This Bill, as Senators will realise, is a Bill to continue the powers which were granted to the Governments by the Emergency Powers Act of 1939. Immediately on the outbreak of war, a Bill was passed giving the Government powers to take swift action in regard to matters which were likely to need such action as the war proceeded. It was passed for a year. Last year it was obvious that the war would not be over by September, and about this time last year we brought in another Continuance Bill. This Bill is to do exactly the same as was done last year, that is, to continue the poweres for another year, up to the 2nd September, 1942. I do not think it is necessary for me at this stage to say anything more in introducing the Bill. I do not know what I may have to say later. Everybody knows what the Bill is for. I have no doubt that we will hear a good deal—as we heard in the Dáil—to the effect that the powers given were given in good faith and were abused, and all the rest of it. I do not think any good purpose would be served by trying to anticipate arguments of that kind, and I will wait until I hear what I really have to answer.
Emergency Powers (Continuance) Bill, 1941—Second Stage.
It is rather strange that we did not hear something from Senator Hayes.
Am I expected to do all the work—and thinking? The Labour Party occasionally might do a spot of labour.
I have to take the place usually occupied by Senator Hayes. This Bill, as the Taoiseach has said, is a continuation of certain powers given to the Government to enable them to take—as the Taoiseach says— swift action in certain directions. When it was going through the Oireachtas in its original state, we understood that the circumstances would be those of a military character in which invasion might have been contemplated, or even circumstances of an internal subversive character.
These were the things which, I think, were in the minds of the members of the Oireachtas when these powers were conferred upon the Executive. I do not think it was in the contemplation of the Oireachtas—or, at least, of that portion of it which we constitute—that such powers would be used in any internal social or economic sense. The criticism we have to offer in that regard is that the legislation has been used for economic purposes, in relation to the workers especially. I refer particularly to, and protest emphatically against, the use of the powers conferred upon the Government by this legislation in relation to such economic matters, and in particular Emergency Powers Order No. 83. I cannot see why such an Order need be promulgated under the powers given to the Government in this Act and we feel that that order represented an extension of these powers. The Emergency Powers Order No. 83 deals very harshly with a certain section of the community. It puts a stay on the wages paid to certain sections of the workers so as to keep those wages as they stood on the 7th May of this year. In that way, these powers have hurt the economic standard of certain sections of the community.
Speaking on the Emergency Powers Bill itself, we pointed out at some length in this Chamber, and gave statistics to support the case we were making, that the standard of wages, generally speaking at that time, was of such a character that, if the normal operations of workers through their trade unions were stopped by virtue of this legislation, the position of the workers was bound to suffer seriously and their economic standards to deteriorate. That is an emergency which in our opinion has been created for those sections of the community—and a very serious emergency it is for them. The powers given to the Government in this legislation should not, in our opinion, have been used for that purpose and in that manner.
Consequently, we take this opportunity of protesting against the continuance of the use of such powers in that respect. The suggestion made, as collateral remedy, was that prices should have been controlled. If prices were controlled, then the position in regard to the economic standards of the workers would not be as it is, but no serious or adequate effort has been made to control prices. Consequently, with the ever-ascending and steep rise in the cost of living, the economic position of the workers is sadly and seriously deteriorating day in and day out.
It may be contended by the Taoiseach that the circumstances to which I refer are circumstances which naturally, normally and properly come within the ambit of this legislation. We cannot agree with that. In view of the very strong, elaborate and deliberate case which has been put forward in reference to the orders made under this legislation, we seriously suggest to the Taoiseach, with all the sincerity we can command, that these powers should not be used in the manner in which they have been used in relation to the economic position of the workers. We protest against such use, and suggest that they be not used in that manner in future.
I want to make merely a few practical points with regard to this Bill. When the principal Bill was introduced on the outbreak of war in September, 1939, I had the view, and stated it then, that the powers must be granted to the Government, and that what should concern the House was how the powers would be administered rather than the precise terms of the Bill. The Bill at that time was thought—I thought so myself—to contain a provision that it could not be used for the purpose of industrial or other conscription nor for the abrogation of the ordinary conditions and rights of labour. As a matter of fact, Senator Lynch is right in saying that Order 83 did abrogate certain rights which Labour Senators, and a great many others of us, thought were safeguarded by the terms of the Emergency Powers Act. We have, however, made ourselves clear on that matter, and I shall not go into it.
A great many orders have been made under this Act. These orders are not always very easy to understand, and, unless you keep a keen look-out, you will not even notice that the orders have been made. I suggest that some notice should be given of the making of orders—for example, Order 83—and that some explanation should be given before a motion is put down in either House. If that were done, we should be in a better position to appreciate them, and it might, on occasion, obviate a Parliamentary debate. When a motion was put down by Senator Baxter to annul the Turf Order, I must say, quite frankly, that I was not very clear as to what the Turf Order was about, or what its implications were. The debate in the Seanad did elicit a considerable amount of information, and I think it assisted the Minister himself—the Minister for Industry and Commerce—to understand what he was doing better than he did when making the order.
Another point arises with regard to Order 83: when it was being discussed here, objection was taken to it on the ground that it ought to have been a Bill. I think it ought. A matter that is so voluminous and far-reaching as Order 83 is should hardly be introduced in that form at all. It gave Ministers power to add to or subtract from the Schedule. You might wake up any morning and find that a certain occupation, or grade of occupation, had been brought, locally or occupationally, within the scope of the order. That is very considerable powere. It would be worth discussing that in detail as one would discuss the provisions of a Bill on Committee Stage. That may not be feasible, but I do think that orders should be capable of amendment in either House.
