Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 20 Jul 1938

Vol. 21 No. 8

Appropriation Bill, 1938 (Certified Money Bill)—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I rise merely for the purpose of giving the Minister an opportunity, which up to the present he has not availed of, to tell us when he is going to put in practice the doctrines which he preached with such poetic fervour when he was in opposition a few years ago. It is not necessary for me to make a case for reduction of public expenditure. It was made for me by the present Minister in language which, I am sure, was never intended to be buried in the Official Reports of Dáil Eireann. On occasions like this, I always like to do the Minister the honour of disinterring a few of his phrases in the hope that, through my humble labours, they will gain the immortality which has attended his efforts in another direction.

I find that the Minister, in discoursing of extravagance during his predecessor's régime, said:—

"If a resolute attempt was made to deal with expenditure in Government offices and with the wastage that goes on, at least another £1,000,000 might be saved. Mr. Blythe, with a golden whip costing the people £20,000,000 is driving our young men and women into exile and is not disposed to listen to those who are asking for a drastic reduction in the expenditure in Government Departments."

I think we must admit that the golden whip has now a heavier lash to it. Here is another gem:—

"By comparison with Great Britain and Northern Ireland we are overtaxed beyond the limit of our capacity. In such a situation what is the policy which the Minister has set before the House? Not to lighten the burden of taxation—not to give the country a chance to recuperate, but to continue to oppress it by maintaining taxation at a level which every factor of economic significance unites in proclaiming that the country is unable to bear. Expenditure must be cut down. Economies must be secured. There should be economies in the Army and the Civic Guards. There should be economies in the trimmings and trappings of the State and of the Executive. These must be further and ruthlessly cut. Let there be no skimming of the surface, taking only the scum of the waste, the mere saving of £172,000 where at least £1,000,000 is required, but a paring of waste and extravagance remorselessly to the very bones."

The Minister spoke of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Where would you find a better example of Dr. Jekyll than in the gentleman who made that speech and who now brings in a Bill which, instead of paring waste and extravagance to the very bones, is based on an expenditure of £30,000,000. To vary the monotony let me give a quotation from an even greater man than the Minister. This is what Mr. de Valera said at Belmullet in 1931—seven years ago:—

"There was a crying need for economy. They were governed as if they were a great empire. The imperial standards set up by England, whose coffers were filled with loot from other countries"——

that would not sound nicely in Rathmines—

——"were being maintained here. £1,000 per annum should be sufficient attraction for high posts."

That, with the lurid phrases omitted, was an eminently sensible statement and it helps me considerably in my examination of this Bill. I find that in 1930-31, when we were aping the imperial standards of Britain—we are aping them in other respects than finance now—the national expenditure amounted to £25,000,000 odd. Last year, the expenditure by the economisers of seven years ago amounted to £32,000,000 odd. That is to say, the Government of economy economised by spending £7,000,000 more than the amount spent by those who were aping imperial standards.

The estimates on which this Bill is founded contemplate an expenditure of £30,000,000. That is about £10,000,000 more than the estimate for similar services in the year 1930-31 (£20,925,911) when the present Minister for Finance was lyrical on the subject of State extravagance. I want to know when we are to relinquish imperial standards of expenditure and when we are to get the £2,000,000 reduction in expenditure which the Fianna Fáil Party solemnly promised us.

There is no use in the Minister telling me that the additional expenditure is due to increased social services. That sort of fairy tale may appeal to the grown-ups around Dublin, who patronise films like Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs, or to the Senators on the Cultural Panel, who are suitably contemptous of arithmetic. I have no pretensions to culture, but if I cannot write verse I think I can do a long tot as well as the Minister for Finance.

The Minister in a White Paper which he issued to whitewash his Budget showed that the additional amount attributable to social services in the present year as compared with 1931-32 was £4,500,000. The Estimates for 1931-32 totalled £20,925,911, say, £21,000,000, while the Estimates for the present year amount to £30,322,710. That is a difference of £9,000,000 and it takes no account of the fact that £600,000 was provided in respect of the Local Loans Fund in 1931-32 while that item is not now dealt with in Estimates.

On the Minister's own showing, estimated expenditure on Supply Services has gone up by £4,500,000, even allowing for the £4,500,000, additional on social services. I want to know when that extravagance is to cease and when we are to get back to the "imperial standards" denounced by the then Deputy de Valera and Deputy MacEntee.

There are a few individual items on which I should like to have enlightenment. I find by the Minister's White Paper that the cost of the Civil Service has gone up by £1,000,000 per year since 1931-32. What is the cause of that huge increase? Again, there is no use in the Minister telling me that it is due to the operation of the social services. I refuse to believe that £4,000,000 worth of extra social services cost £1,000,000 to administer. If it did, then the Civil Service must be almost as inefficient as the Ministry.

In this connection, too, I should like to know the exact number of extra civil servants employed by the present Government. The Minister for Finance gave one figure recently in the Dáil, while a representative of his Department gave a different figure to the Civil Service Commission of Inquiry, relating to exactly the same date. Which are we to accept? I know that when a few thousand extra civil servants have been recruited a few hundred are of no importance to the Minister one way or the other. But we are entitled to exact information on these matters. He is a poor type of employer who does not know the number of his employees. The Minister might also tell me how many extra assistant secretaries of Departments have been appointed since 1931-32 and what was the necessity for these appointments.

On a previous occasion I drew attention to the Vote for the Secret Service. I notice that this Bill includes an item of £20,000 for this purpose. If it is not impertinent, I should like to know upon whom we are spying and why our spies are so frightfully expensive. The Cosgrave Government did all the spying they wanted to do, at a time when there was need for it, at a cost of about £1,500. Last year we spent almost £8,000 on spies and in this Bill we are voting £20,000 for the present year. How does it come that the Fianna Fáil spies are so much of a luxury?

We would expect that after the Minister's speeches at Rathmines our spy bill would shrink. There is no longer any necessity to spy on the hereditary enemy. We have grasped him to our bosom—in Rathmines, at all events. There is no longer any need to keep a telescope trained on the Haulbowline forts. We are now in a position to protect the trade routes of Europe—for other nations. Upon whom, then, are we spying? Is it on the enemies of the Commonwealth or is it on political opponents?

Last year we spent £8,000 on spies— which is a lot of money in times of peace. How are these spies paid? Are they paid at piece rates or are they given an annual salary and provided with high-powered cars and despatch cases? I should like to be assured that our spies earn their money, and that they are not paid merely for joy-riding throughout the country. In my opinion, £160 per week is too much to spend on spying.

The Minister might also tell us whether the £600,000 extra to be spent on defence will be devoted to the forts or to some other branch of defensive work. The reason I put the question is that a number of people in Donegal were cheered by the Minister's announcement that the money was to be spent on the Swilly and other forts, and equally disappointed by the statement of the Taoiseach last week that it had nothing to do with the forts. I hesitate to think that the Government provided for the money as an assurance of their bona fides to Mr. Chamberlain without knowing what they were to do with it. As so much money is being squandered on alcohol factories, patent peat devices, Volunteer halls, and in other delectable ways, I want to put in a plea that this money should be squandered on the forts.

