Thursday, 6 May 1926
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £1,625,470 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1927, chun Costas an Airm, maraon le Cúl-thaca an Airm.
That a sum not exceeding £1,625,470 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for the cost of the Army, including Army Reserve.
MINISTER for DEFENCE (Mr. Hughes): In presenting the Army Estimates for the year 1926-27, Deputies will, doubtless, expect more informamation on Army matters generally than, from the circumstances prevailing, it was possible to give last year.
The Deputies are, of course, familiar with the original constitution of the Army. They are all aware of the circumstances in which the National Army was constituted early in 1922. It was a case of there having been no organised military administrative machine to enable the task that was thrown on the military to be adequately carried out. Officers, N.C.O.'s and men were hurriedly enrolled; hurriedly put into uniform, where such uniform was available; and hurriedly formed into military formations. Then came, almost immediately, the civil strife, when the National Army was supplemented by thousands of recruits from the civil population, the strength ultimately reaching the number of 55,000 all told. On the cessation of civil strife came the gigantic task of demobilisation. I am aware of the difficulties that various countries have had in the demobilisation of an army improvised for war, and I can assure the House that, relatively, the difficulties associated with our demobilisation were on a very extended scale. It was carried out ultimately with the success which, I venture to say, reflects the very greatest credit on the Army leaders of the time.
 After this demobilisation came the reorganisation of the National Army on a peace basis; there, again, extreme difficulties were encountered, but, after various incidents with which the House is familiar, a peace army was brought into being. This peace army was, as is shown in the Estimates for the last two years, of greatly reduced strength. It became necessary, in regard to the officer personnel, to give some feeling of permanence of tenure to officers who were selected for commissions in the peace army. An establishment for the Army was constituted, showing the personnel to be attached to each individual Army formation down to the infantry company. It is not contended that this establishment was in any way approaching finality; it has, in fact, been found that the establishment requires extensive amendments. These amendments are inevitable, having regard to the nature of an army in itself. It must be remembered that the Army is only now four years in existence, but the progress made during that period must be considered to be, in the nature of the case, quite remarkable.
Having secured the formation of the peace army, and having put into operation military formation of the type ordinarily existing in modern armies, and having constituted technical corps of various kinds, and having established an air force adjunct of considerable value, we reach the stage now, at the opening of the present financial year, when it is possible to show that within the various limitations of the case we have constituted an Army which, I venture to say, compares well with any recently constituted army in any other country. At this stage of my remarks it might reasonably be asked: what is the objective of that Army in a country such as this? That point has been raised more than once, and pressure has been brought to bear to indicate what is the policy governing our Army. Well, I have no hesitation in stating the policy now. It is this:
The organisation of our defence forces should in the first place be such that it would be capable of rapid and efficient expansion in time of need to the maximum strength of the country's  man-power. This will necessitate the training of all ranks in duties of a more advanced nature than those normally associated with each rank. The Army must be an independent national force, so organised, trained and equipped as to render it capable, should the necessity arise, of assuming responsibility for the defence of the territory of the Saorstát against invasion or internal disruptive agencies or against violation of neutrality on the part of an enemy.
I might add to that exposition of policy that in times of peace, such as we are happily experiencing now, there is a distinct tendency to overlook the necessity for the maintenance of a force in this country trained in arms and ready to repel attack. I may also add that the internal situation in the country does not yet justify the substitution of the Army, as it at present exists, for something in the nature of a militia force.
From this it will be seen that the primary object aimed at for our Army is that it shall be capable of the defence of Irish territory, and to resist invasion from any quarter. Having regard to the policy thus defined, Deputies will realise that many of the features brought out in this year's Estimates are imperatively necessary for an army such as that policy contemplates, and with these preliminary remarks I should like now to proceed to a consideration of the Estimates as a whole.
The first point to be brought out in connection with the Estimates now presented to the House is that they represent a decrease of £577,647 on the Estimates for last year. Every avenue of retrenchment has been explored, but, in the main, the reduction represents a reduction in strength. It will be noted that this year provision is being made for a total of 1,064 officers and 12,500 non-commissioned officers and men. This represents a reduction in number of 14 officers and of 3,990 non-commissioned officers and men. The reduction of non-commissioned officers and men is contingent on the constitution of reserve, concerning which I will make some remarks later on.
Regarding the officers, it will be  within the knowledge of Deputies that the defence forces, as such, were formally promulgated on the 1st October, 1924, under the provisions of the Defence Forces Act. Officers selected for the defence forces then became fully commissioned, and were duly gazetted. The officer corps thus became an established institution in the sense that the officers gazetted were considered to have adopted the Army as their career. I am not going to say that every one of the officers who were gazetted will ultimately find that the Army is their vocation, as it were, but I am going to say that the gazetting of these officers in the defence forces gives them certain rights which cannot be ignored. The reduction which has already taken place in the number of officers represents voluntary resignations and actual removals. It may reasonably be argued, I think, that the proportion of officers to other ranks is, perhaps, at the moment, slightly on the large side. Various comparisons in this connection have been made from time to time with other armies. These comparisons, in my opinion, are to a large extent ill-considered, there being no real basis of comparison between an army which has been in existence only four years with other armies which have been in existence for hundreds of years and are highly developed, intensive organisations; but, taking the averages for what they are worth, it is observed that the proportion of officers to other ranks in the defence force is 1 to 11.75. In the British Army it is 1 to 15; whilst in the United States Army it is 1 to 10.
It is recognised that, as our Army must be capable of extension at any moment, a proportion of officers, somewhat larger than would normally be admissible, should be in the service. We may, of course, come to the formation of a reserve of officers, but, meanwhile, there are arguments for having in the defence forces a relatively larger number of officers than the strength of other ranks would normally justify. Nevertheless, it has been decided that, whilst no compulsion whatever will be used, officers who feel that the Army is not their vocation, and who desire to re-enter civil life, will be allowed to do  so in terms of being granted a year's pay and allowance as a gratuity on their relinquishing their commissions. Deputies will note that a separate sub-head has been created in these Estimates to cover the grant of such gratuities. It is anticipated that a number of officers will take advantage of this opportunity, but I should like to repeat that there is no intention of forcing efficient officers out of the Army.
As regards non-commissioned officers and men, it will be noted that whereas last year provision was made for 3,237 N.C.O.'s this year we are asking for provision for 1,965 only of non-commissioned officers. And in regard to privates, the number this year is 10,535 compared to 13,261 last year. This reduction in the strength of N.C.O.'s and men has only been found to be possible by the creation of the reserve, for which powers exist in the Defence Forces Act.
The reserve will be composed of fully trained soldiers of exemplary character who have completed their period of service with the forces. Reservists will be paid while on the reserve at the rate of 9d. per day. They will be subject to annual training for a period of twenty-one days, during which they will be paid at the normal army rates. The scheme may not be in full force this year, but my idea is to have a reserve of about 4,500 men at the end of the financial year—the regular army being correspondingly reduced. In this particular year it is contemplated to train reservists for seven days only. The total cost of the reserve for this year, it will be noted, including clothing and provisions whilst up for training, amounts to £65,385. The clothing and equipment included in that sum is expected to last ten years, and to that extent such expenditure can be described as non-recurrent. A similar number of men on full time in the Army would cost £600,000.
Another new aspect of affairs in the personnel of the Army is indicated under sub-head “A”—pay of cadets. It will be understood that the ultimate officering of the Army will be in one or other of two ways—the appointment of  cadets or promotion from the ranks. A start is being made in regard to cadets. A number are immediately required for the air service; some will be required for the corps of engineers; one or two will be required for the army bands; and later on, as I have said, there will be the introduction of cadets for the other arms, infantry, etc.
