negotiations were being opened and make the statement that before there were any negotiations, half a year's annuities should be offered to Britain. On the following day, Lord Hailsham, parrot-like, repeated the statement made by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney:—

"Before there are any negotiations, you should pay over the half year's annuities that are due."

That kind of balderdash, that kind of attempt to prevent negotiations, is of no use to anybody. Still, this motion invites this House to set up a committee here that will be composed of Deputies of that type. You could not expect us, or any sane man, to agree to it.

Deputies over there, particularly Deputies from rural parts, ought to realise that it is time this thing stopped. Every time there is any inspiration from the other side, something appearing in the papers to the effect that there are negotiations going on, you have Deputy Dillon or Deputy MacDermot saying: "You should stop the economic war and pay up." It is time that stopped. The Irish people do not want it. I say here openly, also, that the greatest blessing that ever came to this country was the economic war, because it made the farmers realise that they would have to turn to the home market and produce for the home market, if they were going to exist in this country, that instead of rearing bullocks they would have to use the plough. The whole country was being turned into one ranch. Deputy Bourke used the most extraordinary argument of the lot when he said that the ranchers were losing money, that they were putting more money into the land than they took out of it. Financially, it was out of their own pockets. I never knew of a rancher to have a philanthropic institution set up, but the ranchers are finding now that the ranches are not paying. The ranches are being divided up and the people are settling down on the land, and if and when there is any settlement of this economic dispute the farmers of this country, I hold, will be ten and 20 times better off than they would be if this dispute had never come, because they are now realising the benefits. I do not know —I suppose I am a sceptic—but I cannot see what this matter comes to when we see the farmers in England producing beet far cheaper than the farmers here. They are growing beet at 8/- and 9/- a ton less than we are. That is an extraordinary position but, still and all, it is the fact. In my opinion, nothing whatsoever is going to be served by this motion, and I think that the Deputies who introduced it here would have done far more service to the country if they had wiped the motion off the Order Paper entirely. So far as Deputy Dillon is concerned, I only hope that he is sent down to contest the vacant seat in West Cork.

Like Deputy Corry, I did not want to intervene in this debate, but as I have on several occasions in this House demanded that a commission of some kind should be set up to investigate the position of the farming industry in this country, I take this opportunity of saying a few words on this motion. One would imagine, from the bright picture painted by Deputy Corry, that everything was going on well in the country, but, on the President's Vote in this House, I put a question to the President and asked him whether he had made any investigations as to the number of young men and women who had left this country to seek work in England in the years that he has been in office. The President said, at the time, that it would be useless to try to find out that information, that it would not be worth while, and that he would have to go into every townland and village in order to make those investigations. The President talked very lightly about the subject at that time, but now we have the latest census report, and we now find that, while the people on the Government Benches were telling the people of this country that provision had to be made for an increased population of 30,000 each year in this country, the population of this country actually is 6,000 less than it was ten years ago. Is there not, therefore, some reason for demanding that some kind of an inquiry should be set up to deal with the question of what has become of those 30,000 people, if they were there?

I should like to point out to the President that I come from the Gaeltacht. I come from the parish of Ballyvourney, and I can show that quite a number of people have left that area. I should like to say now that I am going to make it my business immediately to find out the actual number of people who have left that parish in the last few years and then I think I might be able to show the President that there was some reason for my question. I can assure the President that I know of one man who supported the present Government and who, three years ago, said in the presence of my wife at my counter that the country would be all right yet and that, even if we had to go through a little hardship for a year or two, it would all come out right in the end and that our children would get the benefit of the Government's policy; but what is the position now with regard to that man? His daughter is over in London. This man's father was able to settle his children comfortably at home as a result of rearing cattle.

We have been told a lot about the growing of grain, but how is it being grown? The grain is being grown at the expense of people poorer than those who are growing it. I had 17 acres of oats myself. I was able to cut three or four acres with a reaper; the remainder had to be cut with scythes. It is a miracle that we were able to save any of it at all. For years I have been engaged in that industry and I say, from my experience, that grain growing in this country is nothing but a gamble and a very poor gamble. I suggest that the proper policy is the policy of the late Minister for Agriculture when he spoke of another cow, another sow, and another acre of corn. That is the policy for which the former Minister for Agriculture stood and for which the present Government should stand.

Deputy Corry talked about the price in the home market being the ruling price, but the present Minister for Agriculture had to admit to me on one occasion in this House that the export price would have to be the ruling price in this country. I challenge the Government to put the facts before the people and, if they do so, the people will then be in a better position to judge. I say that around my own area hundreds of people are leaving the country, and I say that if the Minister for Education were to inquire into the facts properly he might be able to solve the problem with regard to this supposed annual increase of 30,000 in our population. The Government, however, have been able to bluff the people. I am sorry to say that, but I am not one of the people who want the present Government to go out of office. I think, and I have said before, that it would be a great pity that the present Government should go out of office until the people have had the opportunity of finding out the disastrous results of their policy.

