Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 19 Mar 1942

Vol. 26 No. 9

Central Fund Bill, 1942— ( Certified Money Bill ) —Second Stage.

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

Senators are aware from past experience that the Central Fund Bill is required to implement the Ways and Means Resolutions passed by Dáil Eireann. Generally the form of the Bill is stereotyped. It is designed to authorise the issue from the Central Fund of the amount of the Vote on Account this year of £13,445,000 for the financial year to end on the 31st March, 1943, and also to cover the total of the Supplementary and Additional Estimates for the present financial year which were passed subsequent to the enactment of the Appropriation Act, 1941, and which amounted to £1,551,938. The Bill also makes the usual provision for borrowing by the Minister for Finance and for the issue by him of such securities as he thinks proper.

I have already mentioned that the amount of the Vote on Account for the coming year is £13,445,000. That is something slightly over one-third of the total net provision for the Supply Services, which, as Senators will have observed from the Volume of Estimates, is £39,112,301. This figure represents an increase of £789,534 on the total net provision for 1941-42— that is including Supplementary and Additional Estimates; or an increase of £3,799,697 as compared with the original net provision for the current year. The increase is attributable solely to the inclusion in the Estimates Volume for 1942-43 of a number of costly emergency services which did not appear in the Estimates Volume for last year. I refer particularly to the Votes for Special Emergency Schemes, Food Allowances, Damage to Property (Neutrality) Compensation and Personal Injuries (Civilians) Compensation, which account for £1,935,000. In addition, the flour and bread subsidies, provided for under the Estimate for Supplies, are calculated to amount to £1,645,000. Furthermore, the cost of food allowances provided for under the Estimate for Local Government and Public Health amounts to £200,000, while an additional £628,714 is needed for the Army. All these extra items, which result directly from the emergency, amount to £4,408,714. It will be apparent, therefore, that were it not essential to provide these new services there would be a reduction of £609,017 over the whole Supply Services.

I do not wish to minimise, in any way, the formidable total of the Volume of Estimates for the coming year. When we consider, however, that in addition to the £3,780,000 which is required for the new emergency services, a sum of £8,942,052 is required for the Army representing an increase of £7,170,331 over the 1938-39 provision for the Army service, it will, I think, be obvious that we are exercising rigid economy in connection with what may be described as our normal peace-time services. If the increase of £7,170,331 in the provision for the Army over the 1938-39 provision and the cost of the new emergency services be subtracted from the total of the Estimates for the coming year, the result will be that only £28,161,970 will be needed for our normal services. This figure compares favourably with the actual expenditure of £28,248,822 during 1938-39, the last pre-emergency year. As compared, therefore, with the actual expenditure in 1938-39, the Estimates for 1942-43, apart from the huge increase in the Army Vote and the cost of the new emergency services, show a reduction of £86,852, despite the rising cost of materials reflected throughout many of the ordinary services and the expansion of Governmental activity necessitated by present conditions.

The Estimates for 1942/43 as compared with the current year's Estimates, including Supplementary Estimates, show increases on 37 Estimates and decreases on 35 Estimates. Four Estimates show no change. The total of the increases on the several Estimates is £2,376,726, while the total of the decreases is £1,587,192.

I propose to comment briefly on the principal increases and decreases, other than those to which I have already referred. Vote 7, Old Age Pensions, shows a decrease of £30,000. An anticipated increase in the number of pensioners in 1941-42 not having been realised the Estimate for 1942-43 has been formed on a more conservative basis.

Vote 10, Public Works and Buildings, is down by £84,013. There are decreases of £38,500 on sub-head B—New Works, Alterations and Additions, of £1,000 on sub-head D (1)—Furniture, Fittings and Utensils—and of £6,400 on sub-head J (2)—Arterial Drainage. A further decrease of £75,000 is due to the non-recurrence of the provision of that amount made by means of a Supplementary Estimate in 1941-42 for the purchase of Emergency Fuel Stores. These decreases are offset by increases of £22,000 under sub-head F—Fuel, Light, Water, etc.—of £2,997 under sub-head E—Rent, Rates, etc., and of £5,800 under sub-head J (5)—Arterial Drainage.

Vote 30, Agriculture, shows a reduction of £451,677. The principal decrease, £464,029, occurs under sub-head N (1)—Diseases of Animals (Ireland) Acts, and is due, of course, to the expectation that the heavy expenditure necessitated in the current year by the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease will not be repeated in 1942/43. The elimination of foot-and-mouth disease also accounts for a decrease of £14,780 on sub-head B (Travelling), while the suspension of the fertilisers scheme due to the non-availability of supplies provides a saving of £52,875 on sub-head G (3). There are offsetting increases notably under sub-heads H and O (6). Grants to county committees of agriculture under sub-head H are up by £42,250, due in part to an automatic increase in the normal grant following increased contributions by local authorities, and in part to an increase in the special grant for lime. Sub-head O (6) is up by £9,908 in respect of the provision of free seed, implements and instruction for allotment holders.

Vote 31, Fisheries, shows a decrease of £16,965 due mainly to the non-recurrence of the provisions for special insurance of steam trawlers and for ex-gratia compensation to the former owners of the Erne fisheries. The provisions for the Sea Fisheries Association are down by £5,500 mainly because fewer loans for boats and gear can be made available owing to the scarcity of materials.

Vote 33, Gárda Síochána, shows an increase of £15,898, due mainly to an increase of £36,002 under sub-head O to cover the cost of a general issue of uniforms to the L.S.F. Sub-head M is up by £8,462 owing to increased provision having been made for compensation awarded under the Gárda Síochána (Compensation) Act, 1941, in respect of death or injury sustained by members of the Gárda. There are, however, offsetting decreases under other sub-heads, sub-head A being down by £13,015, as it will not be necessary to provide for a 53rd payday during 1942-43, while sub-head E shows a decrease of £22,003 due to an extension of the period of wear for Gárda clothing. Sub-head N is down by £6,451 due to non-recurring expenditure in the present year on wireless equipment and safes for official documents, while the absence of foot-and-mouth disease which, in 1941-42, occasioned abnormal police duty makes possible a decrease of £3,000 under sub-head C. Appropriations-in-Aid are down by £4,293 owing to a fall in percentage payments from the Road Fund.

Vote 41, Local Government and Public Health, is up by £100,889. The bulk of the increase is accounted for by the provision of an additional £100,000 under sub-head J (4) to cover the cost during a full year of the special food allowances to recipients of home assistance. The increases of £9,000 under sub-head J (2), of £6,000 under sub-head L (1), and £5,500 under sub-head N, are due mainly to rising prices, while the increase of £5,900 under sub-head T reflects the greater activity under the allotments scheme. There is also an increase of £27,530 under sub-head S (1), in respect of contributions towards loan charges of housing schemes undertaken by local authorities. These follow more or less automatically on the additional housing schemes of local authorities. There is an offsetting decrease of £40,500 under sub-head S (2), due to a fall in applications for grants for private houses, etc., in urban areas.

Vote 44, National Health Insurance, shows a decrease of £9,210, due mainly to reductions under sub-heads G (1) and G (2), in respect of statutory contributions to the National Health Insurance Fund. The amounts provided under these sub-heads represent the estimated Exchequer liability in 1942-43 under the National Health Insurance Acts, 1911 to 1936.

Vote 46, Primary Education, shows an increase of £11,162 which is due mainly to an increase of £9,400 under sub-head D to cover an increase in the number of pensioners.

Vote 52, Lands, is down by £130,014. The main decrease of £128,600 occurs under sub-head I, Improvement of Estates, etc., and is due in part to less activity in land division and also to shortage of materials. The decrease of £2,033 on sub-head A, Salaries, etc., is due to the non-filling of vacancies, while the reduction of £6,000 on sub-head B, Travelling Expenses, is due to the resulting smaller activities and the secondment of staff to other Departments.

Vote 54, Gaeltacht Services, shows a decrease of £28,510 due almost entirely to an anticipated increase in the receipts under Appropriations-in-Aid from sales of rural and marine industries' products. Sub-head D (6), Materials, is up by £16,500 due in general to increased activity and to the rising cost of raw materials, while sub-heads E (3) and E (4) show increases of £4,542 and £2,550 respectively due to the greater amount of kelp and carrageen being collected and purchased. There are offsetting decreases of £17,000 under sub-head H (3) due to the slowing down of housing activity, and of £5,100 under sub-head D (9) due to the non-availability of certain items of plant for the proposed new spinning mill.

