IN COMMITTEE ON FINANCE. - MONEY RESOLUTION—DAMAGE TO PROPERTY (COMPENSATION) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 1926.

Tuesday, 20 April 1926

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 15 No. 1

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[39]The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I move:—

“Go bhfuil sé oiriúnach a údarú fé aon Acht a rithfar sa tsioson so—

(1) Go n-íocfar amach as airgead a sholáthróidh an tOireachtas, le daoine áirithe atá i dteideal cúitimh, suim bhreise, is ionann leis an deichiú cuid de mhéid an chúitimh sin ach amháin sa mhéid go bhfuil an tsuim bhreise sin iníoctha tré urúsanna do thabhairt amach; agus

(2) I gcás an tsuim bhreise sin do bheith iníoctha tré urúsanna do thabhairt amach go muirearófar ar an bPrímh-Chiste agus ar a thora fáis colann agus ús na n-urúsanna san; agus

(3) Go n-íocfar as an bPrímh-Chiste agus as a thora fáis—

(a) suim £150,000; agus

(b) suim bhliantúil £250,000 i ngach bliain ar feadh seasca bliain.

That it is expedient to authorise under any Act of the present session—

(1) The payment out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas to certain persons entitled to compensation, of an additional sum equal to one-tenth of the amount of such compensation, save in so far as such additional sum is payable by the issue of securities; and

(2) Where such additional sum is payable by the issue of securities the charge upon the Central Fund and the growing produce thereof of the principal and interest of such securities; and

(3) The payment from the Central Fund and the growing produce thereof of—

(a) a sum of £150,000; and

(b) an annual sum of £250,000 in every year for sixty years.”

I presume the Act which implemented the London Agreement of December is sufficiently known and sufficiently recent to bring before the [40] minds of the Deputies all that is involved in this particular Bill now introduced, and that it is unnecessary to enter into any explanation with respect to it?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  While it is no doubt true that the inferences and implications of the Treaty (Confirmation of Amending Agreement) Act are known to the Deputies, it has yet to be proved that there is any obligation upon the House to pass this motion or the consequent Bill authorising the payment of any sums of this kind within the present session. The motion is intended to authorise the payment of certain sums under an Act to be passed this session. That Bill has had a Second Reading, but I am going to ask the House in Committee to decline to pass this motion, the effect of which will be to make the Bill non-operative for this current session. The reasons can be very easily and shortly stated. The House is aware, and, judging by public signs, very definitely so, that the moneys available for paying to anybody this year should be husbanded to be used for more important services than have yet appeared to be within the intention of the Ministry. There is a sum involved in this motion of £400,000 to be paid this current year, and I am asking the House to agree that there are other and more urgent calls upon that £400,000 than the call of the British Government. There has been no implication of any kind, so far as I have been able to find out by the Act which was passed last December or any other way, that we are obliged to pay this sum whether in honour or by legal obligation within this current year. I think it is very unwise, to say the least of it, that we should thus, publicly and unnecessarily, indicate that we have £400,000 to throw away this year. There is an obligation to pay this sum of money that is referred to in the motion, but surely it is quite a reasonable thing to say that when some of the other monetary obligations that came upon the country as a consequence of the pre-Truce and post-Truce trouble have been cleared off we might be reasonably expected to begin the payment of this £250,000 a year for 60 years. I have [41] no other argument to use except the one so often used by Ministers and Deputies, that the money is not easily obtainable and that it cannot be spared this year when there are so many other much more pressing demands upon whatever money is available than this demand. I, therefore, intend to oppose the motion, as it stands, and I hope the Dáil will reject it.

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  I have an amendment here, but I understand it is out of order as it runs contrary to the principle of the Bill. I suggest in paragraph 3 (b) to delete the word “sixty” and to substitute the word “sixteen.” That would maintain, I contend, the principle of the London Agreement and still be in order on the Bill. It would mean that we would pay a sum of £400,000 in the sixteen years which is just the sum advanced under the activities of the Wood Renton Commission. Am I in order in moving that?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The amendment on the Order Paper by the Deputy is not in order, not so much for the reason that it goes against the principle of the Bill but that a decision has already been reached, owing to the passing of the Second Reading of the Bill, that arrangements will be made for the payment of the sums necessary to meet the obligations undertaken by the Free State under Article 3 of the London Agreement. An amendment such as Deputy Johnson has on the paper for the Committee Stage of the Bill would be in order, but the Deputy's amendment on the Paper would mean rescinding our previous decision. Deputy Connor Hogan is not precluded from raising the question in Committee. He can vote against the operative section, which gives the money in accordance with Article 3 of the Agreement, and in that way he can accomplish his intention. Now, however, the Deputy introduces a new amendment which I have not seen before, and I am not able to judge the effect of it.

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  The effect of it would be still to remain within the London Agreement. I pointed, on the [42] last day when this matter was before us, to speeches made by Mr. Churchill and Mr. Baldwin, in which they state that the total British liability would be five millions, and that four millions were transferred to the Irish Free State. A further sum of £900,000 would, they said, fall due within the next few years, and they added, “of course, we are retaining that sum.” That means that we received about £4,150,000. I am leaving a sum of about £150,000, as I maintain that no interest would be payable if we have to refund it. I am willing to accept the implications of the London Agreement on the strict interpretation of the pact. There was no suggestion that the money should be refunded with interest. I contend that I am in order in moving the substitution of “16” for 60 years. It comes within the London Agreement.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  It is not for me to construe the London Agreement. If the Deputy argues that if he owes four millions to-day he can pay it in sixteen yearly instalments of £250,000 he is at liberty to argue that.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  The London Agreement does not say anything about the instalments or the total amount. It says that “the Irish Free State shall repay to the British Government at such time or times and in such manner as may be agreed upon moneys already paid by the British Government.” The agreement has not been made yet, and we are to assume that the amount we will agree on, if Deputy Connor Hogan's amendment is carried, will be 16 times £250,000 plus £140,000.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Deputy Johnson has given a more admirable explanation of what Deputy Connor Hogan means than has the Deputy himself. I am prepared to accept that, but I am not construing the London Agreement. I am saying that Deputy Connor Hogan told me that the liability is £4,000,000 and that he proposes to pay it in sixteen instalments of £250,000.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Perhaps I might be permitted to raise a point of order against the amendment. Under the London Agreement this sum was to be [43] repaid in a manner to be agreed on. I am in sympathy with the amendment because we have such a dud Press here. I saw in a prominent newspaper some time ago that this repayment would amount to £15,150,000, and I can quite sympathise with the Deputy in assuming that that is correct. Deputy Connor Hogan shakes his head, so he does not agree with that particular dud pronouncement.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The President will have to address me on a point of order.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  My point of order is that there was agreement in relation to this particular transaction. That agreement was between two peoples, and what the Deputy is proposing is not under the Agreement but something else. I say that it is contrary to the Act which was passed and contrary to the Second Reading of the Bill some time ago.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  That raises too many questions of fact for me to decide. Are the terms of which the President speaks incorporated in any decision of the House?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  In the decision of the House, as contained in the Treaty (Confirmation of Amending Agreement) Act, 1925.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  That is subject to financial authority to be given later on. Financial authority is not included in that Act.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  “The Irish Free State hereby assumes all liability undertaken by the British Government in respect of malicious damage done since the 21st day of January, 1919, to property in the area now under the jurisdiction of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State, and the Government of the Irish Free State shall repay to the British Government, at such time or times and in such manner as may be agreed upon, moneys already paid by the British Government in respect of such damage or liable to be so paid under obligations already incurred.” I submit that this is not the payment in question, and [44] that the £4,000,000 which, according to Deputy Connor Hogan's suggestion, is to be repaid in sixteen annual instalments of £250,000, is not the amount under the Agreement and it has not been agreed on by the British Government and ourselves.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I am giving leave to the Deputy to argue that thesis.