Deputy Haslett has referred to the question of feeding stuffs. That is a very important question, and I say that I stand for one principle in this country, and that is the principle of getting for the people of this country the open market that they had before the present Government came into office. I say that every farmer should be enabled to live on his own land or else that he should get out of it. I do not agree with the policy of subsidising the land in Kildare or Wicklow or Leix-Offaly, or any other of such districts, at the expense of the people in the poorer parts of the country, and I am going to stand before the people on that policy at the next election.

The Government told the people of this country that there was no market for our cattle in England and that they would provide alternative markets. Where are the alternative markets which the Government promised? Then Dr. Ryan, on one occasion, said that anybody who said that the number of cattle should be reduced was either a fool or a knave, because they were wanted to consume our surplus grain. After that, however, he embarked on the slaughter of calves; and then again, within the last six months, he boasted that his Government had sent more cattle to England than had been sent during the régime of President Cosgrave. That is the kind of hypocrisy we have from the Government Benches, and, unfortunately, I must say, the people of this country are to some extent agreeable to follow out that policy. However, the people of this country will wake up some day, and the people on the Government Benches will get a rude awakening. Deputy Corry talks about the economic war being a blessing in disguise. It is a blessing in disguise to Deputy Corry, and probably to some more of us who have £30 a month coming in, but I challenge Deputy Corry to go and live on his own farm without that £30 a month and find out what would be his position. The Deputy tries to bluff about the split that has occurred in our Party. Well, at least I can say that we were not the first to have a split. At least we are not "yes men." My policy is to stick up for what is best for the people of this country and not for what is best either for myself or for my Party. To hear Deputy Corry and others talk, one would imagine that the members of the Government Party never had a split. They would not touch this House and would not touch the Treaty 15 years ago. They are here now, swallowing the Treaty and enjoying the plums of office. That shows their mentality, and the people in their own time will find out the truth. I can assure them that that time is coming fast. Deputy Corry spoke about the land annuities, and tried to justify his Party in connection with the coal-cattle pact. We heard a lot about secret agreements, but when I put this question to the President: "Who signed the coal-cattle pact?" he replied that no one had signed it. Fancy that reply coming from the President of the State. He would not have the guts to stand over it. It was the most shameful settlement made in any country. Previous to that the people were told not to burn British coal; now they are compelled to burn British coal. If the land annuities are not due why was that settlement made? Why did they agree to have so much paid as a levy on each of our cattle? Would it not have been better to have the manliness to say that the cattle would not be sent to Great Britain even if they eat the tails off one another? As Deputy Dillon said, the agreement was made and the people cannot be bluffed about it. I do not suppose my words will have very much effect here, but as long as I represent the people of North Cork, or any other constituency, I am going to express my opinion in this House, even if I was the only member left on these benches.

I object to the motion because I believe that we have no guarantee of unanimity amongst the members of the committee, or that any decision arrived at would be unanimous. While I would have great patience with arguments used in this House, I believe that the agricultural interests of the nation can best be served and assisted during the economic war by a continuance of the policy of the Government. A continuance of that policy will bring the economic war to a successful conclusion most expeditiously. I see no reason for a change in view of the arguments that have been advanced in support of the motion. In fact, while very little was said about the motion, a great deal was said about matters outside its scope. I do not say, even if the motion was accepted, that the Government would select Deputy Dillon as one of the representatives of the Opposition on the committee. Supposing Deputy Dillon was selected, and put forward in committee the arguments he put for ward in the House this evening, how could we imagine any unanimous decision being arrived at? The Deputy started his speech by reading statistics. During the recess I thought that his customary exaggeration would be toned down somewhat. I was disillusioned. He quoted statistics, but merely portions that appeared to be favourable to his argument. When he spoke of the reduction in the production of eggs he did not tell us that the people in this country were eating more eggs. When he spoke of bacon he did not tell us that the people were consuming more bacon and that there were no imports of bacon. When using statistics to prove one side of an argument it is advisable, at all times, to quote statistics affecting the other side, so as to be able to convince them. The fact is that we are consuming more of our own produce and importing less. We had an acknowledgment from Deputy Dillon that there has been an increase representing £460,000 in the production of beet and of £600,000 in the production of wheat. Yet he asks us to scrap both the wheat policy and the beet policy. As a result of the by-elections he appears to have changed his attitude. He went so far as to say how amazed he was at the result of the recent Galway and Wexford by-elections. It is evident that Deputy Dillon was staggered by the result of these elections. Deputy Dillon must know that his Party were foolish when they relied upon onesided statistics. They tried to prove to the electors of Galway and Wexford that their statistics were correct. Deputies on these benches went down to these constituencies and told the people what the Government policy was. It was not necessary to quote statistics. It was merely necessary to remind them of what had been done. We know the result. Deputy Dillon would appear to have been out of Ireland during the by-elections or as if he had not heard the results.