The general scheme for the cadets is largely contingent on the establishment of our military college, but, meanwhile, we are making a start, as indicated, in connection with the air service, corps of engineers and bands. And, mentioning the military college, it will be noted that provision is being made for sending a number of officers to the United States for the purpose of undergoing courses there in the United States military colleges, so that we shall have a nucleus of officers to take up the work in the military college when that institution commences to function.
In dealing with the personnel of the Army, I should not omit to mention the army air service. I may say at once that it is the policy of the Government that an air service, however small, should be in existence. It is an essential part of every existing Army. All have their air services in operation. Our air service is small, and it is not contemplated that it should ever be very large. Apart from the purely military value of the air service, it must not be forgotten that civil aviation is now a permanent feature in most countries, and that it must eventually be developed in this country. It would certainly be a matter of grave importance to any developments in civil aviation that, apart from military necessities, there should be a military air service to lead the way. Before I conclude my observations on military personnel, I should like to refer to the headings, “wages to civilians attached to units” and “medical services.”
In regard to civil personnel, it will be within the recollection of Deputies that on the evacuation by British troops at the Curragh, there was left behind a large body of civilian labour employed in the various services at the Curragh Camp. The Army, in its initial  stage, was unable to take over the services performed by these men, and the office of works was, accordingly, deputed to undertake the administration of these various services at the Curragh. That Department, accordingly, took over all the various civilians as employed by the British Government. As things developed in the Army, it became desirable that the control of these services should be undertaken by the Army itself, and, accordingly, the office of works transferred the services to the Army, and incidentally transferred the civilian labour referred to. We have continued to employ this civilian labour and auxiliary clerical staff, although at one time it was contemplated to substitute a large portion of the civilian labour by military labour. This was found, however, not to be expedient, and the civil labour remains. Economies have been effected in regard to the numbers employed and the present number of civilian employees at the Curragh is 230. The remainder of the charge for the pay of civilians is in respect of those attached to the corps of engineers at other stations; of clerks and typists, and of a number of civilians employed on miscellaneous work.
In regard to the employment of civilians by the engineer corps generally, it has been found that the employment of soldier-tradesmen is uneconomical. The civilian workman works the normal number of hours per week applicable to his trade; on the other hand, the soldier tradesman, allowing for parades, orderly and other military duties, is found to do actual work of only about 30 hours a week. A further circumstance is that the number of civilians employed can be increased or diminished at short notice, civilian labour being more adjustable to meet the fluctuations of actual requirements. The ultimate idea, therefore, in regard to work services of the engineers in the maintenance of barracks, etc., is to employ civilians, in the main with a small number of soldier-tradesmen in pivotal positions, superintendents, etc. The full effect of this policy cannot be carried out this year, and hence, it is that we still have a considerable number of soldier-tradesmen drawing extra pay as such. As  regards typists, a committee has enquired into the nature of the work, and the necessity for their employment. Considerable reductions have been made, and provision is made for 102 for the present year, chefs and waiters are included in the number of civilian employees. Here, again, civilian labour is essential in the present circumstances, owing to the fact that soldiers trained in these duties are not yet available. We propose to start a school of instruction in cookery, etc., as a result of which it will be possible to find a number of chefs, cooks, etc., to replace the civilians at present employed. Amongst the miscellaneous civilians employed is one rigger at Baldonnel aerodrome to examine machines and test the engines prior to flights. He is a highly-trained mechanic and his employment is essential.
As regards the medical service, it will be noted that there is a reduction in the charge as compared with last year. This service, besides attending to all the medical services for the Army, including treatment of pensioners towards reduction of disability, also provides medical boards in connection with army pensions; and with the reduction in the Army there will be a substantial reduction in the strength of this service. It must be remembered that the Army is still very scattered, there being some one hundred posts at which military are stationed. This, inevitably, adds to the work of the medical service, the medical officer of the unit being often compelled to travel long journeys to outposts.
Transport of troops by rail is a normal service, but it will be interesting to the House to know that arrangements have been made with the railway companies in the Saorstát whereby the military on duty are conveyed at substantially reduced rates. The effect of this reduction is that the transportation of troops is carried out under rates appreciably lower than those accorded to the British authorities for conveyance of troops in Northern Ireland. As regards the Army transport, there are two sides to this very important and essential Army service—the mechanical transport and horse transport. Possibly, Deputies will have noticed that there is an increase in  horse transport. This is a policy which has been adopted, governing short journeys in cities, towns, etc., and is found to be both economical and efficient. As regards mechanical transport, I have mentioned on a previous occasion that we had the heritage of a mass of mechanical transport in a very advanced stage of depreciation. The cost of upkeep in respect of these vehicles was so excessive that it was determined that the more economical policy would be to dispose of them and purchase a small number of new vehicles in replacement. This has been done; we have disposed of practically all the old lorries and cars. Last year we purchased some new lorries and cars, and this year the process will be continued. There has been a material reduction, even since last year, in the number of cars in use. It is felt that in an emergency mechanical transport can always be obtained, and the policy, therefore, is to reduce mechanical transport to the necessities of the Army as it exists at the moment. As I have stated, it is wasteful to keep cars on the road for a long period; it is not proposed to run a car more than three or four years, and the present intention is to replace a number of cars regularly each year, thus spending the capital expenditure over a number of years.
The control of the use of cars generally in the Army has been thoroughly inquired into, with the result that a more extended “pooling” system has been adopted without in any way curtailing essential services. The use of petrol also has been rigidly investigated, and a system has been adopted which will secure that military users of Army vehicles will be required to show that their consumption of petrol has been on essential military services and has not been excessive.
The most important feature in Army expenditure, after pay of personnel, is that of supplies. The food of the Army, it will be noted, is expected to cost over £400,000. This estimate is based on the estimated cost of the daily ration for officers and soldiers. The estimated cost is 1s. 7d. per daily ration. Incidental to the supply of  food for the Army, it may be mentioned that the Army runs an up-to-date bakery at the Curragh. The bread produced is of the best quality, and the cost of production compares favourably with the cost of bread by competitive tender. In that connection evidence of cost of bread from the Army bakery has recently been furnished to the Food Prices Tribunal.
Besides the bakery, the Army has an abattoir at the Curragh; for meat supplies in the Dublin area the Corporation abattoir is utilised. The meat from the abattoirs is of the highest quality, and, although the cost per lb. of meat produced is somewhat higher than the meat contract price at outstations, I am fully convinced that the abattoir meat is better value, apart from the administrative experience gained by the Army in the working of these institutions. The difficulty in regard to meat supplied by contractors is that, notwithstanding surprise inspections, inferior meat is regularly tendered. This means rejection and replacement by the contractor, or, alternatively, purchase in default. All purchases of food under contract are made under a system of rigid open competitive tender with close financial supervision.
Amongst the important supply services should be mentioned clothing. Clothing for uniforms is of Irish manufacture, but it was difficult to secure exact uniformity in supply. A standard sample is now being adopted, and Irish manufacturers will be in a position to manufacture cloth to this standard sample. This will secure a longer life for uniforms, and a better appearance in the dress of the men generally. The increase in the amount under this sub-head, as compared with last year, arises from the fact that at the beginning of last year there was a quantity of active service clothing on hand, and the estimate for that year was adjusted accordingly. The active service clothing is exhausted, and replenishment, as indicated in this year's estimate, is necessary.
