Thursday, 11 December 1930
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. de Valera: We are opposing this motion. We think there is no justification for adjourning to-day when we have here, for example, a Bill which the Minister for Local Government was so anxious about that he wanted to rush it through all its stages. He told us that this Bill had definite relation to certain relief schemes for which £300,000 was voted recently by the Dáil, and he said that certain hardships would be inflicted if this Bill was not passed. We objected to the passing of the Bill because we could see no reason why, with some weeks to spare yet before Christmas, the Dáil should not be asked to sit on and give due consideration to that Bill. Speaking for myself, I am prepared to accept the principle of that Bill, but members of our Party very naturally want the opportunity that should be given from the time of the introduction of a Bill to its Second Reading, to examine it in relation to its effect upon their own particular areas, as well as to examine the general principle involved in it. Now, this Bill is so urgent that the Minister wants to pass it without due consideration at all. It is so urgent that he will not give members the ordinary time for examining it. This is going to inflict hardships, and yet the President is not prepared to give the House an opportunity of dealing with that Bill as it well could do in the coming week.
We object very strongly to the practice which has grown up of throwing a number of Bills at the House on the eve of its adjournment and asking us to rush them through. An attempt is being made, when we ask, as we are  entitled to, for a reasonable time properly to consider the Bills, to put us in the position that we are a party to the infliction of a hardship. I want to make it quite clear that we are not any party, in this connection, to the infliction of any hardship that may arise from the non-passing of this Bill. There is ample time between now and Christmas to properly consider this Bill. The Minister tells us there is no use bringing Deputies here, as there is so little work to be done. There is plenty of work to occupy Deputies in the House in the coming week.
We have here on the Order Paper, in addition to this Public Health Bill, an Agricultural Bill and the famous Land Bill, that we are all so anxious to see— this ingenious solution which Deputy Roddy is supposed to have discovered as a way round the difficulties which the Minister for Agriculture so cleverly put up here when a Land Bill, with reference to vesting, was put forward from this side of the House. We are all very anxious to see it, and we would be very ready and willing to come back here, in the coming week, and to give full consideration to that and to the Public Health Bill. We have also an Apprenticeship Bill. No excuse can be made, as is so often made by the President when moving an adjournment like this, with a clár like that, that the Government want time to consider certain proposals. When the adjournment was moved on the last occasion for a period of twenty-two weeks, the excuse was that the Executive wanted time to prepare their proposals for the Dáil. Here are proposals definitely prepared, but the Ministry is so anxious to get away from this Dáil that they are not prepared to sit for another week in order to deal with matters that have already been prepared. Of course there is, in addition to this clár, a long list which on previous occasions we brought before the notice of the Ministry. There is the Town Tenants Bill. Evidently the Minister was afraid to face the criticism, the scorn, if I may put it, of the Dáil by coming along and telling us that we would have this Town Tenants Bill when we came back. He is tired of saying “positively the last time,” and, therefore, he goes through the formality of getting it a first reading, but we are not to see this Bill. Obviously the Bill is not ready, and we are not to see it until the middle of January.
As Deputy Corry pointed out, there is a list of replies with reference to that Bill that we have received in the past. Deputy Corry showed that on the 24th October, 1929, the Minister for Justice said: “The Bill is not yet ready, but we hope to be able to introduce it before the Christmas Recess.” That is a year ago. Later, on the 6th December, he said “he was sorry, but he had hoped the Bill would be completed before that.” On the 19th February, when the Dáil reassembled, he said he hoped to “introduce the Bill at an early date—this session certainly.”
Then on 19th November, we were told that we were to get it before the Christmas Recess. I suppose in the face of all that the Minister could not face the House and say now “You will get it when you come back,” but that is what he has done. He has given a certain earnest by getting leave to have it printed, but we are not to see the Bill until January. Then what about the Co-operation Bill? What about the Clean Milk Bill? What about the Road Traffic Bill? What about the Dublin Transport Bill, the Insurance Bill, and the Merchandise Marks Bill? What about the Minerals Bill, and the Workmen's Compensation Bill? All these Bills have been promised at one time or another and in addition they were promised when we were adjourning on the last occasion. Again, after a period of 22 weeks, Deputies on this side of the House had hoped that good use would have been made of the time by the Executive Council in the preparation of these Bills and in bringing them before us. Instead of that a few Bills of no importance were brought before us, and we are going to have a Recess for another ten weeks before these Bills are dealt with. That is really to say that in a period of 35 consecutive weeks the Dáil will have met for seven days, with that programme of work before the Executive  Council. I think we have a very good right to complain against the general inactivity and the attempt that is being made by the Executive Council really to evade its obligation and avoid meeting the Dáil.
There is another Bill. I refer to the Housing Bill. We all remember the famous election occasion when we heard of a £15,000,000 housing scheme and a definite undertaking had been given to the candidate on that occasion that the Government intended going on with the scheme. This Housing Bill has not yet appeared. We have no idea when it is going to be brought forward. Everyone of us knows that the slum position in Dublin so far from improving is going from bad to worse. All of us, I take it, have the figures by heart now. There were nearly 74,000 individuals in Dublin City in 1913 condemned to live as members of families in single rooms.
That is 20,000 families with only one room for the family. The position went on getting worse until in 1926 there were 79,000 people, that is to say, 5,000 more individuals were involved than in 1913. The Report of the Committee on Unemployment, of which Deputy Rice was Chairman, classified these dwellings. That Committee made it quite clear from that classification that whilst the number condemned to live in these dwellings was increasing, the number of dwellings themselves, on account of the deterioration that was going on, was diminishing. Those of us who looked at that Report will remember that there were three classes. That is to say, (1) those that were structurally sound, (2) those that might be repaired, and the third class, those that could not be repaired. When you compare the condition of those three classes in 1913 and 1928, you find that the number of class 1 dwellings had diminished. The number of people occupying them had diminished, and the people had to go into a worse class. Class 1 house has so deteriorated that it had to be put into class 2 or class 3. In the face of that situation is it fair for the Executive Council to go on neglecting that position?