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  As I understand the President's contention, it is that the payment of £250,000 a year for sixteen years does not amount to £4,000,000. It certainly is not a capital sum of £4,000,000, if you regard the money as being liable to bear interest, which I deny and which I have explicitly denied all the time. I assume that this money is coming to us as a legitimate right. On the Second Reading of the Bill I put that up, and the Minister for Finance put up the poorest defence I ever listened to. I assume, as I say, that this money came as a right. It was not as the result of direct negotiations with the British Government that that money was paid over. It was paid over as the result of an award of the Wood-Renton Commission, which was an independent tribunal, and its decisions were binding on the respective Governments. I contend that it is not an ex gratia grant to us, but that it came to us as being strictly due to us, and that the tribunal only fulfilled its judicial functions in awarding those funds that accrued to us in respect of damage to property. If it came to us as a right, why should it bear interest? Who ever paid interest on a gift? It could not be done. The thing seems to be absurd. It seems to me that the Government were so muddled, or perhaps so harassed in these days, that they surrendered to any conditions, no matter how hard or how difficult they might be. Not alone did they surrender, but I claim from reading the speeches of Mr. Churchill and Mr. Baldwin, the offer came, in the first instance, from our Government here. The British Government never asked for this interest. In the words of Mr. Baldwin, they were offered by the Free State this interest of £250,000 and, of course, they accepted it.

[45]Mr. T. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  They admit that themselves.

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  I claim that as this agreement was not included in the London Pact, but was evolved in another place, the Government, while bargaining, never, except at a belated stage, took the House into its official confidence. I claim, therefore, that the Government let the country down in accepting the arrangement for payment of interest. They should have known what the British principle was in the repayment of debts; but apart from that, they should have stood upon their technical rights. Even if we did owe this money and if it was not an ex-gratia refund, was this arrangement in accordance with the principle of payment of debts amongst nations? I contend it was not. Our Government should have been aware of what the British Government were paying to America. They were not paying 4½ per cent., they were paying 3 per cent., plus 1/2 per cent. for sinking fund, and after that 3½ per cent. with another 1/2 per cent. sinking fund.

I pointed out on the last day that we were discussing this matter, how the Italians had got off with less than half their war debt. They were liable for £600,000,000 and they got off by an arrangement which means that in the course of 60 years they will pay £277,000,000. Similarly, the French were able to make a bargain. A tentative agreement was made some time back—not definitely ratified—for a payment of something like 12½ millions annually for something like 62 years, which would only amount to £775,000,000.

On our agreement we will have paid. in respect of this sum, £15,150,000. I also put forward the suggestion, and it has not been answered, that we have accepted a liability in this, for money which we did not receive, and that our Government has made provision to pay money that they did not get and to pay it with interest for the next sixty years. The Government have not answered that, and I will prove that I am right. We bargained with the British that they were to pay us over £5,000,000 which they did not do. They [46] paid us something over £4,000,000 and they retained £900,000. They never proposed to hand over that sum. They retained it as a first instalment. A capital sum at 4¾ per cent. interest would be in excess of 5¼ millions. That is the position. Therefore, it is evident that the Government did not seem to realise that this sum of £900,000 which the British retained was never paid and should not have been brought into the calculation. That altered the claim in our favour, so that what we were liable for is what we received, and I contend that was, at the worst, £4,000,000; what the definite figure was I cannot say. The Government can state the figure, but I contend this is the most we should pay back. I claim also that it should not be interest and, consequently, I move the amendment which stands in my name.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  The position I take with regard to this matter is exactly what I took up last December. If Deputy Connor Hogan has any misgiving about paying 15 millions, I will settle the debt now for five millions in cash.

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  We never got five millions.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Let us see what we got, or what we did not get. As far as the position of the five millions is concerned, it contains two items— money received and obligations incurred. The obligations are still there. In liquidating this debt, the money already paid and the obligations incurred are together equivalent to the sum mentioned of £5,150,000.

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  What are the obligations?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Obligations running into sums varying from between £300,000 to £900,000.

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  What is the nature of the obligation?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Obligations in respect of awards of the Wood Renton Commission.

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  But we must meet them out of our own Estimates.

[47]The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I do not understand that interjection. The Wood Renton Commission was set up by agreement between the two Governments. It had to be set up by agreement between the two Governments. Neither one of itself could set up a body to make awards to be charged upon the other. It was an act of grace on the part of the British Government to agree to its being set up and to accept liability.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Is it also an act of grace on our part to pay it back?

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  No; it is an act of charity.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  As far as the repayment by the State of that money is concerned, it is an act of the Oireachtas. The authority of the Oireachtas is derived from the people of the country and the action of the Government in this matter has not been questioned in any part of the country that I have been in. In any case, it is an Act of the Parliament of this State. It was an act of grace on the part of the British Government to agree to pay their portion. It was not in the Treaty which was made on the 6th December, 1921. It was a subsequent agreement. In so far as the agreement is concerned, it was slightly extended on a request from us in respect of its terms of reference. In that particular extension, cases were brought in which would otherwise have been excluded. In our compensation for damage to property we started on 11th July, 1921, as the date from which we were liable. It will be quite apparent to anybody that it was better to have all pre-truce cases dealt with by one tribunal. As far as the work of that tribunal is concerned, it decided the amount and it apportioned the liability, whether the liability was a British Government liability or a liability of ours. I think we made it clear on one or two occasions that the British Government would not hear of any such thing as paying an indemnity to leave the country. That, however, is past history now.

As far as this agreement is concerned, terms must be entered into as to the manner in which the money is to be paid. It is a question of judgment [48] as to whether this is or is not a good method of paying it. To a person utterly uneducated in methods of finance it would appear to be a much better thing to provide £5,000,000 and clear the debt. I believe that it could be cleared for less than £5,000,000—for a considerable amount less than £5,000,000—for cash. But I am satisfied that in the finances of this State, this is a much better bargain. The question of credit comes in here in two ways. It comes in, firstly, in acting up to the agreement we entered into in December last. Any evasion of that would not be to our credit. It would be damaging to our credit to attempt any evasion of it now, since we made that agreement in December and gave it the sanction of law. The second way in which credit enters into the question is as regards what an additional sum of £5,000,000—or between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000—would mean to our national resources. If Deputy Connor Hogan were to ask me what we could clear this debt off for, I believe I could reply that we could clear it off for £4,000,000 in cash. But I am satisfied that it would not be good business to ask for a National Loan of £4,000,000 because it would take away that amount from the balance that we have available for operating in business and it would leave us liable for, perhaps, a heavier burden than this one. My opinion is that another agreement will be necessary if this one be not acceptable. It is no use saying that sixteen payments of £250,000 each clear off £4,000,000. There is a larger sum than £4,000,000 to be dealt with. There is a sum of £5,000,000 involved and you cannot separate the two things—money paid and obligations incurred.

