Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) Bill, 1938—Final Stages.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 3, section 4 (1), to delete paragraph (a) and substitute the following paragraph:—

(a) in the case of a member of Dáil Eireann who does not reside in his constituency—

(i) travelling facilities between Dublin and any place in his constituency,

(ii) travelling facilities between Dublin and his normal place of residence for the time being,

(iii) on any occasion on which he travels direct from Dublin to any place in his constituency, travelling facilities from any place in his constituency to such normal place of residence.

(iv) on any occasion on which he travels direct from such normal place of residence to his constituency, travelling facilities between such normal place of residence and, if he entered his constituency on that occasion by rail, the railway station in his constituency nearest to the point of entrance or, if he entered his constituency on that occasion by road, the point of entrance;

This amendment is moved to meet the case which was made by certain Deputies on the Committee Stage of this Bill. It was represented by them that the section, as originally drawn, would place certain Deputies in a position of undue privilege as compared with others, in so far as Deputies who resided close to but not in their constituency would, under sub-section (1) (a) be in a position to travel anywhere within the constituency. It was represented to me, on behalf of Deputies in various parts of the House, that this was undesirable. The purpose of the present amendment is, therefore, to draw the particular section somewhat more tightly, and in substitution for the present paragraph (a) of sub-section (1) of section 4, to provide that where a Deputy travels direct from Dublin to a place in his constituency, he gets travelling facilities from any place in his constituency to his normal place of residence; but where he travels direct from his residence to his constituency by rail, then by rail to the station in his constituency nearest to the point of entrance, and where he travels by road, then to the point where he enters his constituency. This enables the Deputy who travels from Dublin to his constituency, on the conclusion of his business in his constituency to travel from his constituency to his home. It does restrict, however, travelling facilities to be allowed between the Deputy's residence and his constituency to the minimum facilities necessary, and place him at the public expense as far as possible inside his constituency, but would not allow him the expense of general travelling within his constituency to which objection was taken at the last stage.

Mr. Brennan

The Minister's amendment meets the main point which I raised in connection with the anomaly that existed in favour of the Deputy living outside his constituency, which I understood was not really intended, but I am sorry that the Minister has not seen fit to approach the railway companies with regard to the railway pass and bus pass of which I spoke here the last day. I had a letter of explanation from the Minister. I still regret the Minister did not approach the railway and see what could be done in that direction. I am not at all convinced that the Minister's view as expressed in his letter to me is the right view, and I still think that the Minister ought to have at least inserted in this Bill a way out in case it were possible at some later stage to do what I suggested.

I told the Deputy that the Bill as drafted at the moment does not preclude us from entering into or discussing arrangements for the provision of passes if they can be granted within the terms of the Constitution and upon a reasonable basis.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments No. 2 and 3 not moved.
Question—"That the Bill as now amended be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I and a number of others here oppose the passing of this Bill. As far as these increased allowances to members of the Oireachtas are concerned, we do not see any reason, and we have not heard any reasons in the debate which has continued over the past three weeks to make us alter our view. The Minister made a case and various other Deputies made the case that there were people in this House to whom it meant a considerable sacrifice to be members of Dáil Eireann, and that the fact that to come into Dáil Eireann in the future and coming in here now would mean a sacrifice would deter the best type of people from entering politics. I can see no justification for that argument. As I said on the Second Reading of the Bill, if Deputies wanted to make the case that the present allowance was not justified they had a private committee before which to make the case, and they could have made that case before that committee without having the Minister coming, as I said, and making the poor mouth in this House for them. Since the institution of this State there have been various commissions dealing with Ministerial and other salaries, and no commission that was appointed by any Government saw fit to recommend that the allowance of £360 per annum was inadequate. The Deputies in this House who opposed the Bill on the Second Stage were challenged by Deputies on the benches opposite, on the grounds that our opposition was one of complete hypocrisy, that we only opposed this Bill because we knew it was going to be passed. If that was true, the Deputies on the benches opposite got their opportunity last week when they had a chance of clearing up that position and making it open to any Deputy who was satisfied that £360 per annum was a proper allowance to only accept that much.

Even if I was not opposed to this Bill when it was first introduced I would have been driven into opposition to this Bill by the Minister's case for it. The Minister's only case is that democratic government is going to be preserved in this country by paying higher salaries to Deputies. If that is the case I say God help democratic government in this country. The Minister may think that on his contention that we may get more intelligent Deputies as a result of this Bill some of us may be afraid to cross swords with him. If that is the Minister's contention, why not scrap Dáil Eireann altogether? Why not advertise the position of Executive Council in this country and pay ten people, the best people you can get, £10,000 per annum to run the country, and not be talking about democratic government. If you are going to have democratic government, the type of people that will give you democratic government are people who are not afraid to make sacrifices, are people who are prepared to make some sacrifice in the interests of their country, and not people who are only going into politics when they are not going to lose anything by it. I know what the Minister's reply will be. He will make references, as he did on the Second Stage, to the positions of various Deputies and to the fact that they did not make their case before the Committee and, of course, he will tell us that there was opposition in this House from people who could afford to oppose this Bill who, because of their private circumstances, did not need an increased allowance. I make a present of that case to the Minister. As far as the Minister or anybody else knows, the people who are opposing the Bill may be no better off or may be better off than the people who supported the Bill, and the Minister is welcome to any case he may make about that.