He went away immediately afterwards.

Mr. Kelly

It might have been advisable if he went before the elections. I noticed that the Deputy's quotations from various sources to-day were not as numerous as on previous occasions. We had quotations about a decrease as revealed by the census figures in the population of the country. Was it not reasonable to expect that there would be a decrease in the population when it is realised that the period covered included portion during which Cumann na nGaed-heal was in office? We all know that the population was decreasing from 1926, and that it continued to decrease until 1932 when the Fianna Fáil Government came into office. Deputy Dillon may rest assured that when the next census returns are published there will be a changed situation, and that it will be found we have a much larger population, for which the present Government is providing. So little was said about the motion by previous speakers that it is not easy to deal with it now. The mover appeared to glorify the ranching system, and spoke as if he were anxious to see that system reintroduced, and to have a reversal of the present system. He told us of the good old graziers and said that ranching should not be spoken of as being "played out." He told us what good ratepayers these ranchers were, and mentioned that they gave employment, not to one man and a dog as was generally understood, but to grooms, gardeners, coachmen, and chauffeurs. Well now, that may be so. It is quite possible, but let me tell the mover of the motion that we, at any rate, are not satisfied with the amount of employment given on the land which these people hold. If the ranchers and the graziers were such an important section of the community as the mover of the motion would seem to suggest, why had we the destitution that existed in the countryside; why had we so much unemployment, and why was the population of the country going down?

The mover of the motion referred to the Meath grazier who used to go over to the West of Ireland and purchase three and four-year-old cattle at £7 and £8 a head, and afterwards sell them at £17 and £18 a head. It was quite profitable for the grazier to do that, but it was most unprofitable for the people who were unhappy enough to have to try to eke out an existence in that part of the country where this grazing system was being carried on. I happen to be one of the representatives of a county that was a grazing county. We are trying to change the system that was in operation there. We will change it, and I would be sorry to see any motion accepted by the Government that would interrupt the progress of its land settlement policy. We have no intention of changing that policy.

The grazier did not lose as a result of the economic war. He was clever enough to pass on his losses to the small farmers. Not only did he do that, but he passed on part of his losses to the agricultural workers. Graziers who had a number of workers employed dismissed half of them. More of them reduced the wages of their workmen. When I hear members on the Opposition Benches lamenting the fact that workers' wages were low, I cannot help recalling that, when this Government came into power, the unfortunate workers had their wages slashed because they had the hardihood to vote for the Fianna Fáil Government. In spite of that we find members on the Opposition Benches coming along and shedding crocodile tears about the workers' wages.

If Deputy Bourke believes that there is no ranching in the country, I would ask him to come down and spend a week-end in my constituency. If he does that I think I will be able to convince him that it would not be a wise policy to revert to the ranching system as we knew it. We cannot tolerate a continuation of grazierdom, especially in the county that I represent. If we were to do so, Deputies can visualise what it would mean. It would mean preventing the workman from getting grass for his cow and an adequate supply of milk for the children he is trying to rear. It would also result in throwing more workers on the unemployment market. In addition, farms would be left neglected. There would be no drainage work and none of the ordinary work of the tillage farm carried out. The land would be simply growing weeds. It is only by pursuing a system of mixed farming which will give us less store cattle and more fat cattle that we can bring about any improvement in our agricultural conditions. The motion proposes the setting up of a committee to consider the question with which it deals. We have in this House 153 Deputies sent here by the people. I think that the Deputies sitting here constitute a much better committee than that outlined in the motion. Deputy Bourke was honest enough to admit that conditions are improving. Deputy Dillon, of course, would not admit that. We, on these benches, are optimistic enough to believe that conditions through the country will continue to improve as they have been during the past couple of years. That improvement has come about despite the pessimism that prevails amongst members of the Opposition.

During the discussion on this motion I have observed that the Deputies opposite made no suggestion as to how to end the economic war. The only suggestion that they have ever made in that direction—it was not made this evening—was that we should surrender our position. They said that we had set our heels in the ground and would not budge. We know what the answer of the people has been to that charge. The people have given us a mandate not to surrender our position. We will not do so, and are prepared to go ahead. We made an offer of arbitration to England, but the people on the other side would not consent to the setting up of a court in which we might expect to get a fair hearing. Deputy MacDermot, of course, is anxious that we should make a compromise and pay less. We are not prepared to pay less because we are acting on the principle that the moneys involved are not due. If we were to do as the Deputy suggests we would be unfaithful to the mandate that the people gave us to carry out.

I am glad that the Government are not accepting this motion. The only method at our disposal at the moment is to continue the policy that we have put into operation. If the members of the Opposition would speak the truth and examine this matter as the mover of the motion has done—he was honest enough to say that conditions are improving—and if they would admit how conditions have improved since this Government came into office, I think it would help them to make up their minds to support the Government in carrying out their present policy until such time as we reach the stage when the economic war will not trouble us any more.