We remember another matter. Some years back—on the 18th October, 1927 —we had a report from the Food Prices Tribunal. That Tribunal recommended the establishment of a permanent Prices Board charged with the duty of studying current and future problems, of the supplies and prices of articles of general consumption included in the description of “food and clothing,” which Board would issue periodical reports. No notice whatever has been taken of that report, though everyone of us knows the need of such a Board. One of the indications of the need for such a Board is the delay, for example, of the bakers in bringing down their prices when the prices of wheat and flour have fallen. We remember on another occasion when a coal strike was threatened in England that the price of coal was put up 4/- a ton, although the coal yards in Dublin were known to be well stocked. This is not a question of fixing prices. It is a question of having some supervisory board that would pay constant attention to these matters and publish reports.
The only safeguard there is to people of small incomes is to publish reports like these and so get public opinion on the matter if competition is not sufficient. That public opinion is effective was indicated by the Report of the Tribunal itself. The Tribunal said that “the outstanding impression left on our minds as a result of this Inquiry is the need for continuous investigations and supervision. We have reason to believe that the fact of the existence of this Tribunal, and the publicity which its proceedings obtained were instrumental in securing reductions in prices of some of the principal articles of general consumption, and in restraining the tendencies to increase prices.”
With that programme of work undone, we are not justified in agreeing to this adjournment for another ten weeks. For my own part, I think it is a scandal to adjourn after a statement such as was made to-day by the Minister for Local Government. He pointed out that certain hardships were bound to be inflicted in certain areas and that the portion of the grant which might be made available will not now be available if this Bill is not passed. The Executive Council is trying to put  the onus on us of preventing the passage of that Bill. The onus is not upon us. We are quite prepared to sit and, if these hardships occur, then the responsibility lies definitely with the Ministry who are forcing us to adjourn when there is ample time to give due consideration to these Bills. We are going to oppose this adjournment.
Mr. Corry: When the Dáil met here after five months' adjournment we had a statement from the President and there were flaring headlines in the papers that direct relief was going to be given to the farming community. Questions were asked about the De-rating Commission, but apparently its report has been hung up in some place where nobody will ever see it any more. The farmers cannot wait. The Minister for Finance in his last Budget statement said that even after the De-rating Commission had reported it would take a long time to give the farmers any relief. Are the farmers going to be wiped out whilst the President, receiving £2,500 a year, can go on holidays for five months, then come back for nine or ten days, and go off for holidays again? Where is the direct relief that the newspapers put in blazing headlines and that we saw posters about at every cross-road in North and South Dublin during the last few weeks? Why has not that direct relief been given to the farmers or are they going to get any relief at all? We heard whispers that this was going to be done and that was going to be done, but nothing at all is being done. The President should sit here next week and pass a grant equal to the second moiety of the poor rate and send that on to each county council to relieve their present needs.
Mr. Corry: What about the malt? The Executive Council are trying to knock all the holidays they can out of the people who are paying them until they get a permanent holiday, and the sooner they get that the better it will be for everybody. To-day, when there was objection to the Bill brought forward by the Minister for Local Government  it was immediately declared that a water scheme for such and such a place was held up waiting for the passage of the Bill. Now the Ministry have no hesitation in going on holiday for three or four months. They will leave the water scheme still held up, though to-day the Minister was wringing his hands in despair that the scheme was being held up because Fianna Fáil were not prepared to take the Bill. We are not prepared to do what the Governor-General does— apply a rubber stamp and say: “This is all right, here is our signature.” Some sixteen or seventeen Bills have been thrown into the wastepaper basket in the past week. As fast as the printing machines can turn out Bills they are being thrown at us here, and we are asked to accept them, and then we are asked to agree to another adjournment so that some of the gentlemen opposite can go to Portugal in order to bring back new treaties. More of them want to go somewhere else, but none of them wants to work for the people who pay them.
Mr. Corry: Now, Tim, you must not say anything, even though you think you are the father of the House. There is an older man here who is claiming that distinction. The people are entitled to have those Bills properly considered. This kind of rushed legislation is not fair or just. Nine or ten motions have been on the Order Paper for a long time. They should be considered, but the President wants an extended holiday. The President, with his £2,500, and the Ministers with £1,700, are only prepared to work for two months in the year, and it is time that was ended. I think it is a shame to come here for only nine days after a five months' recess. Is it not sickening? The farming community are becoming defunct and the President has effectively gagged them, but I demand on their behalf that the President should come here next week and pass a measure of relief for them. They are sick of the President's promises. If he came down to Cork City, which, unfortunately,  he represents, last Saturday and saw all the in-calf heifers that were thrown into the market in order to pay the farmers' rates, he would realise the position of affairs. It would pay the Ministers better to go through the country than to be at dinners with the Prince of Wales. That would be more in their line.
Mr. Corry: We might be able to send you there some day. My view is that the President should call the Dáil together on Wednesday and submit a financial motion to grant to county councils the full amount of the second moiety of the poor rate. That should be given to assist the farmers, pending the hatching of the De-rating Commission's egg. In all probability that egg will turn out to be a glugger, just the same as the eggs that were hatched by the Tariff Commission from time to time. The President should be prepared to give relief to the farmers who are paying the salaries that keep this circus on here. If he does not do that, I would advise him to go to the country immediately and get rid of his burden. The sooner he does that the sooner he will have a holiday for good. He deserves that for sitting two months of the year and drawing £2,500.