The position is not on a parity with that of France and Italy. In the case of France and Italy there was a worldwide war to be considered. It was in the interests of any rich combatant to induce the other nations to continue the struggle, and a bigger inducement than actual military support was necessary to do that. Big financial accommodation was necessary, and if it were not forthcoming it might have meant an absolute defeat for one side. This particular transaction occurred when [49] peace was made between Great Britain and Ireland. These sums which they paid were paid in cash within the last two or three years. That is not on a parity with something that happened eight or nine years ago. If this proposal be negatived, then other negotiations will have to take place in order to arrive at what is written in black and white in the Treaty (Confirmation of Amending Agreement) Act, 1925. The sum to be paid must be paid by agreement between the two Governments. This agreement we have made. We believe that it is a good agreement. We believe it is a sound financial proposition for this State. Altering a figure here and there is not going to relieve the burden of this arrangement by a single iota. Accordingly, I oppose the amendment.

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  I understand from the President that the British Government is still assuming some obligations in respect of awards by the Wood Renton Commission. That means that we are receiving into our Exchequer money for which the British Government is liable or was liable. If I remember aright, the arrangement was that the Wood Renton Commission would make its awards, that we would pay the money and that we would be [50] refunded by the British Government their share. It appeared from the Estimates that there were certain repayments coming from the British Government. If I understand the President aright, the British Government will hand in approximately £900,000. That would make us liable for £5,000,000. But that £900,000 has not been handed in as yet. We would not be liable for interest, in any event, for at least twelve months after the money had been advanced. We accepted liability on 31st December last. The debt began to run from that date, and the interest payable on it would not be due in the present year. Surely the British Government should be liable to us for some interest on that £900,000 which they are to have the use of. The Government should have determined its present worth and got interest on it. I am absolutely dissatisfied with the Government's proposals in this matter. I think the House will be doing the country an injustice if it passes the motion. It would be well worth while to re-open negotiations even if it entailed a vote of no confidence in the Executive Council, as rejection of this motion would necessarily entail. The country would save itself millions by so doing.

Amendment put.

Pádraig Baxter.
Connor Hogan.
Séamus Mac Cosgair.
Tomás Mac Eoin.
Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
Liam Mag Aonghusa.
Patrick J. Mulvany.
Tomás de Nógla.
William Norton.
Ailfrid O Broin.
Tomás O Conaill.
Aodh O Cúlacháin.
Liam O Daimhín.
Seán O Laidhin.
Pádraic O Máille.
Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).

Richard H. Beamish.
Thomas Bolger.
Séamus Breathnach.
Seoirse de Bhulbh.
Bryan R. Cooper.
Sir James Craig.
Maighréad Ní Choileain Bean
Uí Dhrisceóil.
James Dwyer.
Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
Desmond Fitzgerald.
John Good.
Thomas Hennessy.
Patrick Leonard.
Seosamh Mac a' Bhrighde. [51]Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
Eamon O Dúgáin.
Aindriú O Láimhín.
Séamus O Leadáin.
Fionán O Loingsigh.
Risteárd O Maolchatha.
Séamus O Murchadha.
Donnchadh Mac Con Uladh.
Liam Mac Cosgair.
Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
Patrick McGilligan.
Eoin Mac Néill.
Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
Liam Mac Sioghaird.
Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
John T. Nolan.
Peadar O hAodha.
Seán O Bruadair.
Parthalán O Conchubhair.
Máirtín O Conalláin.
Séamus O Dóláin.
Peadar O Dubhghaill. [52]Máirtín O Rodaigh.
Seán O Súilleabháin.
Andrew O'Shaughnessy.
Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.
Caoimhghín O hUigín.
Seán Príomhdhall.
Liam Thrift.

Amendment declared lost.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  On the main question, I can quite understand that some Deputies who were very interested in the finances of the State could not bring themselves to vote for Deputy Hogan's amendment, in view of the statement of the President that a sum of £5,000,000 is involved and that sixteen times £250,000 would not amount to £5,000,000. It may have seemed to some Deputies, therefore, that the carrying of the amendment would have been a breach of an obligation. The President's motion is to authorise under any Act of the present Session the payment of £150,000 this year, plus £250,000 this year and for the next 59 years. That obligation is contained in the Bill, and the resolution now moved is one making it possible for that money to be released. The President assumes that the Oireachtas in the Treaty (Confirmation of Amending Agreement) Act undertook to pay this sum beginning this year. That is entirely misleading. The Saorstát undertook no such obligation. The obligation that the Saorstát entered into was to assume all the liabilities undertaken by the British Government in respect of malicious damage done from the 21st January, 1919, to the time of the Truce and to repay to the British Government such moneys as they have already paid and undertake such obligations as they have already incurred. We gather from the President that the amount they have already paid is in or about £4,000,000, and that there is another sum of anything from £300,000 to £900,000. The agreement is to repay to the British Government what they have already paid at such time or times and in such manner as may be agreed upon. So that the agreement is still to be made, and what is now in question is whether the Saorstát, speaking through the Oireachtas, shall agree to undertake the liability incurred in the manner provided in the Bill. I am submitting that we can wholly and fully fulfil the obligations which we have entered into by the Treaty (Confirmation of Amending Agreement) Act if we begin to pay this sum when we can better afford to pay it than we can to-day.

I will not enter fully into that argument now, because the matter will arise later on an amendment when we come to the Bill—if we come to the Bill? I am assuming for the moment that every Deputy who has spoken a word about economy, about the difficulties of meeting obligations, the difficulties of raising money because of the tightness of money, the over-taxation of the country and all the rest of it— that every person who has uttered one word in that regard within the last six months, is not prepared to say we have £400,000 this year that we can pay over unnecessarily—unnecessarily, I say—because we are not bound morally or legally by any agreement we have entered into to pay that sum this year. It is quite a reasonable proposition that we should not begin to pay it until we can better afford to pay it. On that ground, I am asking all who have professed to call themselves economists not to vote for this motion, so that the Bill can be re-drafted in such a way as to allow for payments in subsequent years.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I agree with Deputy Johnson and I regret very much to see that some Deputies who went down to their constituents and cried out for economy had not the pluck to vote for the last amendment. There is no use going to the country with one story and coming here with another simply [53] because they are Government Deputies and the Government says: “You must vote as we direct.”

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Some of them can get off with it.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I put it to the President that the people of the Saorstát are not in a position at the present time to bear any burden in the shape of increased expenditure. There are hundreds of people starving in the country at present, and if the Committee agree to pay to England—one of the richest countries in the world—£250,000 yearly for 60 years, or about fifteen millions of money, they will be doing something that the majority of the people would not agree to if their opinion was taken. I challenge the President to put this question to a plebiscite. For centuries England has fleeced this country by taxation. I consider she has got sufficient out of it without this Committee passing a resolution to pay her any more. It is ridiculous to put forward such a motion, and for the President to say that it is proposed in view of the agreement that was arrived at between the Saorstát and the British Government. It is no such thing. There was no sanction whatever given by the Oireachtas to go to England and make that agreement. Such negotiations were never mentioned in either House. The Committee should reject the motion, as the people should not be asked to bear such a burden at the present time.