Vote 55, Industry and Commerce, shows an increase of £32,996. Sub-head A, Salaries, is up by £4,561 by reason of the employment of additional staff in connection with the Food Allowances Scheme. Increased provision for minerals development accounts for increases of £12,000 and £15,000 under sub-heads L (1) and L (3) respectively. Provision for the Turf Development Board is now made in the Vote for Special Emergency Schemes. In 1941/42 the Industry and Commerce Estimate included sums totalling £19,000 for Grants-in-Aid to that board to cover portion of the year up to 12th June, 1941.

Vote 58, Marine Service, shows an increase of £24,159. Sub-head J, which provides for grants in respect of the equipment of ships for protection against magnetic mines, accounts for £22,200 of the increase. There is also an increase of £3,000 under sub-head I (3) for pensions and allowances to crews (and their dependents) of ships registered in Éire who are killed or disabled as a result of the war.

Vote 59, Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Assistance, shows a decrease of £224,828. The main decrease occurs under sub-head J, Unemployment Assistance, which is down by £215,000. The figure for 1942-43 is based on the assumption that the conditions obtaining in 1941-42 will again obtain in the coming financial year.

Vote 64, Army Pensions, shows a decrease of £57,540. The decrease of £6,248 under sub-head E is due to the fact that the Referee and Advisory Committee are expected to complete their work at an early date and provision has been made under this sub-head for part of the year only. The decreases of £6,866 and £43,830 under sub-heads G and K respectively are due to the fact that fewer claims are now being received and fewer pensions being granted under the Army Pensions Acts. The main offsetting increase of £3,009 under sub-head L is occasioned by the larger number of pensions now being granted to members of the regular Army.

Vote 66, League of Nations, shows a decrease of £8,328. Only a token provision was provided in 1941-42, but full provision is being made for the coming year.

Vote 67, Employment Schemes, shows a decrease of £250,000. This reduction is due to the fact that the cost of certain schemes (e.g., farm improvement schemes) has been transferred to the Vote for Special Emergency Schemes.

Vote 72, Emergency Scientific Research Bureau, shows an increase of £7,000, due to provision being made for an increased Grant-in-Aid of investigations and research.

I have on other occasions referred to the ineptitude of the Minister's statement, and even to his presence. On this occasion, the document he read out, which I do not pretend to have listened to, contained details about sub-head D (3) of some Vote. That is a typical product of a civil servant. We are going to vote a sum of money which is calculated by ratio of proportion, roughly one-third of the total amount to be voted, that is to say, we are voting one-third of the total Government policy and the total Government administration during the coming year. It seems to me, to begin with, that the most appropriate Minister to be present on this occasion would be the Taoiseach because, I am not going to say that this sum is made up of exactly one-third of each Vote, but that is really the basis. For instance, there is about £9,000,000 for the Army in the Estimates. If that £9,000,000 were not there, we could assume that, instead of voting £13,000,000, we would now be voting £10,000,000. Therefore, in so far as we consider this Bill, we consider the voting of this money in relation to the policy of the Government, to what the money is being spent on by all Departments. I say, therefore, the person to defend this Bill in this House is eminently the Taoiseach, not the Minister for Finance. The matter of whether there is a decrease of £100 under sub-head D (3) in a particular Vote is rather unimportant.

I referred just now to the Army. The document in relation to which this Bill should be discussed is the Book of Estimates. If you turn to page 314 of the Book of Estimates you will see the Army Vote. The Minister cannot tell us whether or not there has been an increase or decrease under any sub-head in the Army Estimates because there are not any Estimates. We are still supposed to be a Parliamentary Government. We have on a sheet of paper here a statement that something less than £10,000,000 is being spent on the Army. We have no means of even asking intelligent questions about it. I know that this emergency is made to cover a multitude of sins, eminently of Governmental sins. In England there is still—I will not say intelligent criticism of the Government—but there is very active criticism of the Government. One can only compare this country with other Parliamentary countries. In England, the Government, fighting a war, vital for the very existence of its people, have to submit to enormous criticism. When I get up here I feel that unless I, quite dishonestly, say how wonderful and perfect the Government is and every Minister in it, there is going to be general indignation in Government circles and in the Fianna Fáil Benches. At the same time I would be lacking in ordinary integrity in myself if I did not say a few things that I think. I think that the Government, whether intentionally or not, is using the excuse that certain other countries are at war, which condition has certain repercussions here, to completely blanket down the whole idea of a legislative assembly here. Take this matter of the Army. I find my tongue tied. The most vital thing is to know whether or not the voting of this money is merely a quite way of robbing the Irish people or a way of providing for good service for the Irish people. If I were to ask for certain information I should promptly be told that it was not in the public interest to give it. I am not going to contest that, but I do say this, that when the Government finds itself in that position, there are other ways of meeting it.

There is this enormous increase in the cost of the Army. I agree that in the present condition of the world it is natural and normal that there should be an increase in the cost of the Army. I do not know that this increase that is being imposed on the people here is an increase that should be made. I am not at all sure that it would not be just as well to fling the money down the gutter. There is a way of providing that no information against the public interest would be made public and at the same time Parliamentary control would be maintained. There is no reason why in relation to the various Estimates provided here the two Houses of the Legislature should not be divided up into a number of committees. A number of Deputies could go into one matter and a number of Deputies into another and occasionally certain Deputies could go into a number of matters.

What is the position of this Assembly in relation to the Army for which £10,000,000 is voted? With quite a flourish, there was appointed a thing called the Defence Conference. It was quite evident in the discussions on the Bill that if that Defence Conference had any function at all, it was not receiving the information that it had a right to have. It was not receiving the information that every member of the Legislature would have a right to have if the emergency did not give the Government the excuse of its being against public interest to make that information public. I do think that we must either face up to it that we have either embarked now upon the totalitarian system, upon the abolition of Parliamentary Government, or we must look around to see how that can be maintained without detriment to the national interest.

I suggest a way that would do, first of all, to take the biggest Estimate here, the Army, that there should be a committee of members of the two legislative Houses appointed to go into the matter of the spending of that money, to examine the whole cost of the Army and see how far that money is wisely spent and how far that money is in fact providing for effective defence of this country in the case of attack. Nobody knows. The Minister in his speech, of which I only listened to bits, did refer to some increase or decrease arising out of the cost of uniforms for the L.D.F. A man does not become a defender of his people by merely donning a uniform. That is quite easy. To wear a suit of one shape rather than another has nothing whatever to do with it. We have a right to knowledge. Surely the most vital thing to know is what position this country is in with regard to defence; how much of this £10,000,000 is going on warlike stores; what warlike stores are available; from what sources do we get them; what prospect have we of spending a proportion of this £9,000,000 to £10,000,000 on such war-like stores? Of that, we are given no information at all.

Then the Minister goes on to establish a sort of comparison between the total Estimate of this year and the total Estimate of 1938-39. He assumed that, if the cost of the Army had not increased over that period, nothing can be said against it, and that, if it has increased by reason of certain expenditure definitely attributable to the state of emergency, that answers all criticism. Just recently, the Minister implied in his speech that every possible economy is being effected. With regard to some of the main items of expenditure in connection with the Army, we do not know whether it has or not. With regard to many other items, we are, in a certain way, able to form a judgment. Just recently, certain questions were asked in the Dáil about the payment of directors of various companies and members of commissions set up by the Government. In many cases I was not in a position to form a judgment, the names of the men being unknown to me, but there were many cases—I do not like mentioning names here—where I would invite the Government to state why the man appointed was appointed as distinct from anybody else in this country if it was not in payment for being a Party "yes-man". I do not like mentioning names——

Better not. I would suggest not.

Well, they have been published in the Dáil. I am not suggesting that I do not like mentioning names because it would be out of order. It is only just a natural reticence personal to myself. In regard to the Army, I think—but I have no way of knowing—that the money is not being spent in direct relationship to services in the defence of the people of this country in the most effective way. I think that; I am not in a position to judge. I could propose to the Government a method by which the elected representatives of the people would be able to form a judgment and to vote for or against those moneys. I could mention a hundred other things, but this possibly is not the appropriate time. I have not the figures before me, but I think there is an item of £90,000 or something like that for wireless broadcasting. I think that is what it is. It does not matter if I am £10,000 or £20,000 out, because personally I do not know that anything should be spent on it at all.