In the case of Order 83, I do not know whether any amendment of it would have made it acceptable to me or to Senator Lynch, but there were people in the House—I am making the Taoiseach a present of this—who voted for the motion to annul that order who would not have done so if amendments had been made. In fact, if the amendments that have since been made by the Minister, preventing the order from applying in certain areas to people with a certain low rate of wages, had been embodied in the original order, the motion to annul would not have got the support it got here. The Taoiseach and the Government have been fairly met in both Houses in connection with their use of the Emergency Powers Act and if they did take steps to provide for the tabling of amendments to orders, they would get a much more reasoned and more helpful type of discussion, because it has been proved in more than one case that orders, as originally drafted, did need amendment.
I think Order 83 is an excellent case in point. I think we should have more notice and more explanation of these orders and that it should be possible to put down amendments to them. That is a compromise between making an order which is incapable of amendment and bringing in the order in the form of a Bill which would require several stages. If such a compromise were adopted there would be more useful and more helpful discussion.
On the general question of the continuance of the powers conferred by the Act, I am afraid I am of the opinion that the Government must have these powers and that the Act must be continued. With regard to the Government's use of the powers, it is the best Government we can get at the moment, I suppose, and we have to trust it whatever we may think about it. There is no use in explaining what I think about it or about its abuse of these powers but I think everybody, including Ministers themselves, would feel more satisfied if the suggestions I have made with regard to orders and their amendment were adopted.
I should like to suggest to the Taoiseach that, in the operation of these powers, it might sometimes serve quite a useful purpose if, before orders were made under the Act, consultations were to take place. I am well aware that there are occasions and circumstances when the time for consultative action may not be available and when the Executive must act and act with speed. Orders have, however, been made under this Act where speed was not the essence of the contract. Emergency Order 83 was one of these. If Opposition groups had been consulted before the order was made, quite an amount of Parliamentary time and trouble could have been saved. I am quite convinced that it is necessary for the Government to have these powers, and I consider that it is utter nonsense to maintain that these powers should not be applied to economic matters as I consider that our economic defence is every bit as important as our military defence.
I think the House will be unanimous that it is unfortunate that this Bill should have to be brought in again because the very fact of its being brought in again is evidence that the grave situation that faced us in 1939 has not passed and that, so far as those in authority can see, it is hardly likely to pass inside another year. Because that unfortunate situation still exists, we are bound to give the Government this Bill. There is one point to which I want to refer and which, indeed, is the main reason why I have intervened at all. That is the point that has been made in connection with Order 83. For may part, I strongly supported that order and I did so only after having given the order long and serious consideration. I saw no way out of the difficulty other than Order 83. If anybody in this House had been able to suggest a better way out of the difficulty I, for one, would have given that particular way all the support I could. Since that order has been made, I have been thinking of it and wondering where one might turn to get a better way out of the difficulty. As far as I am concerned, I have failed to find any other way and I have failed to meet anybody who could suggest a better way than Order 83 out of the difficulty. I am very glad that Senator Hayes made the remark about it that he did, because I think he has conveyed that the opposition to the order was based mainly on a misunderstanding—at least, so far as he was concerned.
Oh, no. I understood the order quite well.
I think the Senator made it clear that if he had known that it was not to apply to certain sections of the community he would not have opposed it in the way he did. That, as I say, gives me considerable satisfaction. I think that is a fact that should be made known to all and sundry because a good deal of unfair propaganda has been carried on with regard to that order and a good deal of unfair propaganda is being carried on because it met with a certain amount of opposition in this House. I am glad the Senator made the statement he did because I do believe that, in regard to the matter, he was sincere and that he would have supported the order had he realised fully the import of it. I believe that any Senator realising the position, and what we are in for, would have supported it just as we did.
With regard to the principle of government by order, I suppose we could remain here for months discussing it pro and con. I do not believe in it. I believe in the ordinary method of government but I am glad that the Oireachtas has accepted for the emergency the principle of government by order in so far as such a course may be necessary, because in its own way it is a splendid justification of democracy. It shows that democracy can adapt itself to difficulties and emergencies. It is quite obvious that many of these things should be dealt with by means of a Bill, but it is also quite obvious that Bills can involve us in very slow procedure and that they can become very contentious, and that they can lead to a good deal of uncertainty. Many of the things that have been covered in these orders are of a very temporary nature. Because of that I believe it is just as well that they should be dealt with by this system of orders rather than in the form of Acts of Parliament.
One may ask: Has the Government abused this power given them under the Act in question? Some of us may feel that it has, but one thing of which I am certain is that the country as a whole is agreed that it has not. This country is at peace after almost two years of war. That it is at peace is due to wise government. That it is at peace has been due to the special powers given the Government by the Oireachtas and, if it remains at peace, it will be due to these very powers that have been given the Government by the representatives of the people. I am certain that, whatever individuals among us may think, the people are agreed, and will agree, that the Government has not abused its powers in regard to this Emergency Powers Act. In regard to the general principle of orders, I think it is possible for the Oireachtas, any time it thinks fit, to annul an order. Every order is laid on the Table of the House, and any member of the Oireachtas is free to put down a motion to have any particular order annulled. If the Parliament in its wisdom thinks that the Government has overstepped the bounds, then Parliament can step in and check the Government. In view of that I cannot see that there is any inconsistency between democratic government and this particular Act, especially in view of the way the Act has been worked by the Government. In conclusion, I sincerely hope that it is the last time that the Act will come before us for renewal.