As this Bill includes provision for the Stationery Office, perhaps the Minister would tell us when he proposes to release the report of the Banking Commission. I am aware that the Minister has not read the report. I am aware that, according to the Department of Finance, the printing of the London Agreement—a pamphlet of half a dozen pages—held up the printing of the report. I am aware that the printing resources of the City of Dublin were not equal to the turning out of a report of a few hundred pages in four months. I am aware of all these things, and I do not require to be told them. I merely want to be informed when the report will be released.

If the printing difficulties still continue to distress the Minister, I will undertake to assist him by having the report turned out in a country printing office in a fortnight. The reason for my solicitude is that practically everybody I have met seems to have read the report save the Minister. Of course, the necessity for reading the report was not pressing in the case of the Minister, as he had civil servants in his Department to tell him all about it. Nevertheless, I do not care to think of our Minister for Finance being inferior in knowledge to the man in the street on so important a matter. There should now be no further necessity for holding on to the report, which I understand was in proof three months ago. The loan has been floated, the election is over, the Dáil is going into recess. What reson, then, is there for clinging to the report as if it were a piece of intelligence furnished by our £8,000 spies? If the report is withheld much longer, the strain imposed on the Minister's Department in discovering reasons for its non-publication may prove too great.

After the last speech my remarks will seem rather commonplace, dealing, as they will, with matters of comparative detail. This is the only opportunity this House has of raising these kinds of questions. I desire to raise three points regarding the administration of the Traffic Acts. The first is with regard to parking in Dublin. The motoring public are suffering very grave inconvenience since the new regulations came into operation a few months ago. I suggest that that grievance could be, to a large extent, remedied if the Minister would only make available the ground around St. Stephen's Green for the parking of cars with their backs to the Green. There is a very wide strip outside the footpath which could be used for parking purposes without any encroachment on the road, while still leaving ample with for the footpath. This matter was raised by question in the Dáil and the answer was that Stephen's Green was held under trust and could not be interfered with. That is no answer at all. Parliament is supreme. Legislation can alter anything. If legislation is necessary, it can be enacted. That is what the Dáil and this House are for. Legislation, in this case, would serve the motoring public because there is very grave inconvenience which could be largely met by making available these facilities around St. Stephen's Green. It is the clear duty of the Government to do that and to do it quickly.

With regard to safety, it has been amply proved by experience that these motor tests for new licences are of value. The younger people, in their formative years, have, under these tests, to study the highway code and acquire a standard of efficiency. It is a very wise precaution and in the interest of public safety that all existing licence-holders suffering from any illness which would affect their driving should be subjected to tests. I suggest to the Government that steps should be taken as quickly as possible to bring in regulations to ensure that all persons, before they acquire a driving licence, should pass a satisfactory driving test.

The other point is as to the quietness of our cities at night. It has been found elsewhere that it is practicable to stop the sounding of motor horns at a certain hour without danger of accidents. Regulations of that kind are overdue here. The general volume of horn-blowing here seems to be quite unnecessary. It has been found in London that the effect of the stopping of horn blowing at night was to reduce the volume of horn blowing during the day. It was found that it was not necessary to startle nervous pedestrians by the constant blowing of horns. These are three practical, simple suggestions which I put forward in relation to the Road Traffic Act. The Government, who are the responsible parties, might easily put them into force.

My next point is in regard to the Prices Commission. I referred to this matter in the House before. Five months delay has taken place in a request to examine the increased charges for certain motor cars—the difference between the charges for the same car in England and in this country. The difference amounts to 30 per cent. or 40 per cent. in the case of certain types of small cars. The duty on the parts from which these cars are assembled is only 10 per cent. On the face of it, there is no reason why the price should be so high. I can only make a prima facie case here. The Prices Commission was set up to examine these things, and it seems utterly unreasonable to the motoring public that five months should be allowed to elapse and that nothing should be done. I understand that the Prices Commission will now be taken up with other matters under the Agreement, and one does not know when this important question will be examined. It rests largely with the Minister for Industry and Commerce to supply the initiative as the only machinery the individual can put into motion is that by which an inspector is sent down to deal with complaints. It is perfectly absurd to speak of an inspector going down to a garage to deal with the cost of assembling a car. That is quite different from dealing with the price of an orange or the price of bread and can only be properly dealt with by investigation by way of evidence before a commission.

In this connection there is another element in this high price of cars which is very bad. Everybody knows that the amount of capital involved in assembling must be very small. The bulk of the capital is involved in the production of the parts, which is not done here. All the assembler provides is a small quantity of assembling machinery. The capital necessary is, in great part, provided in connection with the manufacture of the parts.

Another matter that comes within the purview of the Prices Commission and for which the Government has a responsibility is the quality of the article produced under the new and rather artificially-sheltered conditions. In some cases the Government has given a complete monopoly to firms. In other cases, the circumstances under which the articles are made are such that there can be practically no competition because the firm making them is protected by duties and very large capital is required for production. In these cases I do claim that where the Government has removed the safeguard to quality, which is competition, a responsibility rests on them to see that the quality is reasonable and, in some cases, safe for the consumer. I mention one specific article with some hesitation, because I do not think it is proper that the privileges of this House should be used to mention cases which point to a limited number of manufacturers or even to one manufacturer. However, I cannot resist the continual complaints I have been receiving from motorists and garages as to the quality of the tyres produced here. Everywhere one goes one hears those complaints. Only the other day a certain user of a high-power car told me that he had, in his first year, used 11 tyres. He put on the ordinary standard type and had three bursts. Everybody knows that bursts are a danger to life, so he took off these tyres and put on another set. That is only one case. It is very hard to prove this from averages. It may not be altogether fair to draw deductions from a number of cases even if one hears them from all quarters, but I do make the point that, when the Government give a monopoly and remove the safeguard of competetion, which always operates under the ordinary private-enterprise system, there is a responsibility on them to safeguard quality. How it should be done is for the Government to say. I think the Government should carry their policy to its logical conclusion and have inspectors in the works to see that the quality is maintained. That should, certainly, be done in cases where the public safety is involved. Cement, for instance, is being constantly tested by the universities to see that the consumer is safeguarded. As that article is tested, so should other articles be tested and the responsibility for safeguarding the consumer is on the Government.

I want now to refer to the damage to the amenities at Kingstown, resulting from the excessive smoke which is being continually vomited out by the mail boat. If it were a private concern, I feel certain that individuals would take action by way of injunction for abatement of a nuisance but, apparently, nothing can be done against a powerful company like that. The port of Kingstown is under the Office of Works——

Where is Kingstown?

I beg your pardon, I understand that we are entitled to be bilingual. If the Senator wishes, I shall do my best and call it Dun Laoghaire.

Ní dóich liom gur ceist idir an dá theanga í. Rinneadh an t-athrú fé dhlí áirthe.

I am afraid I do not understand the Senator.

Is mór an truagh é. Ba coir duit a bheith in ann é do thuigbheal.

I am afraid I cannot follow the Senator so far. I ask the Government to do something to prevent the amenities of that seaside resort being continually drenched with the smoke which is sent out by the mail boat while lying at the pier.

This is one of the occasions on which we can skate over various points which cannot be raised in the ordinary type of debate. There are a few points which, like Sir John Keane, I should like to raise. My first points are rather minor ones, but I think I am correct in raising them because they come under the Vote for the Office of Public Works. In the first place, I want to refer to the acoustics of this House. The House has been put into perfect condition by the Office of Works, but they have done nothing to make it possible for us to hear the dulcet tones of the Minister when he gets up and explains the various grounds on which he is making revisions of taxation. If he drops his voice, we can hear nothing at all in some parts of the House and the same applies to other Senators when they are speaking. If you happen to be in one part of the House, you cannot hear people on the other side at all. When you compare it with the excellent acoustics in the Dáil, you will realise that something ought to be done about it.