The Minister might say, as he said on the other Bill, that this was a matter that had been before the country, that this was a matter that the public were aware of, that the public had an opportunity of passing judgment on it. There is one thing absolutely clear about the Allowances for Deputies Bill—that that Bill was carefully concealed from the public at the last general election. There was not one word about increased allowances for Deputies and the public realised with a shock a short month ago that a Bill was being introduced by the Deputies of Dáil Eireann, in their patriotism, to provide themselves with an extra £10 a month allowance. If the Minister is not satisfied that there was objection to it, that there is still objection to it by the people of this country, he has only to look at even his own daily paper and at the attitude of his own Ard-Fheis, where it took the benediction of the Taoiseach to bring the matter safely through, and he has only to look at any public bodies throughout the country and see what is their reaction to it. As far as I am concerned, I see no justification for it. I believe if there was a case to be make in favour of this Bill that case should have been made before the commission by the people who made the case to the Minister. It could have been made before any commission that was set up for the last 15 years, and it is not for the Minister to come into this House, after appointing a commission to do a certain job, after getting the recommendation from that commission that they could see no justification for increased allowances, to come in and tell us that he is satisfied there is a necessity for increased allowances.

I want to harp back on this point about democratic government, and mind you, the present Minister as a champion of democratic government is a bit too much for me. I suppose it may have been at one period, not so very long ago, that he was a sheep in wolf's clothing when he promoted majority rule and democratic rule in this country. At the present time, when he is upholding democratic government, he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. I make the Minister a present of all he ever said or thought about democracy, when he says that we will preserve democratic government in this country by making the position of a Deputy of Dáil Eireann so attractive that anybody coming in here may be satisfied that he is going to lose no money and that in fact he may make a little. He is welcome to that type of democratic government. If there is democratic government existing in any country in the world to-day it is because people in those countries are prepared to make sacrifices for democracy and are prepared to make sacrifices to preserve the parliamentary institutions of their States.

As far as I am concerned, I opposed this Bill at the beginning. I oppose it now. I am made stronger in my opposition simply because the Minister and any Deputy who spoke for the Bill has made no case for it and, as far as I am concerned, I hope that anybody in this House who has considered the matter and who has listened to the Minister's defence of his own Bill, a Bill which brings in something that was turned down by his own commission, will vote against this Bill now.

It is heartening and encouraging to learn that Deputy Linehan is going to experiment on democracy by attempting to make sacrifices for his country's welfare. I only hope that, having made his first sacrifice for democracy and the country, he will be as enthusiastic afterwards as he is now but I suspect that in speaking now he is speaking as an isolated wolf amongst his Party and that he represents neither the views of his Party nor his own stringent views in the matter. I rise, however, to get information on this point: Is there anything to prevent Deputy Linehan, Deputy Nally, or other Deputies whose consciences are outraged by this proposal to increase their salaries or allowances —is there anything to prevent their returning to the Exchequer, in the interests of democracy, of good government and of good finance, the £10 per month extra which it is proposed to give them in this Bill?

We hope there is not.

If there is nothing to prevent their doing that, I hope they will salve their consciences, satisfy their minds, and serve democracy, by returning every month the extra £10 which the Minister proposes to give them. If there is an obstacle to prevent the returning of that extra amount, I should like the Minister to say so, because it might be possible at a later stage, if the Bill comes back from the Seanad, to insert some amendment which would enable these Deputies to put themselves right and salve their consciences.

Why did not you vote for that amendment last week?

That was a different amendment. I would not let you down.

I do not think we have heard any word spoken by the Minister or by any other Deputy since the Bill was introduced to make our opposition to it any the less. In fact, as far as I am concerned, anything that has occurred during the debate has made me more opposed to the Bill than I was originally. I see no reason for the introduction of the Bill at this moment, and I think, in fact, that the existing conditions might have been preserved for the life of this particular Parliament at least. We could all have gone on tightening our belts, if you like, for the period for which the electors sent us here. What I particularly objected to, however, was the type of spirit displayed by the Deputies who took part in the debates on this Bill and the epithets of hypocrisy that were levelled at us across the House, and that have been repeated, in a minor way, on this stage of the Bill, by Deputy Cleary, who was not here during the other stages. If he had been here, I do not think he would have made the speech he has just made, because an effort was made to put in such a provision, as he suggested in his speech, and his own Party refused to put it in.

I would not let you down.

Now, if this House does not give to the Opposition, so far as this Bill is concerned, as much credit as they give to any other Party, then there is no use in having an Opposition in this House at all on any measure. It is said that, if we are opposed to this increase, we should not accept it. I, for one, am fully prepared, as I said before, to accept any increase, once it is passed. If you made the allowance £10,000 a year instead of £480 a year, I should be prepared to accept it. That kind of an argument is nonsensical. It might as well be said that, because I opposed extra taxation that was imposed in various Bills here, putting an extra burden on the people, I should be eliminated from that taxation or excused from the charges imposed, simply because I had opposed it. That argument, as I say, is nonsensical. In the same way, even though I oppose it, if a Bill is passed here proposing to give an additional allowance, I would be a bally fool if I was to make myself the one majority who refused to accept it.

I say there is no justice in this Bill. There is no just demand for it. There is no general demand for it amongst the people, nor, as far as I know, among the Deputies in this House. The Bill came as a complete surprise to me. I did not hear even two Deputies, three months ago, mention any such proposal as this. It certainly came as a surprise to me and to my constituents, even if it may not have been a surprise to some Deputies. One had hardly time to refer the matter to one's constituents, it was brought in so suddenly and hastily and put through the House. As I say, I do not see any reason for it. I do not want to go back on the old debate, but I say that at least the conditions of certain of the people of this country are much worse off than ours are, and until their circumstances are a little bettered we have no right or reason to better our own.

