DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - SHOP HOURS (DRAPERY TRADES, DUBLIN AND DISTRICTS) BILL, 1925—(SENATE)—COMMITTEE.

Friday, 3 July 1925

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 12 No. 19

First Page Previous Page Page of 21 Next Page Last Page

SECTION 1.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I move:—“That Section 1 stand part of the Bill.” It is arranged that this Bill will be construed with reference to the Shop Hours Act, 1912. I am informed legally that it simply covers the question of definition and it ensures that this Bill, from the point of view of definition, will be read in connection with the Shop Hours Act.

Question put and agreed to.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I move:—“That Section 2 stand part of the Bill.” It simply specifies certain areas around Dublin to which the Act will be applied.

Question put and agreed to.

Save as hereinafter provided no shop in the area to which this Act applies in which the trade of draper, tailor, outfitter, hatter, hosier, glover, boot and shoe dealer or house-furnisher and upholsterer, or any of them, is carried on shall remain open on any Saturday after the hour of half-past seven in the evening. Provided that this section shall not apply to the Saturday before Easter Sunday, the Saturday before Whit Sunday, and the Saturday before Christmas Day.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  I move:—

“In line 36 to delete the word ‘seven’ and substitute the word ‘eight.’”

[2070] In moving my amendment I may say at the outset that it is by way of compromise. It only asks that the hour in the Bill be extended from seven until eight o'clock.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  It is from seven-thirty to eight-thirty you mean.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Yes, we will say from seven-thirty to eight-thirty. This amendment is not only in the interests of a large body of small shopkeepers, but it is also in the interests and for the convenience of a large section of the public. These small shopkeepers do the main part of their week's business on Saturday, and of Saturday's business, I believe, they do almost fifty per cent. in the evening. Their half-holiday is on a Wednesday. In supporting this amendment I may say I should not have associated myself with it if I believed in any way it had for its object the sweating of assistants. Its main object is to find the means of paying assistants. If their hours are changed it will mean simply that shopkeepers will have to get rid of many of their assistants, for the simple reason that they will not have the means of paying them. The hour as in the Bill, seven-thirty, will be of very little advantage to those small shopkeepers when we remember that the tea-hour is taken out of that. The tea hour, under the Shop Act, is supposed to be over at seven o'clock. It will occupy half an hour or forty minutes, so in reality they will have little or no time after six o'clock for supplying their customers. This Bill is, of course, altogether in the interests of the larger merchant shopkeepers, and they are very small in numbers as compared with the class of people in whose interests I am moving this amendment. I am informed that four hundred small shopkeepers are affected by this Bill, and that they employ thirty-three and a half per cent. of the number employed by the merchants.

I think it is unfair that this legislation should be rushed on the House because it is a local Bill and only affects the area of Dublin and the townships. I think if the question is to be dealt with at all it should be on a national basis. It has also been said that the Bill is an [2071] agreed Bill. I think the fact that I hold a memorial signed by some 250 shopkeepers will dispose of that argument. Again, a good deal of literature has been circulated—I believe it is a travesty of the case; it may be applicable, say, to one small shopkeeper, but it has no general application—about the ill-treatment of those people, that they are being sweated. From the shopkeepers' point of view I think I have said almost all that has to be said, but there is another point. While the Bill prevents shopkeepers with assistants from keeping open their shops after seven-thirty, it allows shopkeepers with no assistants to keep open as long as they like.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  took the Chair.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  The result will be the people who at present have two or three assistants will find it necessary to get rid of these assistants and run the business with their own family. That will mean disemployment. We have heard a great deal about disemployment from all parts of this House and the appalling conditions that follow it. I think we should not add to the unemployed list. Now, coming to the question of public convenience, many people, in fact, nearly all the working people, get paid on Saturday. This is, then, the half-day. The husband goes to some form of amusement, generally to sports, for that half day, and when he comes back he relieves his wife, thus enabling her to go out to do her weekly shopping. If she cannot get clothes for external application to her body, it will allow her husband a little more money to go to some other shop and have an internal application, when he cannot have an external one.

