Friday, 28 June 1929
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £4,257 chun slánuithe na  suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1930, chun Deontas i gCabhair do Chostaisí Chumann na Náisiún, agus chun Costaisí eile mar gheall air sin.
That a sum not exceeding £4,257 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, 1930, for a Grant-in-Aid of the Expenses of the League of Nations, and for other Expenses in connection therewith.
Seán T. O Ceallaigh: Nílim róshásta go bhfuilimíd ag fagháil mórán tairbhe as an méid airgid a táimuid ag caitheamh ó bhlian go blian ar Chumann na Náisiún. Tá an Rialtas ag iarraidh orrainn £8,000 a thabhairt fé'n Vóta so i gcóir Cumann na Náisiún. Acht ní h-é sin iomlán an airgid atá an Rialtas ag ceapadh do chaitheamh ar an obair so i mbliadna. Fé Vóta a 56, tá an Rialtas ag iarraidh orrainn £4,780 a thabhairt do Chumann na Náisiún, leis, no do roinnt áirithe de'n chumann—an t-Oifig Idir Náisiúntach Lucht Oibre. Ní thuigim cé'n fá nach gcuirtear an dhá shuim airgid so le chéile fé aon Vóta amháin. Baineann siad go dlúth le chéile.
Mar a dubhairt mé, nílim sásta gur fiú do'n Stait so £13,000 púnt sa mblian do chaitheamh ar an obair so. Níl an t-airgead ró fhlúirseach againn annso, agus tá a lán slighthe im thuairim-se gur féidir linn an méid mór airgid so do chaitheamh as a thiocfadh níos mó tairbhe do'n Stait. Anois, díreach, bhí ceist an díomhaointis fé dhíospóireacht againn. Tá a fhíos againn go léir go bhfuil a lán diomhaointis san Stait indiu agus tá a lán daoine ar aigne gur mó an buntaiste a thiocfadh as dá gcaithfí an méid airgid so ar rudaí a bhaineas le ceist an diomhaointis sa tír.
Níor mhaith liom a rá go deimhnighthe anois gur cóir dúinn an t-airgead so do chosg nó an Vóta do dhiúltú. Nílim ró-chinnte fé anois, mar níl an oiread eolais agam mar  gheall air agus badh mhaith liom nó a thabhairfadh seans dom m'aigne do dhéanamh suas ar an gceist. Támuid gan eolas mar gheall ar an obair tá ar siúl ag Cumann na Náisiún. Dá mbéadh eolas iomlán againn ar an obair atá ar siúl ag Cumann na Náisiún, mar ba chóir, agus dá dtabharfadh an Rialtas cúnntas dúinn, gach blian, ar an obair atá 'gá dhéanamh, b'feidir go mbeidhimíd sásta leis an Vóta so. Creidim go mba chóir do'n Aireacht cúnntas bliantamhail ar obair Chumann na Náisiún, chomh fada agus a bhaineas sé linne, a thabhairt do'n Dáil. Agus, rud eile, sé mo thuairim go mba chóir go dtabharfi gach dream toscairí a chuireann an t-Aire anonn go Genebha gach blian cúnntas do'n Dáil ar an gnó do dineadh ag na cruinnighthe ar a rabhadar mar toscairí. Díolann an Dáil so costaisí leo agus ní ró-mhór an rud é a iarradh ar an Aireacht nó ar lucht na toscaireachta so cúnntas do thabhairt ar an obair do rinneadar.
Cím go bhfuil iarrtas ar £431 sa mbreis shíos san Vóta so, agus ba mhian liom miniú d'fhágail ar cé'n fáth go bhfuil an t-iarrtas so ag dul i méid. Ár n-dó, is mór ar fad an méid airgid a támuid ag díol cheana do'n Chumann so, agus níor mhaith liom, gan miniú ceart d'fháil, a thuilleadh airgead a dhíol leis.
Mr. Anthony: I agree with practically everything that Deputy O'Kelly has said, particularly with his reference to the expenditure in connection with the sum estimated for this year. No doubt, as he says, we have not had any account from time to time of the activities of the League of Nations. We have had to depend altogether on Press reports. While I have not been able to follow everything that Deputy O'Kelly said, I must say that I heartily endorse that portion of his remarks when he suggested——
Dr. Hennessy: I just desire to say that an eminent authority on Gaelic was in this House recently and he said that all those whom he heard speaking with an acquired knowledge of Irish were absolutely unintelligible.