May I be permitted to make a point of personal explanation? I did not say that I did not understand Order 83, and that if I had understood it I would have voted for it. What I did say was that we ought to have had power to move amendments to that order. The order was, in fact, amended subsequently by the Minister by the making of other orders. As it was when the motion to annul it came before the House, a person earning 30/- per week here in Dublin could not have a wage increase. I would have voted for the annulling of the order in any event, but I did say that there were some Senators who, if the lowest scales of wages were excluded from the order, might have voted for it.
I wish to support Senator Crosbie. Orders have to be prepared hastily in cases of grave emergency, but never so hastily that there would not be a few days for consultation with all the interests concerned. I believe, for instance, that if the powers embodied in Emergency Order 83 were fully considered by the Government, it would have saved a good deal of animadversion towards those who voted for the Emergency Powers Act. That was a very serious blunder. If time for consultation were given, the Government would never have made that order, and it would have been to the advantage of the Government and to the advantage of democracy that they should not have made that order. I simply want to stress the point that where very grave matters are concerned—and this is a very grave matter, as it concerns the great mass of the people who are wage earners—this order should not have been made without prior consultation not alone with the interests concerned but with both Houses.
Nílím chun morán moille do chur ar an Seanad ach ba mhaith liom iarraidh ar an Seanadóir Ó Loingsigh poinnte amháin a mhíniú. My remarks will be in the direction of getting some explanation from Senator Lynch. I voted for Emergency Order 83 because I felt that in so doing I was endeavouring to do justice to the lower sections of the people, the people on the bottom rung of the ladder. Now I happen to be in the position of being associated possibly with the most helpless section of the community. We have got to deal with people looking for outdoor relief and we know how hard pressed these poor people are. The only regret of the members of the Dublin Board of Assistance is that they cannot be more liberal in the distribution of relief, but they have to balance the scales between those who contribute the rates and those who receive assistance. Let us, for argument's sake, assume that everybody had power and was so organised that they could increase the cost of their work to somebody else and did so, we could follow that up along until we come to those who could not put it over on anybody else. This is the question I would like to hear answered by Senator Lynch. Practically for a lifetime we have had to deal in this city with every class of people and to endeavour to deal with them fairly. If something in this direction had not been done the poor would have been left out in the cold and would bear the whole brunt of the upward urge in prices and all the rest. That is the position as I see it and that is the question I should like the Senator to answer.
When the Act, of which this Bill is a continuation, was before the House a couple of years ago, I do not think anyone opposed giving the Government the powers that they asked for. There was a certain reluctance or hesitation amongst us, and we thought it proper to point out that in giving any Government, however well intentioned, and however competent, such extreme powers as that measure gave them there were certain risks. We pointed out some of the abuses that might arise. We knew that when powers are given they are very often continued longer than necessity demands. We knew that from the experience of other countries. That point does not arise to-day, because whatever necessity existed a few years ago certainly exists still, but I remember that it was pointed out that danger did lie in certain of the powers that might be exercised under the measure, notably in regard to censorship.
There have been discussions in this House in the intervening time which drew attention to grave interferences with liberty of expression, and with the principle of freedom of opinion which is secured by the Constitution. Such interferences have taken place and possibly continue to take place, but my own criticism of the censorship is not that it limited liberty, but that it has been incompetent. It has been very often extremely silly, exercised apparently by people who desire simply to use a blue pencil without paying any attention to the importance—or lack of importance it may be in other cases—of the particular act of censorship they are engaged in. I was shown recently the proof of an article appearing in a professional journal that was passed by the censor with one deletion. The writer had made a reference to "our National Army", and the article was passed on condition that the word "national" was omitted. Is it really worth while putting civil servants to waste their time in such nonsense as that? That sort of stupidity has, I think, impressed itself upon all those who have anything to do with the Press. Some of the general principles accepted, apparently, by the censorship have already been so much criticised in this House that I do not intend to draw attention to them again.
The greater danger, in a more general way, is that which has been referred to already by some Senators, the substitution of legislation by order for legislation by the Oireachtas. In the very interesting speech which Senator O Buachalla delivered a few minutes ago he welcomed the fact that the country, as he said, had recognised the principle of a certain amount of government by order. I think he slipped into a confusion between government by order and legislation by order—a very important distinction.
Necessarily, in time of emergency, the Executive must be furnished with larger powers than they have in time of settled Government but it is a different question to say that they should have the power, by a mere order, by a stroke of the pen, of establishing a new law. That is what has taken place withing the last few weeks, with Order 83, so improperly nicknamed a "Standstill Order." I think if Senator O Buachalla thinks over it, he will see it is quite a different proposition to give the Government powers to do executive acts, which ordinarily they would not have power to do, in case of emergency, and to give them power to pass new laws for the country which remain in force so long as the Government think fit to continue them. I cannot see anything to welcome in the fact that the country has had to put up with such an act of government as that legislation should be carried out by order. I am quite sure that such acts were not at all in the minds of any members of the Oireachtas when the Oireachtas willingly gave the Government powers, a couple of years ago, to do the things that this Bill covers, acts for which they had no powers in the past. I do not expect that the House will refuse to the Taoiseach the powers that the Government ask for, nor do I think that it would be reasonable that we should do so, but I think when a Bill such as this comes before us periodically year by year, or at whatever period it may come, it should be the duty of those in the House who see something to criticise in what has taken place in the past, or what is likely to take place in the future, to draw the attention of their colleagues to it.