Is it a fact that they are going to take the £10 extra?

I do not think that Deputy Cleary's contribution to the debate was very helpful, nor do I think that he gives credit to Deputies for a reasonable amount of independence of mind and highness of mind. I do not think he is quite justified in assuming that people are opposed to this Bill merely because they know it will pass and because they know, according to the method of payment of Deputies' allowances, that the added amount will go to those who oppose the Bill as to the other Deputies who are in favour of the Bill.

I am worried about their conscience, that is all.

Well, the Deputy must have a very elastic conscience himself.

He has, because in the days of abstention from this House by the Fianna Fáil Party, from 1922 to 1927, when everybody who came in here, no matter what interest they championed in here, were called traitors and apostates to the republic —these are days, of course, which the Fianna Fáil Party would now prefer to forget——

And which are not relevant to this debate.

They are not quite relevant——

Nobody ever alleged that the Deputy was an apostate to the republic.

Well, after hearing the Minister's courtmartial speech, nobody could say that he was a martyr to the republic.

Did the Deputy hear it?

What is the point? Does the Minister want to repeat it to me now?

Yes, I would be quite prepared to repeat that speech if I had the full text of it. There has been a slander made against me since that speech was made. I could not defend myself when the Deputy was serving his British Majesty.

The Minister need not interrupt.

Did not the Deputy provoke the interruption?

I replied to an interruption, Sir, as you may have heard.

The Deputy should get back to the Bill.

Let the Deputy go outside and say what he alleges I said at that courtmartial, and he will be put on proof.

Everybody knows what the Minister said.

If I could be assured of order, I could make my speech and would be heard. As I was saying, from 1922 to 1927, we were told in this House —those who attended this House—by people who would not attend, that if they were to take their seats in Parliament, they would not even draw the allowance of £360 a year. We were told then that it was even apostasy to take that allowance because the country was in such a wretchedly bad condition, and that, if they came into Parliament, they would burn white with such zeal for the public welfare that they would spurn the allowance and establish a national development fund for the establishment of Irish industry. They came into the House in 1927, and took the £360 per year, notwithstanding these previous protestations—mocking protestations. Deputy Cleary did not regard his conscience as being troubled in that connection, even though at one stage his Party said that they would not take the £360. Deputy Cleary comes in and takes it and does not feel at all abashed at the proposal.

Not a bit.

But he imputes motives to other people.

I can prove it.

He did not prove that he believed in his own protestations then by sending back the £360, and as to the proposed national development fund, we never saw a balance sheet of that fund, and probably will not ever see it. I am opposed to this Bill. I am speaking as an individual on this Bill. Deputy Cleary says, of course, that anybody who does not speak in tune with the Party does not speak with the Party. Well, there are some Parties where liberty of mind and thought still prevails.


Hear! Hear!

There are some Parties in which you can express your opinions if you hold them honestly and conscientiously, and I am glad that, as far as the Labour Party is concerned, it gave its members a full opportunity of expressing their opinions candidly on this matter. I think that makes for democratic government, and makes for a better standing for parliamentary institutions than the kind of mass regimentation which you get in certain other Parties. I think a case could be made that Deputies who do their duties conscientiously, who attend the House, who meet their constituents, who travel in their constituencies, and who attend to a large amount of correspondence, need some additional payment to enable them to meet the heavy expenses inevitably involved in that kind of work, but I object to the whole approach to this matter. Deputies may have a grievance which has some intrinsic merit in it, but there are tens of thousands of other people in the country with grievances much more substantial, much more deep-rooted, and causing them much more hardship than any hardship from which the Deputy is suffering to-day.

We had an answer from the Minister for Local Government to-day to the effect that there were 78,000 people in receipt of home assistance—78,000 people in receipt of home assistance in a tiny State like this. The figures published by the Department of Industry and Commerce indicate that there are 100,000 people in receipt of either unemployment assistance benefit or unemployment insurance benefit, and further figures given by the Minister for Local Government to-day indicated that there are 28,000 widows trying to exist on a non-contributory pension of 5/- per week. I am reminded that it was from 1/- to 5/-; 5/- is the maximum. Now, during this period of the year and right on to March and April we will find workers employed on rotational schemes for three, four, or five days per week. The Minister for Local Government, a member of the Executive Council responsible for the introduction of this Bill, will not allow a local authority to employ a man for a full six days in case he gets a full six days' wages. That is the kind of picture some of us see before us—a low rate of unemployment assistance, 100,000 people idle, 78,000 in receipt of home assistance, 28,000 widows struggling on a miserable pittance, and rotational workers limited to working for two, three, four or five days during a few weeks of the year. In the face of that sea of poverty this House concerns itself with two Bills to increase the allowance of Deputies, and to provide pensions on an extravagant scale for Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries after a few years' service. It is because the House perverts its normal function of dealing with problems as they affect the large masses of the people, and proceeds to deal with this kind of specialised class, numbering not more than 150, that I object to the whole approach to those two Bills. If we were starting out to-day to cure every economic and financial difficulty in the country, we might include the economic or financial difficulties which arise in respect of Deputies, Ministers, ex-Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries. But we are not doing that. We are leaving problems galore unsolved. No attempt whatever is being made to tackle them, and we are concentrating on two Bills which affect not more than 150 people.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce was asked to-day whether, in view of the increase in the cost of living and the low rates of employment assistance benefit, he intended to introduce proposals for increasing that benefit, and we were told by the Minister in a sarcastic and laconic manner that the answer to the first part of the question was in the negative and that the second part of the question did not arise. There was certainly an economy of words there compared with the torrent of words used to provide pensions for Ministers and increased allowances for Deputies under those two Bills. I protest against this Bill and the other Bill on the basic principle that I think it is grossly unfair to concentrate our attention on those two classes of people when tens of thousands of people are living below the border line of starvation, when tens of thousands of others do not know on Monday where they are going to get money to pay their debts on Friday and Saturday, and when there is a bleak and miserable future for large masses of our people. It is in circumstances such as those that we are introducing this Bill. I think there has been incident haste about the whole business. I think you could not get a majority vote in the country for those two Bills. It is rather significant that although we had a general election only a few months ago there was a stony silence on the part of the Government Party in regard to its intention to introduce proposals of this kind. Not a word was said at the recent election about those proposals. Why was that important information kept from the people?