There is another class that, numerically, is very large—domestic servants. They cannot get out early enough to shop if the shops close at 7.30. I do not know anybody, either on the Labour or Capitalist Benches, who will allow his servant out in time to do shopping before that. I could understand this Bill coming from the Labour Deputies, but when people's interests are affected [2072] things quite as revolutionary come from other Deputies. The amendment is so moderate that I think it should be accepted. I have every reason to believe that if these people are interfered with in the arbitrary way this Bill proposes it will put them out of business. They pay shop assistants for the whole week. These assistants are practically idle for four days, but are kept on simply to do one and a half day's business at the end of the week. If these shopkeepers are deprived of the means of paying these assistants, it will lead to their disemployment. I ask Deputies to give the amendment careful consideration and be satisfied at any rate to begin with a moderate remedy.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Deputy Hennessy will convey a wrong impression if it is thought this is making a start with something. This is proposing to put into the form of legislation an agreement which has worked satisfactorily for this trade in the city for the last four years and which is now being broken by some of the smaller houses looking for trade that they can snatch from the houses that close. That is creating a very undesirable state of affairs in the drapery trade. I shall leave the question of the convenience of the public to be dealt with by Deputies who can put up good arguments against the shutting of, say, barbers' shops at one o'clock on Monday. Whatever time I may have at my disposal, I never felt my feet travelling in the direction of a barber's shop that I did not realise that it was after one o'clock and a Monday.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Do your own shaving.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I go for haircutting. It does happen, and it will happen, that people think of going to a drapery shop at 9.30 p.m. on a Saturday, but the whole tendency has been, in the interest of public order and in the interest of different classes of the community, both employers and workers, to systematise the hours during which shops can be kept open. Deputy Hennessy says that there are 400 shops in the city which will be affected by this. He speaks of having a list of 250 [2073] or so. I got a list on which there are the names of 204 people who suggest that this is going to make matters very difficult for them.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Can the Deputy tell us how many are in favour of the Bill?

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Only 128 of the names on this list have been examined, and of these, 94 do not come within the terms of the Bill, because they do not employ assistants. The Bill affects 1,033 shops, employing 3,810 assistants. There are 190 assistants employed by the people who figure on the first half of this list—that is the 128. I do not know how many are employed by the rest.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  How many are on the Deputy's list calling for the Bill?

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I have no list calling for the Bill. As I have said, the organised drapers and the organised workers have come together, as they did four years ago, owing to the difficulty of working the Shops Act of 1912, and have come to an agreement. They ask that the agreement which secured the satisfactory running of the trade during the last four years should be put into legislative form. The question of the tea hour is, no doubt, important, but the fact is that for the last four years the question has not arisen as a matter of difficulty in houses closing at 7.30, or at 6.30. I take it people who close at 6.30—and a large number of shops close at that hour to give the smaller shops a chance—do not give a tea hour. As to the possibility of assistants being got rid of, I shall leave that question to be dealt with by people who know more of labour conditions than I do. But it has been very definitely stated to me by people who have experience and information that many of these assistants are paid only 2/6 or 5/- a week. If the amendment were accepted, the position would be that instead of closing at 7.30, as has been the case up to the present with the smaller houses, or at 6.30 in the case of the larger houses, you are going to have a tendency to remain open until 8.30, and the further tendency that [2074] the Saturday half-holiday, which obtains in many houses, will be shifted to the middle of the week, bringing about a state of affairs that will not be as convenient for the workers, as far as I know, as, with the half-holiday on Saturday, they have a fairly substantial break from work over the Sunday. If the amendment is accepted, it will really defeat the purpose of the Bill, and there will be a very serious risk of friction in the drapery trade during the summer.

Mr. NAGLE: Information on Thomas Alexander Nagle  Zoom on Thomas Alexander Nagle  I would like to suggest to Deputy Hennessy that there is an easy way out of his dilemma. That would be, if the Dáil gave me permission to move my amendment to delete Section 6. If Deputy Hennessy supports that amendment he will have got rid of one of the biggest arguments used in favour of an extension of the hour.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  I regret that I cannot accept Deputy Nagle's suggestion because it does not get over the difficulty of the public inconvenience. What I say is that these people have no other time to shop except during these hours. When an opportunity is provided for them to shop at an earlier hour I think that will be the proper time to legislate on this question.