The President stated that if he had four millions or five millions he could hand it over. Did he think it a much better bargain to pay fifteen millions instead of five millions, and ten millions in interest? That is how the rate-payers in every county in Ireland are being fleeced at present. Their accounts are overdrawn and they have to pay, in most counties, from three to five thousand pounds interest to the banks on overdrafts. The county gets no return for money paid in that way, all of which goes into the pockets of the banks. The same thing applies in this case, giving England ten millions in interest. To my mind England has got more money out of this country than she should have got, and instead of [54] paying we should request her to hand back some of the millions that she got by way of over-taxation.

Mr. BEAMISH: Information on Richard Henrik Beamish  Zoom on Richard Henrik Beamish  I am totally opposed to the views taken by the Deputy who has just spoken. We have a State obligation. We made a fair and a reasonable bargain with another State and we have got to foot the Bill. The President told us that. Some of us have not gone into the details of this matter, but we believe that the result of the negotiations has been better than we could have made ourselves. For that reason we ought to be thankful to the President for his action. Deputy Johnson said that we should pay when we consider we can afford to do so. I challenge that statement. Actually the Deputy will say that we will never be able to pay. If we are not going to foot the bill the man in the street will follow, for no one, I think, likes paying debts to other people. I think it is a very wise thing that we should pay this. Although we may be poor now as a nation we will not get richer by repudiating what we owe, but we certainly will get richer by diminishing the amount of the debt we owe to other people, even if we do it at a sacrifice to ourselves. We should face what we have to face and not be talking about what was due to us hundreds of years ago, or anything like that. We made a fair and reasonable bargain, and we should carry it out, even although we may have to restrict ourselves to a certain extent. We should foot this bill and not be talking of waiting until we can afford to meet it, for if we take that view we might find we never could afford to pay. Let us act like men and like an honourable nation.

Major BRYAN COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Speaking as an economist who was an economist before some of those who now call themselves economists, as an economist who tried to reduce the Army Estimates by £89,000 when some of the most eloquent economists of the present time were voting against it, I want to say that in my opinion we should pass this resolution. It is true and wise economy to defer contracting fresh obligations, but it is not true economy [55] to refuse to meet obligations when you contract them. That is a disastrous policy. We made a bargain. Deputy Lyons does not approve of it, but a very considerable majority in the Dáil did approve of it, and we must comply with the terms of that bargain.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Would the Deputy quote the terms?

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  The bargain as far as I know—I am speaking from memory—was that in return for the remission of British claims in respect of the National debt, and not the war debt only, we should undertake the liability of paying an additional 10 per cent. on claims for compensation for malicious damage. That is my recollection, but I have not the particulars of these claims, and I do not know if Deputy Johnson has. I assume the Minister for Finance has put forward a scheme which will fulfil that bargain.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  The Deputy, of course, is rather astray. We are not dealing now with the 10 per cent. but with the liability for malicious damage.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I think we are dealing with both, taking the whole resolution. That is not the point I propose to argue, as I have not the knowledge that would enable me to do so, and Deputy Johnson did not deal with that point either. I want to deal with the broad effects of the rejection of this motion. I put it to Deputy Lyons that he is, I think concerned on behalf of town tenants, and is anxious they should obtain the same purchase terms as agricultural tenants, but how is the Deputy going to do that, and how is the State going to do that, except by raising a loan as the British Government raised money for land purchase by a loan? Who is going to lend the money if you say it is a principle in your State that you will only pay when it is convenient to pay? To refuse to pass this resolution would be ruinous to national finance and credit and ruinous to national prosperity. It would not be economy—it would be the most disastrous form of economy, and it would be the action of a defaulting creditor.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  On a point of explanation, I hold that this money is not due.

[56]Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Contrary to Deputy Lyons, I am assuming that the Oireachtas has entered into this obligation, and that it has to be paid. I am not wanting to plead that it should be repudiated. That is not my position at all. My position is that the agreement we entered upon, which is referred to in the Bill which you passed in December, contemplated a future agreement as to when and how this money should be paid, and did not by any means bind us to pay any sum this year. There is absolutely no obligation, according to the agreement entered into by this Dáil, to pay any sum this year. Deputy Cooper might be absolved, but other Deputies and Ministers cannot be absolved, from the charge of inconsistency if I say that we entered into an obligation to pay compensation claims in the year 1925-26; but we see by the reports that £2,000,000 have not been paid this year in respect of these claims. Was that a repudiation of liability? No. It was a postponement of payment to a time when we could better afford to pay. Is that reducing our national credit? Is it a dishonourable thing to have done?

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Is it an intentional postponement, or is it due to the fact that the machinery is unable to discharge?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  The Deputy will be as well able to judge of that as I am when I say that we were asked to vote in 1925, I think, £3,000,000 for compensation and only £1,000,000 odd has been paid. One can assume the money has not been paid because it was not convenient to pay. We may have other explanations, but I am assuming that it was not convenient to pay. I am assuming also that that does not involve dishonour to the State. There has been a postponement of the payment of other accounts without involving dishonour to the State, and we can postpone the payment of this £400,000 this year, because we are to assume we have got liabilities this year we will be able to get rid of, and we will be in a better position to pay next year. There is no need to try and frighten the Dáil by talking about dishonour and repudiation. That is not the question at all. [57] What we are asked to do in the Bill, and what this motion intends to make possible, is to pay this sum in this year 1926. when, as I say, we have no obligation to pay, moral or legal.

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  As far as we can see.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I am speaking of the Oireachtas and what has been done publicly. The effect of the refusal to pass this motion would be, no doubt, that the Ministers would come forward with a new Bill making the payments to begin at some defined date in the future, or, if you like, an indefinite date in the future. All I ask the Dáil to do is to say we cannot afford to pay this £400,000 which we are not obliged to pay this year, 1926-27.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  The plea for economy is on a par with some of the speeches, reports of which I have been reading in the Press. It is no economy. It is not true to say that we postponed the payment of compensation through any act of ours. If we made provision in the estimates for the payment of compensation we made it in the hope and belief that the charges would fall to be met in the year in which the estimates were presented to this Dáil. Not only that, but we took steps to provide additional judges in order to dispose of these claims. We made every effort that could possibly be made to discharge our honourable obligations in that respect, and no attempt was made at any time to keep from any man payment in respect of a decree or award at the earliest possible date. No definite step by a Minister, and no decision of the Executive, was ever taken to postpone or delay the payment to any person of a just debt that he had against the State. In December last, when this agreement was put before the Dáil the full facts of the payments that were to be made were put before the Dáil. The information was given to the Dáil that the sums were to be paid in the order in which they are set out in this Bill. Deputy Connor Hogan, when the Second Reading of this Bill was under consideration, contradicted that, I believe, and he subsequently admitted that these facts were before the Dáil at the time.

[58]Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  Not from the Government; from an outside source.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  From the Government, and the Deputy did admit it. It is on record. It is in our Official Debates that the Deputy admitted it. If he seeks now to deny it he can do so.

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  I will follow you in a moment.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  The Deputy has admitted it, and the fact is that every fact in connection with the repayment in all its widest details was placed before the Dáil. The Dáil knew it and it passed an Act having the facts before it.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Why did not you put them in the Bill?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  In which Bill?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  In the Agreement Act of 1925.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  For many reasons. We could have put them in this Bill we have here now, but a Bill such as this has to be drawn with meticulous care. The Deputy knows that better than I do, and he knows the senselessness of asking such a question as that.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I know that the words: “In such manner as may be agreed upon,” contemplates a future agreement.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  It was not a future agreement. The agreement had been made and the actual terms were read out here, and the Deputy knows it. Why should we undertake to pay ten per cent. additional to the Irish banks which were robbed? They got compensation in respect of the money that was robbed, and why should they get ten per cent. additional? There were other parts of the agreement that had to be very carefully considered to prevent anything of that sort happening. Bills are not got by pressing a button and saying “We have got to get a Bill.”