Under the heading of animals and forage, it will be noticed that there is an increase compared with last year. The increase is partly accounted for by  the increase in horse transport already referred to, and partly to complete the horse establishment of the artillery which has been below strength in animals. Leaving supplies, we come to stores of various kinds—general stores, warlike stores and engineer stores. In regard to general stores, there is an increase compared to last year. The main factors in this increase are: The provision of equipment for the army signal corps—a corps whose functions are in the highest degree technical; purchase of tip-carts in connection with horse transport; and limbers for artillery. The provision for warlike and engineer stores represents the normal requirements for the Army, and calls for no special comment. After stores we come to two primary services for the Army—fuel, light and water on the one hand, and barrack services on the other. The issue of fuel is now controlled in an intensive way under regulations under the Defence Forces Act. Regulations are also extant in respect of furniture for messes, etc. As regards military lands, the expenditure under this head has hitherto been shown under the head of works and buildings, but it was felt desirable to segregate this item and bring it out separately. This is a service of considerable importance; the administration of it as well as its financial control is in charge of the Army Finance Officer, who has a lands officer of wide experience to carry out all the various technical and other duties.
In conclusion, I have only to say that the Estimate before you is the considered Estimate, having regard to the normal expenditure which would inevitably take place on the Army. It is an Estimate which I, as Minister, can stand over in this House, and I do say it is the minimum that we can accept for the requirements of the Army for the coming year, considering the numbers we have and the numbers we intend to have. I hope the Dáil will criticise the Estimate from the point of view of putting forward genuine and constructive criticisms, and not criticisms of a destructive nature.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: I regret that this Vote has come on at an inauspicious moment, as far as my Party is  concerned. Some of the leading members of the Party had previously arranged to attend a very important lecture to-night in connection with statistics; the lecture will be given at a gathering of the Statistical Society. They did not anticipate that this Vote would come on.
I arrived at that figure by deciding in my own mind what Army would be sufficient for the requirements of the Saorstát. I decided, as far as my ideas in regard to the maintenance of an army in keeping with the requirements of the State were concerned, that we would not be justified in maintaining an Army of a greater size than 5,000 men, with appropriate officers and N.C.O.'s In making my calculations I took off 5,535 men, which is the balance required with 5,000 men to make up the total of 10,535. At a rough estimate, I decided that 600 officers might be retained. The proportion of 600 officers to 5,000 men is considerably more than the present proportion of officers to men. As has been explained by the Minister for Defence, the present proportion is higher than the usual proportion of officers to men.
I decided, in view of the smallness of the Army and the possibility of creating a larger reserve, that we must retain a larger proportion of officers. I cannot say that the number I have mentioned is worked out in any definite proportion to the possible personnel under the new organisation. It is not possible, in dealing with a matter of this kind, to work out the exact requirements of the State in regard to the maintenance of an Army of the size of 5,000 men with officers and N.C.O.'s. I also make an allowance for 1,000 sergeants; I am not including corporals. That would leave the Army that I suggest should be retained by the State at 6,600 men. The total number of officers and men which I suggest should be taken off Army strength is 6,972.
 Dividing the total cost of the Army by the total number of officers and men we get a rough calculation of the cost of each officer and man at £187. If we multiply that by 6,972 we arrive at a total of £1,300,000. I propose that the Vote be reduced by this amount.
I am quite cognisant of the conditions which led to the establishment of our Army and the conditions which caused the retention of an army of the present size. My proposal is not, in any sense, a vote of censure, or in any sense a suggestion that the Army is not a very efficient force and is not an Army which we can be proud of. I am dealing with the question purely from the outlook of the requirements of the State in regard to a military establishment, combined with the economic conditions and the possibilities of the State in regard to the upkeep of an army.
There are two aspects which must be taken into account at once when we are to decide what size of an army we should retain. We must decide what we are retaining the Army for—what the reason for the existence of the Army is. Is it mainly for the purpose of maintaining internal order or for the purpose of acting as an insurance against a future outbreak of civil strife? If it is, do we require the number of men we at present maintain? If it is not required for that purpose, if we decide that danger has ceased to exist, then we have to decide if we are retaining the Army as a defence force against possible invasion. I cannot conceive any other contingency in connection with which the Army would be required.
As regards the first aspect of it, whether we have reached a condition of peace and freedom from the possibility of civil strife which justifies the reduction of the Army to the extent I suggest, that is a debatable matter, a matter upon which we have to come to a decision and a matter upon which the Government, perhaps, is in a better position to give information. I can only view this matter from the point of view of one who is in touch with the people outside—with the people of his own constituency—and who must visualise things without any inside information  such as the Government must have as to the possibilities of civil strife.
I regard the possibility of a further outbreak of civil strife as a remote contingency. Believing this to be a fact, it is the only justification which I give for the reduction I propose. If it can be proved that I am wrong and that there are still possibilities of an outbreak of civil strife, I am willing not to press this proposal.
I expected when the Minister for Defence made his opening statement that he would have, in view of the size of this Vote, said something with regard to the peaceful conditions in the country and the possibilities of an outbreak of civil strife in future, and that he would have given us some indication of Army requirements in connection with the maintenance of law, in so far as that aspect is concerned. The Minister barely touched on that subject. He did not give us any information upon which I could base some of my arguments. If we take it that the possibilities of an outbreak of civil strife are remote and that we do not require an Army of 13,000 men to act as an insurance against such dangers, even if there is a slight possibility of that, and if the size of the Army which I suggest should be retained will be sufficient to meet any contingency of that kind which might arise, then I say that the Dáil should support the proposal I make.
If we take the other aspect of it, the aspect of maintaining an Army for the purpose of protecting our own shores against invasion, I say we are just as likely to be able to protect our shores in the case of a future great war with 5,000 men or with 3,000 men or 2,000 men——
Mr. HEFFERNAN: —as with an army of 13,000 men, because I believe that in the event of an outbreak of war the fighting will be such that an army of the size which we are maintaining in this country, or an army of any size that we can build up, will really be useless in view of the form of attack which will be developed. It seems to  me that in any future war in which we may be liable to get involved, it will be a question of attacks by air, perhaps attacks by a still more elaborate form of poison gas delivered possibly from the air. We cannot possibly afford to maintain an air force or an anti-air craft defence force which would in any way be able to cope with attacks that we would be likely to meet.
I think that in our defence from outside attack we will have to depend, as we are part of the Commonwealth of Nations, on the defence which can be given to our shores by the British Fleet and the British air force and anti-aircraft forces. To attempt in this country, with the very limited resources that are at our disposal, to maintain an army which would by any possibility be able to cope with outside attacks is really, to my mind, futile and hopeless. Therefore, I look upon any army that we could build up as useless for the purpose of meeting outside attacks. I have also in view in putting down this motion that the natural development of the Army in this country would be by the establishment of a system of militia. I see that the Minister has already made provisions, to a limited extent, for the establishment of such a force. I would like to see the Minister take greater steps and make more elaborate arrangements for the establishment of a militia force in this country, because I believe that that is the proper system of development for this country, and is much more suitable for the conditions of the country than the maintenance of a standing army.
I might point out to the Minister that there are, perhaps, certain risks in connection with the maintenance of a standing army, an army which is maintained largely for defensive purposes. In a State of this kind, of the kind in which we live, in which we hope to live at peace with our neighbours, and not likely to get embroiled in a war of any consequence, that Army must always have a peace outlook, an army maintained not for military purposes but for the maintenance of law and order. It is a very difficult matter to maintain a military outlook or to maintain the discipline which is necessary in armed forces when there are no possibilities of  active military service at some time, no matter how remote, which most other armies put before them.
If we take it that we are maintaining an army really as an auxiliary force, the size of our police force must be taken into account. To-day we have passed a Vote for the maintenance of over 7,000 police which are required for the maintenance of law and order. At the same time we are now being asked to pass a Vote for £2,500,000 for the maintenance of another force which really may be regarded as an auxiliary arm of the police. I say that without any intention of giving offence. I therefore suggest that the whole cost of our force for the maintenance of law and order is altogether excessive and altogether beyond the capacity of this country to maintain as a permanent condition of affairs.