Mrs. COLLINS O'DRISCOLL: Information on Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll  Zoom on Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll  I cannot agree with Deputy Hennessy in what he said about the public convenience. The public will very soon get to know that the closing hours are 7.30 p.m. and will arrange their business so as to shop before that hour. Not one person will suffer any inconvenience by closing the shops at 7.30, and the same amount of trade will be done. A certain amount of drapery is bought in the city and it will be bought before 7.30 just as well as if it were made 8.30. I oppose the amendment, as I think it defeats the purpose of the Bill. The sooner the public is trained and disciplined to shop earlier the better. It is well known that the publichouses are closed at 9.30 and people do not go looking for drink after that hour—at least, those who obey the law. During the discussion on the Intoxicating Liquor Bill I remember [2075] hearing references to allowing the publichouses to remain open until 9.30. I assert that drapery houses being open so late is one of the causes why publichouses are patronised so much at late hours. While the wives are going about from one shop to another the men turn into the publichouses. If shopping were done early it would conduce to happier homes.

Mr. P.S. DOYLE: Information on Peadar Seán Doyle  Zoom on Peadar Seán Doyle  The opposition to the amendment seems to be based on the argument that it would defeat the objects of the Bill. I do not wish to discuss the merits of the Bill from the point of view of its effects on the assistants. I think the facts are quite contrary to the arguments put forward, that the amendment takes from the Bill. It is said that the houses affected and that oppose earlier closing open at 8.30 a.m. and do not close until 11 o'clock at night. I do not know of any drapery shops that open at 8.30 a.m. The usual hours are from 9 to 10 a.m. I think there is general unanimity of opinion that something should be done to bring about general early closing if for no other purpose than to alleviate the hardships the assistants endure by late hours. I do not wish to say anything against the Bill. On the contrary, I wish to support it, but on behalf of the minority of the trade affected I think the amendment would be some compromise, at any rate, until general closing arrangements would be made for all shops. I do not think the extra hour asked for in the amendment will in any way affect the Bill. For that reason and that reason alone I am inclined to support the amendment.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Deputy Doyle knows the effect as well as anyone of a little latitude here and a little latitude there as between competitors. The effect of this amendment, if carried, would be to defeat Deputy Hennessy's professed intention. What is going to happen if this amendment is passed, or if the Bill is not passed? The larger shopkeepers, who have been loyal to the agreement entered into, have found themselves bitten here, bitten there, a [2076] little nibbling at this and a little nibbling at that. Those members of the trade who were not parties to the original agreement have been using their influence as competitors to take away the trade of those who were loyal. The smaller shopkeepers then ask for a little more and there is steady encroachment on the hours which were hoped to be the closing hours.

Supposing this amendment is passed, and supposing the effect is to nullify the agreement entered into, and that the larger shops open until 8.30, as they are entitled to do, what benefit will be then secured by these shopkeepers who are now pleading for 8.30. They say that 50% of their Saturday trade is done between the hours of six and nine o'clock. If, by their resistance to this very reasonable agreement, they force the larger shopkeepers to remain open until 8.30, if this Bill is thrown overboard and the compromise broken, then the larger shopkeepers are going to get the advantage and the smaller shops will be crushed out utterly. That would be the effect of passing the amendment or losing the Bill. The passing of the amendment may well mean the losing of the Bill. If that is the intention then the small shopkeepers are not going to be even able to continue in their present advantageous position, because they will be eaten up by the larger shopkeepers. In addition to that you will have all kinds of difficulties raised within the trade by imposing undesirable conditions or attempting to impose undesirable conditions on the assistants engaged in the larger shops as well as in the smaller shops and you will probably bring chaos again to reign in the trade.

