This question of the payment of allowances to members of the Parliament raises fundamental problems as to the working of a democracy. I should like to say a few words about the problems that arise but, before doing so, I should like to deal with the last point made by the Minister. There is absolutely no analogy between the allowances made to members of Dáil Eireann or Seanad Eireann and the payments made to civil servants. A civil servant who was in receipt of £360 and who obtained an increase pays income-tax on his salary, including the increase, and is expected to live out of the amount paid him. The position of members of the Dáil and Seanad is quite different. While there may be a case for increased allowances to members of the Dáil and members of the Seanad, that case does not in any way rest upon an analogy with that of civil servants who are paid a salary for work done in what is called full-time employment.
As regards the problems which arise, it has been recognised for quite a long time that in a democracy people should be able to become members of the Parliament without loss to themselves. It should be made clear at the outset that public representatives are not paid for their service. The theory, at any rate, is that they get an allowance for expenses, so that a man who desires to serve his country in the Parliament will not be at a loss. In connection with that, it must be recognised that the duties of members of Parliament, and more particularly of members of the Dáil or any similar House in any other country, are becoming more varied, more difficult and more onerous every day.
Legislation is now of so varied a character that the Order Paper for today contains a Courts of Justice Bill, a Great Southern Railways Bill, and a Clean Wool Bill. Last week, we had a Bill dealing with dairy products and measures dealing with other matters. It is really impossible for the ordinary Deputy now to follow legislation. Having regard to the immense increase in the powers of the State and of the Government, criticism of administration, or the details of administration, is becoming a matter of very great difficulty. Intervention by the State—I do not want to use any controversial term; if I do so, I shall do so unwittingly— brings to Deputies and, to some extent, to Senators an immense correspondence, which is concerned neither with legislation nor administration. In other words, as a member of the other House explained at some length, the office of Deputy is becoming a full-time job. That is a point we should consider. It cannot be disposed of in the brief way in which the Minister dealt with it here to-night. It raises the question whether we expect members of the Dáil —particularly members of the Dáil—to be full-time officers. Speaking entirely for myself, I often thought of a method which would be suitable for remedying that situation.
A certain effort was made, by, I think, the Minister for Local Government in the Cosgrave administration, to adopt that method but there was a shower of criticism about it. A method of limiting Deputies' work would be to prevent them from writing to Government Departments. If Deputies and Senators were prevented from communicating with Government Departments, their work would be much lessened. That may sound drastic. It may, perhaps, be too drastic. But it should be considered. If it were adopted in any form, it would considerably lighten the burden of Deputies and Senators, particularly Deputies.
If we are of opinion that Deputies should do all this writing and interviewing in connection with the claims of various people upon Government Departments, we are forced into consideration of the problem—whether the full-time politician, the person who is going to make a living out of politics and devote all his time to it, is a better representative than the person who has made good in some profession, trade, vocation or occupation, proposes to devote part of his time to politics and expects to get from politics merely what will reimburse him the expense and loss incurred.
If we are going to adopt the view that we want full-time politicians I hold that it has many disadvantages. One immediate problem that arises is that the full-time politician will have to be paid a salary and that he will have to pay income-tax on that salary, as a civil servant does. That is one thing which strikes me about Dáil Eireann. By increasing the allowance of Deputies to a figure of very nearly £1,000, if it were subject to income-tax, we are bringing ourselves nearer to the position in which the Deputy will become or will be expected to be a professional whole-time politician. I think this matter is well worth impartial and non-partisan discussion as to whether we are not getting nearer to that position and as to whether that position is not a wholly bad position for us to get into. The Minister will probably agree with me in this instance.
Whatever may be said for the Minister and myself in our respective positions now, one thing that can be said is that we got into politics originally on an entirely altruistic basis. If we are going to have a situation in which Deputies are full-time professional politicians one result will be that they will leave legislation and administration wholly to Ministers and experts and that the full-time politician will spend his time lobbying and that he will never criticise anything except in cases where the interests of a constituent may be involved. We are all familiar with that. We are all familiar with the type of individual who does not read a Bill, who does not know anything about the principle involved, who does not say a word on any particular stage but who is anxious to find out whether under a particular section, he can get something for Patrick Murphy and whether the Minister can say whether Patrick Murphy will get it. That is a very undesirable position. It means that neither legislation nor administration in the other House would be given any criticism or examination at all.