Before I conclude, I want to say that, naturally, when we come to examine the requirements of this country in regard to the Army we will begin to look around us and to make comparison with other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and find out what their army strength is and what the costs are. I find in looking into the question that in connection with other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations that the number of men maintained as a permanent army in each case is much smaller than the number of men maintained in the Saorstát. I find that in the Canadian Army there are at present 15 units of the permanent force with a total establishment of 3,500. I might say that, in addition, there is a very considerable establishment of a non-permanent militia force. In South Africa, where a system of universal service obtains there is only a permanent army establishment of 150 officers and 1,600 other ranks. In Australia, with its enormous area, and with its population almost twice that of the Saorstát, there is only a permanent force of 1,703 men.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: One thousand seven hundred and three men. There is a very much larger available auxiliary force, but there are only 1,703 men  in the Australian Army and 1,900 other ranks. That gives a total of something like 3,600 men.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: The figures I have got are taken from a standard work of reference, but I will quote from the speech made by a Deputy in this House last year in which the total armed forces of Australia was given as 3,000.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: I had the figure written down in bad writing, which I did not read properly. It is 1,703, permanent force, of all ranks. The others  are some form of militia or auxiliary force not permanent. I think the Minister will find, if he makes inquiries into the figures, that I am correct.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: On the circumstances we have to decide whether we are to maintain an army of this size. If it can be proved to the satisfaction of the House that we ought to maintain it, I am sure the House will give its vote in favour of the maintenance, but I am trying to show that there is no necessity for an army of the size we are maintaining.
With regard to New Zealand the information I have is that constabulary and defence cost £1,021,274. I have dealt with this matter to the extent that I intend to deal with it. It is up to the House to examine this in all its details, to see if the Minister for Defence and the other Ministers can show, to the satisfaction of the House, that the requirements of the State are such that we ought to vote the amount necessary to maintain an army of the present size.
I also want to point out the fact that the Minister should be aware that in the remote event of a contingency arising, in which the rapid expansion  of a small permanent Army would be necessary, undoubtedly, in this State, a very large number of men would come to his call in defence of the State. There are a great number of ex-Service men pretty well trained in military manoeuvres and in all the things necessary to carry on an Army. The big bulk of British and National ex-Service men, very well trained, would be willing, in case of necessity, to rally to the call of the nation. Why not rely on those men and make some attempt to build them up into a permanent reserve to rally to the call of the nation if they were required in conjunction with the Army which, I suggest, is too large for the financial possibilities of this country? I think we should be able to carry on very favourably and efficiently with an army of the size which I am suggesting, and which would be maintained if my vote were passed.
Mr. HEWAT: Certain figures have been given to justify the amendment which Deputy Heffernan has proposed. This Vote, in my opinion, is on a basis entirely different to the last Vote, that for the Gárdaí. Looking at the figure in the estimate put down by the Minister, I think it will be generally accepted as the opinion of the majority of the people that any such sum as that indicated to be spent on the military organisation is more than the people can afford. When we come to deal with details, Deputy Heffernan has brought us down to brass tacks, and he suggests that a reduction of the Vote should be made to the extent of £1,300,000. As in the case of all these Votes I cannot see, if we sanction a reduction of that sort, how it could be put into operation within the time covered by the expenditure under this Vote. That places some of us in somewhat of a difficulty as regards the expression of our opinion that the Army is unnecessary in its present size, and is too expensive for the means of the people. It puts us in a difficulty that, whereas we can say that with the utmost confidence, I do not know exactly how we could say that Deputy Heffernan's amendment could be put into operation. As in the case of all the other Votes, we are up against that. The claim is that the  Estimates as a whole, including the Army Vote, are excessive. The retort of the Ministers to our criticism in that direction is: “We are the supreme authority; we have looked into this thing—not a penny.”
If Ministers realised that it is really the serious opinion of the country that taxation is too heavy and that, consequently, expenditure must be reduced, I think they would face the problem in somewhat a different spirit. It is, of course, very hard for inexpert people to say exactly where a reduction can be made in the expenditure under particular items. In dealing with the Vote for the Gárda I thought the Minister for Justice went very fully into details in connection with that Vote. Our opinion in regard to this Vote is that the Army, as it stands, is an extravagance which we cannot afford. So far as I am concerned, I do not want to say that the Army, or anybody connected with it, is overpaid. I do not want to say that the Army, if we could afford it, is not a very nice thing to have, but I do say that an expenditure of that sort is not called for at present and that a general reduction in the permanent Army should be faced as one of the necessities of the times. The Ministry may say to us in reply, as they have, I think, said, that owing to the unsettled state of the country it is not safe to reduce the Army below what it is, or below what they propose to have it. If that is so, I think the Dáil will require a good deal of convincing on the matter, and I say that instead of the Ministry placing the onus on us to justify our statement that the expenditure is too high, the onus rests on them as a whole, individually and collectively, to satisfy the Dáil as to the statement that the state of the country and the possibilities of the situation, in the near or distant future, justify the proposition to place this burden of £2,000,000 on the people for the purposes of defence.
I was very loath to touch on the Gárda Vote to-day because I think the Gárda are the backbone in the preservation of order, and it is to them that we have to look for the preservation of the peace generally throughout the country. In that way I felt a grave responsibility in attacking either the  numbers, payment, or organisation of the Gárda, but I cannot feel myself in the same position in regard to the Army. This House has to make up its mind as to the reasonableness of the expenditure indicated in these Estimates. Of course, if the House is of opinion that an expenditure of £1,400,000 is not warranted owing to the circumstances of the case, it would be very difficult for either the Minister or anybody else to proceed with the reduction of the Army in a sort of sweep. If that is so, I, for one, would recognise that the Ministry would be in a difficulty if the House assented to this amendment, but surely we are entitled to a statement from the Ministry as to why they will not seriously look at this question in the light of the ability of the people to bear this taxation. They should indicate to us that they will, and are prepared to, take some steps in the direction of making very substantial relief under this charge. If that were done I would not cavil at the extent of the reduction that would take effect immediately, but from our point of view, the Executive Council take a serious view of the position when they indicate that any such sum as this has got to be faced practically as a permanent charge. If we advanced in prosperity and were able to afford luxuries in the way of this expenditure a different aspect of the case might be presented, but we cannot look on the situation to-day with any degree of confidence when we see that the people cannot bear this taxation, and when we feel that there is really no need for such expenditure. If the Ministry tell us that the situation is so dangerous as to require an expensive force of this sort they should take the responsibility of that and justify this Vote.
The PRESIDENT: I do not know if it could have been reasonably expected, after Deputy Heffernan's speech, that anybody on these benches required to be called on to say a single syllable in defence of this Vote. After Deputy Hewat's speech, however, a rather different situation has arisen. Deputy Hewat is a business man who has had long training in business and he has,  perhaps, had as much, if not more, experience than any other Deputy. There is presented before him a business proposition for the upkeep of the Army for twelve months. He put the matter on solid ground when he asked if the country can afford this expenditure, and he told us that there is a general cry that it cannot. In effect, although he did not put it in these words, he said: “Everybody is talking economy except the Government.” I know, and have known for some time, what is behind the so-called economic push, this ramp, as I call it. I knew that this was coming two or three years ago. It has come now and it is just as responsible as the people who are responsible for it.