I think Deputy Hennessy has been tempted to rely on the figures that have been submitted and I think it might be well if he were to examine them a little more closely and see how unreliable they are. We are told that there are four hundred small shops employing 33?% of the total number of assistants engaged in the trade, represented by the opposition to the Bill. That is palpably false. Out of 4,000 assistants, it is probably not correct to say that any more than 200 or 250 are employed in these small shops affected [2077] by the Bill—if so many. They then tell us that they will be badly hit. They say that 50 per cent. of their trade is done on Saturdays, and that 50 per cent. of that trade is done between the hours of 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock. It would not be extravagant to estimate the takings at £25 per assistant per week. Leaving out the service rendered by the small shopkeepers on their own account, let us take 4,000 assistants and let us assume that £25 is a reasonable figure for a week's takings by an assistant, on the average. We have these shopkeepers, representing 33? per cent., as they say, doing 50 per cent. of their trade on Saturdays. For five days of the week that 33? per cent. of the assistants— 1,200 or 1,300—are doing comparatively nothing. On five days they are doing half the trade of the week. They are taking £12 10s. 0d. per assistant. On Saturday, up to the hour of 6 o'clock, they are taking £6. For the other three hours, they are doing the balance of the 50 per cent. of their trade. I think the figures given here are not at all reliable. Deputy Hennessy should not pay too great heed to them.

It is not correct to say that workers generally are paid on Saturdays. That day is past in a great many cases. It is not correct to say that if these particular shopkeepers were obliged to close at 7.30 it would have a detrimental effect on the buying public. The habit of early shopping is one that can easily be acquired. The greater proportion of the working-class trade of the city is not done after 7.30 at night. The only reliable case that can be made for these small shops is that there should be encouraged this multiplication of small traders. I ask the Dáil whether it considers that it should go out of its way to encourage the development in the community of small trading establishments doing nothing, or nearly nothing? Should the House go out of its way to encourage the retired policeman and the retired postman and other retired persons to open up a little shop here, there and everywhere, to employ a little apprentice— a maid of all work—to help behind the [2078] counter. That is a sort of trade I say we should not encourage.

The Minister for Justice has stated some views, which, I think, are generally held throughout the country, as to the undesirability of encouraging little public houses doing half a week's trade in six days or seven days and nights. To meet the overhead and other charges this publican has to keep up the prices. That is the sort of trade that is sought to be extended and continued and developed. There is nothing in this Bill to deter this trade from carrying on. There is an attempt to deprive them of a privilege. We ought not to take a retrograde step and undo the work that has been done by the kind of conference that has been so much talked about—a conference between organised employers and organised employees. Any agreement entered into in that way can be broken by any disloyal member, or person outside membership, if it has not some kind of legislative sanction. There are two or three ways of meeting those difficulties. There are the methods, which some Deputies think better than legislative action, of the strike and boycott and exposure, refusal to supply goods, and generally using the weapon of individual or collective extra-legal action. It might be possible to interfere in that way with the disruptive activities of the kind of shopkeeper who seeks to get privilege by this amendment and other amendments that have been spoken of, but— I am glad to say—not suggested here. The disruption of agreements between organised bodies can easily be brought about. The only way to prevent that is either to break the disruptionists by extra-legal action, or, formally and by legislative action, to sanction the agreement and make it generally applicable.