With regard to the Bourn-Vincent Memorial Park, it is beginning to deteriorate to a certain extent, so far as its upkeep is concerned. I think that is due to the fact that it is handled by three different Departments—Agriculture, Forestry and the Board of Works—and it seems to me that it would be a great deal better if it was placed under one Department or, better still, if it could be let to somebody for a long term of years without upsetting the excellent forestry experiments that are going on there. It is entirely unsuitable for anything except forestry, but I believe that if it could be let-and there was a chance last year of letting it for a considerable time, which did not materialise—it would be of great advantage to the country and the Exchequer.

I am not satisfied that persons insured under the national health insurance scheme are getting anything like value when we consider the very large contributions which both the insured person and the employer make. I think they have been almost entirely bereft of dental treatment of any kind. The ordinary fellow cannot, out of his savings, and particularly if he is married and has a family, possibly pay for adequate dentures, and I think the Government should examine that Act with a view to improving condition at the expenses, possibly, of weekly sickness benefit, if it cannot be done in any other way. It should be made certain, however, that an individual can get an adequate set of dentures once in his lifetime, at any rate.

I question also whether we are getting the best value for the £3,500,000 which we are spending on primary education. I find that, on the average, the standard of reading and writing of primary scholars is nothing like as good as it ought to be. I can give a case—it is an individual case but one which should not occur—of a girl, intelligent and healthy, but entirely illiterate at the age of 22. She was going to domestic service in England and when she was engaged they found that she could neither read nor write.

Until we see what is going to happen in respect of the London Agreement I have very little to say about the Department of Agriculture, except to draw attention to the state of the horse-breeding industry. We produce a very considerable number at very good prices of what I call the second type of racehorse—the handicap type and so on—but the results of the economic war have been entirely to denude the country, not only of some of the bigger stocks, but of the horses that are recognised as the producers of the classic winners all over the world. In spite of the recommendations of the Horse Breeding Commission, nothing has been done in regard to getting horses of this type back into the country. I do not think there is a single private breeder who is in a position, as Mr. Benson was in England, to produce that type of horse and stand them at a reasonable price. I should also like to know what is the position of the National Stud at present. The original donor, when he started the National Stud, did so for the general benefit of horse breeding. If you look at the prices of the various sales in respect of standing high-class stallions you find that, in actual fact, it is being run just in order to make the stud pay its way. They get excellent prices of their yearlings, but the actual breeder in the country in respect of getting stallions at a reasonable price, such as 48 guineas instead of 400 guineas, gets nothing at all. I should like to know what the situation in that respect is. The Department itself is in a curious position. One would think that with the fall in produce, which we hope will now cease, the expenses of the Department should have gone down. Possibly it is the other way round, and that in view of the disagreement of the last six years, the expenses have gone up. They have gone up by £800,000 in the last four or five years. I hope that in the years to come that figure will be considerably reduced. With regard to fisheries, the Fisheries Bill has been frightfully delayed. It has been in draft almost as long as one can remember, but it just remains in draft, and meanwhile fishery owners have to go on paying heavy rates and getting absolutely no value for them under the present system. I hope we shall hear of something in the near future. Enormous improvements and extensions have been made in the matter of forestry, and one must congratulate the Government on what they have done. There seems, however, to be inequality in the distribution of the various blocks of trees. In the West, were trees are more required than anywhere else—it is the most treeless part of the country —there does not seems to be anything like the amount of work going on as on the better lands which are really more valuable for tillage, and I recommend the Government to examine that matter. There is one particular instance not very far from me where it was proposed to start a forestry centre in order to stop the emigration to England from the district, but it has hung fire for two years on account of frivolous objections on the part of one or two occupiers. Matters are beginning to clear up now, but the two years' delay should never have occurred.

I want to say something in support of what Senator Sir John Keane said on this question of monopolies. He said that if a monopoly is granted, the onus lies on the Government which grants that monopoly, and I agree with that. I maintain further that no profit should accrue from that monopoly until the public has been adequately and efficiently served, and particularly so in the motor industry. There are certain concessionaires who assemble cars from parts brought from other countries and sell them to the public. They pay a revenue tax to the Government and after that, they are not concerned. Most of them, and in fact, practically all of them, keep all their spare parts in the central towns like Cork and Dublin, and they have small garage owners in the various towns who have signs outside their premises stating that they support a particular car, but when you go in, you get practically nothing but a bare little service. Compare that with what you can get in England, and in France, particularly. Take the case of the Citroen car firm who have a scheme by which, in the bigger towns, they have depots from which they radiate to the smallest villages. The result is that you can get any part required in a couple of hours. I suggest that as these firms have got these monopolies, some scheme like that should be put into operation. If one firm cannot manage to carry a chain of shops by itself, it could combine with others and radiate from a town like Nenagh to the surrounding villages, so that the public would be adequately served in the way other people are served in this business. I also agree with Senator Sir John Keane in what he says about tyres. I have experienced it myself, so much so that I almost propose to get a set of tyres from England and pay the duty on them.

Another matter in which great improvement is possible is the wireless broadcasting service. It would appear that on occasions the announcers take extremely little trouble to prepare the subject-matter of what they are going to say. There was one case the other day when there was a very important broadcast of the reception on the night of the President's installation which left a very great deal to be desired. I was really ashamed that the subject matter in that form, unfinished in the end, should go out to the people in America on the occasion of one of the great functions in our history.

A last point is the question of the Army. There are proposals at present in which we are all extremely interested, to increase our defence forces. Eliminating the charges in the Estimate for pensions, the reserve and the pay of the Volunteers, we still have a bill of approximately £1,810,000. That works out at £300 a head for 6,000 officers and men which is a very large sum for a small country like this. There is included in the Estimate an amount of £23,000 for medical services, as apart from dressings and other hospital charges. That represents £4 a head for keeping in good health 6,000 men who have only a short time before passed exhaustive tests on enlistment. There is something very curious about that. I think that in a small country like this some drastic reorganisation of the method in which men are recruited should be undertaken. At present, we have voluntary enlistment at this enormous cost, representing, at standard rates, the wages of four agricultural labourers. I suggest that for the first line and second line, there should be some scheme of militia ballot—that is one way of phrasing it; call it conscription if you like—which is simple and works very well in respect of a small army. It would have the effect, not only of reducing expenses, but of educating the young men as to their responsibilities.

It would make it very much easier for them to make up their plans, to make arrangements for looking after their farms and other affairs. It would help also to spread the idea of national service through out the country which we now know as a sovereign State. We have all got to assume certain responsibilities. The best way is to let everybody take his part in this duty and not leave it to just a few people, people possibly out of work, who enjoy soldiering. I think, instead of having a voluntary army, we would be very much better if there was some form of compulsion.

