At any rate, there are those whose speeches in this House might easily be in the nature of a professional advertisement for them, or there might be those who are the tools of vested interests. As has been said already by Deputy Cogan, the poor are always used as an excuse for every mean and petty statement. We have heard already about the 75,000 people who are in receipt of unemployment assistance, and we were told that this House had concentrated its whole attention upon this measure. The Deputy who made that statement knew that it was an untrue statement. The amount of parliamentary time that has been devoted to the consideration of this measure is comparatively small and, in so far as it is longer than was justifiable, it is longer than was justifiable because of the sort of speeches we have heard against the Bill. Some of those were. I daresay, dishonest speeches, because, even while Deputies have been making these speeches, they have been trying to justify to their own consciences the fact that they were going to benefit under the Bill and were not going to take any steps to case their consciences by returning, as is commonly done, to the Exchequer, as conscience money, the money to which they feel they are not entitled. When a man thinks he has wrongfully got money from the public purse he returns that money to the Minister for Finance in the form of conscience money. To-day, however, we had Deputy Bennett saying that, after all, even though this proposal was a crime and an injustice, he was going to enjoy the fruits of that injustice—in other words, that, as somebody else has said elsewhere, his hands were going to be dripping with the fat of sacrilege.
Then we heard Deputy Cogan telling us to-day, notwithstanding what he said on the previous stage of the Bill, that he is going to hand over his £10 a month—to whom?—to the election organisation in his constituency: his own organisation, in other words— this baby which he hopes to rear and feed until it becomes the new farmers' parliamentary organisation in this country. Does Deputy Cogan think that because he is going to hand that money over to his own election machine in his own constituency he is not doing that in order to defray some part of his parliamentary expenses? That is a sham and a humbug. If any Deputy does not want to draw this extra allowance he can do either of two things. He can return it, as conscience money, every month to the Minister for Finance, and I shall acknowledge that by public advertisement or else he can devote it to public charities. There is a number of very estimable charities in each constituency which, I am quite certain, for the cost of the advertisement, would be quite prepared to acknowledge the receipt of £10 every month from Deputy Linehan, Deputy Cogan, or any other Deputy.
Let us be quite clear about this matter. This money will be paid every month—not as a salary, as Deputy Linehan said—to every Deputy in order to help him to serve his constituents in the way in which Deputy Seán MacEoin has stated here to-day—and I believe it—he is called upon to serve them. And that is the position in every constituency where there are active, hard-working Deputies and where the divisions between the different political Parties are particularly keen, because no Deputy can afford to go asleep on his job and not look after his constituents. It is the duty of the Government of to-day, just as it would be the duty of those who may be called upon to form the Government of to-morrow, to see that every member of this House is in a position to discharge his duties to his constituents and that he will not have the excuse, when the general election comes on, to say, "I was too poor to serve you in the way you wished me to serve you when you first elected me." That is one of the reasons for this measure. The responsible people, I think, in this House, have come to the conclusion after a great deal of investigation and out of the facts known to them, that this Bill is necessary. As Deputy Davin said, he could not get any member of his Party to go before the commission that was set up in this connection and make a poor mouth; neither could we, and neither, I am sure, could our opponents, the principal members of the Opposition. You could not get the people who were most deeply affected by this thing and most acutely touched by it, to go before that commission of 12 or 14 people and make a confession, so to speak, of their affairs. But instead of that, those who are responsible for directing the affairs of this country and the principal people in the Opposition, know very well that some of the best men in both Parties, as well as, I may say, some of the best men in the Labour Party, have been severely crippled by the sacrifices they have had to make over the past ten years particularly.
You cannot expect a system of representative government to be carried on in the letter and in the spirit as long as that condition of affairs exists. Ultimately, the best men in both Parties are the men who have had to make the biggest sacrifices and who, because of that, are the most limited in their private means and therefore cannot make the sort of heavy sacrifices which the development of parliamentary government in this country is going to exact from those who take an active part in public life in the future. Accordingly this would mean that they would ultimately be driven out of public life in this country. Who is going to take their place? You are either going to have the man of means, the man who had made money, the man who has what is known as an unearned income, or the man whose concerns were big enough for him always to be in a position to retain people to look after his affairs in exactly the same way, possibly, as he could look after them himself and who therefore would be free to devote himself to public affairs in this country; or else you are going to have the man of absolutely no property, with no interests except his own interests to serve, and who, in order to get in here and avail himself of the opportunity which, he may think, membership of this House will give him to serve those interests, will be prepared to make every sort of promise, to do every sort of thing, to come in here and, possibly, eventually sit on the Government Benches here and administer the whole affairs of the State. Or we may get another type of person, the type of person who represents a vested interest, who is retained to look after some sectional interest, and who by one means or another has been able to get a seat here in this House.