Mr. Anthony: Whilst I protest against this adjournment, I must also enter a protest against such language as has been used by the Deputy for East Cork. It is a very good thing to be on the side of the angels.
Mr. Anthony: It would appear that to be on the side of the angels one must indulge in a good deal of vituperation and abuse, and that, apparently, is in the minds of some people identified with good citizenship, not to talk of citizens in the representative capacity of a Deputy here. Personally I feel humiliated that a speech such as that which has just been delivered should have been uttered in this House. As one who is very much opposed to the President and to his Executive Government, I think if there is one man in this country who deserves a holiday it is the President. I do not  believe that these adjournments have taken place in order to give the President a well-deserved holiday. At the same time I think some arrangement might be made to carry on if such be the case.
There is another aspect of the position that the Executive Council has not considered. I do not know what Deputies may think, but so far as I am concerned it simply multiplies our work. These long adjournments have no attraction whatever for me. I would much prefer to work here for eleven months of the year than to have these long adjournments. It simply means that the work which devolves on Deputies in the cities during these months becomes so multiplied that they have not the necessary time to devote to other business when here in the Dáil. As an example, I can quote what happened in the last couple of weeks. We have been deluged with new Bills. I challenge any Deputy, even those fresh from the Universities, and even the later additions, who come straight from the Bar with a chance of being promoted one of these days to the judicial bench, to say that they could digest all that is in these Bills within the last few weeks. From that point of view alone, can we perform useful service here by having those Bills thrown at us at very short notice? I suggest that we cannot. From that point of view I object seriously to long adjournments. I feel that we have a lot of work to do and that there are many social problems calling for immediate attention.
I want, however, to disassociate myself absolutely and entirely from this class of debate where we have abuse which is a little too frequent, coming from a certain section in the House. It must be forgotten by some people that the President must have work to do during the recess. Ministers have work to do during the recess, and I hope the responsible members of the Fianna Fáil Party, who, one day expect to be a Government, will seriously consider this conduct and ask themselves if they have not every reason to maintain their own prestige. Is this the class of criticism they would like to be subject to because  of the exigencies of business in the Dáil when they would have to have long adjournments? I object to long adjournments. We have many important measures to deal with, private Deputies' motions and other matters, but again I want to disassociate myself from the class of vituperation that has been indulged in.
Mr. Mullins: I was very interested to hear Deputy Anthony's very able defence of our hard-working Ministers, and I am quite in agreement with him that, while the Dáil is adjourned, the President and Ministers have work to do, and that that work has to be done. But Deputy Anthony in his wisdom feels quite humiliated at the atrocious speech delivered by Deputy Corry from the Fianna Fáil Benches, and he feels that speeches of that type should not be delivered in a deliberative assembly that takes itself seriously. I agree. But does this assembly take itself seriously? Does the Ministry in charge of the conduct of the business in this assembly take itself seriously as a Ministry directing the affairs of the Twenty-Six Counties of what was once Ireland? I do not agree that they do. If Deputy Anthony will only reconsider the matter I think he will realise, quite as well as Deputy Corry, that Deputy Corry's speech only expressed the outlook and the mentality of the ordinary working farmer throughout the country who, when he gets up in the morning and reads that the Dáil has again adjourned for two months, will begin to ask himself questions, and will begin to pass the very same comments that Deputy Corry has passed in connection with the Executive Council, for recommending such a long adjournment. Personally I have no objection to a long adjournment, but I believe that a deliberative assembly of this nature, in which we are supposed to look for dignity—and whose dignity we are asked on so many occasions to uphold —when it re-assembles in the 18th February will have sat seven days in nine months. How could that assembly expect either respect or anything  else from the ordinary people who are beginning to ask themselves what is it all about? Seriously, I suggest to the President that whilst there is a programme of work, such as we have outlined before us, even from the point of view of bringing Deputies up from their constituencies, and from the point of view of expense, as well as upholding the dignity of the assembly, so as to make it a serious deliberative assembly for the Twenty-Six Counties, these long adjournments should not be lightly entered into.
I do not agree when the Dáil adjourns to-night that it could not find useful work to occupy it until the 18th February. There is a programme of work and motions on the Order Paper which would certainly keep it occupied for at least another week. There are several Bills that would occupy the attention of the House for another fortnight. With so many measures on the Clár, as well as measures postponed from time to time, surely the President could see his way to ensure that some of these matters would be dealt with before the 18th February. I am particularly interested in one motion on the Order Paper in my name, with regard to the provision of immediate relief for the farming community. I believe that pending the report of the De-Rating Commission, and some concrete proposals from the President that that motion would deserve some attention from the House, and consideration from the Executive Council before the 18th February. I suggest that those who are bringing this assembly into contempt are not Deputies like Deputy Corry, who expresses the mentality of the ordinary people, who cannot understand these long adjournments, but the President and the Executive Council who are in charge here. It is they who are really reducing what should be a deliberative Parliament to what Deputy Corry described it. Any Deputy who desires to be taken seriously as a member of a serious assembly would not like that impression to get abroad. We are trying to do the business of Twenty-Six Counties in the ultimate hope that this assembly may be enlarged, so as  to transact the business of the thirty-two counties. People outside are losing respect for this assembly, and refuse any longer to regard it as anything more than a county council or a board of guardians. What hope is there that its deliberations will be taken seriously if we have such long adjournments? On these grounds I intend to vote against the adjournment.