I intervene in a very pacific way to-day, strange as it may appear. I want to raise the question, and to make some comments on the system of local government as it exists in this State. I regret that the Minister for that Department is not present to-night, because what I have to say does, I think, merit his careful examination. Before I come to that, I should like the Minister who is present to inform us, if he winds up this debate, if he can give us any idea of when the report of the Greater Dublin Tribunal is likely to be issued. Those of us whose minds can go back to the time when that commission first sat, those existing survivors of that far-off era, have a growing impression that the report is somewhat overdue. We, in the Dublin City Council, who are interested in the matter of management of the City and County of Dublin, are anxious to know what the decisions of that tribunal may be, if any; whether they are likely to affect, harmonise with, or conflict with the proposals which, I will not say are at present being considered by the Dublin Town Planning Committee, but which, at least, are simmering in the minds of members of that body. I hope the Minister can throw some light on that, because it is a matter that is exceedingly pertinent to the progress of civic development in the capital of Ireland and the surrounding areas.

Coming to the question of local government in this State which I want to discuss, I have no intention whatsoever of approaching this matter from a partisan point of view, but I do want to draw attention to certain aspects of the organism and operation of this Department which I think require, and are in urgent need of, examination. I acquit the present Minister of responsibility for any anomalies or any defective factors which impair or impede the working of his Department. He has fallen heir to the system, and many of the features of this Department, which are calculated to provoke criticism, are undoubtedly the result of the rapid changes in the world, such as the precipitate development of transport, the accentuated expansion of housing requirements, and other aspects of modern progress which, as applied to this State, this Department has been called upon to supervise. Nevertheless, now that we are emerging from the stormy arena of international altercation into the calmer domain of domestic introspection, I think that the time is opportune, and the atmosphere should be favourable, to a very exhaustive revision of the existing system with the aim of recasting it in its entirely.

I believe it is arguable that of all the Departments dealing with the internal life of this State, the Department of Local Government and Public Health is the most vital and helpful. Its functions are interwoven into almost every aspect of the daily life of the people—some in a beneficial way, others in an exasperating way and still others in a manner so bewildering as to border on the chaotic. The Minister for Local Government through his colleague, the Minister for Finance, fleeces Seán Citizen as taxpayer and, through the local authorities, he mulcts him as ratepayer. He acts as the Good Samaritan in matters of public health and relief of distress, and he is the effective agent for housing, road-making, drainage and town planning. He is the presiding genius that guides the destinies of aspirants for election to local bodies, to the Dáil and to this House and he is, not least of all, the autocratic martinet who exercises disciplinary and sometimes coercive power over every function great or small of every one of the local authorities in this State down to the very smallest detail.

An examination of the bewildering report of this Department discloses a diversified range of activities. Here are a few of them, culled from that most entertaining volume and you will notice under their twin headings, as I give them, how they harmonise with each other:—"Town Planning and Elections,""Revision of Constituencies and Libraries,""Arterial Drainage and Old Age Pensions,""School Meals and Burial Grounds,""Medical Charities and Housing,""Mental Defectives and Road Machinery,""Health Insurance and Petrol Pumps." The history of this Department is enormously interesting. From a comparatively modest origin, as a poor law board for the relief of poverty, that which we now know as this Department has grown to be one of the most potent authorities in this State wielding a far-reaching influence and power wherever men and women are gathered together in Éire. Its ramifications extend to every corner of the land and the expansion of its tentacles does not yet seem to have reached their limits. In fact it might be well said: "It is not given to man to set bounds to the march of the Minister for Local Government."

What I have said so far is intended as a preliminary to this assertion that there is no such thing in this State as local government. The term is a misnomer. There is a State-wide, highly centralised government of affairs that are administered through local authorities, so-called, ostensibly administered by them, but local government is non-existent in this State. Many members of local bodies, especially on borough councils, have expressed a dislike for, and vehemently denounced, the introduction of the managerial system. I think that they are entirely unduly alarmed. The nominal manager in reality has not one iota of power more than they have. They regard the system as something approaching a form of Hitlerism. In reality, he is just as impotent as they are. He cannot exercise a single function of his office as manager of civic affairs without first securing the sanction of the Department. The real manager, the one who can do things and get things effected, is not the man who sits in the municipal office, but some invisible, some unseen official in the Custom House. I am a convinced believer in the managerial system. I believe it is an excellent thing, that its introduction here was a definite step in the direction of progressive and enlightened civic development, but I believe that, as it exists, it is a sham——

I would propose, a Leas Chathaoirligh, that the Seanad do now adjourn.


We can decide the question of the adjournment when Senator Milroy has finished his speech.

I have no intention of rushing what I have to say.

Should we all not have an opportunity of being heard?

If it is desired, I can postpone my remarks until Senators have had tea. I have however, another appointment to-morrow in a place where the operation of this Department is felt, and I shall not be able to attend here. I think this is a matter of importance. I think it is one of the most important matters that have been raised in this House to-day, and I do not propose to abbreviate my remarks in the circumstances. There is no compulsion on anyone to remain to listen to what I have to say.

I was speaking about what I consider to be the entirely unreal position of a manager. I say the position is an unreal one. He has to do what, he is told by somebody in the Custom House. I believe that the principle of managership is sound and good if the man who occupies the position is given real power to enable him to do his job thoroughly, and not to be retained, as he is at the moment, as a sort of provocative barrier between the local authority and the Department. If he is given real power, then I believe you are doing something that will give solid hope for the making of definite civic progress which will reflect the spirit and the principle of civic freedom, and not that of civic servitude.

There are other reasons for my criticism of the relations that exist between the local authority and the Department. First of all there is the almost inexplicable delay that arises in the Department in the matter of making decisions on major issues, and on minor matters not only unnecessary delay but the most insatiable criticism. I recollect one instance which occurred on a board on which I happened to be a member. The position of junior typist was to be filled. The enquiries that were made by the Department as to the activities and duties to be discharged by this junior typist were pathetically persistent. In another case the Department was very inquisitive to know why so many aprons per week should be laundered in a particular institution. A protracted correspondence took place on that. I sometimes wonder what becomes of all those futile files that somebody in the Custom House seems to have a passion for accumulating. Possibly, a couple of hundred years hence the matter may become a test question in history for some of the pupils in the schools. The pupils may be asked: "What became of all the files that, in the first 10 or 20 years of its freedom, the State of Eire proceeded to accumulate?" I can imagine some bright pupil making the appropriate answer: "They were collected and used for a grand national bonfire on the Hill of Tara to celebrate the first centenary of the whipping of John Bull by the Minister for Local Government."

But, on matters of major and vital moment, such as a decision on a site for a mental hospital or for a fever hospital, you have years of exasperating procrastination, and these are matters that may involve life and death. We have a fever hospital in the City of Dublin. I am a member of the board, and yesterday I arrived early for the meeting. I spent my time walking around the grounds. In the course of my walk, my ears were assailed by a most vehement tornado of squealing pigs from a slaughterhouse across the way. The slaughterhouse and the fever hospital have been there, side by side, for years. I wonder what effect all that noise has on the patients in the fever hospital who are seriously ill. I am glad to know that a decision on this matter has been reached, and that immediate steps are to be taken for the provision of a suitable fever hospital. The decision that was reached two or three weeks ago on this could, I submit, have been reached without difficulty three or four years ago.