After listening to some of the speeches made on this motion, I am convinced that no real effort is being made by the Government to bring about a settlement of the economic war. We have been for more than four years waiting for a settlement of this dispute. The farmers in the country have suffered a good deal during that period. Some Deputies expressed the view that a system of mixed farming is the most suitable one for the country. Other members of the House expressed different opinions as to the method of farming that should be carried out during the economic dispute. They seemed to favour the view that farmers should go in more for the growing of beet and wheat. I agree with the growing of beet and wheat up to a point. But there is a limit to the acreage of beet and wheat that can be usefully grown during the continuance of a dispute of this kind, or indeed at any other time. The one point that is before the mind of every farmer and that is kept clearly before his mind is the destruction of the live-stock branch of his industry.

Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted and 20 Deputies being present

The dispute has now been four years in existence. During all that period we have heard nothing whatever from the Government Front Benches or any member of the Government indicating what they have done to bring about a settlement. We have waited very patiently, but at no time was any statement made with regard to a settlement. We expect a little more than that from the Government. What we have suffered during the last four or five years is not a matter that can be looked upon lightly. We cannot continue to live under the conditions which have applied during the last four years. According to Deputy Corry the economic dispute was a blessing for this country; it was a blessing for the farmers, and they will be very much better off after it. I cannot see eye to eye with Deputy Corry in that regard. I know plenty of farmers who were in a good financial position before this economic dispute, and I know them to be very poor people at the moment. If the Government were really interested in the agricultural community of this country they have had, during the economic dispute, plenty of opportunities of giving relief to the farmers in other ways. We have asked them for relief on several occasions. Not only is the British Government collecting the full amount of money which they say is due to them, but we have our own Government here collecting a further land annuity, with the result that we are called upon to pay twice as much, and more than twice as much, in respect of land annuities as we were paying in the past. That is obviously unjust.

We do not want to force the Government to make a bad settlement in this dispute, but we have never been asked to help in the making of a settlement, and neither have they told us what they have done in that regard. Now, after four or five years, the matter is apparently in the same position as it was at the beginning, and it looks as if the dispute is going to go on indefinitely. If it is going to go on indefinitely, without any effort to bring about a settlement, then the sooner we are told that the better. The subsidies given to the farmers are only a very small matter in comparison with the losses which they have incurred through this dispute. To my mind a settlement will have to be made before there is any sort of prosperity amongst the farming community of this country. If the Government leaves the matter in its present position they are going to bring more poverty to the farmers, more hard work and poorer returns for what they do. The longer the dispute, the poorer the farmers will become, and the sooner the Government makes an attempt to bring about a settlement the better for the country, the better for the Government, and the better for the farmers.

I should like to say a few words on this motion because I think it is one of the most important motions brought before this House for a long time. It embodies a spirit of co-operation, and it would be a very good thing if both sides of this House co-operated in an effort to bring about the general welfare of the country, not only on this but on many questions. It is not the first time I have voiced that view, not only here but in the country. In regard to the first part of this motion, which refers to a continuation of "the economic war," I do not know whether I can support that point. If there was any justification for calling it an economic war that justification passed at the time of the coal-cattle pact, or the coal-cattle surrender, or whatever you like to call it. There is at the present time no justification for referring to this dispute as an economic war, because we are taking no measures against what are supposed to be the enemy. It is no economic war; there is no pretence at an economic war. It is time we got down to commonsense, and put an end to this dispute, before it ends the people engaged in agriculture, who are the backbone of this country.

We have heard the same old argument over and over again from the speakers on the Fianna Fáil side. Deputy Corry told us, just as he told us a hundred times before—the one argument answers everything—that the people of Galway and Wexford decided this matter once and for all. They returned two Fianna Fáil candidates, and Deputy Corry claims that that is a decision in favour of a continuation of the economic war. Deputy Kelly also said that they had got a mandate to carry on the economic war. I entirely disagree with him. The mandate they got in those places was to make the good settlement which the President promised in Galway, and which the Vice-President talked about. That was the mandate they got. In the 1933 Election they made a similar promise in a vague way. If they were only returned what a fine settlement that would get! That fine settlement has not come to pass, but whenever a by-election turned up they went back to the people and told them: "Now is the critical moment; negotiations are on; give us a chance, and a good settlement will be brought about." That is the mandate that that Party got at the general election, at the Galway Election, and at the Wexford Election, so neither the Galway nor the Wexford nor the Dublin municipal election proves too much. When all is considered, if any mandate was given it was to make the good settlement that was promised.

Deputy Corry also told us that so many members of this Party had left because of the policy of this Party in regard to the economic war. One of the Deputies who left us was the seconder of this motion, so there is no disagreement in regard to the question of policy on this matter. More than once General O'Duffy has spoken in favour of this particular motion. Deputy Belton's name is down to this motion, so that there is no difference in policy, and the points made by Deputy Corry were really in favour of the motion rather than against it. I do not think I need stress that any further.