We used to be told that Fianna Fáil was in favour of low salaries for Ministers and high salaries for workers. Now we find that policy completely reversed. It is high salaries for Ministers and low wages for part-time employment for rotational workers. If ever a Party changed its policy, changed its outlook, and walked the tight rope of politics, the present Government Party has done it in respect of wages and salaries. Wage claims on behalf of public servants which have been in the Department of Finance for some years cannot even get a decision from the Department, but in a short time we could get two Bills of a complicated character such as those, designed to increase the allowances of people who are not nearly so badly off as many other people in the country. As I have said, if you were adjusting every other difficulty in the country you might deal with those difficulties as something which had merit in them judged by certain standards, but when you are leaving untouched the vast and deep-rooted problems which affect the mass of the people, I think it is grossly unfair that proposals of this kind should be promoted and passed, giving increased allowances and generous pensions while you are doing nothing for the vast masses of the people who do not know what it is to get a regular week's wages, who do not know what it is to enjoy a pension, and who never hope to enjoy a pension on the generous scale provided in those two Bills.

I would appeal to the Minister for the sake of the unfortunate taxpayers of this country, for the sake of the decencies of public life in this country, and for the sake of the future of this country to withdraw this Bill. It has been said that this Bill is unjustifiable having regard to the condition of the working classes, and having regard to the conditions of the unemployed, but there is another class of the community who are in perhaps a more deplorable condition at the present time, and those are the struggling farmers who have lived through six years of economic depression, who have lived through a condition of affairs in which their produce was absolutely unsaleable, and in which there was absolutely no return for their work. During these years a load of debt has piled up on their shoulders, a load of debt which they are unable to meet. There are in the country at the present time not thousands but tens of thousands of unfortunate men and women who cannot sleep at night because they are hunted and harassed by agents of the Land Commission, by rate collectors and other collectors of debt, urging them to meet debts which accrued during a time when their industry was completely disorganised and at a stand still. The national Parliament of this country failed to recognise the just claim which those people have for some measure of compensation for their losses, and surely it is no consolation to those people to be told now that the members of that national Parliament have decided to reward themselves amply for their failure.

In view of these facts, and of the feeling throughout the country, surely the Minister will hesitate before proceeding with legislation which will disgrace this Parliament. We were told that the Bill is being introduced in the interests of the poor. The poor are always with us, and are always used as an excuse for every mean and contemptible action. Who are the poor? The unemployed, the unskilled manual workers, and the average farmer. Would any of these people be deterred from entering this House, or entering public life on the grounds that they considered the present allowances inadequate? If the average farmer was asked if he considered £360 yearly insufficient, the answer would be that that amount compares very favourably with his present income. The legal wage of the agricultural worker is 27/- a week, which works out somewhere about £70 yearly, and for the unemployed person the yearly income is less than half that amount. The income of the average working farmer is much less than £70, yet these are the people for whom we are told it is necessary to increase the allowance, so as to induce them to enter public life. That argument cannot be sustained. I believe the only people who would be required to make sacrifices on entering this House, are those with considerable means, successful professional men, doctors, barristers and others who earn large incomes.

It cannot be contended, as has been attempted here, that the only way to attract the best people in the nation to come into this House is offer ample remuneration. Surely the best people in any country are those who are prepared to make some little financial sacrifice in its service. No other consideration enters into the minds of these people when about to enter public life. Surely they consider the desirability of doing so, in order to right wrongs, to expose grievances and to do some good for the country. Money alone should not be the only consideration in the minds of the best people. There is no substance whatever in the argument that an increase is necessary if we want to secure the best people for this House. It has also been suggested that Deputies who are opposing this Bill are bound to refuse to accept the extra allowance. In accordance with that principle, I should like to ask if people at present opposed to complete derating of agricultural land will continue to pay rates after derating has been introduced? Will these people refuse to accept the benefit of such legislation? There is no justification whatever for an argument of that kind. I have been taken to task and severely lectured by the Minister for Finance for saying that I would not accept this increase for myself, but would hand it over to the farmers organisation in my constituency.

The Deputy did not say that before. He is saying it now for the first time.

If the Minister wishes to dispute my statement, let him consult the Official Debates. He will find that I said I would accept the increase and hand it over to the farmers' organisation in my constituency. The Minister endeavoured to contend that he has power to prevent me.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul would take it.