We have a Minister who is responsible for that. Just within the last couple of weeks I noticed in the Press reports that he went down the country. Now, I am not going to attribute malice to the man because malice does require certain judgment and certain intelligence, and possibly malice would be most inappropriately attributed to him. He may have believed—he could believe anything—in what he said. He went down the country and said, with regard to speaking on the wireless in the way of propaganda, that all Parties were agreed that that should be entirely left in the hands of the Taoiseach. I want to enter a protest against that immediately. One of the reasons why I should like to see our broadcasting station closed down— apart from the fact that I am always ashamed when I think of people outside this country listening to it, because it has the distinction of giving the most outstandingly low-brow production of any wireless I have ever heard of—is that I think it has been used for broadcasting overseas statements that were detrimental to this country. Then the Minister goes down the country and tells the people that we are all agreed that the man who made those inept statements, those what I might call ill-mannered and ill-conditioned statements to external peoples, over the wireless, is the only man who should speak on the wireless. I know that people may tell me that that large sum of money spent on that unnecessary and rather objectionable Department is drawn from wireless licences, but nobody can tell me that the people pay licences only because the only thing they want to hear is what they get from Radio Eireann. I do strongly resent that my country should be misrepresented and presented in a bad light by the most important public representative in it, and that another Minister should then go and tell people that we are all agreed that nobody else should speak on those matters.

Last Christmas, a broadcast was sent to the people of America. I have questioned the ordinarily good manners of the head of one State, by wireless broadcast, addressing the subjects of another Government. That seems to me to be an outrage of the best traditions of international usage. I know that we are entering into a period of ill-manners, but I do not quite see why we should be pioneers in the matter. The impression I got from listening to that broadcast last Christmas was this: here was an address to the people of America, to the Irish people in America if you like, and it seemed to me that it was almost as if you were trying to whisper to them that we were all heart and soul with them in a certain belligerent condition, but we did not want anybody to hear us putting it in such words that we could be challenged with having said it. That, to me, was completely undignified. The head of a State should get up and say outspokenly what he has to say, or leave it unsaid. A couple of nights ago there was another broadcast. There was a statement something to this effect, that he would have liked to have spoken to our people outside our country, presumably in America, Australia and places like that, but it was not possible. I wonder why it was possible last Christmas and not possible on 17th March. What has happened to the ethereal waves in the meantime? No new declaration of war has intervened in that period. Having said it would be nice if that could be done, then by a sort of side-wind there was an attempt made to address people outside our jurisdiction. I am quite prepared to believe that a case could be made for speaking to people outside our jurisdiction, but no case could be made for trying to speak to them while pretending that you are not doing anything of the sort.

I refer first mainly to the Army. We are voting, presumably, £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 for the Army, and nobody here who is going to vote it can tell us anything about it. Nobody can tell us how many men are in the Army. Nobody can tell us what equipment per man there is. Nobody can tell us as to what reserve stores the Army has. We are not at war. Just yesterday, I think it was, or within the last week, one heard a whole lot of information with regard to the condition of armed preparedness of countries actively engaged in war, but we are not allowed to know a word about it here. Here we are this year voting about £40,000,000. I will agree that, normally, we had a way of judging that by relating the sum voted to the actual value of our annual productivity in the country. That does not apply now because we, like practically every other country in the world, are spending not only the value of our production within the financial year, but the accumulated savings of our own and previous generations. Always there is this excuse put up, that everybody else is doing the same thing. The unfortunate thing is that we began doing it long before other people did —at the time of the economic war.

I do not see the machinery for dealing with what I want to deal with here. We are voting now moneys to pay for the whole Government policy, both in its totality and in every minor detail. We are voting money to pay to Fianna Fáil adherents compensation as directors of companies and as members of commissions. We are voting money for some of those voices that one hears on the wireless, and hastily turns off, just for the sheer cacophony of the voices. We are voting money for the police. Just the other day I saw a reference, if I remember rightly, to renewed recruitment for the police, and members of the Taca force, I think, can be made permanent.

The Taca force, Senators may remember, was brought into existence a number of years ago, just after a political party had a rather late meeting in this building and a fire took place. Suggestions, completely unsustained, and without a tittle of evidence, were brought forward that that fire was due to sabotage. It was whispered, suggested, implied by the then head of the Government in the Dáil, but there was never one iota of evidence produced to prove that such was the case. It is not unknown to Senators that, when this new force was taken into the police, within a very short time certain cases came up in court in which the men then taken into the force admitted that up to the very moment when they became paid members of a force, paid by moneys voted by the Oireachtas, they had belonged to a criminal organisation, whose activities extended over an enormous range of crimes. I need not go into them all, but I can say that their main function was the crime of murder. They were taken into the police force and are still there, and they admitted in public court that they belonged to a criminal organisation before. We are paying here for that force.

Police are necessary at all times, and they may be more necessary in this time of emergency than under normal conditions. But why should we pay for this particular force? The very first right of a citizen is security of life, and the first duty of the police is to see that the citizen should have that security. It is the duty of the police to promote and win that security, and to deal with everybody appropriately and in accordance with the law, instead of taking away that security and, in fact, taking life. A short time ago I found it necessary to refer to this matter. Look back at any time from 1932 onwards, and you will see what has been implicit in the Government policy, namely, that by belonging to a criminal organisation whose career is marked by blood, crime and perjury, in every year of that period, you benefit. Certain men were taken into this Taca section of the police. I am not saying they were taken in because they were members of that criminal organisation—I am not saying that all of them were—but I do say that, in so far as information was got with regard to them in sworn evidence in the courts—and they are the only ones I can tell you anything about —they belonged to that organisation.

I referred recently to the fact that a detective was murdered in Cork. He was in the service of the Government. That is one of a number of cases where the murderer was found guilty and sentenced to death and the Government used what is called the prerogative of mercy. The normal thing is that the law should take its course. A Government must have the power of remitting sentences—that is agreed—but the Government exist for the well-being of the people and when the Government determine to intervene to prevent the normal functioning of the law they must take into consideration whether the well-being and safety of the people will be better promoted by their taking that abnormal action than by letting the normal law take its course. Within the last couple of years there was one case relating to the murder of a policeman where the ordinary law was not allowed to apply and the sentence of the court was not made effective. Apparently it did not matter about the murdered man, but it would be terrible if the murderer's life was cut short. About the same time a man belonging to the same organisation was in prison and he purported not to take the nourishment that was provided for him there. He was rightly imprisoned; the Government would not have him there if they had judged that the well-being of the country would have been better preserved if he were at liberty. But, because he purported not to take his meals, they let him out. Why did he want to get out and what was the result of letting him out? Another man acting in the service of the Government was duly murdered. There was the case a few years ago of a man murdered in Dungarvan and was the man found guilty of the murder executed? He was not. Did he stay long in prison? I do not think so.

I believe in paying for a police force, but my point is that what we are voting here is money to support the Government's policy with regard to spending the money of the Irish people, giving large or small sums annually to people who have no particular competence for any function, who have nothing to commend them for the holding of offices except that they have a sort of claim upon a political Party. That money I object strongly to voting. I object to pay for police in the service of the Government when the Government do not think it a crime worthy of death if these police are murdered. I object to pay for police when those police, by the policy of the Party in power, are not allowed to have their service fructified in the proper punishment of guilty parties. I object to pay for an army unless I am satisfied that money is appropriately spent for the main purpose of an army—the defence of the State.

I do not propose at this moment to follow the Minister into more minute details. I do not accept as relevant the ratio between the expenditure this year and the expenditure in the year 1939 with regard to the Army. The Minister said that the expenditure on the Army has gone up by £7,000,000. By how much has it gone up since 1932? In 1932, the actual amount spent on the Army was about £1,100,000. Before the period of emergency arose the cost of the Army had been doubled. That would have been very good if as a result of the double cost we had an Army twice as efficient. Was it so? I am not in a position to say definitely, but I do not think so.