Then he told us about the position for the five years from 1925 to 1930, and said that the depression since 1930 has been only a continuation of the previous five years' depression. The depression has become progressively worse for the last five years. He forgot to tell us that during that time the agricultural conditions in every country in the world had improved. Up to 1930-31 the depression was felt in Great Britain and all the Commonwealth countries, but there is a very noticeable and remarkable improvement in trade in all the countries, with the exception of the Free State.

That was a good agricultural show you had in Cavan.

It was. We always have good agricultural shows in Cavan. The people of Cavan are industrious and make a success of their industry if they only get a chance. The Fianna Fáil Party are making it impossible for them to get a living out of their industry. I think there is no one will agree sooner than Deputy Donnelly that the people there are industrious and should get a chance to make an honest, decent living out of their industry because they are entitled to it. Before I finish I shall give Deputy Donnelly some instances of the chance they are getting, so let him be patient. Deputy Corry also told us about the price of milk and the increase in the exports of bacon. I can tell Deputy Corry and Deputy Donnelly a little more about these things than, perhaps, they know, or wish to acknowledge if they do know. The price of milk in the Free State during the summer six months, when the bulk of the milk is to be sold by the farmers, is on an average less than 4d. per gallon. Deputy Donnelly knows that I live in a Border county and people in the other part of the parish in which I live, who are on the other side of the Border, are getting 5d. per gallon for their milk, and the consumers there can buy butter 6d. per lb. cheaper than in the Free State. That is one of the fruits of the economic war. They are bitter fruits for the poor people who are paying 6d. per lb. more for butter than on the other side of the Border and for the farmers who are getting 1d. or 1½d. less per gallon for the milk.

Deputy Corry tells us that there is an increase of £2,000,000 in the export value of our bacon. I do not know whether the figures are correct, but I am not going to question them. I should like to ask any reasonable Deputy on that side of the House what are the conditions under which that bacon is being produced. I say that the farmers are producing this extra bacon under slave conditions. It is done out of sheer necessity. They are actually working as slaves. I will give you an instance. In County Fermanagh they are getting 5/- more per cwt. for bacon pigs than we are getting in Cavan. They are buying feeding stuffs at 13/6 per bag, whereas we are paying 18/-. It cannot be said that the farmers in Cavan are big ranchers. On an average, they are only feeding from two to six pigs. It will be admitted that they are industrious, small farmers who are entitled to get a chance to live.

Deputy Donnelly knows that they have to import a good deal of the feeding stuffs from other counties or somewhere else in order to augment their limited home supplies, because it is not a county where tillage is a paying proposition, or where tillage can be carried on on a large scale. Therefore, they have to buy a good deal of their feeding stuffs and they have to pay the difference between 13/6 and 18/-, or 4/6 per bag. They have to sell their bacon at 5/- per cwt. less than in Northern Ireland and they have to buy their bacon at 2d. per lb. more. I challenge contradiction of these statements. That is what the Cavan farmers are getting from the milk and bacon policy that Fianna Fáil boasts of. Their position as compared with the people on the other side of the Border is so much worse that it makes it impossible for them to carry on under anything like decent conditions. They are in the position of slaves. They have to produce something and they have to produce it at a loss and try to live under conditions that are almost impossible. The policy that Fianna Fáil boasts about is detrimental to the interests of these small farmers. What is the position with regard to cattle? I do not want to go into that, because it has been too often discussed and has been dealt with by other Deputies. I only want merely to answer the points made by Fianna Fáil speakers.

We were also told about the home market. I think there is nobody in this House so devoid of intelligence as not to be aware that the home market is only capable of consuming about half or less than half of the agricultural produce produced here. Nobody will question that statement. They know, on the other hand, that the exportable surplus will rule the price of all that is consumed at home and abroad, except what is artificially raised in price, such as butter, by taxing the unfortunate poor people who have to buy butter, at 6d. per lb. extra, or something like that. That is pretty hard, not only on the agricultural community, but on the labourers and others. It may be contended that they are getting better wages in some industries. The cost of living has so much increased that their wages are of very little use to them. Therefore, all Parties, even the Fianna Fáil Party, are suffering as a result of this economic war, and there is no use in pretending otherwise. Even the President has 100 times admitted that they are suffering. What is the use of denying what the President has admitted? Everybody knows that all Parties in this country are suffering by this foolish economic war. Can anyone stand up in this House and justify the continuance of this economic war in face of the coal-cattle pact, which implies that there is no war, economic or military? It is about time that the people should face up to reality, and take the hint that is now given. There is an opportunity to co-operate given to all Parties in this House by this motion to co-operate, and no blame will attach to any Party because of the settlement carried out if this motion is adopted. For that reason, from whatever point of view this motion is examined, it is one that would be a very good thing for the country if it were accepted. It would bring all Parties together. It would be a good stroke of work for the country; it would give confidence to the people who are disgusted at this Party squabble going on from year to year, a squabble that is reducing the country, and especially the farming community, to a deplorable condition. Deputy Kelly has made one point. I understood him to say that he understood that a committee of the whole House should be preferable to the committee suggested in this motion. I would be inclined to agree with him. Is that the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party? Are they prepared to take the whole House into their confidence and not deal with this matter as a Party question, and to do what is best for the country as a whole? It would be a good thing if this were done. This economic war cannot continue as things are, and sooner or later it must be settled if it is not to go on for ever. If it is going to be settled, I do not see any better means of reaching that settlement than by getting all Parties to co-operate. If it is not going to be settled, what was the meaning of the promise thrown out at Galway and Wexford?