Like other Senators, I think the Government ought not to be deprived of the powers necessary for the maintenance of peace and order and to take such steps as may be necessary for the defence of the State. In my opinion, the Government, in exercising the emergency powers given to them in September, 1939, have to a certain extent abused those powers. I make particular reference, with my colleague, Senator Lynch, and other Senators, to Emergency Powers Order 83 which has caused such turmoil throughout the whole country, particularly in the organised trade union movement. My opinion is that the order was absolutely unnecessary because, for 12 months before it was issued, there had been no sign of any exorbitant demands and in some cases there had been no demands of any kind for increased wages. The workers, and particularly the organised workers, were fully conscious of the difficulties with which the country was faced. I can speak for myself in that respect and say that I stopped any effort on the part of certain people to make any demand for increased wages, having regard to the particular difficulty in which this country was at the moment. For that reason, I think the Government made a cardinal mistake in promulgating an order which has caused so much trouble throughout the working class movement. I do not agree with Senator O Buachalla that government by order is a sign of progressive democracy. Parliamentary institutions, with all their failings, provide much better machinery to pass these laws than that which is provided now by giving these powers into the hands of the Government, no matter how much faith we may have in that Government.
The question of censorship has been raised by Senator Rowlette. I can speak on that particular point more freely, perhaps, than other people can. On several occasions here I defended the methods taken by the Government in regard to censorship, in so far as it related to the defence of the country, but I think it is undesirable that any effort should be made to stifle expression of opinion in this House or in the other House of the Oireachtas. Recently, I understand, references which were made by certain Deputies have been censored outside, and I think the Taoiseach himself gave an assurance when this Bill was first before the House that such would not happen, that there would be free expression of opinion inside Parliamentary institutions and that no effort would be made to curb that expression of opinion or to interfere with the publication of that opinion. I wish to support the protest made by Senator Lynch and Senator Cummins in regard to Emergency Order No. 83, because I speak with some knowledge of the feelings of the workers in that connection and I think I ought not go unrecorded here. I think the Government should have all the powers necessary for the safety of the State. We do not propose to force a division. We propose to give the Government these powers, but I sincerely appeal to the Taoiseach to give serious attention to these matters before issuing orders. I do not agree at all, as I said, that government by order is a sign of progressive democracy in this or any other country. I ask particularly that, in future, full regard be given to the statements made when this Bill was originally introduced. None of us ever thought it would be used for the purposes for which it has been used and an assurance from the Taoiseach in that respect would be welcomed not only by the people on these benches, but by this Seanad as a whole.
There has been considerable criticism of the Censor both in the Dáil and here. I notice that in the debate in the Dáil Professor O'Sullivan said: "The censorship was, as I thought, to be used to prevent us getting into loggerheads with any of the belligerent countries." If that is what the Censor is for, surely he has been signally successful. We have not got into loggerheads with any of the countries. Is there any reason why he should change his tactics? Might it not have the effect of getting us into loggerheads with the other countries if he did? When a man has accomplished the thing which people think he was set up to do so very successfully, would it not be better to let him carry on in the particular method he has adopted? I remember a motion in the Dáil proposed, I think, by Deputy Dillon, for the purpose of calling attention to the censorship. I listened with great interest. I like listening to Deputy Dillon when I get the chance. I think he has a great sense of the theatre. I enjoy enormously his rich and sonorous exaggerations and his ponderous pantomime, but I think that he was off on a foolish track too. He was not concerned at the time when he was speaking to that motion about whether the Censor has saved us from getting into loggerheads with the belligerents. He was only concerned with whether he was doing a little more for the side that he particularly favoured than the other.
I do not agree with the point of view that the Censor has anything to say whether we get into loggerheads with the belligerents or not. I think that if we are going to go to war it will be because the Irish people wish to go to war, or because somebody wishes to go to war with us. I cannot see how the job of the Censor affects that position. His main task is to see that we do not quarrel with each other, and he has been pretty successful in that up to now. Nobody has got a black eye so far, not even Deputy Dillon——
There were two soldiers shot last week in County Longford, and three policemen have been killed in 18 months. Somebody must have been at loggerheads with somebody there.
Has that got anything to do with the belligerents?
It replies to the point made by the Senator that nobody has got a black eye.
But it has nothing to do with the Censor. It was not because of anything he did, or did not do.
It has relation to what the Senator has said about somebody getting a black eye. I suggest that the Senator is abusing the privileges of this House in order to get one back on Deputy Dillon who is not here to defend himself.
I am not abusing Deputy Dillon in any way whatever. As a matter of fact, Deputy Dillon was in the Gallery a few moments ago.
Deputy Dillon is not a member of this House.
As he is not and as he cannot reply, he could be left alone.
Deputy Dillon and I are very good friends and be can reply to me if he wishes.
You said that he did not even get a black eye.