That is a suggestion. As the agricultural section of the community have to bear their share of the burden of taxation, I hold it is the duty of anybody entering public life to help them to organise in defence of their interests, instead of allowing them to be trampled upon. I have also been taken to task for suggesting that there should be some clause in the Bill providing for compulsory attendance here. I have not suggested that the House might gain anything intellectually or otherwise from the attendance of all Deputies, but, at least, it would be a mark of respect to the dignity which should attach to the national assembly, if members were compelled to put in a reasonable attendance in the House, particularly in view of the increased allowance.

I have already given my reasons for opposing this Bill. No one in favour of the Bill has attempted to refute my arguments against it. There was one rather strained insinuation that I endeavoured to rectify on the Committee Stage. My reason for doing so was that, in my opinion, more was read into it than was ever intended. The Deputy concerned has been accused in circles which we all respect and revere, of irreverence, by associating the opponents of the Bill with the greatest betrayal of all ages; that it was an outrage on this House, which open all its deliberations with prayer and an invocation for guidance; and that this unjust implication was striking at the elementary principles of Christianity. I was convinced, Sir, that this was very unfair to the Deputy, and, with a desire that the members of the House should not be misinterpreted or misunderstood, I raised the question for the purpose of clarifying it.

The Deputy apparently misunderstood my motion. His reply conveyed that I was actuated by personal resentment. I never considered the personal aspect of the affair, and I was only concerned that the Deputy should put himself right with the country and the House. Here, Sir, I may express my gratitude to you for ruling me out. In the disappointment, my reply would have been uncompromising. I have since had an interview with the Deputy. He assured me—an assurance entirely unnecessary from one of his inherited tradition and his own disposition—that the interpretation put on his unfortunate quotation was entirely remote from his mind, which I am sure Deputy O'Higgins will corroborate. I do not intend to take any further part in this question.

On the Second Reading I said that I welcomed the Government's decision. The House has seen that amongst the various Parties there has been disagreement as to whether it was necessary or wise to make provision for increased allowances for Deputies. I also indicated that there were very strong reasons why Deputies would be helped to keep closer in touch with the various parts of their constituencies, and with the problems of the people, so that, in a better way than in the past, both conditions would be reflected here, and in a better way the combined intelligence of Deputies of all Parties would be brought to bear on the solution of the country's problems. It has been suggested that it will be a disgrace to this House in the future, the fact that Deputies would be paid increased allowances. I think nothing will disgrace this House in the future to anything like an equal extent as the silence of quite a large number of Deputies during the last four or five years particularly on vitally important economic and national questions. I welcome the circumstances that induced Parties outside Fianna Fáil to give expression to varying sentiments on a particular proposal here. The question as to whether the increased allowances for Deputies are going to be justified is one that will depend entirely on the future. The problem before the country is not whether it can afford the allowance but whether it will get services that will justify these allowances being given and whether this House is going to be a parliamentary assembly. I welcome the expressions of approval, the "hear, hears" from the Fianna Fáil side of the House because nothing has done more to prevent the Dáil being a democratic Assembly than the policy pursued by the Fianna Fáil Party during the last five or six years. I might even add that they have been assisted in that by the Labour Party with regard to certain aspects of the Fianna Fáil policy. Certain high policies have been adopted, constitutionally, internationally and otherwise and in so far as this Assembly has been concerned the Government have operated to shut the mouths of the back benchers of the Fianna Fáil Party and on some occasions to shut the mouths of the Labour Party and prevent them telling what they knew with regard to conditions in the country. It was the policy pursued by the Government that was responsible for that. I hope we have passed from those days. I hope that by the loosening of tongues, by the relaxation of whippings, by the standing out on their own feet of the Labour Party without sheltering under the umbrella of the Fianna Fáil policy and endeavouring to do things by colloguing and conference with Fianna Fáil, that we will hear not only complaints of the conditions that exist in the country but the lines upon which conditions in the country might be improved. As a result of the type of co-operation that has gone on here this House has lost almost complete control over fiscal actions. The Government have taxed the people to increase the revenue available, and the Government has spent money in wild ways, money that might profitably be devoted towards assisting the development of our main industry. As a result of the Government's policy and a definite silence on the part of many Deputies in this House there has been taken from this House power to control the operations of the fiscal policy. Information that properly should be sought by this House has been denied. Blatant economic facts have been brought out here and shown up by members of the Opposition, but they have been persistently denied by occupants of the Ministerial Front Benches. Only now when some of the errors of the past have been rectified and we are proceeding on different lines, are the accumulated statistics appearing from Government Departments and they show that everything argued with regard to the injury to the consuming power of our people and the sound development of industrial life was right. It is only now that the statistical facts are being massed together in Government reports and made available for the public, with the Government imprimatur on them.

The Deputy must relate his argument to the Bill.

The justification for increased allowances for Deputies lies in the future and they can only be justified if this is going to be a parliament. A picture has been painted of the bad economic conditions that exist in the country. The reason why these conditions exist is because representatives attending here have not spoken their minds. Perhaps they have not in the circumstances that exist sufficient facilities to keep in touch with their constituents. One thing these allowances will do is to enable Deputies to have transport that will bring them in touch with their constituents. We have the position that this House has lost control to a large extent over its fiscal policy. It has handed over powers that ought to be here to bacon boards, with the result that bacon consumption has gone down by 25 to 26 per cent. The millers have been set up as a monopoly outside the House with no one here in control. They have been helped by the Government policy and by silence on the part of Government Deputies. The consumption of bread has gone down. Milk boards have been set up, and now there is a scarcity of milk so far as the Dublin consumers are concerned.