The PRESIDENT: I refer entirely to outside forces, and I am sorry that people inside are impressed by them, because people inside have learned for the last three or four years that business here is conducted on a business basis. Deputy Hewat has found fault with us for not going into the matter carefully and indicating what we want. I should like to remind the Deputy that last year the Minister for Finance indicated that in his mind any greater amount than the expenditure of two million pounds on the Army could not be justified. Usually when counsel are opening a case they start with a history of the case. The history of this case starts in 1922-3, when an Estimate was introduced in the Dáil for something like £7,000,000 for the Army. It will be within the recollection of Deputies that the major portion of that Estimate was concerned with a period from 1st July to 31st March following. That was not a complete year. In the following year the Estimate for the Army was £10,700,000 odd. The expenditure in the first year and the expenditure in the second year came very near the Estimate. The Estimate for the Army in the third year—that is, 1924-5—was approximately £4,000,000. From the Appropriation Accounts, ordered to be printed by Dáil Éireann on the 26th  March, 1926, it will be observed that nearly £1,000,000 was saved on that Estimate. The people responsible for the ramp omitted that from my speech in Laoighis. If that fair dealing? They are talking about economy; we are practising it. There is a big difference between the two. I should like to know if the Dáil thinks that that is honestly informing the public of the circumstances. They are the people who talk economy; we are the people who are showing where the economies are to be and where we effect them. Page 136 of the Appropriation Accounts for Public Services, 1924-5, shows that the total surplus to be surrendered that year was £923,981. Last year the Estimate was £3,053,000, and the saving was £280,000. They are the people who talk about economy, and we are the people who effect the economy. They take credit to themselves and say every day that the whole country is talking about this; it is a great thing. The thanks of the whole world ought to be passed to those newspapers, the front pages of which would not be a credit to “yellow journalism” sometimes.
The PRESIDENT: The Executive Council spend a considerable time in dealing with public business, and the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Finance, and the other members of the Executive Council took particular care in presenting this estimate that they would be able to stand over it and be able to justify it. Now we are practically asked: did we consider this? I submit that that is scarcely a fair question, in view of the history that I have given the Dáil of the proceedings in connection with the Army from 1922. This fact will probably also be put away in a corner of the newspapers: that in one year, during a time of war, civil disturbance, uproar, burning of houses and all the rest, we spent almost £11,000,000 on the Army, and the following year, with an estimate of £4,000,000, we saved practically £1,000,000.
One cannot demobilise an army rapidly without running considerable  risk. A very big army was demobilised at that time and certain risks were faced. The results, I think, show the wisdom of the Executive Council during that particular year. At the end of the present estimate there is an indication of the policy of the Ministry in connection with further savings. During the time I was Minister for Defence the Army was down to something like 12,000 men—below that figure as a matter of fact, at one time. Its numbers were so reduced that there was practically no opportunity for the Dublin Garrison to drill by reason of the very considerable inroads that were made upon the strength to maintain the different guards.
This estimate, as I said, is not lightly put up. It is put up in the light of all the circumstances existing; in the light of our experience of the past few years; in the light of information that was open to Deputies during the last few days. Deputy Heffernan wants to know if we fear any outbreak. I have no fear of any outbreak—none whatever. One of the things that give me confidence in relation to a matter of that sort is the particular estimate before the Dáil. While nobody has greater respect for the efficiency of the Gárda Síochána and the services rendered by them, I say that it would not be possible to have the Gárda Síochána unarmed in the country if it were not for this particular estimate.
Major COOPER: With some of what the President has said I am in agreement, but I want to put the other side of the question. He complains that after careful consideration by the Executive Council and the Minister for Defence this estimate is challenged. I would point out through you, Sir, to the President that we have repeatedly been invited to challenge estimates. We have with incessant and almost intolerable reiteration been told that no Geddes Committee or other Committee is needed—that the Dáil is the place where estimates should be scrutinised, and where Deputies should bring forward amendments. Now the President suggests—I do not think it was a considered suggestion—that the ipse dixit of the Minister for Finance and the Executive Council should carry——
Major COOPER: I understood the President was addressing himself to the general question of amendments. I will deal with Deputy Heffernan's amendment in detail in a moment. I want first to deal with some of the figures given by the Minister for Defence. If the Estimates of the Minister for Defence can only be defended by such fantastic figures as he gave with reference to Australia, I really think they must be extremely unsound. I have a certain knowledge of conditions in Australia. An uncle of mine was a member of the Parliament of one of the States of Australia. I myself actually served in an Australian division for a time, although I was always in an Irish Regiment, and I was invited to become second in command of an Australian battalion, because, as the officer who made the offer said, “Our fellows need somebody who understands human nature.” The Minister's figure of 100,000 permanent full-time men in Australia conflicts entirely with all my knowledge of the Australian military system and with the figures given in the Statesman's Year Book, which is the most readily accessible work of reference, and generally accurate. Those figures put the permanent defence forces of Australia at 1,703 officers and men. These are employed in duties of instruction. There are, however, citizen soldiers, corresponding to the British territorials. These are engaged in their ordinary occupations. They are chemists, carpenters, tram-drivers, etc., in civilian occupation. They do drills in the evening and a week or a fortnight's training in the year. There are 36,900 of them, and on the reserve 14,000 odd. The total is not 110,000, but 53,000, and of those, the actual permanent full-time soldiers number only 1,700.
Mr. HUGHES: The figures I gave are the figures compiled by the Secretariat of the League of Nations. These figures return 159,400 men as the strength of the British Army. I think that is not far astray. These are the figures I got from the League of Nations, and if I am wrong the Secretariat of the League of Nations is wrong.
Major COOPER: Then the Secretariat of the League of Nations is wrong. I think they must have got from Australia a statement of their possible expansion, that is the army that might possibly be put into the field. Certainly never since another great warrior, like the Minister, Sir John Falstaff, multiplied two men in buckram to sixteen, has there been such multiplication as that of 1,700 men to 100,000 men.
Major COOPER: I hope I have not insulted the Minister by the comparison. Besides being asked to act as second in command of an Australian battalion, at one time, I was also asked by a professor of Trinity to act the part of Sir John Falstaff, but only temporarily. I will leave the Minister's figures, which obviously need further discussion, and content myself with expressing the opinion that the League of Nations must have either adopted the Deputy on the Secretariat or have taken their figures from some general statement. I ask the Minister to believe that his figures are not in accordance with the fact, and that Deputy Heffernan's figures are in accordance with the fact.
I come now to the amendment. With the motive underlying it I am certainly in sympathy. I think we should endeavour to reduce our permanent forces, and I welcome the Minister's proposal to set up an Army reserve, though I think it is an incomplete proposal. You can have no satisfactory Army reserve on a basis such as that  indicated, because the period of training is too short. I have had experience of men coming back to the Army from civilian life. You cannot get them back to army habits under three or four days. It requires at least that number of days, especially with strange officers and N.C.O.'s, to get discipline over them. That means that three or four days are wasted and you have only three or four days extra for training, and that is not enough, and certainly not enough to put them through a musketry course.
Major COOPER: I am glad the Minister has made that clear. In twenty-one days he will get effective training, and an effective reserve, but he will not get it this year. He will get it next year or the year after that. When he has got it then it will be time enough to move amendments substantially reducing the strength of the Army, and if, side by side with that reserve, he initiates an officers training corps, preferably in the two Universities, so that instead of keeping the present strength of officers he will have new officers coming in with sufficient knowledge to let them take their places possibly not in the new units of reserve but with the trained force, supplementing his existing force in case of trouble.
It is essential, before you reduce the Army to the strength suggested by Deputy Heffernan, that you have an effective reserve and the means of supplementing the supply of officers, partly reserve officers and partly officers of the Officers' Training Corps.
Coming to Deputy Heffernan's amendment, the immediate effect of it would be instantly to disemploy 6,000 men, and to turn these 6,000 men out of the Army on to the labour market. I am very doubtful whether such a step would be justified or whether you could reduce the strength of the Army by nearly half in any one financial year. I think the process should be more gradual. I spoke this afternoon of the Farmers' Party as my disciples. I am beginning to understand the feelings of the prophet when his disciples  go to lengths of which he does not entirely approve. Any prophet having any knowledge of the future, seeing Deputy Heffernan and Deputy Wilson coming to enrol, and to plead his cause would drive them away possibly because they are zealots. They take up a good principle and they are so sincere and earnest that they run that good principle to an extreme that no discriminating prophet would approve. The result is that though the disciples plead the prophet, the prophet will be stoned for the errors of his disciples. I suggest to the Deputy who moved the amendment that however great was the desire of the Dáil to have the permanent strength of the Army reduced to more reasonable limits we cannot take the responsibility of disbanding over 6,000 men at the present moment.