When I was Minister for Defence we bought war-like stores for the Army, nothing like the amount we should have. We happened to buy them all from the one source for a number of reasons. For one thing, the British Government, the ancient enemy as they were supposed to be, were the only people who would sell them to us. For another, they sold them to us on the most advantageous terms, and they gave us the best value for our money. Every year when, as Minister, I brought in my Army Estimate, one of the present Ministers for Defence—nobody can say which is which—used to say that we were utterly dependent upon England. He felt that so strongly that when I went out and he came in as Minister, he applied to quite a number of countries, Sweden, the United States, and Czecho Slovakia, to supply us with arms. What I believe but I am not by any means in a position to prove it, and the Minister here probably cannot tell me any more than I know myself, is that instead of buying the appropriate armaments for our men on those occasions from the only place where they could be obtained and where the best value could be got, quite a long period went by without the normal quota being bought, with the result that when finally they decided to revert to the only sensible course, and to buy from the only country that would supply us and give us good value, that country had then reached the stage when rearmament was urgently and abundantly necessary for herself, and she could not make all the armaments she required. Like the prodigal son, we came back to her and took what she could supply us with.

I can name a number of instances where I am satisfied this Vote should be reduced. With regard to the Army, I think it is an insult to the Dáil and the Seanad that the Government have excluded us from all knowledge with regard to the mode of expenditure of such an enormous sum for such a small country and has not even tried to find another way whereby the requirements of Parliamentary control would be maintained, while at the same time the public interest would not be in any way jeopardised. I think the theory that this Bill should be brought to us by the Minister for Finance is quite absurd. I shall state again, as I stated, I think, this time last year, that the appropriate Minister to present this Bill to the Seanad, and to expound and defend it here, is the one who, above all, is responsible for the unity of Government policy, and that is the Taoiseach, and since he is not here I think we are just wasting our time without him.

One is always in the difficulty in dealing with this Vote on Account, particularly when one has to address oneself on matters relating to agriculture, that one is faced with a Minister whose way of life, whose residence, and whose contacts have been permanently in the cities of the world, our own and others. But, Sir, the Government here, while not as militantly engaged as Governments elsewhere, have, none the less, grave responsibilities thrown upon them in these difficult days. All of us, I think, would be happier—I, personally, anyhow, would be much happier—if we had more confidence that the money which we voted for government had been better spent in the past and that it is going to be better spent than we fear it will be for the coming 12 months. Government policy this year represents only the fruits that are being collected from what has been sown over a number of years through which we have passed. The great problem in this country to-day, the problem that is going to be most worrying for the Government, is the problem of supplies. A great many of our people now are very worried with regard to supplies of all kinds. Worst of all, they are very worried with regard to those supplies which we could provide for ourselves, which we ought to have provided for ourselves, and which we would have available to-day if the Government of the past had been better than it was and if it had been wiser than it was.

Now, while defence of the country in the military sense, the establishment and equipping of an army, is part of the essential function of government, there are various ways, other than by the sword, in which peoples defend themselves. The trouble with this country for a number of years past, and the difficulty that most of us had confronting us in dealing with Government policy, was that the people who had the physical capacity to provide our people with their needs, particularly in the matter of food and fuel, were the most neglected citizens in the State. Time after time, on this Vote on Account and subsequently, I raised my voice with the Minister's predecessor, pointing out to him that in my judgment the primary producers in this country were not fully or anything like adequately equipped for their task. There is ample evidence to-day of the truth of that, and either the Minister who is present to-day or his predecessor can do very little to-day to aid us in the difficulties which confront us.

We preached, time and again, that the industry of agriculture was understocked in every department. We wanted more money, we wanted all our equipment renewed, our machines and so on; we wanted our land restored to a higher level of fertility, our stocks improved and their numbers increased. From every side of the House—perhaps in a weaker voice, it is true, from the Government side than from elsewhere—this was pressed upon Ministers, but Ministers were always deaf, and if to-day there is less wheat and less flour, less stocks and stores of essential foods than are requisite and necessary for the maintenance of the health and well-being of the people of our country, the fault is due mainly to that lack of vision and that stubbornness on the part of Ministers in the past in their resolution that they would not listen to those who came from rural Ireland and who did their best to impress on them the requirements of the agricultural industry.

Now, we were turned into this war with agriculture in a very ramshackle state. I do not know to-day just exactly what the difficulties are with regard to the better capitalisation of the industry, but I do know this quite well: that probably we could now get money to buy the equipment that we cannot obtain. I know this also, that if we had got the money in time, to enable us to increase our stocks, to restore and improve our lands, and to increase the fertility of our soil—in other words, if we had been given anything like a decent chance—there would be no shortage of the foods that are essential for our people in this State to-day. That, however, could only be achieved by a Government with the imagination that the present Government did not possess, as far as the industry of agriculture was concerned. I think it is a matter, not alone of supreme regret on the part of all our people, but one over which Ministers to-day should be in sackcloth and ashes because of their want of understanding of the situation in the past. It is true that when we urged on the Government in other days that you cannot carry on an industry without its being properly capitalised, that shops with empty shelves or half-filled shelves are not going to give the same level of life to the people who are engaged in trading as they would if the individual had his shop fully stocked with wares, we were told that to advance capital to farmers, to put them into competition with one another, buying capital goods at inflated prices, and to have to repay this money when the war was over and when the price level had fallen very considerably, was only going to bring further disaster on the people of this country.

When you see the position which confronts us to-day—we are told that in the matter of fertilisers there is a reduction of the amount spent by the Government in its subsidy this year of £52,875—it simply means that had the Government spent much more than was made available in the years before the war, we would have this stored fertility to-day; we would be able to draw on it, whereas now we are not able to draw upon it, and it is not available, and, in consequence, the provision of the essential foods for our people is a much more difficult task than, I believe, the Government realise. Here we are coming into the spring, and demands are made upon farmers everywhere to till more than we have been asked to till for a generation. Only those who live in the country know of the difficulties and the impossible demands which are being made upon farmers in this respect. Equipment of all sorts is in short supply. Power of every kind, machines, horses, fuel for machines, ploughs, and everything like that, are in short supply everywhere in the country. That is the sort of situation which is the fruit of the Government's lack of interest in agriculture for the past ten years.

The Government, I have no doubt, were much better informed than any of us about what the prospects of peace or war were. The Government ought to have known and did know, I am sure; they had information available to them which we had not and they should have taken time by the forelock, if it were obvious to them—perhaps it was not—that the day would come when we would have to fall back on our own resources to provide our own essentials of life, and that that was not possible unless our people were fully equipped to perform the task. They took over £25,000,000 out of agriculture in the form of capital goods and they will not put anything back. Now farmers are expected and have been expected for the last two years to do what, in my judgment, is physically beyond them, and to do it under the additional difficulties imposed on them, which they should not have to bear or experience.

We are short to-day of flour because we are short of wheat. I will not go into a long discussion as to whether the supply position would have been better served by building up stocks of foreign wheat rather than by exploiting our own soil for its production. My view at the moment is that if the war continues for another year or two or as long as the Taoiseach apparently believes it will continue, whatever chance we have of being able to supply ourselves with our wheat requirements from our own soil is dependent entirely on the extent to which we did not use the soil for the production of wheat for the last four or five years, and, to the extent we have grown wheat on our own land, whether that has restricted our capacity to provide supplies for ourselves. I know of my own knowledge and I know from men who have been intensively engaged in the production of wheat that on their lands the yield last year was much lower than on other soils where wheat had not been grown before.

We must find fault with the Government's calculations. Whether it is the fault of the statisticians who prepared the statistics, apart from the Ministry of Agriculture, or where the fault lies, I am not quite clear, but I think the Government made a considerable miscalculation with regard to the yield from wheat last year. What I dislike is Ministers trying to put the blame on the farmers because the wheat yield has not brought the return which the Government anticipated and suggesting, openly on some occasions, and in an oblique way on others, that our wheat and flour supplies are short to-day because farmers have been using wheat to feed to animals. Farmers like the truth as well as anybody else. I do not know any farmers who used wheat to feed to animals. I do not know any of these in my county and in my county they probably go in for pig production in a bigger way than in any other county. I have heard it stated, and Ministers have been saying it, that farmers have been using wheat to feed to animals; trying to convey the impression and to let it go abroad to the people in towns and cities that if we are short, and will have to go short perhaps in the months to come, they may blame the farmers who feed wheat to their pigs. I think that is an unjust slander upon the farmers. I have not heard any Fianna Fáil Deputy or Senator repeat it. I do not know any of them who will stand up and say they know people who did that. I will not say that there are not individuals who did it, but I say that was not representative of what was happening in the country, and because it is very unrepresentative it is a slander which ought not to be repeated.