The Deputy cannot review the whole Government policy at this stage.

I do not admit that I am trying to review the whole Government policy. All I want to say is that bodies have been set up outside the House and have taken from the powers of the House as an Irish Parliament, and we can recover these powers by a candid and uniform expression of opinion by Deputies here. I welcome the expression of approval from the Fianna Fáil Party. If there is going to be a relaxation of putting the gag in Deputies' mouths with regard to the situation here, it is all for the better. There is another matter in which I think the importance and independence of the House has to be strengthened. There are all kinds of disparagements thrown at some politicians. A new Seanad is to be set up that is going to guide us with a greater store of information of a finer character and a more detached and honest touch with regard to public affairs than a mere Assembly of elected politicians can have. One type of Seanad has been set up and there are proposals for another type. There are suggestions that corporate bodies can take charge of this, that and the other. I do not think that anything can take the place of a Parliament elected to lay down and develop national policy with regard to economic and other matters. I believe the increased facilities for Deputies can restore this Assembly to be a Parliament reflecting the conditions of the people and the intelligence of the people as to how their problems should be tackled. That can only be if the Deputies for whom these allowances are made are going to be allowed to exercise their judgment and intelligence. It is absurd to be paying increased allowances to a Government Party if that Party are going to be gagged behind Ministers and if the only purpose is that they can be more regimented. I do not suggest that is the intention of the Government. I welcome the action they have taken and I welcome these increases because they have given to Deputies an increased responsibility. I hope it increases the responsibility and the authority and the prestige of the House so that the problems of the country may be tackled by people who have a definite responsibility to the country.

I do not want this measure to pass without saying a few words upon it. A lot has been said that I think could be very well left unsaid. I think it would be no harm if some slight review was made of what is actually the work that a Deputy performs. I do not take myself as being anything different from the ordinary Deputy. I believe we all have to do practically the same work. All I can say about this measure is that it is £120 better than it was, just exactly that. Even then that is not adequate to cover the expenses or ample payment for a Deputy.

I reside in my constituency. I have callers who call on me in the morning, even before I get up to go to Mass at 8 o'clock. They call on me at night, and I have callers all day on Sundays. I have not one moment that I can call my own. If I put half the energy into any other business—even as a blacksmith—that I put into this work, I would make more money at it. I will prove that. I returned to public life in 1929. At that time I got a gratuity of £3,000 from the State. Since then I fought four general elections and two by-elections. Fighting these elections has cost me £1,700. If I continue for nine years more, the gratuity I got will then be all gone and more with it.

I made a few sacrifices for this country at other times. That, I believe, is even doubted now. During those elections that I fought I was told that I did not stand in the dock at all and did not make any speech from the dock. I was told that something had been said about Deputy MacEntee's speech from the dock, that he, at least, made a speech from the dock. It was denied that I made one at all. I was told that it was another very important I.R.A. leader who had spoken from the dock and not me. The only point that arises out of that is that there are only two types of persons who can be members of this House at the moment: That is somebody out of the Labour Exchange who is looking for the dole or the Frank MacDermot type whose income runs into thousands. If a man who has regard for his responsibilities and discharges his duties, has means or has middle-class means, it will be found he will be a beggar after nine or ten years as a Deputy.

What business does a Deputy who is looking after his job do? It is said here that attendance in the House is to be the criterion as regards the Deputy performing his duties. Everybody who knows anything about the country knows that that is nonsense. The main part of a Deputy's work is the amount of good work he does for his constituents irrespective of whether they voted for or against him. Here is a sample of my bag for to-day and to-morrow and indeed for every day in the week: Asked to secure time for a constituent to pay the land annuities, questions about land division and land acquisition, old age pension claims, blind pension claims, widows' and orphans' pension claims, unemployment assistance, questions about people broken off the dole by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, questions about national health insurance payments, questions about workers who have been struck off because they were not in insurable employment and so on. A Deputy has to put his very best work into that. Then there are the housing questions, reconstruction of houses and grants for new houses. There are military pensions and disability service pensions. I can state positively that for the last four years this work has entailed on an average two days' work a week. I have simply said to my constituents that I could only give them two days' work as there are other questions to be attended to. A Deputy has the duty of seeing about import and export licences for his constituents. Traders sometimes cannot get their goods in or out without a Deputy having to write a letter to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and so on. Then there is the question of drainage, afforestation and minor relief works. There are bog passes, bog drains and so on. Of course, a Deputy residing in the city or a Deputy who does not reside in his constituency knows nothing about all these things, but that is the position in a constituency such as mine.

I question that statement. I have as much to do about unemployment assistance as anybody else.

The Deputy has not to go through bog passages and deal with them. He can step out on a nice side-walk or payment. In my constituency there are people who are up to their knees in the bogs.

I am well aware of that.

I can assure Deputies that a country Deputy's work is quite different. I know there are Deputies who simply ask to what organisation does the constituent belong before they do anything to help him. That is a false principle. No matter what way one's constituents voted, a Deputy should serve them. Taking all these things into account, I am satisfied that this question has not been examined at all on its merits. We have got into a heat here about the hardships that farmers are suffering, and Deputy Norton tells us about what the labourers are suffering. My contention is that it would be well worth while to pay good salaries to Deputies so that they could look after and manage the country's affairs properly. It is only in that way good service can be got. It is a whole-time job. Political life should be made something to look up to and something that should not be sneered at. Politics is the art of government. I was called a politician and, in reply, I said I regretted I was not a good one. I wish I was a better politician. All I can say about this measure is that it is £120 better, but there are a few other things that I would like to see in it as well.