The PRESIDENT: There is a point in dispute regarding the strength of the standing Army in Australia, and we have it now that Deputy Cooper has supplemented what was said by Deputy Heffernan regarding the strength of that Army. I make them a present of the strength of the Army. But the total estimate of the Department of Defence, including war services, in Australia, is £3,425,829. If they like to divide that amongst 1,700 men I have no objection.
The PRESIDENT: We are dealing here with the big estimate of £2,400,000 and we have 13,000 men on that estimate. Australia was said to have only 1,700 men, for which there is an estimate of £3,400,000.
Mr. LYONS: I did not intend to take part at this stage in the debate, but I certainly want to say a word concerning  this amendment of Deputy Heffernan. In 1923 24,000 men were demobilised. We had a saving, of course, in the Army Estimates, but was it a saving in reality to the people of the State? We had to vote money because of this for unemployment benefit. We also had these men and their dependents looking for home relief. I am against the Deputy's amendment. I quite agree that with an army set up, such as a militia, with 21 or 23 days' training, you might, after some years, have an army that would be capable of protecting the State. Where you have a saving of £565,547 in this year's Estimate, as compared with last year's, I do not think there is much cause for complaint. As one of the Deputies who spoke of the extravagance of the Government, I want to say that while there are other estimates I want to criticise, and to endeavour to have reduced, in justice to my constituents, I could not support this amendment. I am a member of the Dáil since 1922, and I remember that we had an estimate of ten millions one year. The amount has fallen to £2,475,470 within three years. What will be the result if this amendment is carried? As Deputy Cooper pointed out, you would have 6,000 or 7,000 men demobilised from the Army and going back to civil life where there is no employment for them. You would be swelling the ranks of the unemployed and these men and their families would be starving. According to a reply given to me to-day by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, there are 87,000 persons registered at the Labour Exchanges and that figure is to be, according to the amendment, increased by 6,000 or 7,000.
Mr. LYONS: I hold that even Deputies who are advocating economy cannot support this amendment. I am supporting the Minister's estimate and I do so from a real sense of economy. If the estimate is reduced by £1,300,000, which is a little more than half the total amount of the estimate you will have such trouble in this country by people who are looking for  bread for their children as will take millions to put down. This would be false economy. We are not going to stand by any longer and see the workers of the country suffering. About 24,000 or 26,000 men have been demobilised from the Army, and of these not 4,000 have found employment. The others are walking about the streets.
Deputies are now asked to support an amendment which would result in further swelling the ranks of the unemployed and possibly sowing the seeds of revolution. While I am a member of the Dáil, I will never agree to a proposal that would further increase the ranks of the unemployed. Taking the estimate as a whole, we will probably be told that the men are too well paid. A soldier gets 17/2 a week. He has to lie on a plank bed. I have gone through barracks and have seen how the men are accommodated. Those in Mountjoy Gaol at present are better off. Men serving in the Army, however, prefer to remain in it and earn 17/2 per week to walking about the streets idle, or going to some employer asking for employment and being told that there is none available. The amendment asks the Dáil to put these men out of the Army as there is no further use for their services. If there is any truth in what we have read during the past few weeks, it is absolutely necessary that the Army be maintained at the present strength for the next twelve months. We are not out of the wood yet.
Mr. LYONS: The President says he does not fear anything to himself. If there is a movement on foot to create another revolution in this country and to destroy life and property, does the Dáil think that the 24,000 men that have been demobilised, as well as the 6,000 men that are now going to be demobilised, will rush to the assistance of the State? Why should they? They will say: “When we were there you would not keep us. We are not now in a position to fight for you.” That is what I would say if I was an ex-Service man and without employment.  It is not yet safe to abolish the Army. I think it would have been much better if Deputy Heffernan had proposed an amendment, the object of which was to have no army at all. I would agree to have no army provided the men who are now in the Army could get employment, and that a civil army would be able to protect the State and the people. Until there is such protection I do not see how we could possibly do without an army. What is the militia going to cost? The men must be paid for the three weeks that they are in training and for the six or seven years that they join for. Are we going to get patriots to come forward and act as policemen, or are we going to turn every man and woman in the State into a police officer or informer? Any civilian who gives information of a trifling nature is looked upon, even still, as an informer. Are there any Deputies here who will go down to their constituencies and get 1,000 persons to act as police or as military free of charge? I venture to say that there is not a Deputy in the House who could possibly do that. I listened very attentively to Deputy Heffernan's figures for other countries. We have learned from the President that this alleged army of 1,703 men costs in upkeep £3,000,000. But here, with 13,000 men, the Vote is only £2,300,000. This is one estimate which I have fully resolved to vote in favour of. I have already in the country criticised the Government for extravagance, and when the amendments to the extravagant estimates are brought forward I will support them with a view to reductions. We have 7,700 Guards in the country. Where would these 7,700 Guards be if there was not a regular army behind them? The Guards, I agree, are a fine body of men, but against a few “Webleys” or “Colts” an unarmed man is of little use. We want to reduce taxation in the State, and the Minister for Defence in this estimate has gone a good way about it. If every Department of Government could reduce its estimate in the same proportion that the Department of Defence has done, there would be no cause for complaint. But other Departments have not done that.
 I intend to vote in favour of this estimate in every division that takes place, because I maintain that we are not in a position to reduce the Army by 50 per cent. yet. What I would urge would be better treatment for the soldiers, particularly in the way of sleeping accommodation and the provision of better facilities for recreation. I wonder if any Deputy visits the wooden shed where the military guard on this building have to remain for 24 hours? It reminds one of bygone times, when men were carried around in caged lorries. In times of peace the soldiers are housed in that apartment for 24 hours. Surely that condition of affairs could be improved. I think the Minister, or some of the Deputies, should spend a night in Portobello barracks. If they occupied beds there for a night they would not be so eager to reduce the cost of the Army. If Deputy Heffernan's amendment were put forward for argument's sake—as amendments are very often put forward—and if the reduction proposed were merely nominal, in order to permit of discussion, I could understand it. But surely Deputy Heffernan is not serious in the reduction he proposes. I wonder if the amendment was put forward for the purpose of saying: “We are out for economy. We, the farmers, are going to effect economies. We are going to do away with the Army and you have seen that we did our best in the Dáil. We appeal to you to return us at the next election.”
Mr. LYONS: Yes, another trick. But I can assure the Dáil that there can be more tricks than one in one's hand. There are Deputies other than Deputy Heffernan who can trick. Some of my friends here—I was going to say my late colleagues—can trick too. I am in favour of this estimate and, for the sake of true economy, I am completely against the amendment.
Mr. JOHNSON: I think we must discuss this amendment from the point of view of the policy of the Ministry in respect to defence, quite apart from individual items of possible retrenchment. I am not at all satisfied with the  explanation given by the Minister of the Ministerial policy respecting defence for the future. I gathered from his speech that the policy of the Ministry is to have 1,000 officers for the future, and a reduction in the number of non-commissioned officers and men, with a large reserve army—so large as, by rapid extension, to reach the maximum strength of the country's manpower. That implies that it is the Ministerial policy to have the whole manhood of the State trained to the use of arms. With that objective it is intended that there shall be maintained as officers of that army round about 1,000 men. The Minister explained that there are 960 at present, but inducements are being held out to officers to retire with a year's pay and allowances as a gratuity. I am afraid one must make the comment that that is much more generous than what has been offered to the men, and I do not think the non-commissioned officers and men had any less justification for considering that they were permanent than had the officer corps. What is the policy with regard to the Army? What is the intention of the Minister? The Minister for Finance has, on one or two occasions, indicated that he hopes to bring down the total cost of the Army to about £2,000,000. But the Minister for Defence has told us that the objectives of the Army are to be capable of rapid extension to resist invasion, repel attack, and to meet any internal disruptive forces.