Of course, somebody will tell me that they actually examined the stomachs of pigs and found wheat there. I discussed that with somebody else whom I regard as having a good deal of information, and the answer was: "Yes, some of my own pigs I discovered were eating some of the straw in the beds, and then I realised that the threshing had been done rather badly." That is the sort of thing you get, and on facts like that you get a case built up against the farmers which annoys, irritates and does considerable damage in the farming mind, especially when these statements are repeated by Ministers. I do not know how much wheat may have been fed to animals, but I believe it would be a very small quantity indeed. In the principal pig-producing counties, wheat growing was only carried out on a very small scale. In counties like my own, and in western counties, like Mayo, Sligo and Kerry, the area under wheat would have been very limited. The total amount available to put on the market from these counties would have been very small. I do not believe that the feeding of wheat to animals has been to any extent responsible for the position which the country is in with regard to the shortage of supplies. It is due to the miscalculation made by those responsible, and then to the lack of energy on the part of the Government when they realised what the position really was.

If the position is as serious as Ministers indicate, I cannot understand why this was not discovered in November or December when the stocks of wheat coming to the mills were obviously dropping and why at that time action was not taken by the Government. Why did they not go to the market and buy what oats and barley they could obtain then, hold the wheat and make a blend of these grains, which would have made it possible to distribute flour throughout the country which would be nearly adequate to our requirements? Like in other things, they left everything until the last minute. Why did not the Government think of the situation with which they will be confronted if our supplies run out much earlier than perhaps even at the moment they anticipate? I suggest that action ought to be taken by the Government. They may find difficulties now in obtaining supplies of oats and barley. But the oats and barley were in the country and could have been bought if a Government authority wanted to secure them as a standby for human food.

There is to-day a considerable quantity of potatoes available. But the Government ought to realise that if the people in the towns and cities are to be short of carbohydrates, if wheat and other grain are not available and they want some substitute, and potatoes are the one substitute which can meet the situation to a considerable extent, they had better not wait too long about making provision to have stores of potatoes laid by or they will be going to the country looking for them when they are used up or wasted, because farmers cannot keep pits of potatoes in the fields when they want to prepare and manure the land for wheat, oats or barley. The potatoes must be got away and potatoes that were grown last year will not be very much good as animal food in July or August next.

If the Government, who have the responsibility for seeing that none of our people goes hungry, think that they are not going to have enough grain this year, they should go into the market now and buy and store as much of those potatoes as will ensure that the people will have something with which to fill themselves if grain is not available. The Minister may not know that, for weeks past, the potatoes are growing in the pits. They are growing much earlier this year, even with us in the north, than they did last year. To the extent that they continue sprouting, their value as food is deteriorating. They will be much less valuable by June of this year than potatoes of 12 months ago were last June. The farmers must get rid of them if they are not to be wasted. If potatoes are to be left with me and with my neighbours and if we do not know whether or not they will be wanted as human food, we must make provision for using them up now. You may find at the end of May that people in the cities and a great many people of the bigger towns will not have supplies. What I suggest may involve loss but the risk ought to be taken. I do not know who can take it but the Government. It may be that they will act as they did when a group of responsible people, who were prepared to buy supplies of tea which would carry the country on for three years, sought a guarantee from them. They were told that the Government were not prepared to give any guarantees. The Government washed their hands of responsibility for seeing that the citizens would have a reasonable supply of an essential food and we see what the position to-day is in regard to our supplies of tea.

The Government do not desire to be reminded of these matters, but these are facts. If the people are short of many commodities to-day, it is largely due to the fact that the Government had not either the imagination or the courage to face up to the proposition of laying in supplies in time. When these considerations were urged upon the Government, in the other House and here, those doing so were told that they did not know what they were talking about, and that the Government were so competent that they were looking after everything. Then we find ourselves catapulted into the present position. It was not that we had not the money to lay in stores. The money was either here or in Britain, and little good it is in either place now, so far as the provision of essentials is concerned.

Apart from what the Government may do to meet any shortages from now until the next harvest, there is, with regard to the whole position of our food and fuel supplies, need for complete reorganisation of our manpower if we are not to be worse off 12 months hence than we are to-day. In sections of the Press, great fuss is being made about people leaving the country. Neighbours of my own cannot find men to do a job on the land. Several of my neighbours have asked me if I could do anything to find labour for them. They are expected to till, as they have always tilled. That is the position throughout the country in spring, when we are only commencing to make provision for the sowing. As we go into the months of summer and harvest, what the plight of the farming community will be is beyond my imagination. I believe that we shall not have anything like adequate numbers of men to help us in the fields. It is easy for people to take a detached view and say that this is the farmers' job and that he should get on with it. There are limits to what the farmers can do. They see all sorts of inequalities in the whole system of industry and labour in this country and, unless the people in the towns and cities are prepared to accept their share of the responsibility, there are grave dangers that the crops grown will not be harvested because we are not making any effort, in time, to organise our manpower and utilise it in the fields.

We have in the city here, and in the towns, a considerable number of unemployed, and a large number who will be unemployed because of shortages of different kinds. I do not think that that type of labour ought to be permitted to go across to England and send back money here to buy goods that are not available. Goods are essential at all times, but the type of goods we require now are those which will fill our stomachs, keep our toes warm, and cover our bones. These are the sort of things we want if we are to keep any sort of order in our little community. If there are men who want to run away from toil and labour to get paper £'s in other kinds of employment, who want to shirk their responsibilities, or who want to go because there is no organisation at home to put them into productive effort, then there is need for complete reorientation on the part of the Government of the whole problem of production in the State. In the next 12 months, we should not only try to provide enough food for ourselves, but a surplus. There is land enough for that, and we could carry out that task if our people were more fruitfully employed than they are. We have altogether too many passengers in our economic system. There are too many people anxious to spend their lives passing on goods when they ought to be putting some effort into the production of goods. A great many of these people will be out of employment during the next 12 months, and they will have to be fed somehow. These people should be made realise that they will have to make some contribution to the effort of production, and that the things most essential to us are the things we have to eat, the fuel we are going to burn, and the clothes we require for wearing.

I am not an expert on the subject of raw materials for industrial goods but I know a good deal about raw materials for food and fuel. Not alone is there need for a new and fresh approach on the part of the Government to the whole problem of agricultural production but there is need for a much more courageous approach. They should try to get greater co-operation and co-ordination between our farmers and there is an urgent necessity for getting these men in the cities and towns into closer relation with the work that is to be done in the fields and in the bogs. There is no use in waiting until next August or September to do this. If we wait, we shall be short of supplies as we are to-day. If you could turn these men into the green fields now to encourage those who are trying to do more than their best, I believe that when the time came to reap our harvest we would not be appalled and staggered by the magnitude of the task that would confront us. We would be encouraged by the knowledge that we would be backed by hundreds and thousands of men and that, no matter what crops were put in, they would not be lost to the farmers and to the nation by reason of shortage of man-power.

If that is to be attempted, the Ministry must think about it now. What I fear is that they will not attempt to grapple with it with the vigour and courage which it demands. I am not talking Party politics. What I say is known to every sensible farmer of the Fianna Fáil Party just as it is known to me. They are grumbling as much as I am about it. Their problems are my problems. If there is not to be a shortage, the Ministry had better become wide awake now and, as Deputy Hughes urged in the Dáil, try to get all the machinery available in rural Ireland into those fields where machines can work. They should try to get co-operation and co-ordination amongst the farmers themselves and they should try to get the people in the cities and towns, who will be hungry if the fields do not produce the requisite food, to realise that there is a big problem ahead of the people now in the fields and that they ought to go to their aid. These are the considerations which, to my mind, demand attention at the present time. I do not want to pass judgment on Government policy in the past or in the future. I think it is better to deal with our present problems constructively than to hark back to the past. It is right that the consequences of the mistakes of the past should be pointed out because they are not making things easier for us at present but we should not dwell upon them too long lest we be discouraged by them. I believe we can succeed in mastering our problems but we are not going to succeed by sitting back in armchairs and trying to make calculations as to the amount of food which can be produced, while leaving the farmers without the help requisite to put in the crops or to take them out.

I agree with Senator Baxter that this is not a time for going back on the past, but it is sometimes essential to go back so that one may arrange for the future. This annual debate is always used for the purpose of attacking the Government—it does not matter what Government is in power at the time. The Opposition takes advantage of the debate to point out the omissions and mistakes of the Government, to explain how such a thing should have been done, or why something should be done that was not done. They say that if they had been in power they would have acted in a different way. It is interesting to hear these arguments in view of the attitude of many members of the farming community when the tillage policy was introduced some years ago. Those of us who have fairly retentive memories recollect the determined fight the Government had to make to enforce its tillage policy. It had to carry on a campaign of persuasion and, finally, had to resort to compulsion in order to see that the amount of land necessary to feed the people was tilled.