This Bill is an attempt to prevent disruption and to make generally applicable the terms of an agreement, which, in my view, are very generous indeed to the shopkeepers outside the Association. While I am supporting the Bill, I want to say that it is not by any means the Bill that would have been put forward on behalf of the assistants or, perhaps, even on behalf of the [2079] trade, except with the object of having the Bill passed without much difficulty and without much trouble. The amendment will go a considerable distance towards preventing the possibility of this agreement continuing. I fear that, if passed, it would mean that the Bill would not become law, and the consequences that would be entailed would be largely upon those Deputies who support the amendment.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I would not have risen to take part in this debate were it not for the misapplication of terms by Deputy Johnson. He says that this amendment will encourage the small trader to set up in this business. It is not a question of encouraging him; it is a question of suppressing him. What is meant by this Bill is suppression of the small trader. The Bill has its foundations in an agreement made between representatives of the larger drapery houses and their employees. It was found that they were not able to enforce this agreement implicity in respect of those who took no part in the arrangement. It is pretty well understood that the employees of the large drapery houses are able to enforce their own agreements, because these houses are absolutely dependent on their employees. In the case of the smaller houses, the agreement was not found so effective, because they can carry on independent of the agreement and independent of the assistance of their employees. It is in order to give effect to an agreement between a certain number of people engaged in the drapery trade that the Bill has been introduced. To my mind that is a deliberate interference with the liberty of the subject. I have no more wish than other Deputies to see a large section of the population living by what is known as “distributive trades,” but I think it is not fair to provide for the suppression of these traders. The amendment of Deputy Hennessy goes a long way to give a chance to the small trader. The amendment is not designed to encourage him, but it goes some way towards preventing his absolute suppression. As I understand the meaning of plain words, the word [2080]“encouragement” has been misapplied by Deputy Johnson. “Suppression” would have been the right word to employ.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  There was a deliberate interference with the liberty of the subject when the Shop Hours Act of 1912 was passed, giving powers to local bodies to close down certain trades at certain hours.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  And in the Licensing Bill, which Deputy Gorey supported.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  There is no comparison.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  This is particularly for Deputy Gorey's benefit. Employers and employees desiring to close drapery houses at 10 o'clock on Saturday night had to work six years to get it done by means of the machinery provided in that Act. They got it done after six years and it fell so far short of what was desirable from the point of view of the employer and the point of view of the assistant——

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  The big employer.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  That two years, after that six years' struggle, they came together again and decided that the larger of them would close at 6.30 on Saturday evening and the less large at 7.30. They have carried on the work of the drapery trade harmoniously since then. They are asking you to assist them in keeping these harmonious conditions in the trade by giving effect by means of legislation to an agreement which has done so well for the last four years. They are asking you to give effect to it only over the area in which the agreement holds.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  I would not have interfered in this debate at all were it not for the extraordinary attitude taken up by Deputy Gorey. Deputy Gorey talks about this Bill being an interference with the liberty of the subject. I take it that all our laws and regulations made to regulate the life of the community are capable of being interpreted in effect as an interference with the liberty of the subject. I would like to refer incidentally to the very enthusiastic support which [2081] Deputy Gorey gave to the Licensing Bill when it was before the House.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  There is no contrast. You do not get drunk on an extra pair of boots or trousers.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  If Deputy Gorey will allow me to say so, I am quite in agreement with him in that, but he will find many people who own publichouses to hold that the Act was a deliberate interference with the liberty of the subject. Perhaps if I mentioned another matter, which Deputy Gorey is specially keen about, the analogy will be clearer. There is no greater enemy, in this House, at any rate, of the poacher than Deputy Gorey is, whether in fishing, hunting, or any other form of sport. I take it that instead of the description which Deputy Gorey has applied to this Bill, the suppression of the small shopkeeper, it is really in effect the suppression of the poacher, the person who wants to take advantage of an agreement come to by the vast majority of the traders and their assistants. This person comes in to take advantage of that agreement by poaching, as it were, on the trade, which is voluntarily given up, in so far as it is given up by the arrangements which have been come to by the general body of shopkeepers and their assistants. Deputy Gorey has not, I think, read Section 6, or adverted to Section 6 of this Bill.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I have not read the Bill at all.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  The Deputy has never read the Bill, and he does not know what is in it.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I have never seen it.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  The Deputy says he has never seen it. There is one thing that we can give Deputy Gorey credit for, and that is his honesty. Let me inform Deputy Gorey that the effect of Section 6 is that this Bill will not apply to any house in which assistants are not employed.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  He can poach away.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  He can poach away, as Deputy Gorey says. I [2082] agree with Deputy Johnson and other Deputies who have spoken, that the amendment moved by Deputy Hennessy will spoil the effect of the Bill because the agreement embodied in the Bill was come to only after very considerable trouble. If this amendment were adopted, it would mean that the whole tendency would be to keep open until after 8.30 p.m., not only in the case of the smaller houses. Nearly all the houses will find it necessary to extend their hours if they are to meet this unfair competition. That will give rise to very serious trouble and it will mean the smashing up of the agreement which has been come to and which has worked so harmoniously for the past two or three years. Deputy Doyle urged that something should be done to bring about a general early closing and I think he told us that he was in favour of such a step. I maintain that this is a step in that direction, a very substantial step in that direction.