Mr. Anthony: That may be so. I am not opposing the Vote, but I suggest that it is up to the Minister in charge of this Department to let the House know from time to time what is being done and to give us some information about the activities of the League. I may say, however, that we of the Labour Party are not altogether without information from time to time. We get through various channels but, I regret to say, not through official channels in this House, information as to what is being done in the International Labour Office. Deputy O'Kelly referred to the selection of delegates to the Geneva Conference. So far as the Labour Party is concerned, we have entire confidence in the delegates selected by that Party. They have done very useful work at Geneva. It would be of great advantage to those of us who believe in the ideals underlying the establishment of the League of Nations to have the activities of the League adverted to more frequently in this House.
I know as a matter of fact that a journal called “Concord” is published monthly. It deals with the work of the League, and there are many interesting discussions which take place from time to time at Geneva which should be reproduced, either in Irish or English, so that we would be able to take an intelligent interest in what is going  on there. We have not, for instance, had any official communication in this House, except by way of an answer to an interjection from a Deputy on the Opposition Benches, as to what is being done in regard to the establishment of an eight-hour day. We know that Great Britain, while acknowledging through the ordinary machinery of trade unions and employers' organisations, and putting into practice an eight-hour day, never really subscribed to that principle at the League of Nations. We know now, though not officially, that Great Britain is about to take steps to ratify that agreement. These are, perhaps, small matters, but they are important enough for us to be told something about. The League of Nations has a wonderful future before it, particularly so far as small nations like ours are concerned, and such nations have everything to gain and nothing to lose by membership of the League. So far as expenditure goes, this is one of the most useful ways in which money could be spent. I, as a pacifist, in this direction at any rate, hope that one of these days we will be able to subscribe to the full policy of disarmament. Without attempting to enter into the big field of international politics, I suggest seriously that there is a tremendous lot in the suggestion of Deputy O'Kelly that we should have more information, and that we should not depend on outside and unofficial sources for information in regard to the activities of the League.
Mr. Lemass: There are one or two points on which, I think, the Minister should have attempted to give information when introducing the Estimate. The very fact that there are no official means provided by which the activities of the Saorstát representatives at the League can be made available to Deputies should have made him realise the necessity, when introducing this Estimate, for giving some brief review of the events in which the Saorstát delegates at Geneva were concerned during the year. For instance, I read recently in the Press that the Saorstát  representative—prompted, no doubt, by the dispute in America over the precedence to be given to the Vice-President's sister—intend raising the matter of the seats to be given to the Saorstát's representatives at State dinners at which they and other Dominion representatives are to be present.
Mr. Lemass: I think it was in the “Irish Times.” There is also the question of nominating a candidate for election to the Council of the League to represent the British Dominions next year when the present Canadian representative will retire.
Mr. Lemass: If we had any machinery by which we could be informed as to what is happening, and what status has been accorded to our representatives, we could discuss the matter more intelligently, but we have to rely on such information as we can glean from the columns of the daily Press or by listening to rumours which we hear in this connection. I would be glad if the Minister would inform us whether the Saorstát representatives have adopted any definite policy in regard to the questions discussed at Geneva. There has been a big question under discussion, and it has been raised at the instance of German delegates, namely, the treatment of minorities, especially in regard to those established by the Treaty of 1918. Has the Saorstát representative adopted any attitude in regard to that, or does he sit there doing nothing or merely doing what the British representative tells him to do? Are the Government interested? They should be interested. We as a nation find ourselves in a position in which a number of minorities are at  present, and we should be able to give some definite idea as to how national minorities of that kind should be treated. If we are going to spend money to maintain this institution and send delegates there we would like to know whether they pursue a definite policy, or do they simply do what seems best to them on the spur of the moment? We are asked to spend money which will be largely wasted if the Saorstát Government have no definite policy. If there is a definite policy we should be told what it is, either through the Minister when introducing this Estimate or through some monthly publication or report. I would like the Minister to give a brief review of what is happening in regard to the various questions on which the Saorstát has expressed an opinion, and as to the effect of its opinion on the League, whether such opinions were adopted or whether contrary opinions prevailed; also whether, as a result of agreements arrived at, the Saorstát undertook commitments which may prove to our disadvantage; and, further, if as a result of these commitments we are likely to enjoy any advantages. The whole matter should not be left as it has been left up to the present. We are asked to pass an annual Vote concerning which no information is given, and no source of information is open to Deputies except that available through the columns of the daily Press.