Every day we see in the papers where heavy fines are imposed on men with land suitable for production of food who had refused to grow that food. I do not say that the majority of Irish farmers are of this type. The majority of farmers have risen to the occasion and will, I hope, produce enough food to keep us from the fate that Senator Baxter fears—starvation. These charges against the Government, of neglect and want of foresight are somewhat overdone because if the Government's advice had been taken three or four years ago, we should now be in a much better position to produce all the food we require than we are. The absurd argument was used in the Dáil that it was actually the wheat policy of the Government which prevented enough wheat being grown last year to supply our wants. The Deputy responsible for that argument pointed out that the land had become impoverished——

That is what has the land so poor now.

The speaker will find very few people to agree with that. If it was not for the insistence of this terrible Government on wheat-growing, we should be in a far worse position than we are to-day. I do not desire to dwell on these things but the critics of the Government to-day are the people who determinedly opposed any attempt to increase tillage. They fought the wheat and beet policy determinedly and many of them said: "We will not grow wheat or beet." Criticism from them comes very ill to-day. I am not classing Senator Baxter amongst those to whom I refer. He has been very helpful and has endeavoured at all times to give good advice. That, however, does not hold for many of the critics of the Government in the Dáil and in the country.

The Army has been criticised. I wonder if there is any neutral country in Europe which is not spending enormous sums on its army. Other neutral countries are spending more in proportion to their revenue than this country is spending. I speak subject to correction, but I think that that holds for other neutral countries. It is impossible to avoid this expenditure in this period of the world's history. We are in the midst of the greatest war the world has ever seen, and, but for the mercy of God and the wisdom of those guiding us, we would probably have been involved in that war by now. We all hate expenditure upon war and war materials. Expenditure on them is wasteful and extravagant, and it is a terrible thing to have strong, able young men in this country, as in other countries, waiting to be attacked or to attack. But what could be done? It is the foolishness of mankind that brings these terrible conditions about. We cannot escape their effects. Expenditure upon the Army, much as we detest that expenditure, is unavoidable.

In passing, may I remark that these debates should be more constructive than they are? A debate of this sort is generally a mass of adverse criticism and very little advice is given as to how things could be improved. We are told that the Government did not do this and did not do that. Why did not the critics formulate a policy, put it before us and explain how these difficulties could have been avoided? We are asked why the Government did not import hundreds of thousands of tons of coal, tea, wheat and sugar. What would have been said two or three years ago if the Government came to the Dáil, or this House, asking for millions of money to buy wheat, sugar or coal? One can imagine the outcry that would have taken place. The present critics would have said: "Why put this terrible tax on the people; why not grow this wheat and produce this sugar ourselves?"

You can imagine the letters to the Press and the criticism there would be all over the country of this wasteful, extravagant Government which wanted to spend our money on imported foreign foodstuffs to store them up uselessly. It is very easy to be wise after the event. We are now living in times of great scarcity and we can all point to the necessity there was to provide for this scarcity a few years ago, but I think Senators can easily understand the criticism the Minister would have had to face in this House if he had put forward such a policy at that time. It is very easy to criticise now when the whole unthinking mass of the people are criticising. A vast number of people in this country, as in every other country, who never bother except to live from day to day are now criticising everybody because such things were not done.

Many problems will arise for solution in this country after this war is over. At the moment, for instance, an enormous quantity of timber is being cut and when the war is over, we shall have to face a vast expenditure on re-afforestation. I wonder if the Government were now to make an attempt to initiate a re-afforestation scheme, how much support it would get in the country? Senator Baxter tells us that we ought to take the people from the towns, the unemployed at the moment and even those who are engaged in distributing trades, and put them working on the land. It takes many years to train an agricultural labourer.

How many years?

An agricultural labourer is a skilled man. Does the Senator think that you can take a man from behind a counter in an urban district and put him to work on the land?

I suggest to the Senator that it has been done elsewhere in a much shorter time than many years.

I can see that, where necessity compels it, these things have to be done, but you cannot take any large body of men from the towns out into the country and transform them into skilled agricultural labourers within any reasonable time. I agree that there is much work that they can do but they are not skilled agricultural labourers and perhaps by taking them out from the towns to the country, you might be doing more harm than good.

They could do some extra work at harvest time such as pitching and stooking.

I agree they could. There is one criticism that I myself shall make. We are spending quite a lot of money on education in this country, but amongst the young people of to-day, those who have gone through our schools during the past 20 years, and who are now the young men and young women of the country, I think we must all agree there is a great absence of any national spirit. I am not going to say what the cause of that is, but my own opinion is that, to a great extent, it is due to lack of teaching of, shall I say, patriotism in the schools. I agree with those who say that one of the root causes of the trouble in the world to-day is the growth of excessive nationalism. I do not agree with narrow nationalism either. I think that the first duty of any citizen is to the country in which he or she lives. It is said that one of the causes of the downfall of the French nation was that the young people in France had lost all sense of nationality, that they had ceased to be good French patriots.

It was also due to bad Governments.

They took no interest in their country, and taking no interest in the country, that country went down. I hold that one of the subjects that should be taught in the primary schools, the secondary schools and the universities is patriotism, that young people attending these schools should be taught they have a country to work for, strive for, and, if necessary, to die for.

Would not the indirect teaching of that be the only method that would be likely to be successful?

No, I do not think so. I think it should be made part of the curricula in all schools. It is so in other countries. It is so in America and in a country that is very much in the limelight at the moment, Russia.

It does not seem to have done much good for the world.

I quite agree that excessive nationalism is not good for the world and I deprecate excessive nationalism—I mean the teaching of a creed that makes one see only one country, and no other country, in the world. We are all citizens of the world but, first and foremost, we are citizens of the country in which we were born and live and our first duty, we should be taught, is to that country. If that were taught to us, there would not be so much necessity for the criticism we hear to-day. If the young people of Ireland were taught to consider, firstly, the interests of their country, and of their neighbours in their country before their own selfish individual interests, I think we could avoid a lot of the trouble which we are experiencing at the moment.

Is it not rather that they should be taught to think more about their duties and less about their rights?

That is what I say. I say that the first duty of every man is to his country. If our young people were imbued with these sentiments, I think we would have less of the craze for pleasure one sees in this country.

The trouble is that there are many patriots who do not think they have any duties at all.

Those people are not patriots. Those people are humbugs because a genuine patriot is not of that type.

Is the Senator a humbug?

I am sorry to appear to have been wandering from the subject of the debate but these gentlemen keep me going. I was dealing with the expenditure on education and I think that this country should get more of that sort of teaching in return for this expenditure. I have always been an enthusiast for the Irish language but I am afraid that, in concentrating so much on the Irish language, we have failed to teach these young people the reason for the Irish language. If these young people who are being taught Irish now, are not taught the necessity for Irish and are not taught the reason for learning the native tongue, then I say that teaching will fail and the Irish language will die, because the first essential for success in the teaching of any subject of that kind is that the students should understand the reason for it, why they must learn Irish and why they must spend all these hours endeavouring to acquire a knowledge and a mastery of a second language. There is only one reason for that and if that reason is not taught to the young people in the schools, all the expenditure on the teaching of Irish will be fruitless.

I do not think it necessary to say anything further on this matter but I should like every speaker who follows me to point out, not merely the failures of the Government to meet the situation, but to indicate what better could be done to cope with the terribly serious situation with which we are faced because it will take the united wisdom of all our people to avoid the results of the mess in which the world is at the moment.

With a good deal of what has been said I am in thorough agreement, particularly what has been said by Senator Baxter, namely, that some provision will have to be made for feeding the people, no matter what the cost. I think these were his words. I take it that I am quoting the Senator correctly?

That is what I meant anyway.