I quite agree with Deputy Mrs. Collins O'Driscoll in her statement that it is advisable from many points of view that shopping should be done earlier than it is. I agree with her that late hours provide an excuse—an excuse that is given often—for people remaining out late and possibly doing other business than the ostensible business for which the people had remained out. There is no reason why we should not adapt ourselves to the new conditions. As a matter of fact people are doing it. That is my experience, in any case, of the city: that the majority of the people do their drapery shopping very much in the earlier hours and not at these late hours of the night. I suggest to Deputy Dr. Hennessy that his amendment would not meet the situation as it had been put to us by Deputy Mulcahy and I appeal to the House not to accept it.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I regret I was not present on Tuesday when Deputy General Mulcahy moved the Second Reading of this Bill. Had I been present I should certainly have voted against it. That is not owing to the point of view that I do not want to see the drapers' premises closed at an earlier hour on Saturdays in order to facilitate the [2083] assistants. But I hold that in any Assembly such as this the legislators should not introduce legislation like this to facilitate 3,810 of the population of the Sáorstat. I think the Bill should have been general. If the Bill had been general I certainly would have supported it. Yesterday and the day before we heard a lot about unemployment. I put it to Deputy Mulcahy: how many drapers' assistants who are engaged in large drapery premises in the city have drapery shops of their own? How many of them when they quit at night at 7.30 will be able to go home and work behind their own counters? We have heard a lot about unemployment. But in every trade that is carried on in the Saorstát there are, to my mind, large numbers of people employed who have other ample means of livelihood, and yet in the same occupations there are hundreds of people who have to go to the Labour Exchanges for the dole. I know some drapers' assistants in the towns who have——

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  This Bill has only to do with Dublin.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I can cite cases in Dublin where drapers' assistants have premises and shops of their own. I fail to see why legislation should be introduced for the benefit of a section of the community. I think that an assembly like the Seanad, when they put forward legislation of this kind, and an assembly like the Dáil, which is about to give its consent to this Bill becoming law, should first have looked to every town and every village in the country where drapery shops are established. In every town at present, or in practically every town where big drapery shops are situated, they do close their premises at six and 6.30 o'clock. The smaller traders must get an opportunity of getting some means of livelihood, and they get this when the big premises are finished their work for the day. If Deputy Dr. Hennessy's amendment is accepted it does not mean that the big drapery establishments will keep open until 8.30.

When the Licensing Bill that Deputy [2084] Mrs. Collins O'Driscoll spoke of here went through the Dáil the hours were changed from 10 o'clock to 9 o'clock on Saturdays, and under the late Act the hours are changed back again to 9.30 o'clock. That did not mean that the assistants had to work half an hour longer. Surely the assistants have their Labour movement and their organisation, and it is up to the organisation to look after the interests of their members. I fail to see why those who have introduced the Bill are not satisfied to leave it to the Labour organisation. To compel any trader to close an hour or two before the time he wishes to close is to my mind coercion. I would agree with the Bill, however, if it were made general and if it were made to apply to the whole Saorstát. Why not make it general?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  It is a General who is making it anyhow.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  A General is putting forward the Bill, but that General in that matter is not voicing the general opinions of the citizens. Deputy Johnson agreed that the small traders must get some opportunity of doing business, but does Deputy Johnson agree that there are hundreds of drapers' assistants at the present moment walking the streets of Dublin unemployed when other members of the Drapers' Assistants' Organisation who work all day in big drapery establishments have shops of their own in which they work in the evenings?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  resumed the Chair.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I will vote with Deputy Lyons if he will move that the small shopkeepers shall all close at 7.30.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  All the small shopkeepers who have been engaged in other premises and earning a wage?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  If Deputy Lyons will support that proposition the drapers' assistants he complains about will not have any opportunity of working in their own shops, because all the shops will be closed. I would deprive them of an opportunity of carrying on [2085] business in the same trade after they had closed the establishments where they were working for wages.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Yes. Deputy Johnson now agrees with us that there is a large number of drapers' assistants who work in the evenings in their own shops.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  No, I do not. I quite agree that there are some. It is not a large number but a very small number, perhaps three or four.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Well, I know that there are six in one firm in this city alone. That is, people who have shops of their own and who work in one large firm for wages. Because the Bill is not general I will support the amendment.