Mr. MacEntee: When I listen to Deputy Anthony on some occasions I think that the problem of bi-location has been solved. I heard the Deputy address this House in terms that fittingly could come only from the Chair. On many occasions he adopts the role of a functionary who has not yet found a place in our public life, that of censor of Deputies' manners. I would suggest to Deputy Anthony that he should not permit himself to be overworked, that it is almost time he consulted an oculist, because I am afraid he has been so busily and so frequently engaged in searching for motes in his neighbour's eye that he must by this time be suffering from eye strain, and must have quite forgotten the beams that some time obstruct his own vision.
In regard to the motion for adjournment before the House, we came here after, I think, an unprecedented recess, and, as a result of time and the expenditure of public money, in a comparatively short session we have passed two Bills, the Expiring Laws Bill and the Tariff Commission Amendment Bill, both of them unopposed measures. To-day we had to deal with the Unemployment Insurance Bill, the Portuguese Treaty Bill, and the Legitimacy Bill, every one of them unopposed measures. We dealt with the Sea Fisheries Bill, which was of comparative unimportance. The main proposals in it consist, if I may shortly describe them, in prescribing that a shop and premises in which fish are sold should be equipped with a marble slab, an ice-freezer, or rather a box to contain fish, as the proposals were afterwards amended. The slab has a certain appropriateness. I think it ought to be erected with a suitable inscription over the door of the Department of Fisheries. I am not suggesting that it should be erected  as a memorial to the Irish fishing industry because that has been already buried at sea by the British and foreign trawlers, with the Muirchu representing the Minister for Finance in attendance.
Mr. MacEntee: I am not reviewing what has been done by the House. I am reviewing what has not been done by the House. I am endeavouring to remind the House that the Irish fishing industry has been destroyed.
Mr. MacEntee: No, and therefore the Deputy will not ask the Chair anything, but the House knows the Standing Orders as well as the Chair, and knows the matters which have been discussed on the adjournment, and the Deputy is prepared to leave himself in the hands of the House in that regard.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Certainly, and a reasonable interpretation has always been given. I am pointing out to Deputy MacEntee that he cannot  review the Sea Fisheries Bill, which was what the Deputy was doing.
Mr. de Valera: Is it not quite obvious that Deputy MacEntee was pointing out how little work was done by the House, that there were only two or three measures, which were practically agreed measures, passed by the House?
Mr. MacEntee: I was endeavouring, by referring to the Sea Fisheries Bill, to show how little was done for sea fisheries. Outside of that Bill nothing has been done, though the country was told when the Bill reorganising the Department of Fisheries was introduced in this House, that, with a fresh staff and the comparative freedom which the Minister for Fisheries would have to devote himself to that important industry, something, at least, would be done to save the industry, which has been a decaying industry, and upon which so large a part of the very poorest districts in this country depend. It is quite clear, however, from the state of the Order Paper that the Government has got into a mess. The long adjournment, and the release from work over prolonged periods, is a very bad thing. We all know how men who are unemployed for a long time at last become unemployable. It is quite clear that the Government in this matter has cultivated, not only the habit of sloth, but the habits of the animal which is known as the sloth. It is upside down. The Order Paper indicates that the Government, and the Government Party, are upside down, and in that position even the mighty intellects of the Government cannot be expected to function, though when one comes to think of it I suppose that that need not necessarily impede the progress of Government legislation and of Government measures through this House, because it is not on the minds and not on the intellects of the Government members that the Government depends to carry its legislation, but upon their feet. I  would like to remind the Government that there is a certain element of danger in these prolonged recesses. We have noticed that the minds of the Ministry have become atrophied by disuse. Might I suggest to the President that if he permits his team to go away for this prolonged adjournment, then when they come back they will not even be able to use their pedal extremities and undertake the laborious task of climbing up these steps, passing through the lobbies to vote upon measures the discussion of which they have not even sat here to listen to? We had a motion here in the House last night in connection with the position of the mutineers of the Connaught Rangers, and during the time that motion was being discussed, and the case of those men pleaded in this House, there was not a Government Deputy sitting on the Government Benches.
Mr. MacEntee: There was no Government Deputy sitting on the Government Benches with the exception of the Minister for Finance. The Minister for Local Government and Public Health, who in 1922 wrote a letter praising these men for the sacrifice which they had made, was not there to vindicate that letter, and to give expression to the sentiments which he uttered in it. No less than twelve prominent members of the Government Party have pledged themselves to see that justice is done to these men and not one of them was present in this House to listen to this debate.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I fail to see the relevancy of the number of Deputies present at a particular debate last night to the motion for the adjournment to-night. I should like if the Deputy would show me how that is relevant now.
Mr. MacEntee: There are on the Order Paper a number of items. For instance, there is one item standing in the name of Deputy Anthony, and if ever there was a speech supporting the motion for the adjournment, that was the speech which the House listened to from Deputy Anthony this evening. There is on the Order Paper a motion in the name of Deputy Anthony in the following terms:
That in view of the discontent prevalent amongst the lower grades in the Civil Service, the Dáil is of opinion that the Executive Council should set up a Commission of Enquiry to investigate and report on the present method of computation of the cost-of-living bonus and its application to Civil Servants' salaries and wages.
That is a motion which would receive the support of this Party. If the Government are not in a position to discuss the Bills which are on the Order Paper, let us, at any rate, discuss this matter, which, as Deputy Anthony and others of us are aware, is causing grave discontent amongst the Civil Service. If Deputy Anthony was sincere in putting down that motion, why did he not get up and make a different speech this evening——
Mr. Anthony: On a point of order, I did protest against the adjournment, and I mentioned this motion in particular in making my protest. I made it clear and plain. Deputy MacEntee misrepresents what I said, but that is quite common to his character.