[59]Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  We thought they were.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  If the Deputy were as well known throughout the country as in this Dáil very little attention would be paid to what he says.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  If the President were as well known to the Governments of other countries as he is here, they might not think so much of him.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  That is a very intelligent observation, just on a par with the protestations of economy. We are asked now to practise economy by postponing the payment of our debts.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  No, sir. You are asked to say that you do not owe England anything. I did not ask you to postpone payment. I asked a repudiation of the payment and I asked you to say how much money England owed this country.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  Deputy Lyons cannot interrupt.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Why does the President misrepresent me?

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  Order. Deputy Lyons must resume his seat.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I know all about this business. The last day the President lost his temper, according to the papers. I have no recollection of losing it and Deputy Connor Hogan knows it well. The same thing will appear now—I lost my temper with Deputy Lyons. I was not making the charge against Deputy Lyons that he wished to practise economy by postponing the payment of debts. That was a charge I made against Deputy Johnson. The charge I have against Deputy Lyons is that he does not want to pay at all. The Deputy stated distinctly that he did not want to pay this at all.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Quite so.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  That has nothing to do with the question.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  He has confirmed what I said to you, Sir. That is the [60] new economy. That is how this economy is to be effected, how this nation is to be an honourable nation— we are to pay nobody.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  On a point of explanation I am entitled——

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  The Deputy can make his point of explanation when the President has concluded.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  That is an economy I do not subscribe to. If you ask me do I like to have to pay this £250,000 for the next sixty years, I say I do not. If you ask me do I consider it my duty to recommend it to the Dáil, that it is an honourable obligation on the State, I say “yes.” I am prepared to pay it, and prepared to bear the criticism of it. I believe it is a good bargain, an excellent bargain. I believe that it is a better bargain than if we were asked to pay four million pounds in cash. To produce £250,000 a year as interest it would take, according to the terms upon which we raised the national loan, £5,172,532, and in paying that £250,000 per year you would take nothing off the principal. I observe that the economists do not go into the question of how to strike a better bargain. The opposition to this proposal has but two legs—one, the postponement of payment. What does that mean? Having our name written up as a nation that will not meet its obligations. Were these obligations before Deputies? Were they in possession of the facts as to what they would cost the nation? They were, and the figures were mentioned. I told the Dáil that we could wipe out the debt for less than five million pounds—for four millions, I believed, and still as regards the four millions I say this is a better bargain. It is perfectly within the competence of the Dáil to say that they do not agree with this Agreement we have made, but it will be the duty of a succeeding Government to agree to terms —mark that. There is one thing that must be borne in mind, and that is that the honourable discharge of obligations by a State, by a Corporation, or by any other body is the best evidence of their good credit and their good faith. We [61] would, in my view, be liable to be indicted before other nations as a nation that has no respect for its obligations, and we would have no right to credit if we refused to carry out our part of this undertaking.

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  The President is fully aware of the circumstances in which the Agreement relating to the proposed repayment was ratified. Let me jog the memory of the President. The House assembled at 3 o'clock on a Monday afternoon to debate the London Pact. The President spoke that evening and he made no mention what-so ever of the method of payment. I have searched his speech for any mention of the method of proposed payment. The Minister for Justice spoke the same night and told us that he had not a head for figures. He made no mention of it. He left that to the Minister for Finance—that he was not a man for figures. I think these are his exact words. The next day the Minister for External Affairs spoke and said never a word as to the £250,000 for 60 years. On the following Tuesday the British Parliament assembled and Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Churchill were the first to give information, to divulge the truth to the world. It was published in the Irish Press and that was the first intimation the Deputies had of the secret financial agreement. Deputy Corish, who was the first to resume the debate on the Pact, raised the question, and the Minister for Finance, later on in the evening, about 6 o'clock, as well as I remember, spoke, and he gave the information that the President says was given to the House. I say this much, were it not for the fact that the British had given the information to the public it would not have been divulged at that stage.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Was it kept back —the statement I made when the Deputy shook his head? Was the information given to the House? Is it not a fact that the whole of the circumstances were mentioned on the Second Reading and before a decision was taken?

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  The information was given to the House when [62] it was no longer possible to conceal it. It was given to the House when the House had made itself familiar with outside sources of information, which is a different thing to making a candid and open confession. No thanks were due to the Government for giving the information at that stage. They could not deny it; it was not in their interest at that stage to do so. Further concealment was no longer any use; it was no longer necessary. It seems to me we are at sea as to whether we owe four or five millions. The President says that we could get out of it for four millions. Some time back he said that the British were assuming some obligation that put the total liability up to five millions.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  When I said that we could settle the matter for four millions I meant four millions in cash as against the present proposal. I am not trying to mix up the Deputy as regards the sum. Take as an example a man who owes five hundred pounds and there is a question of payment by cash or instalments; the cash payment always comes out lower than the payment by instalments. I hope that is clear.

Mr. C. HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  Not very clear.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I have explained the matter pretty fully and if it is not clear the fault is not mine.

Mr. C. HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  Mr. Baldwin stated that they would retain a sum of £900,000. Is that sum to be placed to the credit of the Wood-Renton Commission to be disbursed to the persons here?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  It is a rather difficult question. No sum of money is placed to the credit of the Wood-Renton Commission. The Commission does not discharge any debts and it does not make any payments; payments are made from the Department of Finance. The Wood-Renton Commission makes only awards.

Mr. C. HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  That simplifies the situation. I understood the procedure was that the Wood-Renton Commission made the award and we made the total payment but got a refund from the [63] British Exchequer. I presume there is no payment in respect of any award of the Wood-Renton Commission which we have not discharged; I presume there is nothing in respect of that for which the British might be liable. Therefore, our Treasury must meet the deficit. I cannot understand the President when he says the British are assuming some obligations in respect of damage to property. The President never explained why, if this money is at 4½ per cent., it entails a charge of a quarter of a million annually. Surely, that implies that there is over five and a quarter millions due. Any person can work it out and I cannot understand their method of finance. If there is a cash value to the extent of four millions why is it that we are called upon to pay interest on a sum of five and a quarter millions for a period of 60 years?

Then again, why should £900,000 have to be taken into account? I have asked that question and it has not been answered. The British were liable for the sum of £900,000, but now they retain that amount under the Pact. It seems to me that arrangements have been made to repay money that was never received. That is a perfectly clear inference. When should the interest become due on the five million pounds, if we really owe that amount? Is it to run from April 1st, 1926, or from the date of the London Agreement? It is difficult to follow the method of finance adopted by the Government. Why should we pay any interest this year on the money? I hold that no interest is now due. Let us presume that the amount starts to bear interest on April 1st; in that event there is nothing due this year.

Any sum you pay to the British Government should go to reduce the capital liability. If you borrow five pounds from a man and some minutes afterwards you pay him a pound, is that pound to be regarded as interest? I contend that the pound goes to reduce the amount of the original loan of five pounds, and brings the debt down to four pounds. The same principle should apply in regard to the London Pact. I hold that this year our Exchequer is not liable for one penny interest. [64] If we pay £400,000 the capital sum should be reduced by that amount; that is perfectly understandable.