I am not able to distinguish between the use of an army to meet internal disruptive forces and an armed police, and really if we are to have an army mainly for the suppression of armed revolt it would be better to organise the Army directly and purposely with that in mind. But we are also supposed to be preparing an Army—and we are going to train officers abroad, we are going to put them through schooling in America—with the object of setting up a military school in Ireland—presumably for something more than armed revolt, to repel the attacks of an invader. Is the Army really being prepared for anything of that kind? If that is in mind, one would imagine that instead of 68 per cent. of the Army as  infantry we would have a much larger air force, more engineers, and very many more chemical laboratories. I leave coastal defence out of the question altogether, what one has a right to consider in this connection, and it is. rather a curious thing that the Minister for Defence in this year 1926 should not utter one word about the requirements of coastal defence. This year, I think, it will be requisite to meet the British Government to consider the question of coastal defence. We had not one word in that respect, and these Estimates do not appear to make any reference to the possibilities of defence by submarines, coastal mines, or anything of that kind, against an invader. One does not hear anything of anti-air-craft guns, and one has to bear in mind that if one is thinking of repelling an invader it is rapid mobility, air force and anti-air force, and chemical warfare that we ought to be talking and thinking about.
I am very much of the opinion of the Social Democrats who are in charge of the Government of Denmark and who have been advocating and pursuing a policy of disarmament, believing that the forces they could raise to repel an invader would be practically useless in modern warfare. But I think as against that there is such a thing as putting an impediment in the way of an invader, and I think it is possible to justify having a manhood trained to rally to a call if there was an invasion. But I am not at all satisfied that the policy of the Department, as outlined here to-day, justifies the Estimate for this year's Vote. We are still asked to keep for this year these 12,000 men and non-commissioned officers, and I would remind Deputy Lyons that these are soldiers. The question of employment is an entirely different one. If you disband them as soldiers it is not essential that you should put them on to the streets. There are other ways of utilising men than having them standing outside the Parliament House of peaceable citizens, defending the parliamentarians from the people, an entirely unsatisfactory position for us to be in, and this system of utilising guards all over the country, as it appears they must be used, is entirely unsatisfactory as a means of training an army. If we are working towards a militia or an  armed public—I gather that is so from the Minister's statement, supported, as it has been, by certain references from the Minister for Finance—can we justify a thousand permanent officers? I think that is entirely too many; I do not think there is any justification for that number at all. I repeat that if we are thinking in terms of defence from an invader we are not justified in maintaining so large a proportion as 68 per cent. of infantry.
The whole scheme is unbalanced; it is not satisfactory to meet one case or the other, and I think we are really driven to the conclusion that what is intended is that this Army shall be for the subduing of armed revolt, that the repelling of invasion is really not in question at all, and that the military scheme has not that in mind. So that it comes, as I surmise, to this: the retention of this Army for this year for the purpose of subduing a possible revolt. I do not think that the risks of that revolt are great enough to justify the retention of so large an Army, and I think that the policy of the Ministry has been faulty in not having reduced the Army by a very much larger number and in not putting the men who are not required for military work on to some civil occupation of a productive character. I want to have a little more information as to this proposed reserve. Is the 4,000 to 6,000 or 7,000 men intended to be a reserve for this year 1926-7?
Mr. JOHNSON: Is that intended to be the total number of the reserve for the future? What are we really aiming at in respect of the reserve? How many of a reserve are we going to take into account this year? Is the training to be in one part of the country only? What class of training is it to be, training of infantry or purely disciplinary training, or will there be any training in, shall I say, engineering? I do not think that is very likely in twenty-one days. Is it merely to be training in shooting? I take it further, that the ninepence a day referred to will be a 365 days to the year payment. Is it intended that they may be drawn from all parts of the country  selected in any way, or that they shall be classified? Is it intended that they shall be men who have served in the Army? Many questions will arise when we are dealing with the question of a reserve. I do not know whether it will be necessary to have legislation to meet it. If not, then it is all the more necessary that we should have very full information as to what is intended, a scheme properly laid out before us for consideration, and that we should have that, if no further legislation is required, before this Estimate is passed.
I may say that it is satisfactory to learn from the Minister that he has been able to persuade the railway companies to provide facilities for military on duty to travel at reduced rates and that there has been devised an effective check upon the use of petrol. These two things together will probably do something to satisfy ratepayers and other motor car drivers. Those who would like to enjoy the roads of the country will have a little relief due to these two propositions. As I said, I am not going at this stage to deal with any of the details, but I think that the case the Minister has made outlining the policy of the Executive Council in regard to the scheme of defence is most unsatisfactory. It does not justify the retention of so large an Army for this year, and in its view of the future is entirely uncalled for. It is self-contradictory inasmuch as while talking of preparing to repel invasion, it is absolutely lacking in preparations that are likely to be effective.
The PRESIDENT: I suppose it is. Further items are:—Royal Military College, £33,496; Clerical and General Staff, £69,834; Ordnance Branch, £103,479; Rifle Range Staff, £7,700; Finance and Accounts Branch, £38,370, Universal Military Training, £152,307. Then there is an item at which Deputy Cooper will rejoice—Volunteers, £78. Training, £94,000, and Maintenance of Existing Arms and Equipment, £13,000. For General Contingencies and Services there is an item of £114,892. There is nothing down for ammunition. I fear that does not exhaust it, for the total amount is only £1,072,129.
Mr. HUGHES: Viewing the amendment proposed by Deputy Heffernan, I find it very difficult to imagine that the Deputy could be serious at all in putting it down. He seems to take a random shot at everything, to cut it virtually into two and then he is satisfied
Mr. HUGHES: ——to show the country that he is the only Deputy in the Dáil who has the interest of the taxpayers at heart. He wants simply to say, With a wave of his hand: “Cut the estimate in half; let us carry on and hang the consequences.”
Mr. HUGHES: He has made no attempt whatever, in my opinion at any rate, to justify the amendment to cut down this estimate by £1,300,000. I did not take the amendment seriously when I saw it on the Order Paper, and I am sure there are very few Deputies who took it seriously. It may be argued that the army that is contemplated  for the coming year may be expensive. Undoubtedly every army is expensive, but the army we are contemplating for this year of 13,000 odd officers and men is not as expensive per head as the armies in other countries. I have figures on that point, and if they are examined it will be found that the cost per head of our army is considerably less than the cost per head of the English Army or continental armies. It was asked: what is the army for? Its purpose, as I have already stated, is to defend the interests of this country against all comers, if you like to put it that way. Deputy Johnson said that our army, from the way it is trained and equipped, is not capable of doing that. I think if our method of army organisation is examined—the basis that we are trying to put it on—it will be found that we are doing exactly what Deputy Johnson says we are not doing. At the moment the army is being put into corps and services, and when the reorganisation that we are contemplating is complete, the infantry men and the rifle men proper will be very few indeed. There will not be more than five thousand men, and when it is remembered that we have to keep a garrison in the country, and to maintain a number of barracks, this number of men will be very hard pressed indeed to provide Guards for all our barracks and some of our public buildings. Deputy Johnson complained that we are not keeping an eye on the defences of the country, and that we have not taken any account of a naval programme.