Mr. MacEntee: Why did not Deputy Anthony, instead of justifying the President and the Executive Council on the plea that they were hard-worked men, take a frank stand and say that he was opposed to the adjournment? Why did he not criticise them and condemn them for seeking an adjournment, instead of defending them as he did?
Mr. MacEntee: No person in this House objected to a reasonable holiday for anybody here. The fact of the matter is that the President and members of the Government Party have had an unreasonable holiday. They have had a holiday of five months. Before the House adjourned on the last occasion a number of important measures were promised. The text of not one of them is in the hands of the House to-day. We were promised a Town Tenants Bill. We are told now that it may be produced in the middle of January. The Land Bill, about which we had so much propaganda in the newspapers five or six weeks ago, has not yet been circulated. That, I think, is one of the most important Bills which this House could consider. We all know the burden which the nonvesting  of purchased land imposes upon the farmers, and we think that if the Parliamentary Secretary has determined the lines upon which he is going to proceed in the case of that important problem, he is not justified in permitting this House to adjourn without putting the text in the hands of Deputies. We are quite willing to meet again this week, and the week after. There is no reason why the House should adjourn up to Christmas. If the Government have formulated the proposals which they promised to submit to the Dáil, they ought to withdraw the motion for the adjournment and meet again next week and the week after, if possible.
Mr. Hogan: (Clare): I think that it will be agreed that the problems facing this State are mainly of two classes— the problems of the rural districts and the problems of the towns. The Minister for Local Government and Public Health is probably acquainted with most of the problems affecting the towns. There is one problem to which I should like to direct his attention. For thirty-two weeks that problem is being postponed. If we were in earnest in our consideration of that problem, and sincere in our protestations about our desire to cure it, we would not only sit here until Christmas, but we would sit day and night in order to try and find some solution for it. I refer to the slum problem. If we were in earnest about this problem we would not let thirty-two weeks go by before we tackled it; we would endeavour to remove that canker from the heart of the nation. That problem not alone affects the adults, but it affects the children. There is no measure which the Minister could introduce here which would be of such far-reaching importance and so vital to the people as a proper and comprehensive housing measure. Yet we were asked to adjourn for twenty-two weeks, and now we are asked to adjourn for ten weeks more without making any contribution whatever to the solution of this problem.
I ask the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he considers that that is the way that this  Assembly ought to face the housing problem. If he thinks so, then I say that the Minister for Local Government and the members of his Party are not honest in their protestations when they tell the people of the country that they are anxious to settle that problem. We ought to sit constantly, day and night, until we save the children of the towns and cities from the dangers that threaten them from this slum evil. I reason from what I know to the general matter In my own town, the number of houses which are not fit and cannot be made fit for human habitation is 200; the number of families inhabiting these houses is 1,600; the number of houses seriously defective but, which could be made habitable is 100; the number of houses immediately needed is 400. We are asked to adjourn for another ten weeks, after twenty-two weeks' holiday, without making any serious contribution to the solution of that problem. I propose to be brief, because I should like to hear somebody from the Government Benches defend this motion for the adjournment.
There is then the rural problem. We had foreshadowed in the Press and from other sources proposals for the improvement of the agricultural community. The Minister for Local Government and Public Health knows that there is a serious problem facing the agricultural community. There was a De-Rating Commission set up, and it is understood that there are certain reports before the Executive Council on this matter.
Mr. Hogan: If there are not, the reports are in process of preparation. They have got so far in preparation and signatures that we are told that there are going to be several reports. If we know that there are to be several reports, the reports must be ready for presentation to the Executive Council. If we are in earnest in our protestations, that we are going to do something to relieve  the agricultural community, then we ought to continue in session here. If we do not sit here between now and Christmas we ought to sit early in January and tackle that problem, so as to relieve the agricultural community. We shall have adjourned for thirty-two weeks, if we pass this motion, without having made one serious contribution to the solution of the problem that faces the towns or the problem that faces the agricultural community. I should like to hear what any member of the Executive Council has got to say in justification of this adjournment, with these two serious problems confronting the Dáil.
Dr. Ryan: I would like to join with Deputy Hogan in asking whatever Minister may be replying on the adjournment what defence he can make for adjourning now without doing something for the agricultural community. We were told when this session commenced that we were going to be kept busy with many new Bills. It was not only Press representatives who told it to us. We were told even a few days ago by President Cosgrave himself in the public Press that he had some direct benefit ready for the farming community. What the direct relief is we have not been told. The reply was sent by the President by return of post to a farmer in the County Dublin just before the election took place, and since then he has not thought fit to inform the Dáil what that relief is going to be. At any rate, whatever it is, it is quite evident that farmers now have to wait for that direct relief until some time after the 18th February. The question is whether the farming community can afford to wait or not. We are awaiting certain reports, and are anxious to know what they are going to be. This time last year we were told by the Minister for Agriculture that he hoped to have the report from the Grain Tribunal early in the following year, at any rate before we would reassemble after Christmas. Twelve months have passed and we are in the same position. This Grain Tribunal heard all the evidence twelve months ago, and surely the report did not take twelve  months to prepare. If that report has gone before the Executive Council, what is the delay due to, and why have they not come to some decision?