According to the secret agreement, we are to pay back £900,000, a sum that we never received. We are first to pay £400,000 this year and in the two succeeding years £250,000. The British Government will have the use of that money, and I submit that we are entitled to pocket the interest. Nothing has been done in that regard. We are not repudiating our responsibility in respect to this agreement. Even if the motion of the Minister for Finance is delayed, the agreement ratified by the Dáil last December still stands; but the further arrangement which they now bring forward for ratification we will turn down; not only that, but we should pass a vote of no confidence in the Government for its method of handling our finances.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I disagree with Deputy Hogan in regard to the payments. I have already expressed my opinion that the people should not be called upon to pay anything at all. I wish to emphasise that opinion. We are not responsible for any payments. I submit, further, that money is not lawfully due to England at all. Instead of the Government, who are the directors and leaders of the people's representatives, to a certain extent, introducing legislation and getting it passed with the object of paying England a certain amount of money, it should be quite the contrary; it is on the other side of the Channel that legislation should be passed with the object of paying us the money lawfully due us by England. That is my opinion, and that is why I said I would not agree to this motion. If the Government succeeds in getting this motion passed, I shall not shirk my responsibility. I am prepared to go to the country and point out to the people that the Government they elected are putting on their shoulders a payment of fifteen millions, and I will indicate that that displays the Government's gratitude for election.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Does the Deputy think that will be good for the country?

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  It will be good for the country and particularly for contractors [65] and business-men. If the fifteen millions are not paid to England people will be able to give more employment; probably there would be a big effort in the direction of building houses and contractors in the city will get orders. In that way it may do good. If this money were lawfully due I would not vote against the motion. I simply hold that it is not, and that the agreement that was ratified clearly by a majority does not show that it is. In his final speech on that agreement the President said if there was any man who was against the agreement who would have the pluck to say that he would work it if it were carried, he would like to hear that man. He said there was no such man. There were three such and I was one of them.

I voted against the agreement, but I was prepared, if that agreement were passed by a majority, to work it. In that way I was prepared to accept it like I accepted the original Treaty in 1921. I hold that it is up to every Deputy here to do everything in his power to bring down the over-taxation of the people. By passing this Bill you are placing an extra burden on the people and you are compelling them to pay out of the Exchequer a sum of £250,000 a year for the next sixty years. The President said if he had £4,000,000 it would be easy for him to get the debt wiped out. In the Budget which will be introduced tomorrow we will have to raise something like £25,500,000. Why not reduce that Estimate and pay off the £4,000,000? Why not save that much money and then you will not have to borrow so much? You can save money from the extravagance in every Department of the Government. You have extravagance in every Department throughout the State. The people I represent have had their wages cut down to a starvation rate. The County Councils are told to economise. The President can save that four and a quarter millions out of the estimate and he can do it without causing one penny extra to fall on the State.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Has the Deputy [66] much support in the Dáil for that proposal?

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I stood here one time all alone. I am prepared to stand here to-day alone. It does not annoy me what support I will get so long as I voice the opinions of the people I represent.

Mr. BEAMISH: Information on Richard Henrik Beamish  Zoom on Richard Henrik Beamish  On a point of order, might I ask the Deputy is he going by his own acts and deeds to show that he is prepared to set a really good example by refusing to accept any salary? He has told us that it is the duty of all of us to spare this money. I can quite understand that frame of mind if he will set the example. If he is prepared to refuse to accept his salary and to pay his own railway fares, and be what I should then call a really high-class representative of the people, sacrificing himself for the good of the nation and take his own advice, that would be something that we could understand. If he does that he might go on and talk a little further.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Is that a point of order?

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  This question can come up on the Estimates.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I am quite prepared to do what Deputy Beamish speaks about if the capitalist Deputies who built their capital on sweated labour do likewise.

Mr. BEAMISH: Information on Richard Henrik Beamish  Zoom on Richard Henrik Beamish  Why does not the Deputy say “I am so noble that I will do this, no matter what any other Deputy does”? But the Deputy hangs on to his salary.

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  I would like to ask the President if this sum of money in question is included in the Estimates for 1926-7? I understand that it is not. I want to put it to the President that he should state to the Dáil exactly what he said on that point last December. My own recollection cannot carry me back to exactly what he did say. I did not understand the President or any of the Ministers to tell the Dáil when this London Pact was under discussion that we were to start paying the money [67] this year. I question if any member of the Ministry or any one behind the Ministers or anyone in the Dáil suggested that we were to start discharging the liability this year. If there were secret arrangements on that point, I suggest that the arrangements were not disclosed to the Dáil. I have no recollection whatever that they were. My recollection is that none of us understood that that financial liability that we were then contracting was to be discharged in part this year. No Deputy who voted for that understood that he was voting for a certain liability to be discharged within this financial year.

I am in agreement with Deputy Johnson when he says that he read the Bill and gathered that it meant that a future arrangement was to be made by which we were to pay certain moneys. Deputies understood that that arrangement, while tentatively given to the Dáil, first through the columns of the Press after the English Ministers had informed us what the financial agreement that had been arrived at was; and when those terms were given to us here and confirmed later by the President, there was no statement added showing that we were to start this financial year to defray portion of that liability. The understanding then was that an agreement was to be made as to when payment was to start, and I understood that was a matter for final arrangement. I understood that in the final arrangement between our Government and the British Government on this important financial question our Government would see to it that the interests of taxpayers of this country would be seen to and looked after as well as it was possible for our Government to do that work. I do not think that even the President himself will say that it is well for the taxpayers of this country that this payment is to start this year. The President told us a few minutes ago that he is not pleased that we have to pay this money. He told us that he would rather that we had not to pay it. We think, as a matter of history, that this was gratitude on the part of our Ministers, or want of sense, which caused them to come to the [68] decision that they came to when they volunteered to pay this money to England.

The President himself stood over that statement. Now his point of view is changed and he agreed to-day that it would be better we had not to pay this. He feels to the same extent as we do that the capacity to pay at present is not as satisfactory as we would like to see it. I am not going to dwell any further on that except to add that I think it would have been very good work for the Minister in charge of making this arrangement, or for the Ministers who made it, if they had a clearer conception of what our financial responsibilities were to be in 1926-7 and to consider whether or not it would not be better for this country to make an arrangement to defer the payment for another year or two years rather than to undertake to pay in this year when the depression is as serious as it is. I voted against this Bill. I am not in agreement with Deputy Cooper, who says that a postponement of payment is a repudiation. It is nothing of the kind. I recognise that the majority have accepted this and that the State must accept responsibility for what the majority of its representatives do. But whether the State should start to pay now or twelve months hence is another matter, and I think that the President would be serving the State better by urging on the British Finance Minister to consider our ability to pay at present and to consider if it would not be possible to make an arrangement that would be much more satisfactory to this country and little less satisfactory to what the President would style our creditor. I would like to know whether it was decided when this agreement was made that we were to pay this sum this year, and if such a decision were arrived at why the House and the country were not told so before to-day.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I would like to correct the Deputy's misinterpretation of what I said. If the Deputy thinks that I made this bargain in December and have since repented of it, that is not so. I must say that I have not. I believe it now to be as good a bargain as I did in December. I believe it to [69] be an excellent bargain. What I simply said, as an aside, and what I am sure the Deputy himself feels, is that I would like not to have to pay anything. I realise, though, that that is not the way in which business is done. People must pay their debts. I have just the natural human disposition not to feel pleasure in paying a debt. The Minister for Finance said on the Second Reading of the Confirmation of Amending Agreement Bill:—

“This Agreement will involve, as has been stated elsewhere, a payment of £250,000 a year for a period of 60 years. As, however, at present the British Government is liable for sums of about £900,000 no cash payment will fall due to be made until 1st April, 1929.”