Mr. McGilligan: After the debate to-day I feel that I should withdraw from the House the information which has been given but which nobody, apparently, has bothered to read. Deputy Lemass founded a few minutes' speech on the fact that no information has been given. Apparently he has not tried to find out whether any information has been given.
Mr. McGilligan: A report has been laid on the Table of both Houses with regard to the last delegation that we sent to the League.  That is not from the present delegation, as they cannot report until they come back. Apparently nobody has read a line of the report issued. They just come here and complain that there is no information available. There is, as I say, a report.
Mr. McGilligan: It was put in the ordinary way in the Library. Apparently Deputy O'Kelly is so concerned about information being given that he does not know it either. In addition, I gave in a general way a resumé of the point of view formed by the delegation on the big question of the day—in fact, the raison d'être of the League of Nations—the peace of the world. I feel not so absolutely certain, but I feel pretty certain, that there are also in the Library bound volumes giving the accounts of the various meetings of the International Labour Office and of the-League of Nations Assembly from year to year. I cannot break in on them and each year issue a resumé of the history of the League up to date for the benefit of individual newcomers to the House. If people want to get an historical introduction of the League, why it was founded and its present composition, I think that can be done; but I think there are very few Deputies——
Mr. O'Kelly: The Minister is misrepresenting what I said when he talks about giving a history of the introduction of the League. We never asked for that. We probably know more about the historical aspect of the League of Nations, some of us at any rate, than the Minister does. What we ask for is reports from our own delegation, from those we are paying and sending out there with money that is paid by the taxpayer.
 We ask for their point of view of what has happened at the League of Nations. We know there are reports. We have got official reports of the League, but we want the point of view of those we sent there, and whose expenses we pay. We want to get their viewpoint, in respect of anything that would be of value, put before us.
Mr. McGilligan: There was a reference made to the history of the League and to the activities of the League. If I am to take that as referring to its activities in a particular year, then I may say in regard to the last delegation, the only delegation which had to report to me as Minister for External Affairs, its report has been published. The International Labour Offices, which are not specially on the Vote and which have been referred to, will give reports from time to time, particularly on any matter in which we have a special interest, such as there was at this year's meeting. As to the point that there are two Votes, I think that is a reasonable division, particularly as anyone can see that there is no attempt to hide anything or to delude people. There is a statement under Sub-head A that the item is “the share of Saorstát Eireann of the general expenses of the League including the expenses of the permanent Court of International Justice but excluding those of the International Labour Organisation.” There is there a definite indication. There is a further footnote on page 302, which says that “the contribution of Saorstát Eireann to the League of Nations includes a contribution to the expenses of the International Labour Organisation. Provision for the latter contribution and for the travelling, etc., expenses of the delegation and staff, for the annual conferences of the organisation is not made under Sub-head A of this Estimate but is made in the Estimate for Industry and Commerce.” So that the public, if it is a discerning public and has any intelligence, quite easily and very simply can get details of the amount voted. It seems to be a better segregation  that money which is specially voted in connection with the International Labour Office connected with the labour side, the peace in industry side, is included in the Vote of the Ministry for Industry and Commerce, and the rest left to this special vote.
I am asked to say what our delegates do, and I reply generally by saying that our reports have been and will be published as often as there are delegations. I do not suppose that it would serve any useful purpose to produce monthly reports of the proceedings of the League. I think it would be best to produce summaries after our delegations visit the League of Nations, as they do visit each year, and after visits to the International Labour Office, which take place a few times a year. With regard to the point which Deputy Lemass referred to, I think he would be much better advised to pay no attention to rumours of that kind, particularly to rumours of the type to which he has referred. I know nothing about the procedure in regard to a vacant seat. It has not figured on the agenda of any meeting I know of, privately, openly, or in any group of the League of Nations, or in connection with it. As to our attempting to run for a seat which is not yet vacant, I know nothing. I have seen that stated in the paper, but I do not know where the information came from. It is one of those things which fill a paragraph and can be taken by Deputies and given different colours here. The expenses of the League have gone up, but what Deputies are asked to do is to vote money to pay our share. It is on a sort of proportional basis. We pay ten units out of something like 910 units. The actual budget of the League is dealt with each year by a special committee which is set up to deal with the finances of the League. It votes money for expenses, and it keeps a close eye on them.