The comments that I have been making are intended to lead up to the question: How we are to find a remedy for this present situation. You have all these delays and all this irritation between the local authorities and the Department. I believe it all arises from this fact that the machinery of local government in this State—the instrument through which the Department functions, or rather different parts, are too ill-fitted to harmonise with each other, and that the whole system is steadily reaching a stage of involved difficulty that is likely to become unmanageable at an early date, despite even the best and most strenuous efforts of those responsible. We have over 100 local authorities in this State. We have nine city borough councils; 27 county councils; 54 urban councils, and 16 bodies of town commissioners controlled either through the Department or under the supervision exercised by its auditors. All these local bodies have their own sets of officials and experts, and within their own sphere they are supreme, subject to the supervision exercised by the Department. The town of Granard, for instance, with a population of 1,500, is as supreme within its ambit as the capital city in which we are assembled.

All these different bodies, with their varying functions, are, as I have said, under the supervision of the Department. All their acts have to be examined, approved or disapproved of by someone in the Custom House. In my opinion, the functions that the Department is called upon to discharge are beyond the capacity of human nature to discharge. We cannot face the prospect of allowing matters to develop to the stage when there will be a complete collapse, and when the whole thing will become unworkable. I think that those who are interested in local administration should be examining this matter to see how the present machinery of local administration can be simplified, and how the task placed upon the shoulders not only of the Department, but of the local authorities, can be lightened so as to enable the system to run smoothly. I think it is necessary to do that. Unless something is done by way of having a comprehensive revision of the machinery of local administration, the result in ten or 15 years' time will, I fear, be to convert this country, to use a simile, into a sort of glorified valley of squinting windows with a departmental Frankenstein dominating that valley which the community can neither control nor destroy.

In my opinion, two basic things are required. There are first the local authorities. I think it is essential, if there is to be effective progress, that the minor local authorities should be merged in the larger, and that the latter should be given wider regional authority with more specific powers. I suggest that there ought to be a division of the functions of these bodies: that the authorities with the wider regional powers might be alloted the services which would be called reconstructive, such as planning, road making, housing, sewerage and water supplies and the building and maintenance of hospitals. In other words, those functions which involve the work of the builder, the architect and the engineer. The county authorities should be given the services in which the doctor and the relieving officer are the prime agents, namely, health and public assistance. My second suggestion relates to the sort of autonomy that there should be for local bodies. In the case of local government, I think that the principle of managership should be made a reality by defining the sphere, functions and activities within which the local authority can function effectively without the supervision or intervention of the Department, except in so far as that supervision is exercised by the Department's auditors who examine every penny that is spent. That would secure full control over all moneys that come from Departmental sources. To the official mind, this proposal of local autonomy, so far as local bodies are concerned, will seem of course to be rank heresy, but I think there is a lot to be said for it. Bearing on this, I have in mind an address that was delivered by Senator Professor Johnston to the Local Government Officers' Association in the year 1929. I propose to give the following extract from the address because it illustrates the point that I have been making. The Professor said:—

"In Great Britain, Ireland, and America, local government is based on the principle of statutory delegation, muncipal powers are conveyed by specific grant. The local authority must plead chapter and verse for all its powers, and the onus of proof is on it if the legality of any of its powers is disputed. In short, everything which is not allowed is forbidden. In Germany and Continental countries generally the exact opposite holds good—everything which is not forbidden (by a general law of the State) is ipso facto allowed... The onus of proof is on anyone who wishes to dispute the legality of any muncipal or communal act. That is a most important difference. It is the difference between freedom and servitude in all that concerns municipal and communal citizenship.”

He goes on to say:—

"The difference might be represented in this way. German muncipal authorities are enclosed within a spacious park. Within those limits they are free to go where they will and to get there by the most direct route. Under our system the State marks out by means of innumerable laws a labyrinth of paths along which alone the muncipal authorities may walk. The legal Ariadnes in the service of those muncipalities sometimes lose the clue to the labyrinth. The vested interests that would be injured by progressive and enterprising muncipal government keep a wild beast, a Minotaur, in the inner recesses of the labyrinth for the destruction of too venturesome municipal reformers. We want a Theseus to destroy the Minotaur, or rather the labyrinth that gives him shelter."

I think that extract is an argument for the point I am making and that any further elaboration of it by me would probably only tend to blunt its force. I have only to reinforce what I said about the merging of larger bodies with a few words, and then I have finished. It is true, of course, that the merging of these smaller bodies into larger regional authorities might mean a reduction in the number of staffs required by local authorities, because the number of local authorities would be substantially reduced; but it would mean also, I think, a substantial improvement in the quality of the staffs that would be retained by the substituted arrangement. Further, I believe that a rearrangement of those local authorities on some lines like these would reduce the local authorities that would have to be in communication with headquarters, and that headquarters would have to be in communication with, by at least 25 per cent. I believe that that would bring about an easing of the mental and other kinds of strain on officers at headquarters and would give the experts a more spacious opportunity of examining and advising upon major projects brought before them.

There is nothing in this proposal which is novel. There is nothing in it which is repugnant to the trend of State policy. Some 12 months ago, in one of the Dublin papers, proposals on these lines were outlined at great length and supported by a wealth of cogent argument, and in the domain of existing operations the principle is in operation in some of the services which are under the supervision of the Department. For example, many urban councils have recognised the value of unification by accepting the services of county councils as road makers and also of the county medical officers as public health authorities. Further, in the Town and Regional Planning Act of 1934, passed by the present Government—because, I presume, it is a continuation of the Government of 1934—homage was paid to the principle in the composition of what is termed regional authorities. By Section 20 of that Act the Dublin City Council, or, in effect, the town planning committee of the Dublin City Council, was constituted the regional planning authority for an area far beyond the confines of Dublin City, viz., the County Borough of Dublin and the Counties of Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.

On lines something of the nature I have indicated I believe a way could be found which would bring relief from present difficulties and avert the encountering of new perplexities. During the discussion last week of Senator MacDermot's motion regarding vocational organisation, there were several allusions to and quotations from the Encyclical of Pope Pius XI. From that well of profound wisdom even the Minister for Local Government might draw inspiration and stimulus, especially where his Holiness, in the words of his predecessor, Leo XIII, warns the civil power that it must strive with all zeal to make sure that the laws and institutions, the general character and administration of the Commonwealth should be such as of themselves to realise public well being and private prosperity.

That the character and administration of the system under which our Department of Local Government operates still fall far short of that high standard, I think can hardly be disputed. Neither can it be challenged that such a standard is attainable, if there is the will to reach it, and an earnest effort backing that will. Were it not that this expiring Seanad seems fated to undergo an epidemic of proposals for commissions to inquire into this, that, and the other types of problems that exercise the minds of thinking citizens, I would be tempted to urge the appointment of a commission to investigate the whole system of local government as it at present exists in this State, with a view to a revision and recasting of the whole system. The fact that the thing exists is not a necessary justification for its existence. Sometimes it is so pernicious and cumbersome that the only remedy is to smash it and devise something to take its place. I am not going to make any formal suggestion of this kind. I may do it later, if the fortunes of the election are kind. At the moment I will just administer this, what may be what I call my valedictory address.

I think that such an inquiry should certainly take priority over the proposals this House was invited to approve of last week in regard to vocational organisation. This matter of local administration goes to the very vitals of the life of this State. It is essential to the progress of the State. For the Government, or any Government, to ignore these things, and while ignoring these things and the need for inquiring into them, to commit itself to embarking on a serious investigation of something which has yet hardly emerged from the domain of speculative theory, I think, would be like a captain of an American liner who, instead of attending to his duties as captain, turned to teach his passengers deportment, while the machinery of his vessel was getting hopelessly out of order, and his crew were stumbling and fumbling about in each other's way from lack of direction from their chief.