It is up to the Government Party now to implement the promise given at the recent elections. The hint was then thrown out that there was something in the wind, and that some settlement might be expected in the present year. This motion gives the Government an easy way out. It helps them to redeem their promises, to restore themselves, and to give the people a continuance of the confidence they placed in them, because they are now on their last trial.

I have been in a sort of maze for the last hour or two, wondering if I were at the Wailing Wall at Jerusalem or at a sitting of Dáil Eireann. Judging by the lamentations we have heard for the last hour, I might be forgiven if I thought I was at the Wailing Wall at Jerusalem and not here in Dáil Eireann. However, I shook myself together so as to deal with the very vague arguments that have been put up by the Opposition. This motion reads:—

That a committee consisting of 11 Deputies be set up to make recommendations..."

Then follow the recommendations that are to be made by them. No one in the House has spoken to that motion or advocated it very strongly. But they are taking advantage of it to make the usual attack by their wordy platitudes on the Government. We had a rehearsal of the whole economic war over and over again. There is no reality in this motion. The proposer is an expert politician and he thought it necessary to put it forward. How can one deal with a spongy thing like this which one cannot grasp? It is impossible. In the first place, how is any Government worthy of the name going to delegate its powers to any committee composed of the whole House? We are here elected as a Government, and I think I reflect the feeling of the Government so far as the back benchers are concerned, when I say that this Government cannot do any such thing as is set out in the motion. Allusions have been made to the recent elections in Galway and Wexford. I do not propose to rub it in. Results speak louder than words. In Wexford there was no promise given except a promise by the triumphant Deputy that the economic war would be won. We went before the electors, put the issue before them clearly with nothing extenuated and nothing set down in malice. There was nothing vague about our majority in any way. I know that Deputy Dillon was present during that election, but Deputy Dillon was not able to mislead the Wexford electors. As a matter of fact, I think that, as has already been said, Deputy Dillon was the greatest possible assistance to us on the few occasions on which he attempted to speak.

I heard Deputy Holohan speaking this evening and he spoke in a very moderate way. I rather felt for him and for the sentiments he expressed. But I was rather amazed to see that he believes in the policy of wheat and beet. After all, the voice of some Deputies opposite is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau. I do not see how Deputy Holohan can approve of wheat and beet when his nominal leader—or shall we say one of them?, because the Party opposite change their leaders as often as they change their shirts—denounces the policy of beet and wheat on every possible occasion. It is beyond me how Deputy Holohan can approve of that policy when his leader is foremost in denouncing it, or is there going to be another split, and is the Party again in a fissiparous state? If that occurs may I be there to see.

Deputy McGovern has animadverted loud and long as to the prices of live stock—of cattle and pigs. I did not hear the Deputy advert to the time in the latter days of the Cosgrave régime when fat pigs were 26/- a cwt and when bonhams were sold at from 5/- to 3/6. I wonder was that a result of the economic war? At the present time fat pigs are making 41/- to 42/- and bonhams from 20/- upwards. After all, if the scales are to be loaded let them be loaded equally. Deputies on the Opposition Benches can quote facts, but they are very careful to quote what suits their own book while, at the same time, omitting anything which would count in their opponents' favour.