As long as new activities are given to the League, as they have been from time to time, particularly on the Labour side, and as long as new fields are created for survey, particularly in industry, their is going to be extra expenditure incurred at  Geneva. Consequently our share will show some small increase. There is no committee about which there is so much violent disagreement at the League of Nations as the Budget Committee, which deals with the whole expenditure of the League. The small States, whose share is not an absolutely big one but one which is relatively large in proportion to their resources, are most vocal and most watchful to keep expenditure down. Some of the big nations have rather magnificent ideas of the work which could be done, but they are kept definitely in check by the small nations on this budgetary committee. However, expenditure did go up, and consequently we have had to pay a little extra. I think that the only way in which the reports can be issued is sometime after the delegations have gone, and when the final reports, as printed by the League, have come through. These reports can then be issued definitely, giving the part played by the members of the Free State delegation.
Incidental to that, there may be reference to the larger volumes which will contain the more general matter referring to the League of Nations. The same thing will apply, I think, to the International Labour Office—that reports should only be issued from the delegates or when the delegates return. There is a little more difficulty there——
Mr. McGilligan: It is being issued twice a year, because the International Labour Assembly takes place at an earlier date in the year than the other, and I think it is better to keep the two segregated. In regard to the Labour side. I am more in a difficulty about the issuing of a report than in regard to the League of Nations, because the delegations to the Labour Convention consist of  three parties, the employers' representatives, the employees' representatives and an official representation. I am in control only of the official representation. From time to time we do receive reports, particularly when there are matters which affect employers and, when matters seem to affect more definitely the employees, we hear of reports being issued. The trouble is that the employees' section to whom we apply for nomination are organised, and I think they do report back to the body which appoints them. It is not clear that they would make the same reports to us for publication as they would make to the body which nominates them. It is not expected they would always do so.
With regard to the employers, we have found great difficulty in getting a suitable body to approach in order to nominate employers' representatives. Often we have to take an employer as representative because he is interested in a particular thing. This year at the Autumn Session we will be dealing with maritime matters. A difficulty will arise because there is no great association of ship-owners whom we could enthusiastically approach in this matter, and we have to pick out an individual who seems to us to be a good representative. In that case that gentleman has nobody to report to, because we simply invite him to undertake the representation. However, we will be able mainly to get the information and, even as far as the official people are concerned, it can be published, but it would be on the definite understanding that it does not purport to represent the delegation and that it only represents one side of the delegation. As I have stated, the reports will be issued from time to time as the occasion arises.
Mr. Little: May I ask the Minister whether, in view of the fact that the Estimate is for expenditure for future purposes and not for past purposes, he would give us some indication as to the line he will take in the coming year on such questions as disarmament, the minorities question  and the maritime question? There are, for instance, questions relating to fishery rights, and whether an infringement of the three miles limit would not arise.
Mr. McGilligan: One cannot very well discuss an agenda until the agenda is before one. With regard to Geneva, the actual agenda is not properly before the League of Nations until a month before the Assembly opens. It is impossible to give an indication beforehand of a particular point of view on any questions which are likely to arise. It would mean wandering too much over a big area. As to the question of the rights of minorities and disarmament—I quite forget the other one the Deputy mentioned——
Mr. McGilligan: That is a particularly difficult question. It has to be considered from the fishery point of view, from the point of view of a naval blockade, and there are other points of view. The interests are somewhat conflicting; it is more difficult and, in the circumstances, I would not like at the moment to give any indication of a definite point of view upon it. With regard to the Free State delegation, the attitude is just as in the past, and that is best shown in the report that has been issued. I could not discuss any matters ahead and even before the delegation is picked. I think it would be an absurd thing to ask that information should be given on subjects which are not yet even before the Executive Council.
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