We were talking of the wages of agricultural labourers. Senator Baxter thought that farmers could not afford to improve on a wage of 30/- for their labour. I do not want to pose as a prophet in this matter, but, on the outbreak of the war, I forecast in this House the steps that would require to be taken to meet the situation arising out of the world war. I said that it could only be met by a National Government, and I feared at that time that no Party Government could take the drastic steps that would be necessary, and I think I was right in that. The Government have failed to take the very necessary drastic steps to deal with the situation, with the result that we see around us in this country to-day a horrible situation. We see the cost of the Army up by £7,000,000. That expenditure is necessary in order to anticipate invasion by some foreign Power, but if you increased your Army Estimate by several millions, it would not prevent the operations of the enemy which is inside the country already—a horrible enemy, a ghastly enemy, an enemy which can destroy any country. It is abroad in the land, and all your armies, with all their modern equipment, cannot prevent it. Nothing but reason and a proper appreciation of the needs of the people can deal with such a situation.

Hunger stalks this land to-day, and no great imagination is needed to realise that in a very short time this hungry army will be substantially increased, notwithstanding the fact that great numbers of the best and healthiest of our young people are emigrating. Hunger is abroad in the land and we have ample evidence of the fact in the bread queues around the City of Dublin where the common people have to queue up to get their ordinary supplies of bread. The complaint is that there is not equality of sacrifice or suffering. I am informed that people whose bread is brought to their door by vans are not feeling the shortage to any great extent, but when one pictures a wife, a daughter or son of a working man standing in a bread queue for hours, waiting to get a certain limited supply of bread, and when one sees the windows of these shops piled up with fancy bread, one wonders if we are back in the time of Marie Antoinette. All that is necessary is money to buy these things, and the Government has taken steps to ensure that the working classes will not have the money to buy them.

To ensure that they shall not have the money to buy these necessary things, they have instituted the infamous Emergency Powers (No. 83) Order. Nothing the Government have done that I know of has done more harm to the country as a whole than that Order. Somebody called it a standstill Order on wages, but there is no standstill Order on prices. Every time prices go up, the working people's supply of food becomes less. I know that the Government have realised the error they made in initiating that Order and already I think eight changes have been made in it. I wonder if, even now, they would be wise in their generation and abandon or cancel that Order, and let the working classes have an equal chance with other classes in the community of getting their share of what is available, or will the Government go another step and control all the supplies in the country and ensure a fair and equitable distribution of the necessaries of life? That, in my opinion, would be a proper step for the Government to take. Senator Goulding asked for constructive suggestions. There is a constructive suggestion—take control of all the necessaries of life and ensure a fair and equal distribution to all the people of the State.

Senator Baxter deplored the possible shortage of agricultural labour for the harvest. There will surely be a shortage of agricultural labour for the harvest, because, if the people can get away at all, they are not going to stay here and starve, notwithstanding Deputy Goulding's appeal to patriotism. They are not going to stay here and starve, while other sections live in luxury. If there is to be sacrifice, there ought to be equality of sacrifice. I have no complaint whatever regarding the amount of money budgeted for, but I should like to know from the Minister where or how he is going to get it. Petrol taxation was a very great source of revenue, and we see that drastic steps are to be taken to stop private motoring. We can see losses at both ends in that respect— loss of revenue and creation of unemployment—unless steps are taken to organise transport on a sound basis. I am glad to see in that connection that some slight effort has been made to get control of transport. I hope it is not going to stop with the appointment of one man, but that the Government will listen to reason now, and will call in some council of advisers such as has been advocated by the Labour Party. Surely, their conceit in their own ability should stop now, when we are facing this great crisis, and some of the best and most capable people in the country, who are willing to come in and co-operate with the Government, and to advise them on certain plans and schemes, should be called in.

I have no doubt whatever that this emergency cannot be outlived with any degree of success on present economic ideas. We see, on the one hand, the banks deploring the lack of opportunity to exploit their capital, or what is called capital. We have assets in this country, such as our agricultural stock, that are of great value. We ought to ensure, when we sell cattle for export, that we get in return coal or something that we require for immediate use and that is absolutely necessary for us. If we were to proceed on these lines, I think it could be said that they were contructive. A system of that kind would mark a big departure from the one that has been in existence, the one which has created so much misery in this and in almost every other country. In my opinion a bold and drastic step will be necessary to save our people from the effects of the great crisis which is almost immediately upon them. Things are getting worse every other day. We should try to make better provision for the difficulties ahead than we have done in the past. We have had almost three years to prepare for the situation which we now realise is almost upon us. In my opinion we have not, to any great extent, taken steps to minimise the sufferings which our people will be faced with. Even now, I would appeal to the Government to change their policy, and to drop their great conceit in their own ability to manage things. The situation is getting beyond them. It is getting too big for any Party Government. We have a great number of people in the country who are not only capable but willing to contribute something to get over the situation I speak of, or at least to help to minimise the sufferings which our people may be called upon to endure.

I cannot recall any case in which more stupidity has been shown than that of the Department of Local Government and Public Health in its attitude towards communal kitchens in the City of Dublin where the machinery for them has been provided by the Corporation, which governs this city, and is willing to put its scheme into preparation. The scheme would provide hot meals for the people in the slums who had no fuel during the winter to enable them to do any cooking on their own. The meals could be provided for them at very little cost. It is all very well to talk about pauperising the people, but what is pauperism compared to starvation and hunger which, to my own knowledge, have been rampant in this city? In Gardiner Street and other densely populated areas the majority of the people are unemployed. Quite a number of them have fairly large families. They have no fuel to cook a meal for perhaps the one member who may be working, or even to heat milk or some other food for a child. If some of those people go into a building and take a few pieces of timber to make a fire to cook a meal and are brought before the courts and convicted, they are sent to jail and penalised very severely. The machinery for the communal kitchens is there, and why is it not put into operation? The Minister responsible appears to have some notions in his head on the matter. I wonder if he were living in one of these slum areas and saw children going around cold and hungry, and at the same time saw one of these kitchens in operation under the auspices of the Dublin Corporation where food could be provided for those hungry children, how he would feel about it, and what he would do if he were hungry. Would he allow his pride to overcome his hunger? I hope sincerely that something will be done to enable those people to avail of the services of these communal kitchens which are ready to provide for those in the greatest need. Citizens of goodwill have put up a lot of money so that meals may be provided for people who are in a position to pay for them and who, at very little trouble, might be able to cook hot meals in their own homes. That class is being provided for, but the unfortunate people who are in dire need must be saved from the stigma of pauperism !

I have no complaint to make about the sum of money that the Minister for Finance is asking. I do not envy him his job. As far as I can see, the main sources of revenue are drying up while the call and the need for more expenditure are becoming more persistent. As I have said, it will need the taking of very drastic steps to get us out of the predicament we are in. The unemployment figure, at the moment, is very high and is growing daily. It would be very much higher were it not for the increased strength of the Army plus the number of people who are leaving the country. That is not a very healthy sign. While I have not felt it necessary to go through the various items in the Vote on Account, I hope that, in the remarks I have made, I have contributed something worth while to the discussion on this Bill.

Senator Goulding, as he very frequently does, contributed a very interesting speech. May I say that, while I agree with a good deal of what he said, I do not believe it is possible, by any form of teaching in the schools, to inculcate a spirit of unselfishness and a feeling of genuine patriotism in children if it does not already exist in their homes and is not to be found in their parents and in the adults who are in a position to influence their lives? A very fine spirit of unselfishness was to be found all over this country before we got our own form of Government, but since then, I am afraid, we have grown soft and selfish and have worked for Party rather than for the State, the net result being that there is a great deal of truth in what Senator Goulding has said. I say that en passant arising out of the remarks the Senator made which, I think, were both interesting and valuable.

With regard to the main matters I want to deal with, let me say at once that I find myself almost 100 per cent. in agreement with what Senator Foran has said. In fact, the lines on which he commenced his speech were the lines on which I had intended to open mine. Senator Goulding says there is no use in dealing with the past except in so far as it may help one with regard to the future. I have no sympathy with those who indulge in past recriminations simply for the purpose of making points against some person. At the same time, I do not think you can get away from the past, and particularly the recent past. I, personally, believe that we in this country are faced with a far more serious crisis than we imagine. I do not believe the crisis is as much a military one as it is an economic one. Two years ago, and again, with much more emphasis, a year ago, I tried to draw the attention of this House to the fact that the only bona fide efforts on the question of national unity were to be found in relation to military defence. While that was the position, I emphasised that the future of this country depended just as much, if not more so, on the existence of proper economic measures as it did on military measures, and pointed out that I failed to see that any proper steps were being taken to meet that situation. I believe—as I said two years ago and again a year ago—that it is not possible, adequately, to face the kind of situation which we have had in this country in the last two years, and that we are going to have in a much more acute form in the near future, with government controlled by a Party.