I do not see anything depressing about the present situation except the arguments of the Opposition Benches. There has been a gloom over those benches in the last few hours which would not be equalled by the pea soup fog which envelops London at times. But the fact remains that there was not a quorum in the House to listen to them and the bell had to be rung to bring in the necessary number to form a quorum. That is what happens amongst their own Deputies in this House when a remedy for the economic war is being promulgated from the Fine Gael back benches. Well so much for the economic war which is masked behind a proposal like this. I am sure the proposer has good intentions. I give him credit for his good intentions but at the same time I would remind him of the paving stones below. With the best intentions in the world the Deputy has brought in this motion as a stick with which to beat the Government. He did not bring it in with any idea that it would be accepted. It is simply prostituting politics to bring in such a motion here. We have heard about depression in the country. No doubt there would have been depression in the country were it not for the determined attitude this Government took up four years ago. They foresaw what was coming and they knew what would happen as a result of our efforts to break away from Britain economically, financially and otherwise. I have spoken to farmers and all the farmers are not of one mentality. They are not all wailing. I have spoken to farmers who recognise that they have lost a little but they are facing the future with confidence, and, as they say, they are facing it in a good cause. They have expressed themselves in no uncertain fashion. The last two elections have shown that the people are behind this Government and that they are satisfied that this Government will do what is best for the country. The Government are not prepared to delegate action on the economic war to a Committee of this House. They are prepared to leave it in the hands of responsible leaders who may be relied upon to see it through to the bitter end. The temperament of the Irishman is such that the merest hint of compulsion is sufficient to make him stiffen his back. If the English people thought that by the agitation which, I am sorry to say, has been initiated and carried on by people who should know better— our own fellow-countrymen on the opposite benches—the confidence of the Irish people in their leaders would be weakened, the results have proven that they are very far wrong. The speeches of some of those on the opposite benches — Deputy Holohan and others—have been thoughtful, if a shade pathetic. For the speech of a gentleman like Deputy Dillon, no words could be too strong. I do not propose to comment upon it save to say that he gave us a convincing example of how to be offensive without being convincing. In that role he is a master hand. He seems to speak as if he were at variance with his colleagues. Sometimes they pull him by the coat-tail to prevent him from committing himself. He is against beet, wheat and tobacco growing. Apparently, some of his colleagues are not against these forms of activity. Whom are we to believe? It is difficult to deal with an Opposition which is neither coherent nor cohesive.

Cattle are on the up-grade. For sheep there is a fair price. If there has been a drop in live stock, it has been made up by subsidies on wheat, beet and butter. One would imagine, listening to our opponents, that this is the only country in the world in which subsidies are given. The motherland across the seas, to which they look eagerly for succour and with whom they wish to be united for aye, indulges in subsidies. They subsidise wheat and beet. They have pig and bacon boards — sufficient boards to make a coffin for the mummified skeleton of Fine Gael. Are we the only nation to subsidise our own products in order that our own people may live their own lives? The thing is so nauseating that one literally reels at the prospect of answering these interminable arguments. There is no reality behind this motion and I regret its introduction. The brains which must exist in Fine Gael, despite every evidence to the contrary, would be better employed in dealing with something more substantial than a merely destructive motion like this which, I trust, will meet with the ignominious reception which it deserves.

Mr. Daly

I should like to say a few words in support of this motion. The last speaker said that the Government should not delegate the power of settling this dispute to any committee set up by this House. I am sure the proposer and seconder of this motion would gladly leave the power of settling the economic war to the people responsible for it. The Deputy also said that they never promised the people that they were going to settle the economic war. If I remember aright they, before the last general election, promised the people that, if returned to power, they would bring the economic war to a successful conclusion. They have failed to do that, as they have failed to keep many promises which they gave to the people on that occasion. We all know that the economic war is the cause of all the misfortune and misery that exist in this country at present. No matter how Deputies on the opposite side may talk about the prosperity of the country and assert that the farmers are well off, they know in their hearts that the farmers are not well off and that no section of the people for the past three years has been well off. They know that the farmers were never in a worse position than they are at present—all due to the economic war. That is the case despite the growing of wheat and beet, with which I agree. I grow both of them. The people whom I represent—the farmers of North Cork —are working, tillage farmers. They have been growing wheat and beet since this Government started their campaign. It is the supporters of this Party who are mainly responsible for keeping the factory in Mallow going. That is well known to the members of the Government Party representing that area. Despite the growing of wheat and beet and the money which, we are told, the farmers are making out of it, why is it that this year the amount of rates uncollected by the Cork County Council is greater than it was two, three or four years ago? Why is it that the amount has increased every year for the past four years and that this year the amount is greater still? If the farmers are so well off in County Cork, why does that state of affairs with regard to the collection of rates obtain?

Why is it the farmers are not able to pay? It is not the farmers only who are hit by this economic war. There was a motion on the Order Paper by members of the Labour Party which sought to have an agricultural wages board set up. The Government are now bringing in a Bill to regulate the wages of the agricultural workers. That Bill was asked for by a Party who, for the past four years, have been supporting the Government responsible for the miserable position of the farmers and farm workers. The people depending on agriculture—farmers and workers —were never in such a plight as they are at the present time. The Government say they have subsidised the growing of wheat and the growing of beet and tobacco. Who is paying the subsidy? The unfortunate agricultural and other workers are paying more for their sugar and their flour. The Deputy who spoke last referred to the price of bacon. He said that the price was 26/- a cwt. when Deputy Cosgrave was in power and that it was now 42/-. That is so, but does the Deputy know how much the unfortunate workers of the country have to pay for this bacon across the counter? When they go into a shop to buy a pound of bacon, how much do they pay?