Then, again, within the last few weeks we were told that the people interested in the production of bacon have put in an application for a tariff on bacon and that that application would be considered as quickly as possible. This present Tariff Commission, we are informed, is going to be much more expeditious in its work. If it will issue a report in connection with the application for a tariff on bacon, must that report also wait until we reassemble in the middle of February? Everybody in this House who is interested in agriculture will agree that the farmers have been facing a very severe fall in prices during the last few months, particularly in the price of milk, but also in the price of pigs, sheep and horses, the only stock which have maintained their price being cattle. It is pretty generally admitted throughout the country that the farmers are in a very bad way facing this winter and will find it very difficult to meet their annuities, rates, and so on. If the Government have a policy of direct relief for agriculture and if they intend to de-rate agricultural land, they ought to try to give that direct relief to the farmer as soon as possible, so that they may not be compelled during the next few months to sell part of their stock in order to pay those annuities and rates. If it is not done, when de-rating does come they will not have their farms properly stocked and will not be able to benefit by any relief that does come. The small farmers and the poorer farmers are often the concern of Deputies in this House. They are in a particularly bad way, because the potato crop is very important to them and it has not been a great success this year. As a matter of fact, it has been a complete failure in many districts, and if these small farmers who are compelled to live principally on their potato crop are in the position now that they have not enough potatoes to last them throughout the winter, they are going to be in a particularly bad way.
Another question that was raised here a few weeks ago was the  question of fuel. The Minister for Local Government on that occasion did not see that anything special was necessary, although it was pointed out to him that the turf crops this year had been badly saved and that in some cases people were left with a scarcity of fuel. Because of the operations of the Forestry Bill which was passed here about twelve months ago, people are practically prohibited from substituting timber for turf and in any case in many parts of Ireland there is no timber to be got. They are dependent entirely on turf. If the turf is a failure they have to go without fuel. Of course we all know that coal is out of the question for these people because they could not afford to buy it, but the real crisis in agriculture is going to come within the next few months. Farmers who have a certain amount of stock and feeding stuffs on hands are all right for the next month or two, but the real crisis is going to come as soon as their own feeding stuffs run out, and they are compelled during the months of February and March to buy feeding stuffs to finish off whatever stock they may have for winter feeding. If these farmers are not able to buy feeding stuffs and are at the same time being pressed to pay their annuities and second moiety of rates the only alternative will be to sell their stock at a most uneconomic time for them.
We know that the hay crop this year was not as well saved and is not of as good quality as it should be, and consequently the stock will not perhaps thrive as well during this winter as it might in a winter after a good hay crop had been saved. I think, taking all these circumstances into account, that if the Government are going to postpone the giving of that direct relief until we meet in the middle of February the benefit of that direct relief will be lost, because the farmers are not in a position to wait until the beginning of February for it.
Mr. Everett: I merely wished to draw the attention of the Minister for Local Government to the distress that prevails in the County Wicklow. He is well aware of that from the reports he receives from the home help officers and the labour exchanges. Last October the county council passed a resolution proposing to give £5,000 on condition that the Minister would give £5,000 from the Road Fund for relief work before the Christmas period. The board of health estimate was exceeded by over £2,000. We were faced with the position that we had a large number of men in all parts of the county who might be hungry over the Christmas period. I put down a question to the Minister for Local Government and he gave me an unsatisfactory reply.
The position is that the Wicklow Council are holding a special meeting next week, as the Minister has failed to give us any satisfaction, to see if any thing can be done so that no person who is willing to work will be left hungry during the Christmas season. I make a special appeal to the Minister, if he has not yet made up his mind, to deal with this matter. The county surveyor has prepared schemes for the purpose of relief in the county amounting to £10,000, £1,000 in each area. I would ask the Minister to sanction that scheme with the other relief schemes which are held up, so that we may be able to give these men work prior to Christmas. The Commissioner in Bray, when interviewed by a deputation recently, held out no hope that he would be able to give employment. If the local body has to provide a percentage of the expenditure on road work. I hope the Minister will not forget the workers in the rural areas and that he will call the attention of boards of health to the necessity for providing houses for agricultural workers. As I have not received a definite reply from the Minister for Local Government, I hope that he will get some definite scheme started in Wicklow so that the people will not be left hungry during the Christmas season.
Mr. Flinn: I have no doubt that every member of the House could from practice and habit make the speech which the President is now going to make. With that exquisite courtesy which has so much endeared him to all of us, he will tell us that it is all a “cod,” that we are “ould cods.” I believe that is an expression which has been made classical by use by the head of the State. He will tell us that he has heard it all before. He will tell us that we do not mean a word of it, and that we would be desperately disappointed if our opposition were acceded to and if in fact he withdrew the motion. I am trying to save him a lot of time, trouble and extraneous matter by anticipating him. I could proceed and deliver the whole of the conventional speech with which we are all familiar. What I am suggesting to him now is, that having regard to the fact that he is anxious to save time and to be in a position to reply, we should agree with the rest of the House to take as read his conventional speech on occasions of this kind and deal with the matter, to cut out the usual semihumorous, irrelevant impertinences with which he is accustomed to treat the House when Deputies attempt to put up arguments and reasons which are contradictory to the Party necessities which govern the conduct of business in this House. I do want to know why—a very simple question —it should be necessary at this particular moment, instead of to-morrow, instead of next week, that we should adjourn. What critical emergency has arisen which decides half-past ten on this Thursday night as the moment at which we must adjourn for ten weeks?