I think the Government has a responsibility to consider this matter. I have tried to approach it in a purely dispassionate and non-Party way. I think it is not a matter of Party. It is, at least, one ground which men of all shades of thought could approach, to try to devise a better system than exists at present. I believe you have in the Oireachtas at present men who have had long years of experience of local administration—certainly much longer than I have had. My period on a local authority has not been quite three years. One could learn a lot in three years by painstaking observation and attention to matters that come under one's notice. I am convinced, from my short experience, and I am sure those who are older in the service than I am have also reached the same conclusion, that a change of system is necessary. Some people have suggested the appointment of managers to county councils. Unless there is a change of system, the appointment of managers will be entirely futile. I do hope that what I have said in reference to this will arouse thoughts in the minds of Senators on this, which is, to me, a very vital question at present.

There is only one matter to which I should like to refer and on which I should like to get an assurance from the Minister. It has no partisan aspect whatever; it is entirely national; and I am sure every Senator will agree that it is a matter of importance. The Taoiseach has described our defence forces as combined defence forces. England has been and is spending millions of pounds on defence, especially on defence against attack from the air. I do not want a statement as to the details of what is being done here. For national and international reasons, I do not think that such a statement should be made. We know what is being done in London, Liverpool and other cities and towns in Great Britain. If we are drawn into a war, which will be fought chiefly from the air, the men, women and children of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and every town and village in Ireland will be liable to attack. I should like to get an assurance from the responsible Minister that the necessary precautions are being taken, firstly, to protect; secondly, to instruct and, thirdly, regarding the necessary equipment to resist gas attacks. I have reason to believe that a statement made to me is correct, that we in Eire—it does not matter the reason but there may be some reason for it—have defended ourselves by a type of German gas mask which does not last, because Germany misses a certain raw material. As a result of missing that raw material, this gas mask must be kept in a nitrogen cylinder. Unless it is kept in that cylinder or refrigerator, it deteriorates within a month. It is well known that during the last Great War—about 20 years ago—the German gas masks were entirely inferior to the English ones for the same reason. Perhaps we had a war with the common enemy at the time we bought these masks but I think that this is a matter of real national importance from the point of view of defence, not only now but in the future. We should get an assurance that no foolish sentimentality will stand between our Government and the proper protection of our people. This is not in any way partisan. The person who informed me regarding this matter is a person of high scientific knowledge and he is very much worried about the position. I do not want any details as to the defences—anti-aircraft or otherwise. I do not want any public statement but I do think we should have an assurance that that statement, which is going around Dublin, is either inaccurate or, if accurate, that the necessary precautions will be taken in case we are drawn into a war. That particularly applies to the protection of our civilian population against air attack. I hope that we shall reach the standard which England hoped to reach and which, I believe, she has reached. I do not think that enough has been done—whether it is the Government that is responsible or not I do not know—to get the people to realise the danger or to educate them as to what they should do. I know that the St. John Ambulance Corps and several other associations have tried to do something in this regard but there is, nevertheless, an absence of knowledge. I do not want them to get fearful about it but there is an absence of knowledge of what should be done, if anything happened. I fear there is an absence of apparatus, too. On a national matter like this, we should have an assurance from the Government that, to put it shortly, I am wrong.

I am rather reluctant to obtrude myself on the House after the vital question introduced by Senator O'Sullivan. The Minister may not, at the moment, have the information available to reply to Senator O'Sullivan. The question may be such as to demand a statement from the Government after examination, and consideration. The presence of the Minister for Education tempts me to raise a matter which has relation to his own Department. While it concerns but few persons, it is a matter of grave concern. I refer to the position of a number of people in the schools of domestic science throughout the country—teachers who are at present employed by various teaching Orders who are running schools of domestic science with the aid, partly, of grants from the Department of Education. As I understand, the position of these teachers has been for a long time, and continues to be, very unsatisfactory. I do not think that they have anything like permanency and, no matter how long they continue in the service of these institution, none of them has any pension rights. It has been the practice of a number of these teachers to go into the employment of county committee of agriculture or vocational committee, if opportunity offers. A number of these posts have been available up to the present and, probably, will continue to be available from time to time. It is essential that, in these schools, you should have the very best type of teacher available. These teachers have an important responsibility in training young girls, some of whom may pass on to the higher schools of domestic science to be themselves trained as teachers. It is very important, therefore, that you should have in these schools teachers of character and ability.

In the formative years of a young girl's life, the influence of a teacher is very profound in shaping her outlook and character. The conditions in these schools should, for that reason, be such as to encourage the very best type of teacher available to go there and remain there. The lack of permanency in these schools does not make for getting the best kind of service out of the teachers. It may be that some of them will not get placed in the service of local authorities where they would become permanent and pensionable. If they do not, their salaries will be small and they will be in danger of being turned out at the end of years of service, without any provision for the future. There are only a limited number of persons in this position, and I suggest to the Minister that this is a matter which ought to be investigated. If we are to have available for the service of our young people in the domestic schools under vocational committees the best teachers, it is essential that, at the outset, we should have in the schools to which I refer the ablest teachers available. It ought to be the policy of the Minister to attract to these schools the best teachers, because the foundation of the work of the vocational committees will be laid there. The present position is unsatisfactory and inequitable. It is not for me to suggest a remedy. I am not competent to do so. I know that division of responsibility may create certain difficulties for the Minister and his Department, but I am convinced that there is here a problem which ought to be tackled. The responsibility is on the Minister to make the position of these teachers more satisfactory. The instability which exists at present does not create an atmosphere in which information can be passed on under the most favourable conditions to the girls who go there. The benefits which ought to come from the expenditure of this money are not, therefore, obtainable for those who are sent for instruction there. This matter has, probably, been brought to the notice of the Minister on previous occasions. It should not involve any great difficulty or serious financial responsibility. I believe the time has come to find a solution for it.

Ós rud é go ndearna tagairt do nithe a bhaineas le scoileanna agus pinsin do na hodí atá ag obair ins na scoileanna seo, ba mhaith liom focal do rá thar ceann scoil bheag sa Rinn. Díoltar an tuarastal céanna leis na hoidí seo agus díoltar leis na hoidí atá ag obair i scoileanna na mBan Rialta, ach níl aon tsocrú déanta maidir le pinsin. Sé mo thuairim go ndearnadh dearmad orra, mar ní dóigh liom go bhfuil aon Rialtas ann, is cuma cadé an Rialtas é, nach mbeadh sásta pinsin do thabhairt dos na hoidí atá ag obair san scoil seo—scoil nach labhartar ná nach múintear ann ach an Ghaedhilg. Má tá an Roinn sásta leis an múineadh agus an obair atá á dhéanamh sa scoil sin, sé mo thuairim go mba cheart pinsin do thabhairt do na hoidí atá ann ar na coingheallacha céanna a bhaineas le haon scoil eile sa tír.