Would you rather have them buying the "lad"?

Mr. Daly

I do not know what the Deputy means.

I did not mean to be discourteous. In the previous régime, the labourers and farmers bought what was popularly known as the "lad"—which is the pseudonym for American bacon—because they said it greased the cabbage.

Mr. Daly

And the farmers bought it, too. They bought it 50 years ago when they were not allowed to hang up their own pigs in their kitchen owing to the tyrannical landlords of the country. There never was a greater tyrant of a landlord, so far as the farmers are concerned, than the present Government. You can go around the country and it would be difficult to see a side of bacon hanging up in a farmer's kitchen. They can less afford to kill pigs now than 50 years ago.

Says you!

Mr. Daly

Yes, "says you." You spent too much of your time in the Holy Land while you were talking. I hold that the miserable position of the farmers, the farm labourers, and all dependent on agriculture, is due to the economic war. During the past two years we have seen young men and women leaving the country, train-loads of them, and going over to Great Britain, to John Bull, to earn a livelihood. We heard a lot of talk from the present Government Party about emigration when we on this side of the House were in office. We heard about all the people going away to America. They went to America then, and they were able to make a living. They are going to London now, and we can see from the reports of different Catholic organisations where young Irishmen go over in the hope of getting jobs. There are no jobs to be got, and what is to become of them? It is the same with the young girls. I know of several cases, and it would be better for them if the boat went down. All that is due to the policy of the present Government.

There would be no occasion for young men or women to leave this country to go over to John Bull in order to earn a living if we had not to contend with this economic war. In other days there was a living to be made on the land. There was a good livelihood to be made there before ever we heard about beet and wheat. The farmers and their sons and daughters made a living, and were able to marry into farms, but they are not able to do that now, despite the intensive tillage campaign. We are not opposed to the tillage campaign. The people I represent always till their land. Indeed, the people in my area who did not till their land gave far more employment than the people who tilled it, and far better employment. What do you call employment on the land? I would like to see some of you in a beet field during the last fortnight. You know nothing about it. It is not employment; it is slavery.

We know all about it; we grow as much beet as you do.

Mr. Daly

They say, "The people told us not to surrender." No one wants the Government to surrender, but when the Government started this war it is their duty to bring it to a conclusion, and not to have the people paying the piper. They have paid the piper for almost five years, and there is no sign of this war coming to an end. We read about the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis for the past two years, but there was nothing there about the economic war. We only heard about a new Constitution, something about the head of the State. The farmers and workers are not much concerned about the head of the State; they are more concerned about their bread and butter. If this economic war is not soon brought to a conclusion, I do not know what will become of the farmers and workers.

Mr. Bourke

In view of the attitude taken up by the Minister, I do not think it is necessary for me to say very much in winding up the debate. I am rather disappointed that the Minister did not see his way to accept this proposal or otherwise suggest some alternative, or give the House some inkling that he had in view some other method of settling this dispute. I listened to most of the debate, and I must confess I did not hear any very constructive criticism from the Government Benches. Deputy Kelly devoted much of his time to twisting my remarks and trying to give the impression that I was advocating a return to ranching. I took some pains to point out that the Government, instead of succeeding in what was apparently their policy of carrying on this war at the expense of the larger farmers, ultimately passed the pressure from the larger farmers to the smaller farmers and to the farm labourers. The Deputy admitted that afterwards in a roundabout way. I want to clear away the impression that he left on my mind, and, I expect, on the minds of other Deputies, that I was advocating a return to ranching. I did mention the fact that many of those people gave good employment in the old days, and we must take into consideration the good those people did as well as the harm they did.

I am sorry the Government will not give us an assurance that something will be done to remedy existing conditions. Apparently the Government do not realise the very serious condition of the agricultural industry. Deputy Daly gave us a very clear idea of what the position is. He is a working farmer and the condition he describes apply to every class of farmer. I am not opposed to wheat or beet growing. I believe that, in moderation, it is quite a good policy. At the same time I do not hold that it is a substitute for the rearing and the export of live stock. I believe that until we bring about a state of affairs when we will have our normal markets once more, there will be little chance of putting that industry on its feet. The Government are about to enact legislation to improve the conditions of agricultural labourers. They ought to realise how futile is the introduction of such a measure as long as the agricultural industry is in its present state. Unless there is some improvement in the very near future, such a measure as that must inevitably lead to further unemployment instead of improving the condition of the labourers. If conditions continue deteriorating, I am afraid it will be impossible soon to get anybody to work the land in Ireland. I am sorry that this motion has not been accepted or has not got us further on the road, but at all events it has cleared the air somewhat. We now realise that Fianna Fáil are not interested in the position of agriculture in spite of their promises, and that no effort is going to be made to settle the economic war.

Will the Deputy press this motion to a division?

Mr. Bourke


Motion, by leave, withdrawn.