This Bill and the one dealing with the Ministers show that there is a complete change of front. That change of front is of no value unless there is also a change of heart. I think the old Sinn Féin members of this House should apologise to the members of the old Irish Parliamentary Party and to their relations for all the things they said about the "400 pounders." That simply meant that we blackguarded them up and down the country because we were not aware of the facts. We said a lot about them. Now we know that the sum they got was inadequate. We are told now that when a man comes to Dublin from Cork or Kerry there is a hardship, but the members of the old Irish Party had to travel as far as London. We now realise that what we said about the then "400 pounders" was all nonsense. The old Sinn Féin members on both sides of the House should apologise for all that was said. I also think that the Fianna Fáil Party should apologise to the Deputies on these benches for all they said about us in 1924, 1925 and 1926.

The Deputy's Party did the same about us and we will call it quits.

Deputy Cleary might get up and make a speech in his own way and I will make one in my own way. I am only trying to put before the House what I honestly think. I may not be doing that very well, but I am saying what I mean. The fact is that our Party were blackguarded up and down the country. The people were told that it was the £360 that we were looking for and that the Ministers were looking for their big salaries. I think a change of heart there would not be any harm. It would be all to the good. Anyway it is a recognition that all the things said— I will not say said deliberately—were said in ignorance and without a full knowledge of the facts. The only thing that struck me here this evening was that a number of the Deputies who spoke against this Bill were short-term Deputies who are not long in the House —at least some of them are here only a short time—and that they were speaking without full knowledge of the facts and that if they gave full attention to the work they could say to themselves and to their constituents: "I have earned every shilling of the £480, if I get it." All I would say is that I do not think £480 is ample compensation, and that if my two Fianna Fáil colleagues are worth £1,000 between them in the constituency, I am worth the two of them together—I am worth £1,000.

Unfortunately the constituency does not look at it like that.

The challenging nature of the speech made by Deputy Mulcahy, and when I say challenging I mean the friendly way in which he challenged Deputies to intervene in this debate, demands that I should make some contribution to the discussion. I was invited or rather it was suggested I should be invited to go before the commission that was set up by this House or by the Minister, and give evidence as to the position of Deputies. Presumably by that was meant the position of Deputies who are members of this Party. In refusing to do so I felt I could not fairly represent the domestic position of the majority of my colleagues. I was elected with a big majority to membership of this House when there was no assurance or certainty of any kind of any salary or allowance. When I was invited to accept nomination and when I agreed to do so I informed my principal supporters at the time that I was not prepared to devote the whole of my time to political activities. That was accepted by my supporters and also by the majority of my constituents and that has been ratified by my constituents in the eight general elections that have taken place since I first entered this House. If I had known at the time when I was first invited to accept membership of this House that I would have to fight eight general elections in a period of 15 and a half years, I certainly would have thought over the matter more seriously and probably come to a different decision. I have endeavoured, I do not say I have succeeded, to serve my constituents as well as any other Deputy who has been prepared to give part-time service to his constituency during the 16 years that have intervened since 1922. I feel called upon to pay a typist and to pay postage, which has never been less than £2 5s. to £2 10s. per week. Deputies who live in the country and who live in their constituencies appear to be under the impression that Deputies who reside in Dublin or outside their constituencies are not called upon to bear any expense compared with what they are called upon to bear. I travel to my constituency periodically. I fairly often go down on a Saturday or Sunday and come back on Monday and very seldom do I find anybody to pay my hotel expenses. I pay motor-car hire in order to get around a constituency where there is a very bad train service and, except on one occasion, I never claimed any return for that. The Minister for Finance, or his advisers, can bear that out from the records. I hesitate to intervene in this debate simply because I am not entirely dependent upon the allowance I have been in receipt of but I have had to pay my personal expenses in the majority of the eight general elections that I have contested and you cannot fight a general election and sponge on people during that period. If you fight a general election it costs you something and as well as bearing personal expenses in fighting a general election I have to suffer loss of pay in the position which I occupy and pay a substitute during the period I am called upon to attend to my public duties. I hesitate, however, and have hesitated to go before the commission or to speak in this House to make a plea, a personal appeal or plea, on my own behalf but I intervene simply because I do not understand how certain colleagues of mine, the majority of my colleagues, at the present time, can keep a family in decency and at the same time do their work efficiently for their constituency. All of us have responsibilities to our families. I have a wife and four children and the last person in the world I would like to see auditing my personal accounts is my own wife. I thank goodness that she is not very inquisitive in that direction. However, I also feel and in this I speak for a future and greater Labour Party that we can never get into a bigger Labour Party in the future the type of men that would be helpful to build up a Party, that would make good Deputies of a Labour Party, until the citizens of this country and the workers of the country, particularly, who want that type of man make it possible for him to come into this House and bear as little financial embarrassment as possible.