Mr. JOHNSON: The Minister, I think, rather misunderstands me. I am not making any complaint that these things have not been done, but I am pointing out that there is no evidence in the Estimates that you have considered what you say is part of your purpose.
Mr. HUGHES: I am coming to that. I think it is generally known that under the agreement entered into with the British they, at the present time, are guarding our coasts, and that in the year 1927 a conference is to be held between the Government of the  Saorstát and the British Government with a view to arriving at the procedure to be adopted in future years for the defence of the coasts of the Saorstát. We are not unmindful of that conference, and, as a matter of fact, our staffs are working at the moment in preparation for it, so that we will be able to put up a case and put down facts and figures to the conference if it should decide that we are to take over the defence of the coasts of the country. If such a decision is come to, we will be ready and willing to do that, and all that will be necessary then will be that we should come to the House and ask for the necessary sum of money. We have been working for the last three or four months on that matter, and before the end of the year we will have a perfect scheme to put forward should the necessity arise for our doing so.
Mr. JOHNSON: I think it is important that the Minister should make clear the difference in the dates given. Article 6 of the Agreement in the Treaty speaks of a conference of representatives of the British and Irish Governments to be held “after the expiration of five years from the date hereof.” That would be the end of the year 1926. Does the Minister contemplate any definite distance between the 6th December, 1926, and the date of the conference?
Mr. HUGHES: Yes, at the end of December, 1926, but I take it that at that time, or, perhaps, a month or so before it, the conference might take place unless agreement is come to in the meantime whereby the agreement now in force would continue for a year or two longer or for some other period. That is a matter that is just in the embryo stage at the moment. We are not, as I have said, unmindful of the fact that the conference is to take place, and, as far as our Department is concerned, we are making the necessary preparations for it. If it is decided by the conference that the Saorstát is to have charge  of the defence of the coasts of this State then that will oblige us to come to the House and ask for the money that will be necessary for the purpose.
A question was raised as to officers' gratuities. Everybody knows that in the year 1922, when there was a considerable amount of trouble in the country and when demobilisation was taking place, that a number of officers had retired and that others were willing to retire. There was a certain number of officers at that time who would have retired voluntarily and taken the gratuity offered were it not for the fact that civil trouble broke out. These men, realising the duty they owed to the nation and to themselves, remained on in the Army. Perhaps they find now that an army career is not just the thing that suits them, and some of them would be glad —I do not say a great number of officers, because we have officers in the army that I, certainly, would not like to see taking this gratuity and leaving —to go back to civil life. They want to go back to civil life as they are still young, and feel that the army is not a proper career for them. That is the reason why this sum of £5,000 is put in the Vote this year. I hope and trust that our best officers will not attempt to leave the army at the present time.
Mr. HUGHES: It probably would. Deputy Johnson wanted to know more about the reserve and the number of men it was intended to have in the reserve. The number will be between 3,500 and 4,000. These men will not be drawn from the ordinary manhood of the country, but will be soldiers whose time will expire from now to the 31st December next. The man who goes on the reserve must have a good character, be a man whom the Army authorities can trust, and who has been  trusted up to the present time. It is hoped that the reserve will be an ad junct to the Army, so that when they are called up for a period of training every year they will be trained with the units and in the battalions in which they served, and, if possible, under the non-commissioned officers under whom they had served. If a man belonged to the Engineers he would go back to that unit; if he belonged to the Infantry he would go back to that unit, and so on with regard to the Artillery or other units. By that means we hope to have an efficient force for the protection of the nation should any crisis arise.
Mr. JOHNSON: Would the Minister be prepared to circulate the terms under which this force is to be enrolled? Is it intended that they shall be able to choose their own time for putting in the 21 days?
Mr. HUGHES: Yes, the men will be called from their occupations at the time of manoeuvres. They will be men of good character. We hope they will get ready employment, and, further, that their employers will allow these men to go up for their annual training. As these will be men of good character, the fact of their being in the reserve should assist rather than hinder the men in getting employment.
Mr. JOHNSON: It is very important we should have more information than we have about this proposed reserve. If it is intended that they will all serve during the time of the annual manoeuvres, then they will understand what they are required for, and we shall understand the intentions regarding the reserve also. I understand from the Minister that it is likely the reservists would be fitted into the ordinary battalions and would serve under the same officers they had served under when in the Army. If that is only intended for the period of manoeuvres it is understandable, and the employers will take the men with the knowledge  that during that particular month of the year they will be off work, but that rather suggests a body of reservists who are casual labourers and not permanent workmen.
Mr. HUGHES: It is the intention that these men will be trained with their units, and in order to bring the battalions up to strength for the manoeuvres, the reservists will be brought back for that period. Manoeuvres in the ordinary way, that is training in the field, only last for four or five days, but the reservists will get camp and musketry training for the remainder of the time. We hope to be able to build up a reserve that will be a credit to the country and to the Army. Apart from what has been said about the Army by Deputy Heffernan and others, I am convinced that at present we do want an army in this country, if only, as Deputy Heffernan said, for insurance. It would be a great pity, I think, if we were to disband the Army now, or to bring it down to an infinitesimal number, simply because we have enjoyed one or two years of comparative peace. I know what would be said by Deputy Heffernan if we disbanded the Army and any trouble, either internal or external, arose. It would be immediately said that the Executive Council had not acted in the interests of the country, and had no foresight when they disbanded the Army. If we are going to carry on, in my opinion it would be impossible that we should go on with an Army of 4,000 or 5,000 men. I think that Deputy Heffernan came down at one period to 1,000, and if we went on in that way there would be no men at all left.
Mr. GOOD: Would the Minister say if it is proposed to make reductions in the numbers of the Army during this financial year, and, if so, to what extent? The reason why I ask that question is that the Minister for Finance expressed the hope that the normal expenditure on the Army would be in the region of £2,000,000. The Estimate, as we have it for this year, is practically £2,500,000. I would like to know from the Minister what is the policy of his Department in order that he may get the strength of the Army, which is at present about 13,000, down to such a figure as would bring about  the result anticipated by the Minister for Finance?
Mr. HUGHES: The numbers last year, and practically up to the present, are roughly 17,000 officers and men. It is intended to reduce that number this year by 4,500, which would bring it to the number we have estimated for and it is the policy to reduce that number next year by a gradual process to 10,000, which will bring us exactly in line with what the Minister for Finance stated in his Budget speech. The policy we intend to pursue is, I think, the only way of dealing with the matter, instead of taking 7,000 or 8,000 men at one slice. That would be a bad policy, and if I adopted that policy I would be criticised more severely than I have been for the policy I have adopted. It is my intention, and the policy I am pursuing, to reach in Army expenditure the figure mentioned by the Minister for Finance, and to effect a saving of £500,000. If I am here next year I have no doubt I will be able to show that that point will have been reached.
Professor THRIFT: Can the Minister say what will happen the Army after the period for which he is providing? Would he put forward his figures, or tell us what he considers will be the ultimate strength of the Army, say, in two years time?
Mr. GOOD: I take it, from what the Minister has said, that this matter is being considered, and that the figures he now gives us are the figures that represent the policy of his Department for the next two years?
Mr. HUGHES: We intend to have a reserve of 4,500 this year, and whoever is here next year when the estimate is brought forward, can say whether or not another 4,500 should be added to the reserve. The policy I have outlined is the one which I consider will give us an army we can afford to keep, and which we should have if the country is to remain a national entity. Some people would like to see the British Army back, and see them parading the streets again, but while this State is in existence we should have an army of our own, and be prepared to pay for it, provided the figure is not an extravagant one.
Mr. HUGHES: For the time being. I cannot guarantee what any future Government will do, but it is the policy of my Department at present to get down to an army of 10,000, which, with the reserves, could be maintained for a sum of £2,000,000.
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