Mrs. COLLINS O'DRISCOLL: Information on Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll  Zoom on Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll  Just one question I would like to ask—does Deputy Lyons agree that it is fair competition for a shop assistant to leave a big establishment at one o'clock and then enter into competition with his employers? I rather think Deputy Lyons would not limit the hours of closing at all, but would let them remain open all night.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  If this is a Free State let people have their own freedom.

Mr. O'CONNELL:  And close all the publichouses.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  No, I would not close the publichouses either. I have already explained my intentions with regard to this Bill. Because it is not general, I would have opposed this Bill when it was moved if I were here. I want the same legislation to apply to all parts of an Saorstát. I want the same legislation for Longford and Westmeath, and I want to see the small traders acting in accordance with the law. I hold that the Labour movement is sufficiently strong to compel the large traders to close at any hour they choose. I think it would be unjust to the trade in the city if this Bill is allowed to become law.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Why?

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I have been informed to-day by one particular trader in the City that one hour on a Saturday [2086] night would mean in returns to him something like £15. People have to pay very large rents and rates in the City of Dublin, and if it is possible to prevent the chain of unemployment being stretched further than it is at the present time I think the best thing we could do would be to agree to Deputy Hennessy's amendment. What would happen in the City would be that instead of having 3,810 drapers' assistants you may have only 3,000 employed in 1,033 shops as a result of this Bill, and have 810 drapers' assistants more than we have at present in Dublin on the dole. I, at least, am convinced that it is the intention of the Government to do everything possible to relieve unemployment and to prevent any further number of workers from being unemployed in any particular trade or occupation. If this Bill is passed it would be instrumental, in my opinion, in placing on the books of the Labour Exchange in Dublin another 800 unemployed men and women from the ranks of the drapers' assistants. The Government, I am sure, do not want that.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  No.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I am delighted to hear the President say “No.” I ask the Government to agree with Deputy Dr. Hennessy's amendment, because if these traders are given an hour extra they will be able to continue in their services the assistants they now have in their employment. The Labour movement is sufficiently strong to prevent any employer in the drapery trade in the City remaining open longer than the drapers' assistants wish them to remain open.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  A good deal has been said about an agreement. The existence of that agreement has been denied. Though I have not first-hand information on the matter, I could never imagine an agreement between such two divergent interests as the merchant drapers and the small drapers. We have heard a lot about encouraging early shopping. How can you encourage early shopping amongst the poor people? A man is half a Saturday at work, then he comes home [2087] and he tries to have a few hours' enjoyment. He will return about 6 o'clock. The wife then arranges that he will take care of the children while she goes out to do the shopping. I think there is scarcely a Deputy here who does not realise that the position is as I have described. It is frequently necessary for the breadwinner to take care of the children and look after the house while the wife does some hasty shopping. We have also heard some talk about freedom. Deputy Gorey's version of freedom has been criticised. In criticising it I think it was licence that was advocated, and freedom went into the background. After all, the poacher should not get freedom or licence to do what is morally wrong. There are no questions of public morals in this matter. If Deputy Mulcahy would meet me in a sporting way and give a further compromise, because my amendment has been a compromise from the first, I would agree to having 8 o'clock fixed as the closing hour. There is only half an hour between us. I think he is sport enough, and I am sure his hands are free enough to accept my offer.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I would like to put Deputy O'Connell right on a few little points. He made an analogy between the licensing and the drapery trades.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  I did not.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I think he did. I think even the Minister for Justice will admit that it is not at all likely that you will have a man going into a draper's establishment and asking for pants, and when he has had a pair given to him, saying: “I want another pair.” Take it that he wants a pair of boots. It is not at all likely that the getting of one pair of boots will go to his head and that he will want another pair.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  He might visit the publichouse first.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I will not go into a publichouse; I never did.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  It is an awful pity.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  With regard to poaching, Deputy O'Connell has said in effect [2088] that the man who has an assistant cannot poach, but the man who has not can poach away. The man who runs a drapery trade assisted by his own family can poach away even under this amendment. Is that right? The next step that we may anticipate from the Labour Benches is that even that type of trader is to be suppressed. They have already gone a bit of the way and the next step will be to follow up the private individual. They will get on to him after a short time. The next thing we will have is some regulation as to the hours at which cows will be milked.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  And possibly the way they will be milked.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  Quite so. We will have some direction, possibly, as to the way in which they will be milked, and also some instructions as to the time potatoes should be sowed and harvested.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  And perhaps some regulation dealing with dirty milk and the selling of it.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I will leave all those matters to Deputies Johnson, O'Connell and Hennessy; let them deal with the dirty milk and dirty water. We know nothing about those things. Only those Deputies who are talking about those matters know about them.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  But you send us the dirty milk from the country.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I think the arguments in favour of the amendment are very weak.