Ba mhaith liom tagairt do dhéanamh don riail nua a bhaineas leis na mná atá os cionn 60 blian d'aois agus atá ag obair ins na scoileanna náisiúnta. Dá gcuirfí an riail sin i bhfedhm, dhéanfadh sé éagcóir ar chuid de na mná seo atá ag obair fé láthair sna scoileanna. Níor cheart éagcóir do dhéanamh ar dhuine amháin chun cirt do dhéanamh do dhuine eile. Dá bhfaghadh na mna so fógra tamaill maith ó shoin, ní dhéanfaí aon éagcóir mhór ach tháinig an scéal orra go hobann agus ní raibh siad ag smaoineamh air. Sé mo thuairim nach gá níos mó do dhéanamh ach a iarradh ar an Aire gan aon éagcóir do dhéanamh ar na múinteoirí seo atá ag obair sna scoileanna náisiúnta.

Maidir leis na poinntí a bhí i gceist ag an bhFear Mór mar gheall ar scoil na Rinne, is dócha go mbaineann socrú fé leith leis an scoil sing agus nach bhfuil na múinteriorí ann fé scéim na bpinsean mar is gnáthach le bun-mhúinteoirí sa tír. Dubhairst mé leis an Seanadóir féin go rachainn insteach san scéal sin ach is dócha go bhfuil cúis fé leith ag baint leis.

Maidir leis na ban-mhúinteroirí atá os cionn 60 bliain d'aois, do b'éigean dúinn socrú éigin do dhéanamh chun múinteoirí do chur as an seirbhís mar gheall ar an méid múinteoirí óga a bhí díomhaoin. Tá na céadta de na múinteoirí óga—idir fir agus mná—gan aon phost agus mara ndeinimíd rud éigin mar seo, ní bheadh sé 'nár gcumas postanna d'fháil dóibh. Gidh go mbeidh sé cruaidh ar chuid de na daoine seo atá os cionn 60 bliain d'aois bheith ag dul as a bpostanna, tá sé ana-chruaidh freisin ar na múinteoirí óga atá díomhaoin. Tá cuid aca tar éis oideachas d'fháil ar feadh sé nó ocht mblian fén Rialtas; tagann cuid aca ón bhfíor-Ghaeltacht; agus b'fhéidir go bhfuil muirghin ag brath ar chuid aca le postanna d'fháil. Tá a lán de na múinteoirí seo nach bhfuair aon phost seasmhach go fóill, gidh go bhfuil siad tagtha as an gColáiste Ullmhucháin le blianta. Níl aon tslí eile as. Dá mbeadh, b'fhearr liom gan é seo do dhéanamh. Tá an tinreamh ag dul i laghead agus b'éigean dúinn socrú speisialta do dhéanamh chun na múinteoirí atá ag múineadh fé láthair do choinnéal ag obair. Sin é brigh an sgéil—go bhfuil an tinnreamh ins na bun-scoileanna ag tuitim de 5,000 delta gach bhliaín. Is mar sin a bhí le déanaí ach níor shaoileamar go raibh sé chó dona is a bhí. Anois, tá faitchíos orainn go leanfaidh an sgéal mar sin agus go mb'fhéidir go mbeidh sé níos measa. Is éigean dúinn socrú speisialta do dhéanamh chun áiteanna d'fháil do na múinteoirí seo, gidh go gcuireann sé cruatán ar na banmhúinteoirí atá os cionn 60 bliain d'aois. Dubhairt mé le Cumann na Muinteóirí go rachainn isteach san scéal dá mbeadh mná i gceist ar a raibh muirghin óga ag brath orra, ach nach bhfaca mé aon seans na ban-mhuinteoirí eile do choimead ag obair. Is truagh liom nach bhfuilim in ánn níos mó sásaimh ná sin do thabhairst don Seanadóir.

With regard to the point raised by Senator Baxter, the teachers to whom he refers are employed in private schools. They are not State schools; they are only schools which receive State grants-in-aid. It is not, therefore, my duty to prepare a pension scheme for these teachers. I would suggest to the Senator that the teachers in question should get in touch with their employers, the managers of the institutions in which they work, and ask them to prepare a pension scheme. As to the question of permanency, the Senator will recognise that, there again, it must be entirely a matter for the manager of the school to determine whether a teacher will be retained or not. Even in the case of teachers who have a much higher status in the educational administration of the country, we have not been able to attain the position where we can secure permanent employment to them. It has always been recognised that in regard to schools which, although under private control, receive State grants-in-aid, the managers of such schools must always have discretion to dispense with the services of their teachers if they so wish.

Senator McLoughlin again raised the question of the report of the Banking Commission. I do not know whether the Senator might not have considered that it is like flogging a dead horse to raise that question again. It was dragged into the general election campaign, but I do not know that it yielded very much benefit to the Parties who brought forward as an argument against the Government the suggestion that we had wilfully withheld publication of that report. There is, of course, no foundation whatever for that suggestion. The copy of the report which was handed to the Minister for Finance by the Chairman of the Commission reached him only on 4th April last. As the House is aware, the Minister and his principal advisers were very fully occupied at that time with important matters which they had under discussion as a result of the negotiations between the Government of the United Kingdom and this Government. Subsequently, the Minister had to undertake the floating of the Financial Agreement Loan and to introduce his Budget in the Dáil. Before the Budget was through the Dáil, the general election came about. I think that, in comparison with other reports, not so important perhaps, but of a somewhat similar character, it is easy to show that the amount of time which elapsed between the date on which the report was handed to the Government and the date on which it was finally published is somewhat similar. Certainly, there is no greater delay up to the present in regard to the Banking Commission report. It is, of course, a very important report, and the Government may find that they have to give it consideration before publication. I only wish to assure the House that there is no question of withholding publication, and I am of opinion that the propaganda which has been in circulation to that effect is purely Party politics, and designed purely from partisan motives. The Senator said that he had met a number of people who seem to have read the report. I think his exact words were: "Everybody seemed to have read the report." The report is quite secret up to the present, and until it is published by the Government it is a State document.

Senator Sir John Keane referred to a number of matters which, unfortunately, I am not in a position to deal with in detail. I can assure the Senator that I shall bring under the notice of the responsible Minister the suggestions he has made with regard to parking in Dublin, motor tests for learners, horn blowing, and the delay at the Prices Commission. The complaint which has been made against tyres manufactured in this country will, I am sure, receive the consideration it deserves and I have no doubt that the Minister for Industry and Commerce will take steps to see that investigations follow the complaint made by the two Senators who have referred to the matter. Senator Sir John Keane also referred to the abatement of the smoke nuisance at Dun Laoghaire.

Senator The McGillycuddy referred to the maintenance of the Bourn Vincent Estate. That is a matter which the Minister for Finance has already taken a note of and which he intends to look into. The Senator was good enough also to refer to my own Department and to express some doubts as to whether the country was getting value for the £3,500,000 spent annually on primary education. When the Senator mentions that from his personal experience he is not satisfied that we are getting good value for the money spent, one would like to know what standards he has in mind and what comparisons he has instituted which enabled him to reach the conclusion he has reached that we are not up to the standard here. The example he gave of the girl who was illiterate at 22 years of age is, I think, so unusual as not to be satisfactory evidence of the standard of education in Kerry, which has always been a very outstanding county so far as educational advancement is concerned. The whole question of education has been receiving the consideration of the Government. We have been examining the question of secondary education and probably, later on, we may find it necessary to examine primary education in more detail than we have been able to do up to the present. I should like to ask critics who find fault with the work of our primary schools to bear in mind that our primary schools are undertaking a task, in the revival of the national language, which so far as I know has not been undertaken in any other country. No similar task to that which was imposed on our primary teachers here when a native Government came into office, has been placed on the primary teachers in any other country, and great credit is certainly due to them for the magnificient results they have achieved in that regard.