I was talking about the Censor. Undoubtedly there are many people who disagree with the things Deputy Dillon says, but the handling of the whole situation by the Censor means that he can say what he likes, and that he does not get a black eye. My point is that the work of the Censor is of considerable advantage——
Is not the whole point of the Senator's speech the old saying: "Don't nail his ear to the pump"? Should not that "ponderous pantomine" be stopped?
The Senator should be allowed to make his speech.
That is all I have to say on that point.
I think the Censor has saved us from being involved in the war, and my other point is that he has prevented us from quarrelling with each other. Whether you think his methods good, bad or indifferent, you must agree that he has accomplished the job he has set out to do, and that is all we can ask from anybody.
If it is one of the main functions of the Censor to keep the temperature from rising unduly in our discussions amongst ourselves, then I think it is appropriate to suggest, especially in view of what Senator Robinson has just been saying, that a great deal could be done to help on the efforts of the censorship in that direction by the leaders of political Parties in this House and in the other House. It is all very well for Senator Robinson to get up and, I am quite sure, quite sincerely, to praise moderation and a tolerant attitude, but it is not only Deputy Dillon but various others, Senators in this House, who have experienced an intolerance amounting to absolute ferocity whenever we ventured to talk on certain subjects, and if it is really desired to keep the temperature low, I think the Leaders of Parties could do a good deal to help by preventing people from using extravagantly abusive expressions.
It might be no harm if we could see how far we think alike. First of all, I want to say, and I think it is right to admit it, that the Government has not been hampered by any withholding from it of powers which it ought to have in a crisis like the present. It is right to say that, on the whole, Parliament has acted generously, and I think it was necessary that they should act generously, if they were to act wisely. I think on the whole that Parliament has acted both wisely and generously in regard to the powers which the Government have been given. The question of legislation in the ordinary way and of legislation by order has been referred to. I can repeat here something I said in the Dáil and that is, that there is no doubt whatever that the ordinary method of legislation is far better, from every point of view, than legislation by order—no doubt whatever about it.
No matter how competent are the heads of Departments and the officers the Minister has to rely on to carry out detailed investigations of various kinds, and no matter how able the Minister may be and thoroughly acquainted with the subject he is dealing with, he cannot possibly see it in all its aspects in the way in which it will be seen when it is discussed by a House of over 130 members as in the Dáil, or a House of 60 members as in the Seanad, drawn from all classes of the community. They see the thing in a particular way from their own standpoint, and they are able to feel, perhaps, better than anyone else the effect each particular clause of the measure will have. Each will feel where it pinches, and, therefore, he can point out the exact bearing of a particular clause on his own interests better than those not belonging to his section of the community.
There can be no question about it that legislation in the ordinary way is far preferable to legislation by order, but there is a limit, of course, to what can be done. There are only a certain number of days in the year and a certain number of hours in the day, and if Ministers were compelled to attend in Parliament over a much longer period than they have been disposed to do, then the executive part of their work would go by default. They could not be in two places doing two classes of work at the same time, and it does take a good deal of time to pilot a Bill through two Houses of Parliament, particularly when it is a contentious measure. If we are going to pass in the ordinary way measures on which there is a good deal of difference of opinion, and if full opportunity is given for all members of the House to speak, particularly on the Committee Stage, it will take a considerable length of time. So there is a limit to what can be done, unless you delegate work almost entirely to civil servants.
As proof of that, I mentioned in the Dáil the number of days on which that House had sat since the war began, and compared it with the corresponding period before that time. The figures show that the Dáil sat on 125 days in the period from the 3rd September, 1939, to the 23rd July, 1941. Taking the previous period from the 3rd September, 1937, to the 23rd July, 1939, the corresponding period before the war, the Dáil met on only 120 days. Now, if it attempted to pass, by way of legislation, the 100 Governmental orders — I think there have been 100 Governmental orders, apart from Ministerial orders, passed up to date — the Dáil would have to be sitting, I think, for the whole 365 days, apart altogether from the importance of getting these things done quickly. There has not been a reference made in the criticism in the Dáil, or here, to any particular orders which it was felt were outside the general scope of the original intention of the Act except in two cases, which were mentioned in the Dáil. One of those has been mentioned here, that is Order No. 83.
In regard to Order No. 83, there is no doubt that on account of its nature, it was evident there would be a great deal of difference of opinion and a good deal could be said for having it threshed out by way of ordinary legislation. When the order was questioned and there was a motion for annulment, the Minister made two or three points. First of all, he pointed out that, in its very nature, this order was of a temporary character and he did not wish that it should have the appearance of permanent legislation. He said it was a measure intended purely for this period and that it might have to be amended quickly. It would be very difficult to amend ordinary legislation by way of order as, if the measure were of the type introduced by way of ordinary legislation, naturally it would be contended that any amendment should be made in the same manner. The Minister pointed out that this temporary legislation should be of a flexible character, capable of being altered quickly, and that that pointed to making an order rather than bringing in a Bill.
There was another matter which was more important from my point of view. If the Bill took a long time and long notice were given, there was a danger that the very purposes of it might be defeated and that there would be forestalling, as in the case of a Budget— and we know what care must be taken in that case. There might be an attempt to get in before the measure was passed; and, on the one hand, there might be hasty distribution of dividends, which this was intended to prevent or, on the other hand, there might be certain increases in wages. I do not think it would be desirable that I should go into the merits of that particular measure, as it was debated in the Dáil and here. I would like to point out that the provision by which the Houses of the Oireachtas can annual any order gives Parliament the necessary control to a large extent. I know that it does not lend itself very easily to the amendment of orders, as pointed out by Senator Hayes. To have a motion for simple annulment may not be satisfactory: what you want is a motion for amendment in a certain respect.