Mr. O'CONNELL:  Hear, hear.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I should have said against the amendment. Deputy O'Connell stood up to make a strong case, but he sat down, having made a very weak and incomplete case. He made a case that dams this section of the Bill and in favour of the amendment.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I am sorry that there should be disagreement between myself and Deputy Hennessy, but I cannot accept his suggestion of 8 o'clock. I think if the Deputy looks [2089] into the matter he will see that the acceptance of the hour of 8 o'clock would mean upsetting an agreement which has worked very well in trade.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  The agreement has been denied.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The agreement has been denied by people who turn round in a list like this. If Deputy Hennessy would turn to 20 in the B list and to 2 in the H list, he will find the names are the same. If he turns to 21 in the B list there is a statement there to the effect: “had learned with surprise that our names have been appended to a memorial opposing the Bill and forwarded to Deputies of Dáil [2090] Eireann. We did not sign the memorial to this or any of like effect and did not authorise anybody to sign it on our behalf. Further, we entirely agree that the closing hour for shops should be settled by legislation and approve of the proposal to this effect in the above-named Bill.”

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Those peoples' names appear.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  They are in your list of 204, that you call 250.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Read the names out.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I have given the numbers there.

Amendment put.

Thomas Bolger.
Séamus de Burca.
Michael Egan.
Thomas Hennessy.
John Hennigan.
Connor Hogan.
John T. Nolan.
Michael K. Noonan.
Seán O Bruadair.
Parthalán O Conchubhair.
Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
Peadar O Dubhghaill.
Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
Donnchadh O Guaire.
Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
Seán O Laidhin.
Fionán O Loingsigh.
Domhnall O Mocháin.
Andrew O'Shaughnessy.
Seán Príomhdhail.

Earnán Altún.
Seán Buitléir.
Seoirse de Bhulbh.
Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean
Uí Dhrisceóil.
Séamus Eabhróid.
David Hall.
Patrick Leonard.
Liam Mac Cosgair.
Tomás Mac Eoin.
Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
Tomás de Nógla.
Risteárd O Conaill.
Tomás O Conaill.
Aodh O Cúlacháin.
Liam O Daimhín.
Séamus O Dóláin.
Eamon O Dubhghaill.
Risteárd O Maolchatha.
Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
Tadhg O Murchadha.
Liam Thrift.

Amendment declared lost.

Question—“That Section 3 stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Sections 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 were agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Title put and agreed to.


Last Updated: 16/05/2011 17:54:17 First Page Previous Page Page of 21 Next Page Last Page