The Senator referred to the National Stud and I shall make it my business to have a communication sent to him with regard to it. So far as I know there is no change in the situation. The Fisheries Bill, to which he has referred, is practically ready. It is possible that the First Reading of it may be taken in the Dáil before the Recess, but it would be quite impossible to have it discussed before then. I hope, however, that the Minister for Agriculture will find it possible, if it gets a First Reading before the Recess, to have the Bill circulated soon.

The Senator also referred to the necessity for extending forestry operations in the Western counties. Of course, the Government would be only too anxious to extend forestry operations in the poorer areas but, as the Senator knows very well, as a practical agriculturist, the quality of land which is necessary for afforestation, if afforestation is to be economic or effective, is somewhat higher than the type of land which is generally available in any of these Western areas. A fairly good quality of land is necessary and one of the first thing which the Forestry Department did, when the question of greatly extending forestry operations was under consideration, was to see whether more could not be done for example, in Connemara. There is a valley there between Maam and Recess which is well known to Senators where it was thought that trees could be planted successfully and on an economic scale. It was found, after the question had been examined, that the proposal was not feasible, so that, so far as we know from the information at present at our disposal from experts, it is not always economically practicable to get trees growing in some of the areas in which we would be very anxious to see operations carried on.

The Senator also raised the question of monopolies. Monopolies are only granted by the Government where it is found necessary and where there are no other means by which a large scale industry can be established in the State. We have granted monopolies only in such cases. We have tried as far as possible to hedge in the granting of these monopolies with conditions. The conditions generally are that the quality and price of the product should as far as possible bear a fair comparison with quality and price elsewhere. It would be impossible to get some of these industries established here if we had not given them certain rights which you may describe as monopoly rights. There are undoubtedly difficulties in assuring ourselves that the quality of the product is up to the necessary standard but I think that in connection with the general re-examination of the protected industries, which is likely to go on in the near future, the question of the standard of the products which they are turning out will also naturally come up for consideration.

Has that re-examination begun yet?

Yes, I think the Senator will have read in the newspapers that it has begun. Then the Senator referred to the question of the Army and expressed the view that the Army was rather expensive, having regard to its size. The only consolation the Senator can have is that if it were a larger Army, its cost would increase, I suppose, much more than even by arithmetical progression. We all know that armies are expensive and costly institutions, but I am not in a position to quote figures to show the Senator that there are certain foundation cost with regard to the Army as with regard to every other institution. From my experience as a member of the Government, I would say that the Army is being carried on at the absolute minimum cost, having regard to the necessity for maintaining certain garrisons and a certain standing force in the country. However, I shall call the attention of the Minister for Defence to the points that have been raised in the Seanad. I was glad to hear more than one Senator refer to the importance of calling public attention to the necessity for strengthening our armed forces, not alone strengthening them in numbers, but strengthening them in fibre, in national spirit, general alertness and awareness of their responsibility. I think we have a great deal to do in educating public opinion, as Senator O'Sullivan suggested, to the importance of this whole question of defence. A great deal has to be done by the Government in that direction, and a great deal can be done outside in order to educate public opinion to its responsibility. A great deal can also be done to encourage young men to take their places in the Volunteers or such other forces as may form auxiliaries to the National Army. It is certainly no disagree or humiliation of any kind to a young Irishman, at this stage of our country's history, to be a member of his country's national forces. I think it should be one of the ideals which should be set before our young men, that they should acquire the art of using arms and learning whatever else may be necessary to defend our country in case of emergency. My own personal opinion, which I think is shared by the Government generally, is that a great deal can be done in that direction, and a great deal will have to be done.

Senator Milroy raised a very important question. I fear that I am not able to give a reply that will satisfy the Senator, a reply worthy of the very important topic on which he has spoken. I am not aware that the report of the Greater Dublin Tribunal has been handed to the Government but, if I am wrong, I shall communicate with the Senator. I would point out that while we see the defects of the Department of Local Government exercising, as it would seem, unnecessary control and interfering in small matters with local authorities, we do not ask ourselves what would happen if the Department were not often there to check the rather generous impulses which members of local authorities sometimes give rein to, in the happy feeling that there is somebody higher up who will administer a check or a curb on these rather expensive ideas or schemes which they have sometimes in mind. Of course there is no excuse whatever for unreasonable delay, particularly when the decisions sought are on matters which affect very large sections of the people. If the local authority of which the Senator is a member, or any other local authority, would approach the Minister in case there is undue delay in a matter of importance in which they are interested, I am sure that the Minister would be able to secure more expedition. The whole question is one which could be ventilated at some future time in the Seanad. I hope I have not invoked the wrath of the Minister for Local Government by suggesting that, but the matter is one of great importance indeed. The Senator unfortunately has not given us specific examples which might be valuable to the Minister and which might render it unnecessary to wait for further discussion in this House or elsewhere, or the setting up of a commission to deal with the matter. Certain powers are granted to managers. As far as I understand the manager is the executive authority. It is intended that he should have complete and unquestioned executive control. The local authority, under the managerial system revises estimates and is responsible for the annual local budget just the same as the Dáil is responsible for the national Budget.

It would have been more helpful, I suggest to the Senator, if he could have indicated precisely what additional powers should have been given to managers or what are the particular matters which he thinks should be left specifically under the manager's control, presumably without references to the local government authorities. My own opinion is that it should be possible for the manager to devise some scheme by which a certain amount of discretion would be given to him. When precedents are established, and when application is made for permission to do certain things, I am sure that the Department of Local Government recognises that these sanctions are intended to cover similar cases in future. I cannot see how, in the course of a period of years, it has not been possible to devise a system whereby the managerial work would not be held up as the Senator seems to suggest it has been. There is another side to the question also I have no doubt, but taking the Senator's remarks as having substance, I think it would have been of great advantage if we had had the benefit of an exact statement of what extra powers were required, and what are the matters which the manager at present, for example in Dublin, does not find himself in a position to deal with satisfactorily. Perhaps if the Senator would take up the matter directly with the Minister, he might be able to give him information which cannot now be brought into this debate and which would enable the Minister to overcome these obstacles which the Senator considers are having a very serious effect on the working of the machinery of local government.

As one Senator pointed out, I would not be in a position to answer the statements which Senator O'Sullivan made with reference to gas-masks. I can, however, promise to bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence as early as possible. I am rather surprised that the expert to whom he has referred and in whose judgment he seems to have a great belief, could not have communicated with the Department of Defence in connection with what is obviously a question of importance. I can assure the Senator, however, that the Government are considering the question of air defence, and precautions against air attack, at the present time in the same way as other aspects of our defence problem are being considered. I think these were the main questions that were raised. As already explained, the Minister for Finance is engaged in the Dáil to-day but if there are any other matters in which Senators are interested, if they write, either to the Minister for Finance or myself, we shall have inquiries made into the matters in which they are interested.

Question put and agreed to.

An Leas Chathaoirleach

When is it proposed to take the Committee Stage?

If there is no objection, I would like to get all stages now.