There must be some particular reason why we should not meet to-morrow. We have not invented what is written on the Order Paper. We have not invented the necessity for dealing with the things which are on the Order Paper. Those are facts, separate and distinct from the President and from ourselves. What is the fact, undisclosed to the House, which makes half-past ten to-night the unescapable moment for adjourning for ten weeks after twenty-two weeks'  adjournment? Why cannot he deal with these matters? Is there some urgent engagement of the Ministry? Mind, I am prepared to be reasonable. If the Minister has a good and sufficient reason why we should not meet to-morrow, well then we will meet him by meeting on Wednesday. If he has a good and sufficient reason why we should not meet on Wednesday, we will meet his convenience by meeting on Thursday. He must have some reason, and the reason must be disclosed to the House, because the whole subject-matter of the debate is half-past ten to-night as the time we shut down. There is no other element in the motion, and no reason whatever has been given to show us why that is the critical moment. We might have expected from the massed wisdom of Cumann na nGaedheal, from those silent Solons and inarticulate Miltons, who occasionally decorate those benches, from that which is overwhelmingly obvious to every one of us, so overwhelmingly obvious that they are all going into the lobby to vote for half-past ten to-night—we might have expected that some one of these undiscovered geniuses would have risen in his place and answered the question which in one form or another every member of the House is asking.
Are they all dumb-driven cattle in reality as well as in name? Have they made any inquiry themselves which would enable them to go back and tell their constituents how after twenty-two weeks' holiday, seven days' functioning of this Dáil is considered sufficient before we adjourn for another ten weeks? Have they, I ask, made any inquiries? Are they as ignorant as we are on the subject of what is in the minds of the Ministers and what is the overwhelming necessity which makes 23 or 24 minutes from now the critical and unescapable moment at which we are to adjourn? Perhaps Deputy Anthony knows. I am quite sure that he is much more in the confidence of the President and the Executive Council than the average back-bencher of Cumann na nGaedheal. Every one in this House, every human being with a soul to be ravaged, with a heart to bleed, must have bled at every pore when he saw the martyrdom  of St. Anthony to-night. Seventy-eight inches of martyrdom—seventy-eight inches and a twist in every inch. Do you wonder at his martyrdom? Do you wonder that he feels humiliated, this stately Alexandrine which like a slow snake drags its long length along?
Mr. Flinn: This unfortunate man who, whenever Cumann na nGaedheal is reduced to absolute silence, to the silence of privative ignorance, to the silence of pure nescience, can be called upon to come to its assistance. What was the cause of the whole speech of this great upholder of decorum, decency and order in this House? It was the horrible language used by Deputy Corry.
Mr. Flinn: I will kill something which is less important than time when I kill St. Anthony. I heard the speech of Deputy Corry and I heard the description of it. I heard the speech of another member of this Party the other night which was described as scandalous and as pure blackguardism. I heard it so described by a member of Cumann na nGaedheal. I unhesitatingly put on record and challenge the speech of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in which he attacked——
Mr. Flinn: All right. I am dealing with the suggestion that Deputy Anthony is entitled to be shocked at the language of a back bencher of Fianna Fáil when he tolerates without  hesitation the unlimited and unadulterated blackguardism of those with whom he is in political alliance, though nominally of a different political party.
Mr. Flinn: This interesting assembly is going to adjourn for ten weeks. What is going to happen in those ten weeks? The House has a precedent in relation to adjournments and what was done in them. There have been other occasions on which men have been told that if they liked their subscriptions might be anonymous, and the results have been a general election during the Recess. Have we any assurance now that that same sort of game is not going to be played, that we are not going to have a stunt? Remember they were fooled the last time by a Dublin result. Remember that the last time they adjourned they gave us a stunt election during the adjournment. They were fooled by a Dublin result. The precedent is complete, but will not be so complete later. Is this the critical necessity? Has the General Staff decided that at half-past ten o'clock to-night the preparations, not for discussions in this Dáil, but for the elimination of this Dáil, are to take place? What else is going to happen? We are going to let them loose apparently without any criticism, without any supervision whatever, little as the supervision and criticism in this House can be effective, so long as the minority in this House includes men of the political allegiance and indeterminate conduct of St. Anthony.
What is going to happen? You have a Ministry now which, for the next ten weeks, is going to be uncontrolled, in full charge of the administrative machine, to do what it likes with it, to do what it has done with it. Is the House satisfied without an explanation of why we are going, for ten weeks, to leave that position? What is the Minister for Justice going to do? Is he going to give us another all-purpose cow? Is he going to have the same conduct encouraged which has made a High Court Judge say that he would send the proceedings of a civil action  to the Attorney-General for prosecution for conspiracy and perjury against the servants of the Minister? Is that the position? For ten weeks are we going to leave uncontrolled the rights of members of the community in the possession of the Minister for Justice and people inspired by his kind of mentality?
True, fisheries are going to be attended to. I believe that was the whole of the contribution made by the Minister for Fisheries down in Kerry. He said they were going to be attended to. For the next ten weeks they are going to be attended to in the way they have been attended to for the last ten years. Is he going to catch finnan haddies? Is he going to start another fish market in Cork and forget to get any fish? Is he going to tow in from the Arran Islands, at a cost of £7 10s. each, the boats which he has confiscated from the Arran Islanders and sell them for firewood at ten shillings? Is that what is going to happen in the Ministry of Fisheries? How many county councils is the Minister for Local Government going to suppress because bishops, priests, laymen, men of all politics, are united in disagreeing with the Minister for Local Government? How many county councils are going to remain? Is the whole place going to be covered with mandamuses just to enable the interested misused authority of that Minister and of that Ministry to be made effective over the heads and against the will of the ordinary community in this country? Is that what is going to happen?
What about the Minister for Agriculture? How many more children is he going to put on the backs of the community while refusing to acknowledge the parentage of them? Is the I.A.C. going to be just able to clear its butter stocks in the interval? Have they calculated on that basis, from half-past ten to-night until the 18th February? Is that just the calculated time for the Minister for Agriculture to save his face by preventing the child he has repudiated from being made publicly bankrupt owing to being unable to fulfil its actual existing financial commitments? What other new stunt is going to be devised in the interval?  The Minister for Defence with the army which the father of the I.A.C. says is not worth a damn—what is he going to do with national defence in the meantime? Ten weeks of uncontrolled misuse of his authority.