However, a motion for annulment gives various sections of the House an opportunity to indicate a particular point of view. Then, if there is good reason and argument behind it, the Minister responsible for the order in the main, or who is defending it, is likely to take cognisance of any arguments put forward, and I understand that was done in the case of Emergency Powers (No. 83) Order, where amendments were made. So, although you have not the ordinary machinery which exists under the rules of Parliament for a Bill, you can get amendments indirectly, if they appeal to the Government. If they do not, you have to assume that Parliament was going to turn out the Government—otherwise, you would not get the amendment through. If it were a question of having a point of view made known and the arguments in favour of it made known, that method is available. If Parliament were in a vexatious mood and wanted to hamper the Government, it could do it by a series of motions for the annulment of orders and could, in fact, defeat the powers which are given to the Government by this Bill.
With regard to the merits of this matter, I would like to say that that measure was introduced for certain reasons—and honestly for those reasons —and not for ulterior motives, to attack a particular section of the community or anything of the kind. The purpose of the order was, as stated, to prevent increases in wages, which would be reflected naturally in the cost of the production of goods, then in prices, with one constantly chasing the other and causing extreme hardship to that part of the community not in a position either to shelter from such consequences or make amends to itself, so to speak, by getting something for itself as a set-off. We all know that the war will bring hardship on the community as a whole. It hardly can be otherwise. It is bound to do that, and the community as a whole cannot shelter from the effects. It must aim at sheltering particularly the weaker sections, as they undoubtedly will suffer most from this chasing of wages by those earning. Those who are not earning are not in a position to get increases, while those thrown out of employment are bound to suffer most by the increases in prices that would follow.
All that can be done is to make each section bear its part of the burden. The community as a whole will have to bear it somehow or other and, therefore, each individual must bear it, unless protected in some particular way. If one does not bear his share, someone else must bear it for him. I have no anxiety with regard to those whose shoulders are broad enough to bear it, if it is put off from those who cannot bear it, as in that way the community will get through all right. For instance, there will be firms closing down when unable to sell their goods at prices which would enable them to manufacture, taking into account the increased labour costs. That is one of the factors that may tend to close them down, and naturally we are very anxious that, as far as possible, our industries should continue to give employment.
It is suggested that we are attempting to control wages without any attempt whatever to control prices. That is not true. Everything possible is being attempted in the control of prices, but that cannot result always in keeping prices down. They may have to go up in consequence of some circumstances which it is outside our power to alter. Raw materials are an instance of that. Senator Campbell knows that if, in the printing trade, the cost of newsprint—if it is possible to get it— goes up tremendously, it is obvious that the cost of printed commodities would go up ultimately, and that would be a factor outside our control. Certain raw materials essential for the continuation of industry come in from outside. Hard as it is to have to pay high prices, we must be content with that and bear it. It would be less of a loss than the loss which would be incurred by not being able to get them at any price. The cost is based on the cost of shipping and freight and, as a result, the price of certain commodities is bound to go up. We cannot control the price of articles of that kind where the raw material is a very significant part. Such increases are part of the war burden which we must bear, though every effort must be made to see that prices do not rise beyond what is necessary on account of the increase in the cost of raw materials and so on. That is being done as far as possible, though we know it is extremely difficult. In the Dáil Deputy Dillon gave some examples of the difficulty of controlling the prices of a variety of articles.
There is a great deal of complaint about rationing, and we are asked why we do not ration certain commodities. People do not realise the difficulty involved in rationing commodities which are not universally used. Take the case of tobacco. Quite a number of people do not smoke. If you have a rationing system for tobacco, you must give these people their share. Amongst some families the women do not smoke. If you do not cut out women completely from the right to a ration, you must give these women their allocation, and they may hand it over as a gift to the men of the family. Some people are asking: "Why do you not ration candles?" Quite a large number of people do not ordinarily use candles. The moment you ration them people who would ordinarily have no intention of purchasing them will seek their ration and perhaps make a present of the candles to their neighbour. The position is different when one is rationing tea or some commodity in universal use. People talk about control of prices and rationing without any realisation of the problems involved.
It is suggested that there was no need for Order 83. A good deal could be said, I admit, for that on the ground that there had been no serious labour trouble during the period of the emergency. My answer to that case would be to inquire what harm had been done by the order in these circumstances. If there was no question of using these powers, what hardship is caused by an order which prevents you from using them? However, we are not now arguing the merits of that question. I feel that this is the right direction to go. All sections of the community, particularly those who are able to bear it, will have to carry a share of the burden which is inevitable at this time. It was suggested that this Bill was not intended to apply to economic matters. One has only to look at the Bill to see that that is not so and that that could not have been argued when the Bill was brought in. The whole question of supplies is covered by the Bill and there are several indications that the Bill was intended to safeguard the community not merely from direct military action but to safeguard the country, as far as possible, from the economic results of the war. I do not say that a case could not be made that this particular Order, No. 83, should have been brought in by way of ordinary legislation. The one thing which convinces me in that regard is the danger of what I referred to as forestalling——
A compromise was suggested—not legislation and not the present Order but the power to put down amendments.