As I say, I hope the Deputies who are living in their constituencies will consult with some of those who live in the City of Dublin, who pay as much attention, although they live in the City of Dublin, to their constituency as perhaps some who live in their own constituency. The fact that I have been returned, and it is a great honour, at the head of the poll five times out of eight general elections, at any rate, returned in the eight general elections, is, in the opinion of a big section of my constituents, a tribute to the fact that I have made some attempt to do my work fairly efficiently. I would hesitate very much to say I do my work very efficiently, but if we are to do our work efficiently, and particularly if the workers of this country are to have in this House in the future men of the type that will truly represent them, men who will come here as the workers should expect them to come, without making sacrifices at the expense of their wives and children, I think it is in the interests of the State, and particularly in the interests of a future and bigger Labour Party, that this Bill, in its present form, should pass through the House.

The leader of the opposition to this Bill, as I presume I may describe Deputy Linehan, has said that he has been strengthened in his opposition by the speeches which he has heard in support of the Bill, and particularly, I think, by the speeches of the Minister for Finance. I regret that I am such a bad advocate for such a very good measure. The fact that the Bill has had the misfortune to be so ill-served by the Minister who is responsible for piloting it through the House, nevertheless does not detract from the public value of the Bill. I feel the Bill is a good Bill. The Government feel that the Bill is a necessary Bill, and we are supported in that attitude by those who have had previous responsibility for the government of this country. It would have been quite easy for the Leaders of the Opposition to have made the sort of political capital out of this Bill which the Leader of the Labour Party has attempted to make, but they have borne responsibility; they perhaps will be called upon to bear responsibility in the future; they have done something to bring the State into being, as we have done something to build it up economically, and as we have done something to develop State organisation here constitutionally. Both of us share a great responsibility for what has been done already in this country, and for what has yet to be done. It is because we are conscious of that responsibility, and because we feel that the whole future of the country depends, as Deputy Mulcahy pointed out, on the preservation of the importance and independence of this House, that we have come here and have been facing the sort of misrepresentation which has been so glibly flung at us in this House because of this Bill. We are telling the people now that, if they do want to have representative democracy in this country, they must make it possible for every man of talent and every man of ability to come in here and serve the public weal without involving himself in too great sacrifices—sacrifices which no man, who was conscious of his family responsibilities, would be justified in undertaking. That is our justification for this measure.

We have heard a great deal, of course, about the plight of the farmers, and a great deal about the plight of the poor. I have said that one of the things we want to ensure, if we are going to have good government in this country, is that the independence and importance of this House shall be preserved and shall be free from the dictates of all vested interests. Now, it is remarkable that those who have opposed this Bill are, in general, those who can afford to make the sacrifices that they have been so ready to ask others to make.

Question? It is the other way about.

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.

By dirty methods at election time.

We heard a speech here to-day from the Chairman of the Labour Party. I think it was an extraordinary speech for the chairman of a supposedly democratic Party to make on a measure of this sort. What is the position which may arise? You may get a person in this position, that he can retire from the Civil Service, that he can become an employee of a Civil Service organisation, that he can enter into such a contract with that organisation that he has Civil Service tenure, and as good as Civil Service pension terms, and that he draws a bigger salary from that organisation than he would have drawn if he continued to serve as a civil servant. Then you can get him elected for a constituency down in the country. He will come in here and will not be the servant of his constituency, but will do as Deputy Norton has done on this Bill. He will obey the crack of his master's whip, and we will have branches of his organisation up and down through the country passing resolutions binding him, mind you, not to act in accordance with his own conscience but to act as a servant of this vested interest is told to act by those who are his masters. It does not matter then whether there may be in his Party members who cannot do their duties fully without involving too heavy sacrifices if the parliamentary allowance is insufficient. No; Deputy Norton will get up as he did in this House to-day and as Deputy Cogan said, use the poor as an excuse for every mean and contemptible action. Ignoring the fact that we are trying to get a democratic Government in this country, trying to make it possible for independent men to come in and serve the people, trying, as Deputy Mulcahy said, to preserve the independence of this House, he will attempt to becloud the issue with all sorts of false calumny, and by drawing in the poor and the unemployed. This Government has done more to look after the interests of the common people of this country than Deputy Norton ever did.

I question that.

The members of this Government have been prepared to do things for this country that Deputy Norton never dared to do. I was told to-day about a speech before the courtmartial. No person has ever read the speech which I made before the courtmartial. I am not afraid of it, nor am I ashamed of it. But there is this one thing about it anyhow, that I was before a general courtmartial of 13 British officers when Deputy Norton was wearing His Majesty's uniform.

I can assure the Minister that his speech does not interest me.

Is it not a fact that Deputy Norton was entitled to and refused to accept a pension from the Civil Service on retiring? I do not think his position in that respect should be misrepresented.

We were misrepresented at the general election.

Question put.
The Dáil divided:—Tá, 77; Níl, 21.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Benson, Ernest E.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Brasier, Brooke.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Fogarty, Patrick J.
  • Friel, John.
  • Fuller, Stephen.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Hannigan, Joseph.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kelly, James P.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Francis.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • Meaney, Cornelius.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Mullen, Thomas.
  • Munnelly, John.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Loghlen, Peter J.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, John M.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rice, Brigid M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Tubridy, Seán.
  • Walsh, Laurence J.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.


  • Bennett, George C.
  • Broderick, William J.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Gorey, Denis J.
  • Hickey, James.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Hurley, Jeremiah.
  • Keating, John.
  • Linehan, Timothy.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy J.
  • Redmond, Bridget M.
  • Ryan, Jeremiah.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Linehan and O'Donovan.
Question declared carried.

The Ceann Comhairle has certified this to be a Money Bill within the meaning of Article 22 of the Constitution.