I should imagine by that time that we shall have at least eight or nine official armies, as distinct from the unofficial, and I should imagine that the whole of them, so long as they are official under that aegis, would come under the same description of the whole damn lot of them, not being worth a damn because the men who are looking after them are not worth a damn. I believe that the present army is quite a good army made up of quite good young men who know they have got a good job and are trying to keep it, but I do not think it is worth a damn as long as it is run by men of the efficiency which is represented by the Minister for Justice's C.I.D. in court and the Minister for Fisheries' fish market in Cork without any fish. What have they done in the daylight which enables us to trust them in the dark? What goods have they delivered, any one of them? One of them has succeeded in producing a position in which sugar, which is bought f.o.b. Hamburg to-day at less than 6s., costs the actual consumer in this country six times that amount!
The President: We are asked to postpone the adjournment until next week. During the last hour and twenty minutes we have heard speeches directed to that end. There is not a schoolboy over fourteen years of age in the country who would not be able to understand and master within half that period of time the Bill that the Minister for Local Government introduced yesterday, and a Second Reading of which was refused by the intellectuals opposite to-day. They say that we are trying to put the blame upon them. Not at all. There is no necessity for that because it is upon their backs and on their heads. They have stopped the working and the successful administration of the £300,000 Relief Vote in a satisfactory and sound manner. We are attacked and abused by these people. The leader of the Opposition, who in absentia was nominated as President of the Executive Council last year, was absent from this House from December of last year until June of this year. These are the people who say to us “five months' holidays.” What was he doing outside of this country when the Budget of this State was being discussed here?
The President: The Bill for which the Minister for Local Government asked consideration is not only a simple one but it has really got only two effective clauses. That Bill was posted to every member of the House yesterday morning.
The President: And, in addition, there was sent with it an explanatory statement covering two pages. The Party opposite is not free from having lawyers on its benches. They come here, sit listening to speeches or make speeches. But to come here and study Bills, to consider what are the real  needs of the country and how best public money can be spent, is something that they will not do at all. Their attitude on these matters is: “Let us talk on that on the adjournment.” What are we asked to come here for next week? To consider a Bill of two effective clauses.
The President: That Bill is not yet in the hands of Deputies. The Deputy who has mentioned the Land Bill introduced one himself last year which was a joke, and he realised that it was a joke. The Deputy sitting next to him introduced another Bill, which was also a joke, a Bill which we had to amend and strengthen so as to save it from being a laughing stock. The Deputy knows that. Only to-day a Deputy on the opposite benches—a lawyer—asked us were we going to adjourn without bringing in the Rent Restrictions Bill—a measure that we had already passed. These are the gentlemen who talk about studying Bills. The Bill that was sent out last night was a simple Bill, and they would have been better engaged in studying that than in making speeches.
The President: It was posted yesterday. If the Deputies had devoted the time they spent discussing the Bill at their Party meeting to a study of the Bill they could have mastered it. There is not a youth over fourteen years of age who could not have mastered that Bill in half the time spent on this adjournment motion. Yet, we are asked to come back next week to discuss Bills which are not yet in the hands of Deputies. Yesterday, in connection with three motions which had appeared on the Order Paper for a week I was asked for a postponement until to-day. The Veterinary Surgeons Bill was down for consideration, but the Deputies opposite would not have a Second Reading of it, though they admitted that it was on the Committee Stage the real work on that Bill was to be done. The work of this country is not carried out here, but outside where the  business men and farmers ought to be at their work. If there is business sufficient to warrant the attention of Deputies in the House we are prepared to give time for it. I am asked by a Deputy who for a couple of years has been talking about the financial bankruptcy of this State and about general elections—he still has that question on his brain—to bring the House back next week.
The President: The Deputy will want to look after the little bit that he has. It will require nurturing and some  minding. There are various other measures to which the leader of the Party opposite would object if we were to ask him to come here next week to consider them. Before the adjournment last summer there were motions on the Order Paper which Deputies got adjourned, and now we are to be taxed for not coming here next week. The work of this country is not done by talk, and the people are finding that out as they have done in the City and County of Dublin.
|Aird, William P.
Alton, Ernest Henry.
Beckett, James Walter.
Bennett, George Cecil.
Bourke, Séamus A.
Byrne, John Joseph.
Cole, John James.
Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
Connolly, Michael P.
Cosgrave, William T.
Craig, Sir James.
De Loughrey, Peter.
Dolan, James N.
Doyle, Peadar Seán.
Duggan, Edmund John.
Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.
Finlay, Thomas A.
Gorey, Denis J.
Hassett, John J.
Heffernan, Michael R.
Hennessy, Michael Joseph.
Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
Kelly, Patrick Michael.
Law, Hugh Alexander.
Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
McFadden, Michael Og.
Mongan, Joseph W.
Murphy, James E.
Murphy, Joseph Xavier.
Myles, James Sproule.
Nally, Martin Michael.
Nolan, John Thomas.
O'Hanlon, John F.
O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.
O'Reilly, John J.
O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Shaw, Patrick W.
Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
Thrift, William Edward.
White, Vincent Joseph.
Wolfe, Jasper Travers.
Briscoe, Robert. Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
De Valera, Eamon.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
Cassidy, Archie J.
Corry, Martin John. Little, Patrick John.
Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
O'Connell, Thomas J.
O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
O'Kelly, Seán T.
Powell, Thomas P.
Ruttledge, Patrick J.
Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).
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