If I desired to consult anybody as to the best way that could be done, there is nobody whom I would be more pleased to consult than Senator Hayes, because he had long experience in the Chair of the other House, which makes him peculiarly fitted to make suggestions of that kind. However, I do not think he would be able to suggest a method of procedure which would not, in fact, involve the same amount of time as if legislation were to be brought in in the ordinary way. On Committee Stage, a member can speak more than once and, if there is any real opposition or desire to hold up a measure, it is on the Committee Stage it generally shows itself. I think that to adopt the Senator's suggestion would be to put a burden on Ministers which it would be impossible for them to bear.
The only way amendments could be introduced would be this: if a large number of members desired to amend a particular order, a motion to annul could be put down. One member could, of course, put down the motion but I take it that, where Parties are concerned, the Party would be consulted. In the speeches on such a motion, indication could be given of the manner in which it was thought the order should be amended. If the Government are convinced that an amendment of that sort would be useful, it may be taken for granted that they will accept the suggestion. The Government would have considered the subject matter carefully before the order was made and it would be considered afterwards if a suggestion of improvement were made. If the Government were not going to give way, all that would be involved would be a vote in the House. Unless the Government were to go out of office, you would get no farther. If the Senator would be good enough to prepare in short form the rules of procedure which, he thinks, would enable amendments to be dealt with quickly, it would be considered but I myself do not see how it could be done. I do not want to pretend that I have the same experience of order as the Senator has. It is not a matter to which I have given a great deal of attention.
The Taoiseach has seen it from a different angle.
The Senator saw it from one angle and he knows what is likely to happen. If he were sitting down and seriously advising, from the point of view of getting work done, no matter how anxious he might be to get full discussion, if he took the time factor into account, he would come to the same conclusion that I have come to—that it could not be done. The physical question of time is involved and one cannot get away from it.
Does it not place the individual who wants to amend an order in a rather invidious position if he must put down a motion to annul when his intention is merely to amend?
We all understand that. We often have to do things which formally do not seem to represent our views. We get out of that difficulty by explaining that we have to deal with the matter in this particular way, because no other way is open to us. A Senator can say: "I would rather have the order annulled than have it in its present form, but I am quite content with the order if such an amendment is made."
The next point raised dealt with censorship. I have been present at a few debates in which the censorship was attacked—very unfairly, I think. I referred elsewhere to the attitude of people at war—that those who are not with us are against us. There are different opinions held by people in the country regarding the merits in this war. One thing is important—that, notwithstanding any individual opinions, State policy should be clear and definite, and that there should be no doubt regarding the position of the country as a whole. You have the position I am sure in other neutral countries, and even in countries at war, that, when national feelings are aroused under such conditions, there is bound to be a section of the people who think that things should be otherwise.
If a country is at war there will be people who think that there should be no war, and that peace should be made. In case of a policy of neutrality, which in many respects is as dangerous and difficult as actual war, you have to make up your mind one way or the other; you have to say that the policy of the country is to be the policy of the majority as indicated by the organs by which State policy can be determined. If a country is at war, one naturally wants to wage the war successfully. It is impossible to wage it successfully if you have one section of the country holding the other section back from doing the things necessary to prosecute it. A nation that cannot do that had better keep out of war. A nation that cannot do that in the case of neutrality had better keep out of it, too.
That is involved.
It is involved, but it is true. If you have war all around you, and if imminent danger threatens the State—let me put it this way to unify the idea—you cannot have two policies; you cannot have indecision. A decision must be reached, and you must be all out to defend the State in these circumstances. I do not see any way out of it. If that is so, I cannot see why in a war those who are opposing the majority who are defending the State should be allowed to do so. In the same way when you are saving the nation from a danger that threatens it on all sides, I am afraid you cannot allow ordinary discussion to go on, because that discussion is going to lead the State into the very dangers out of which it is desirable to keep it.
Here is the cause of the complaint against the censorship as far as I can see it. There is a section in this country who think very strongly and believe that the merits in this struggle are all on one side. They are anxious that these should be shown to other sections of the community. In other words, they want to have an opportunity of converting other people to their view. I know that it can be said that when there is a certain difficulty you can change the Government or change the policy of the Government, but if you were to attempt to do that now, I can only say that it would certainly be a question of changing horses crossing the stream. If you attempt to do that in the middle of a war you are bound to come to disaster. There are those who hold strong convictions on one side, but do not forget there is another side who hold equally strong convictions, and who wish to put their point of view too.
Why not allow both sides to have their say?
What about the rest of us then?
Let both sides have their say and let the State go to the devil?
So long as it is only talk.
The Senator might leave it at talk but there are lots of people who will move from talk to action. That is the point. If people are allowed to feel and express themselves strongly, then they will act. If you are going to have one section putting their point of view and there is another section who hold a completely opposite point of view and who hold that they are equally entitled to put their point of view to the people, what is going to happen? Each side starts in, trying to express its view forcibly. Each side will start abusing one side or other of the belligerents. The result will be that you will have the nation constantly in the position in which both sets of belligerents are seeing only the part that affects themselves. They are both being abused, so, if you take off the censorship for one week and allow everybody to express opinions about the merits of the struggle and of the two belligerents, I promise you that there will be a still more difficult position than we have had up to the present. We would be at loggerheads very quickly. You would probably get only the strong expressions of opinion disseminated by the Press, because the Press tends, to a great extent, to deal with sensational news. Many dangers will arise because what generally happens is that there is only one part of the story transmitted to each particular country.