I would like to leave that problem there as far as the other House is concerned. It seems to me that the increase in Deputies' allowances and the tendency to increase them steadily and gradually will also tend to commercialise and professionalise politics which, to my mind, is very bad. I do not say for a moment that I have a remedy and I do not think that the Minister has an immediate remedy either, but it is something all of us, and particularly the people who were responsible for bringing into existence here a new State in Ireland, should give consideration to. I consider that merely to take a figure of £480 in 1939 and to add 30 per cent. to it is simply a lazy method—lazy mentally—and a refusal to face a very real problem. So much for the Dáil.
With regard to the Seanad, I consider that the Seanad is on a different footing from the Dáil. Whatever one may think of the way this House is constituted, or of its work, there will be general agreement that the Second House should differ fundamentally from the First and that the Seanad should certainly not be a profession or a living for anybody. I think it will be agreed also that the expenses of a member of the Seanad are not as heavy nor is the work as onerous as is the case of a member of the Dáil. Speaking for myself, I see no case for an increase and I would very much like to hear a case made for an increase. I think that even the comparatively small number of Senators who work hard in the Seanad have no case for an increase of this nature to meet their expenses.
Again speaking entirely for myself, I would like to see a completely new approach to this question of Senators' allowances. I think we will never have a satisfactory Seanad until we arrive at the situation where the Seanad will not carry a monthly allowance at all. I think the system whereby every member, irrespective of attendance, simply gets £30 a month or as the Minister now proposes, £39 a month, is not going to give a good Seanad. Senators should certainly be paid travelling expenses and subsistence expenses. I fully realise that there is a very substantial difference in the case of Dublin residents such as myself and people from the country. I realise that the Senators from the country have much more expense and that the work is very much more difficult for them. I think that these expenses should be met but only when the Senator comes to Dublin to the Seanad, and the situation should be that where a Senator does not do any work for the Seanad he will get no pay from the State or allowances for expenses either. I feel that that could be done. While I was Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, I often considered whether that could be done in the case of Deputies. I came to the conclusion —I think it was quoted in a Parliamentary answer recently—that it could not be done. I would have great difficulty even yet in getting that done. I feel, however, that it is not beyond the wit of man or of the combined wisdom of this House to find a scheme whereby Senators would only be paid expenses actually incurred in coming to Dublin to the Seanad. I think we are hampered in that course by the Constitution for a certain type of Seanad is actually laid down in the Constitution.
Just a few sentences to make my case clearer. I think the Seanad should have a political basis. I do not agree that experts in other subjects, with no knowledge or interest in public affairs, can be satisfactory legislators. The Seanad should have a political basis by way of nomination by the Government and by political Parties: it should have a number of of ex-officio members, and it should have direct election from certain vocational bodies. That would replace the present system which I consider to be humbug. I think it is quite clear that the Seanad should not be a means of living for anybody and that nobody should be paid except for expenses incurred on transport and expenses for maintenance in Dublin while the Seanad is meeting. Machinery could be devised by which it would be made clear that that money would not be paid except to a person who actually came and attended. I put that suggestion forward as something which would I think be worthy of examination.
I think I would like to hear from Senators who may have different experience to mine whether they think that there is in fact a case for increasing the allowance at present enjoyed by all Senators. I think the examination of this problem would be very useful and that this Bill, as far as Senators are concerned, could very well wait. We have no power over the distribution of money. We have no power to prevent the Dáil from fixing its own allowances. We have power merely to discuss, so to speak, the philosophy of that question. I consider that this percentage method that has been adopted in this Bill and the perfunctory case the Minister made for it is—I say so without offence—lazy and thoughtless. There is no sense whatever in a percentage increase basis unless it is related to a cost of living. These allowances are not related to a cost of living.
Therefore, if I may resume my case I think we should discuss and should get discussed by all parties and perhaps by outsiders as well whether we want our politics to fall entirely into the hands of full-time professional politicians. If so we must pay them a salary and if we pay them a salary they must pay income-tax. I think the payment of a salary for ordinary membership of either of the two Houses would be a very bad thing. Whatever case there may be for the other House there is no case for this House. This House should consist of people who have something to contribute. This House can only have value in relation to the contribution members may make in the discussion of various problems. It should consist of people for whom the Seanad is not a living but who have made good in other walks of life and who are devoting themselves to politics as members of the Seanad and who should be reimbursed for expenses but not paid for their services. If that were done it would be an immense improvement to the two Houses. For that reason, I am opposed to this Bill and particularly to that part of it which proposes to increase the remuneration of Senators. I consider that the whole matter would bear a non-Party examination.