That, I think, is not so much the circumstance to-day as then, because I understand some payments have been made since. But the fact is the same; this payment was to have started and to have been payable as from 1st April, 1926, and that is the essence of the proposal. The mere physical fact of not handing out the money on a particular date is not the point; the point is the agreement, and the agreement says that £150,000 shall be paid in January and £250,000 a year after for 60 years. That is the agreement that we came to in December. I supported that agreement then and I support it just as heartily now.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Is the President quoting now?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I quoted from what the Minister for Finance said.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Do I understand the President is quoting the Minister for Finance as saying that we would pay £150,000 in January, 1926, and £250,000 a year for 60 years?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  No, I said the payment of £250,000 a year for a period of 60 years. Then the Minister for Finance went on to say that as there were certain sums outstanding that particular first payment would not fall due until 1st April, 1929. It did not alter the circumstances.

[70]Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Did he say that it did not alter the circumstances?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  No, but I say it now. He mentioned £150,000 later in the same column.

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Will the President contradict my statement that the House was under the impression that the first payment was to be made on 1st April, 1929?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Well, if the House were in a state of adamantine stupidity it may have been, but it was not. The Deputy cannot have read this column 1590 of the Official Reports of 9th December, 1925, where, in the column after the one I have just quoted, the £150,000 is mentioned. Let us be clear about what is meant; let us be honest with one another.

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Yes.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Is it the Deputy's opinion that if no payments had to be made until April, 1929, we were escaping liability for three years?

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  No.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Very good. Does it matter then?

Mr. CONNOR HOGAN: Information on Conor Hogan  Zoom on Conor Hogan  Was not the obligation——

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Let me deal with one first. I want to put one Deputy right, and I will deal with Deputy Connor Hogan afterwards. Is it Deputy Baxter's contention that if this payment had not to be made until 1st April, 1929, we would escape three years' payment of £250,000 a year?

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  You would be paying for 60 years, running from the date you started to pay.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Do I take it from what Deputy Baxter has said that we would simply pay £250,000 for 57 years?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  No; for 60 years, beginning with 1929?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  No, that is not the case. The case is that the payments were to start from this year.

[71]Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  That was not stated.

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  The contrary was the impression that was created.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Well, if it was the impression it was a very innocent impression to gather. The Minister certainly gave no grounds whatever for that. Payment is to start as from this year.

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  The liability to pay, yes.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  The liability and the payment.

Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  It seems to me that if Deputies vote for this added ten per cent. they will be casting a reflection on the courts or, in the alternative, a reflection upon the House itself. A Compensation Act was passed under which these cases were heard in the courts, and the judges awarded what they considered to be fair and just compensation. We are now asked to agree to the addition of ten per cent. to these awards. That means either of two things; either we are giving these people ten per cent. over and above what they are justly entitled to, or they were unjustly treated under the first award. I wonder which view does the Government take. I cannot see why these people should be paid. By the mere fact of voting for this ten per cent. we are saying that these people were not justly treated, and we are either accusing ourselves or the judges of injustice towards them. I want to ask whether the Government have, or intend, or are empowered to make any representations, representations which, by the way, they should have made at the time of this agreement, with regard to the treatment of the people who were victimised in the North and who should have got compensation. It seems to me that there is a greater case to be made for the people who suffered in the North than for those who suffered in the South. Those in the South, even if we accept it as a fact that they did not get all that they should, got something. Many of the people who were victimised and burned out in the North got nothing at all.

Another point in connection with [72] this matter is this: We had this afternoon a question with regard to provision for the unemployed, and the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the President told us that it was not the Government's intention to make any further provision for them by way of unemployment insurance. I take it that that is because the Government are not in a position to do so, that they have not the money or that they do not consider that the matter is sufficiently serious to warrant making any further provision for it. I would like to know which view is correct. We were told by the Government that the old age pensions were reduced because the country could not afford to continue to pay the 10/- a week. We know that the same argument was put forward by the Government in fixing the wages on the Shannon scheme at 32/- a week and when they fixed 29/- a week as a maximum for work done on the roads under the grants.

It is an extraordinary thing if the Government of the country was so poor that it had to reduce the old age pensions, so poor that it could not afford to pay a decent wage to the men employed on the roads or to find money to relieve the unemployment and, in many cases, the starvation that exists, is in a position, apparently, to find a sum of £250,000 a year for the next 60 years. That seems to me to be an extraordinary thing. It seems extraordinary to me also that Deputies can come in here and support the view that this country cannot afford to make any better or any further provision for people who are unemployed and who, in some cases, are hungry, and yet can afford to make provision for a payment of fifteen or sixteen million pounds to England. In connection with the 10 per cent., I want to stress that, to me, it means either of two things—(1) that the courts were not just in the awards they made to the people concerned, or (2) that this House was not just in passing this Act and tried to defraud them out of what they were justly entitled to.

Mr. P. HOGAN (Clare): Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I want to emphasise a few points in connection with this matter. I feel that it is more [73] or less useless to attempt to point out reason to those on the opposite benches. The only reason they understand is the ringing of the division bell, and they understand that quite well. It is the only reason they ever understand.

Mr. T. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  Deputy Duffy does not understand that.

Mr. P. HOGAN (Clare): Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I was seriously interested in hearing the President tell us that it would be a breach of faith and a breach of credit if we did not meet our liabilities to Great Britain immediately. That was something to know: that we should not break our faith with Great Britain; but it is nothing, I suppose, to the President that he should not restore his credit to the old age pensioners from whom one shilling a week was filched some years ago; it is nothing to him. I suppose, that he should not do something to meet the unemployment problem throughout the country and restore faith in our people; it is nothing to him, I suppose, that there should be thousands of wretched hovels and houses throughout the country, and that he should not restore faith with these people; it is nothing to him that there should be a delay of four years in meeting the claims of disabled ex-soldiers, on behalf of whom it is asked that their claims should be met in a Bill immediately. All that is nothing to him.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  As regards disabled soldiers, everyone of these has been provided for.

Mr. P. HOGAN (Clare): Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The President is playing on the words “disabled soldiers.” A man may be disabled through illness contracted while on active service just as much as he could be from wounds. Punning on a word is not the way to meet a fair argument when it is put up here, and the President knows that right well. Therefore, if keeping credit with the people of this country means nothing, and if a breach of faith with Great Britain means everything, we must keep our faith with Great Britain and we must not keep our faith with the people of this country who put us here.

[74]The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I would like to say, as far as some of the statements made by Deputy Hogan are concerned, that no unreasonable delay, no definite act to delay consideration of the last matter that he complained of, has been made—that is, as regards persons who contracted disease in our service. No delay whatever has been made in that matter.

Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  After two and a half years?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Yes, even with the whole two and a half years. Nobody knows better than Deputies on the benches opposite that we get ten times the number of claims from people who have no proper legitimate claim to the one who will have a claim. That has been our experience in other matters as well; that at least ten times the number of people apply who have no right whatever to apply to the one who has. Is it the Deputy's wish that we should have provided for the whole lot?

Mr. P. HOGAN (Clare): Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Will the President deny that he himself has dealt with cases of hardship that I have brought to his notice in this particular respect? Is it reasonable to suggest that because the legal draftsman employed by the Government cannot successfully cut out people who have no claim that those who have a real claim should be kept waiting for a period of two and a half years?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  It is not the draftsman's fault, because these cases have not got as far as the draftsman yet. There are other people to be considered besides the draftsman.

Mr. P. HOGAN (Clare): Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Now we know where we are.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  The draftsman gets our instructions as to what is to be in a measure, but the draftsman is not consulted as to the policy of the measure. What I say is that we have not broken faith with these people. No definite steps have been taken by any Minister or by the Executive Council to put the thing in a pocket and leave it there for so many months.

[75]Mr. P. HOGAN:  I say you have not kept faith.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Have not kept it? That statement is not true. We have kept it, but we may not have been able to deliver the goods as rapidly as the Deputy would wish, just the same as a great many supporters of the Deputy do not deliver the goods to us as rapidly as we would wish. Now we will go on to housing. We have done more for housing than Deputies over there would ever be able to do, and the suggestion that has been made was not a very nice or creditable one. With regard to the housing situation, we have done more in that connection, according to our wealth, than any other country has done. Deputies on the opposite benches know that if they were here with the majority behind them they would not be able to do any more than we have done for housing, and possibly not quite as much.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  It is very probable that we would not make promises that we could not fulfil.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  We have made no promises that we have not done our very best to carry out. Deputy Morrissey quoted this question of the 10 per cent., and said that in this matter we were passing judgment on our judges. I thought I had explained at sufficient length to Deputy Morrissey before that there are two periods in connection with compensation—pre-Truce and post-Truce. In connection with pre-Truce compensation an international Commission sat on the matter, dealt with cases and made awards. It has been, I think, the experience of every person who has compared the compensation awards made under our Damage to Property (Compensation) Act and the awards of the Wood-Renton Commission, that there was anywhere from 10 to 30 per cent. of a difference between the two; that the Wood-Renton Commission gave that much more than was given under the Damage to Property Act of 1923. That Act, as the Minister for Finance explained more than once, was tightly, very tightly, drawn.

Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  By the House?

[76]The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Yes. By the Government if you like, and passed by the Oireachtas. The Act was very tightly drawn and under it there were many cases of very considerable hardship. I notice that one particular Deputy who very often attacks the Government and asks the Government for grants for this person and for that person, for people who have not been properly treated and so on, is not here to support this 10 per cent. although he knows just as well as I do that it was needed. I have had representations from many people concerning this. I certainly had one from a member of this House. I had deputations from people in the City of Dublin whose case was a very hard one. They went before the Court, and the judge decided that they were not entitled to foundations. The Corporation came along with the plans that had been lodged, and they insisted on the foundation going in. In that case the judge was perfectly within his rights in deciding that the foundation should not be paid for and the local authority was perfectly within its right in insisting that it should be put down. It was provided for and the ten per cent. in my opinion, would barely compensate for that item.

Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  That ten per cent. would not have been given if it did not arise within the boundary crux. The injustice would have been allowed to continue.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Will the Deputy give me time to repeat what I said? Pre-boundary crux, pre-disposal of Article V., the Damage to Property Act was something we could stand over and say: “That is the utmost limit we can go.” Article V. has disappeared with its contingent liability, if any, and a general review of the situation was necessary, particularly in view of the fact that we were now going to shoulder for the first time the entire liability in respect to the Wood-Renton or the Shaw Commission awards, and the person whose house was burned after July, 1921, or whose property was destroyed after 1921 had at least the right to say: “We are certainly entitled to be paid, at least at the same [77] rate as a person whose house was destroyed in June, 1921.”

Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  My point is they might have said that and continue to say it, but there would have been no responsibility for the Government to add ten per cent. except that it is part of the bargain over the boundary crux.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  On the President's argument there should be a sliding scale between ten and thirty per cent.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  One cannot do that. It can run from 10 to 30 per cent. I believe there are cases where 50 would be nearer to the mark. It is not in the Deputy's mind, surely, that in order to settle this properly we should ask the Wood-Renton Commission to review all the cases that had been before the courts. That is the alternative to it. This is the best and most business-like method.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  That is a flat rate of relieving injustice.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Yes, at least the Damage to Property Act was, as far as persons making an application under it, on a ten per cent. less generous scale than the Wood-Renton Commission.

Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  The same thing could be said for the personal injuries.

[78]The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I do not know whether the Deputy is in order in putting up that point. I have read the Minister for Finance's statement again and I am perfectly satisfied from the reading of it that no other condition could be made and there was no other consideration to be arranged than that the liability should start this year.

Mr. BAXTER: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  That we were to start payment this year.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Yes. The statement, with regard to no payments this year, was explained in relation to the sums of money yet to come in. I think it is within the knowledge of Deputies generally that the Wood-Renton or Shaw Commission made certain awards conditional on reinstatement and on work being done. Reinstatement awards are only paid on the work being done. All the work had not been completed, but in respect to it certain payment had to be made, and there were book transactions as between the individuals themselves putting it forward to a later date. Assume that the sum was five millions; that meant, say, three years' interest. The sum was not five millions but a larger sum, and I cannot see how that misconception has arisen.

Motion put.

Earnán Altún.
Richard H. Beamish.
Thomas Bolger.
Séamus Breathnach.
Seoirse de Bhulbh.
John J. Cole.
John Conlan.
Bryan R. Cooper.
Sir James Craig.
Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean Uí
Dhrisceóil.
James Dwyer.
Desmond Fitzgerald.
John Good.
Thomas Hennessy.
Patrick Leonard.
Seosamh Mac a' Bhrighde.
Donnchadh Mac Con Uladh.
Liam Mac Cosgair.
Seán MacCurtain.
Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
Patrick McGilligan.
Risteárd Mac Liam.
Eoin Mac Néill.
Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
Liam Mac Sioghaird.
James Sproule Myles.
John T. Nolan.
Peadar O hAodha.
Seán O Bruadair.
Parthalán O Conchubhair.
Máirtín O Conalláin.
Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
Séamus O Dóláin.
Tadhg O Donnabháin.
Peadar O Dubhghaill.
Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
Eamon O Dúgáin.
Donnchadh O Guaire.
Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
Aindriú O Láimhín.
Séamus O Leadáin.
Risteárd O Maolchatha.
Séamus O Murchadha.
Pádraig O hOgáin (Luimneach).
Máirtín O Rodaigh.
Seán O Súilleabháin.
Andrew O'Shaughnessy.
Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.
Caoimhghín O hUigín.
Liam Thrift.

Pádraig Baxter.
Connor Hogan.
Séamus Mac Cosgair.
Tomás Mac Eoin.
Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
Liam Mag Aonghusa.
Tomás de Nógla.
William Norton.
Ailfrid O Broin.
Tomás O Conaill.
Aodh O Cúlacháin.
Seán O Laidhin.
Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).

The Dáil went out of Committee.

Resolution reported.

Question—“That the Dáil agree with the Committee in the said resolution”—put and agreed to.


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