Recently we have had some debates, and I was interested to see what would be the effect of these debates in outside countries. A completely one-sided picture was given in some of these countries and to our detriment. If the picture as a whole had been given, no harm would have resulted, but the picture as a whole will not be given. It is only one side that is given. If there is a movement in the Press of a particular country to stir up bitterness between other countries, then that part of the news which is likely to promote that end will be seized upon, and it will be represented not as the view of one particular side, but as the view of the country as a whole. I, for one, am satisfied that censorship is necessary, and that it cannot be confined simply to matters that would be of advantage from a military point of view to one side or the other. In modern wars you have another weapon —namely, the propaganda weapon, and immediately there is an unrestricted release of news, part of it would be seized upon for propaganda and used by one side against the other, leading to bad relations between this State and the belligerents on both sides. It would also lead to our being on bad terms with one another in this country. I do not know whether we are as bad as or worse than other people in that respect, but it is extraordinary how people can become heated and divided about matters that are of no immediate importance to them. They can get very heated about something which does not immediately affect them.
If we allowed these controversies to go on in the way which Senator Johnston suggests, we should have a position in which our people would be unnecessarily divided. That would be particularly dangerous at the moment of an attack on this country. A thing that is most important for the country is that if we are attacked, unjustly attacked—as we shall be if we are attacked at all—we should have our own people as one in defending our rights. You cannot have that unity if before the moment of attack you have the people divided on questions of the merits involved in the struggle. I think, therefore, that the censorship is necessary, not merely from the point of view of censorship of matters that might be regarded as military secrets, but necessary also from the point of view of keeping the propaganda weapon from being used in so far as this country is concerned by one side against the other, thus involving us in the conflict and involving us, in anticipation, in differences amongst ourselves.
You may sit on it but be careful that the boiler does not burst.
I do not think there is a lot of heat in the boiler.
Potentially you are asking——
Perhaps the Senator would like us to stoke the fire.
I do not deal in fire; I deal in light.
There is no shortage of fuel in that case.
We want a little more light and less heat on this subject.
The Senator is in a position to sit down and see things in a calm, dispassionate way. If we were dealing with a nation of individuals such as the Senator, we could probably do all these things but there are people who become very heated about these things and they cannot take the calm, academic view that the Senator is able to take. In these things our judgments are affected by our own reactions in various ways. My experience, and I think it would be the experience of most Senators, is that we can become very heated about outside matters. There was, for instance, another war on, not a very long time ago, and there was a great deal of feeling in the country about it. I think that in this particular instance, if you allowed complete freedom of expression, our people would become very heated indeed and we would not be allowed to sit down and take the calm view that the Senator is able to take. For good or ill that is the view we take, that the censorship is necessary, and I think it is the view supported by the majority of the people in Parliament and the majority of the people of the country.
I should like to say that I believe that the censorship has been justly and fairly carried out. I repudiated a suggestion to the contrary in the Dáil—it has not been made here. I should like to repeat that I have been watchful wherever any action has been taken. I have been anxious to see whether there was any question of political bias or Party bias in it. I think it has been applied rather rigidly. I will admit it is rather rigid in application but again I do not think you can apply it otherwise than in a rigid manner. If you go on some general principles and apply these principles to particular cases it is better. If you are a little bit easier in one case, then you will ask yourself, am I as easy on this side as on the other? If you are fairly rigid in application you will not give satisfaction in every respect and you may be accused, as I think it was put by Senator Rowlette, of acting a little bit foolishly at times. But if you do apply the principles evenly I think you will get the best results. There will be exceptions, of course. With regard to the question of the Army I would not see any reason, whatever, why the word "Army" should not be used without qualification, and if that was brought to my notice I would have found no fault at all with the Censor for leaving out a particular adjective. It was the Army and that is all about it. I have dealt with the matters which have been raised. I have no complaint and the Government has no complaint with the way in which it has been met by Parliament in regard to these measures.
I cannot promise to do better in regard to the future than we have done in the past. In the past there was only one case that has been referred to. I think we cannot do better than we have done in the past, both so far as we are directly concerned—the Ministers, of course, are responsible—and in regard to the general use that is made of emergency powers. I say in conclusion that there is a natural tendency to do the thing in a quick way. That is a thing that has to be watched and resisted in ourselves and others. There is no doubt that a Government that is given an opportunity of getting results quickly by one particular procedure is inclined to take the quick way rather than the other. We will have to be on the look out for that. Where it is possible to have legislation, without any loss in the sense of national loss being involved, such as might have been involved if the dividends were distributed or wages were raised—where there is no national loss of that kind the procedure might be by legislation rather than by order. I think it is better to do it by legislation. Every member of the Government has that view, but I cannot promise that we will do better than we have done in the past, because, to judge it fairly, I think these powers have not been abused.
When will the Committee Stage be taken?
I will be glad to have it now.
I ask that the Committee Stage be postponed.
If the Seanad insists I will not press it, but the Senator will see that this is not a Committee Stage Bill.
I was asked particularly by a colleague who was unable to be here to-day, if possible to have the final stage postponed.
The Bill will not be delayed by the postponement?
It is only a question of the House meeting again.
We are meeting next Wednesday.