I agree with Senator Foran. I stated then and I still believe that the kind of requisitions or demands which it would be necessary to make could not be made simply in the name of any Government which was only a Party Government with the same measure of success as they could be made by a Government representing the nation as a whole. Senator Goulding has explained that the Government advised certain things. He has said it is not fair to criticise certain things that were done. My answer to that is that that kind of criticism is inevitable when you are working with a Party Government. If the advice had been national advice and given in a united manner I believe it was possible—and that it is still possible—to get a very large measure of united effort. It will always be less possible to do that as time goes on and as we continue to leave our business under Party control. One cannot get away from the fact that a Government acting for a Party will be more reluctant to take unpleasant measures promptly and immediately. A Government representative of the various Parties will not be subject to the same criticism and will not have to justify itself in the same manner.

It seems to me that a very good instance of that is found in the general question of supplies and rationing. The Government have failed to organise the business ability of the country to deal with the situation which we have to face. There are excellent people in the Civil Service, and able men in the Government and in the Fianna Fáil Party, but they have not got them all and have not enough to deal with the situation. I do not pretend to know much about agriculture, except in a casual way, but in the case of trade the Government have failed to get the assistance and advice of any other than those individuals acting for separate trades. There has been no attempt at unified action by a council. There has been a lot of energy and hard work, but that has been done from the State rather than organising the nation as a whole on a war basis. There is no use in "codding" ourselves that we have not to be organised on a war basis as far as economics is concerned. The sooner everyone gets on a war basis the better.

It is more than heart-breaking to see the bread queues in Dublin and to come in contact with some of the poorer people. It is easy to say that bread rationing is difficult. I know it is, but it would be better than what we have got. I live in a district where the houses are fairly good. Why should not the allowance of bread in such areas be half or quarter the usual amount, by the very fact of the address? It would be perfectly reasonable. The arrangement may cause hardship to some people, but nothing like the hardship that exists at present. A way could be found if there were a will. Some of the difficulty is due to the extreme reluctance to provide a national register in time.

And communal kitchens.

I do not wish to be a scaremonger, but I believe that clothing should have been rationed long ago. It could not be done because there was no register. Rationing by the shopkeepers may prove workable in the case of a few things, but it never works easily or fairly. The rationing of sugar seems to mean that some get a pound, others get a half pound, others three-quarters of a pound. With the best possible will in the world, no shopkeeper can work a scheme like that fairly. The Government found themselves in the position that they should have taken decisions which they dare not take because of the criticism with which they would be faced.

Senator Goulding referred to coal. I do not believe in saying now what this country should have done in 1940, when there was a large quantity of coal available. I am chairman of a company, and at that time we put all the resources we had available into obtaining coal, and so it is only now that we are getting short. So, if I say we should have done it, it is only saying what I practised at the time. I admit that, if things had gone differently, the Government would have been criticised, but that would not have been a national disaster. A Party Government does not take the kind of action which lends itself open to great criticism if it is unsuccessful. The same thing could be said of other matters. Speaking generally, I believe this is all due to the fact that we have been working on Party lines. Rationing has come too late. It has been the motto "better late than never". While that is good when you are late, it is extremely bad when you have not the foresight which was essential.

In this House again and again I have urged the Government in the last two years to provide some type of war risk insurance. I warned them that failure to provide that would mean less purchasing, and less possibility of purchasing, supplies when available. When you leave it entirely to the individual, he goes a long way in taking risks; but if he is left in the position that he may get in stocks and borrow almost to the very limit from the bank to do that, and then find that he has no security in the event of war—which the Government has been telling us for the last two years may come at any time—it is only the law of human nature that he should restrict that buying somewhat and feel that he cannot go beyond a certain burden. That is one instance of the effect of being too late.

I still urge the Minister to consider some system of war risk insurance. It should be adopted even now. It could be a contributory one, with a not too high annual contribution on the person who has stock or property insured. Possibly these people would have to go on paying for ten or 15 years until the total amount required had been paid. I know it would be virtually in the nature of a tax. I am proposing one in this case, though that may seem extraordinary to the Minister, as I believe that it would be one of extreme value in the form of insurance.

The Minister may say that I am now going on the old line of talk. From my point of view, I have deliberately and definitely come to the conclusion that, as far as business and industry are concerned, the Minister cannot tax them any more without reducing the actual yield which he would get. I would like to urge upon him not to delay his Budget this year longer than he can help. Appeals have been made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce—very properly—to firms to keep their staffs as long as they can. The position will be very acute if increased taxation is to be taken out of the money available. It simply means that staffs cannot be kept on. If it is going to be reduced or left where it is it will be possible to do it to a certain extent. There is an assumption that it will be increased and that an effort must be made to try to take more taxation out of industry. If that is done, the result will be more or less inevitable unemployment.

I pointed out a year ago that I believed that in certain cases the operation of the corporation excess profits tax would prove disastrous to some of our newer industries. I do not propose to take up the time of the House in giving the details. I think the Minister has had details given to him. I am not particularly interested in one of the never industries but I have had details given to me of some which make it perfectly clear that if that taxation applied for two years consecutively the prospect of losses in industry in the next two or three years, if they can carry on at all, means that at the end of the emergency the industry will have disappeared or, if it should survive, will be so crippled financially that its prospects of success will be very small and its capacity for employment will be drastically reduced.

There is another matter about which I feel a considerable amount of concern. I believe that whereas we cannot expect to maintain the standard on which we were living, we have the capacity and the resources and the possibility of exchange which ought to enable us to get through this crisis but I am extremely uneasy—and I believe I am speaking for a number of other people—at the rumours, if they be only rumours, that our relationship with the two countries that are our neighbours is not as good as it was. The Taoiseach told us that he was very much concerned at certain statements that were being made in other countries which were detrimental to our interests and unfair to us. I have seen a few of them, very few. The Taoiseach thinks —I completely disagree with him— that it would be unhealthy for us to know what these unpleasant statements are. I believe it would be healthy for us to know them and that we ought to know them. At any rate, it is his responsibility, not mine. The fact is that we do not know these statements and there is that uneasiness.

It is generally assumed that the United States, our neighbour on one side, though a long way away, and Great Britain on the other side only want from us that we should go into the war. I do not think we have any right to assume that that is so. I cannot help feeling that part of our difficulties is due to the fact that since this war commenced we have made—I will not say no attempts because I am not in the secrets, but we have not succeeded in making—any kind of exchange trade treaty. Most other nonbelligerent or neutral countries have made trade treaties with their neighbours on either side of the war. They have done so because of necessity. That did not necessarily involve approval of the particular policy adopted by those countries in matters outside the trade agreement. We know recently of a trade agreement with Portugal. We know Sweden made one. Switzerland made one.

Turkey also. Instead of allowing the idea that our relationships with the United States and with Great Britain are to get worse; that there is a feeling against us; that they do not understand us and are not being fair to us, to go on much longer we ought to adopt the attitude that, for good or evil, the Government, backed by a majority of the country, no matter what certain individuals may think, have decided on a policy of non-belligerency; that within that we want to live on the best possible terms with our neighbours; that we have goods which we could give. In that way we could organise our industry very much better. If people rather than starve are going to another country, that could be part of a scheme for which we might get something in return. I am not suggesting that we should offer to exchange commodities for labour, but we should try to make general trade agreements. I would like to feel that this State was adopting an attitude towards our two neighbours; that we would tell them quite frankly: "Neutrality is our policy; that is what our people want; we cannot budge from that." While keeping strictly to that, is it not possible for us to make a trade treaty of mutual helpfulness? For my part—I may be wrong—I would have great hopes that that would lead to a better relationship both from our point of view and from the point of view that we might be able to help others while at the same time benefiting ourselves.

May I repeat that I think the time has come when we have got completely to forget old allegiances, old ideas and Party allegiances and that if you are going to ask the people to do that, you would have to start at the top? The idea that old divisions are to go underneath, but the top must remain one Party Government is bad. I think it is responsible for some of our troubles. I am not at the moment attending Party meetings of any particular Party. It is said the Opposition would not agree.

Would not agree to what?

To any kind of National Government. I do not know.

Nobody knows that.

I am quite satisfied that the responsibility is on the body that is there as the lawfully-elected Government. It is they who must take the responsibility for it.

Sitting suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 6.45 p.m.