Emergency Imposition of Duties Bill, 1932—Second Stage.

Thursday, 14 July 1932

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 43 No. 7

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Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  In moving that the measure before the House be read a Second Time I wish to be brief and I wish to be clear. First of all, this measure is not introduced in a spirit of retaliation or aggression. It is brought in primarily as a measure of self-defence. An issue has arisen between ourselves and our neighbours as to whether moneys hitherto paid to them are rightfully due by us. The sums paid when related to our resources, on the one hand, are enormous, but when related to those of Great Britain, on the other, are comparatively trifling. The issue raised, therefore, while it is of little monetary significance to Great Britain, is of the greatest moment to us. Notwithstanding that, because we are anxious for peace, and because we are genuinely desirous that harmonious and friendly relations should exist between the two States, we have signified our willingness to put the whole question to the hazard of arbitration. We have made only two conditions in this regard (1) that we should be unrestricted in choosing our nominees on the Tribunal, and (2) that when the terms of reference and the constitution of the Tribunal have been agreed upon the agreement should be submitted to the Oireachtas for approval before the arbitration proceedings begin. Meanwhile, even while negotiations on this matter were proceeding, as a pledge that we were genuinely desirous of settling this issue in a peaceful way, that we still regarded the issue as an open one, at the greatest possible political disadvantage to itself, the Government, which if it had anything else but an honest purpose in the matter, might have done otherwise, took the responsibility of imposing upon this country in this year an additional burden of taxation amounting to four and a quarter million pounds. That step might have been avoided if the Government had been hypocritical in its profession in regard to this matter and had utilised, for the purpose of defraying the costs of the public services, the land annuities which it was collecting, and the R.I.C. pensions which it proposed to recoup to Great Britain, out of the ordinary proceeds of taxation. Not merely did the Government act in this way, but it went further. As a further pledge that we were prepared to abide by the result [1001] of the arbitration, we carried to a Suspense Account all the moneys in dispute, and as I have already indicated, are not utilising these moneys in any way to defray the present cost of the public services. I think it must be admitted that throughout this whole controversy we have acted in a conciliatory, honest and honourable way, having due regard always to what we believe to be our just rights in the matter.

I do not wish to say anything that would further exacerbate feelings on either side, but I cannot help reflecting that if the other parties to this dispute were animated by the same desire as we are to find a just and honourable settlement, they would not have chosen at this moment to translate the issue from the realm of reasonable and pacific discussion to that of economic war. Whatever they may do in that regard, we do not propose to follow them there. For some reason, a reason not at all connected with the financial issue which has arisen between the two peoples, our neighbours have chosen to embark upon a policy which is both provocative and destructive and this at a moment when they are claiming to have restored economic peace to Europe and to have laid the foundations upon which the economic restoration of the world may be based. We here seek neither to provoke nor to destroy. In this, as in all other matters arising out of our relations with our neighbours across the Irish Sea, our policy is not merely the quiescent one of live and let live; it is something more positive, more active. It is to establish with them close and cordial friendship upon a just basis, the only basis upon which a friendship or an accord between the two peoples can endure, a basis which recognises to the full the rights and liberties of this people.

That was our desire when we took over the duties of Government. It remains our desire to-day. We will work for that purpose in the face of misunderstanding and misrepresentation both here and in Great Britain. While we are working for it we shall, in the face of unwarranted and un-justifiable [1002] attack, defend and maintain what is ours. We have retained the land annuities because we believe ourselves to be justly, to be morally entitled to them. To hold otherwise would be to admit the justice and the rightness of the confiscations and persecutions which have characterised the relations of Great Britain with this country. We have retained them because we are legally entitled to them by the letter and the spirit of the English statutes and by the letter, at any rate, of the Treaty upon which our relations with Great Britain now subsist. We have retained them because they are the very life-blood of our economic system and because the continued payment of them would frustrate all hope of an industrial revival in this country and doom our people year by year to wastage and decay until this island might become nothing more than a cattle ranch or a bird sanctuary upon the waves of the Atlantic. This issue of the land annuities is vital to us. We cannot in conscience let them go until an impartial and just tribunal decides that we have no moral right to them.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Moral or legal?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The matter is still open to arbitration. Why, then, since it is still open, should our neighbours assume the offensive? Is it because they are doubtful of the issue? We are not. We are firmly anchored in the justice of our case. If the other party are so confident in that regard as we are, why not let the matter rest there until the issue is finally decided? The moneys are safe and will be kept safe pending the result of the arbitration. They will then be retained or handed over as that result may determine. Why, then, attempt to precipitate a situation which will excite illwill, cause economic dislocation and arouse passions and hates which will not be easily assuaged? Why is this being done? Is it being done merely to anticipate the decision of the tribunal and in the hope that the sabotaging of our trade will ensure that this country will be deprived of the benefits which will flow from a decision favourable to it? What other purpose can there be in it? [1003] The measures which Great Britain has taken are unwarranted by the situation. They are unprecedented and they will be futile to make the people of this country pay the annuities before a tribunal decides that they are bound to pay them—before the question has been justiciably settled. Every organ of economic thought in Great Britain has stressed the fact that, whatsoever the temporary inconvenience caused to Irish producers may be, the tariff, whether it be 20 per cent., 40 per cent. or 100 per cent., if they choose to erect it as high as that, will be paid inevitably by the British farmers and consumers.

Mr. Bennett: Information on George Cecil Bennett  Zoom on George Cecil Bennett  Question.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Moreover, the trade relations between this country and Great Britain are such that for every penny piece which she robs from us by a tariff upon our agricultural produce we can recoup ourselves by a tariff upon her manufactures. That fact is just as well known to the British as it is to us. Again, the question arises, why, with these facts before them, the fact, first of all, that their action is unwarranted, the second fact that it is unprecedented—never before have they, or any other country, attempted to anticipate the justiciable settlement of an issue in this way—and the third over-riding fact that the British themselves must pay the tariffs, have they chosen to impose them? Is it merely with the desire to sabotage the industries of this country? It is not the first time that British measures have been devised to that end. The economic history of this country is a record of Irish industry destroyed by British legislation, but under different circumstances. When these former attempts were successful there was not a united nation to resist British policy.

I hope that, in any event, one result of this situation will be that the indiccations which were given from the Opposition Benches last night of a change of mind and heart in this regard will further fructify and that President de Valera will have behind [1004] him a people united in a manner which will render our industries invulnerable and secure our liberties and safeguard our rights. Why have the British resorted to these measures? Is it in the hope that a panic might be created which would result in the overthrow of the Government? As the President indicated last night, the Government is able to look after and to defend itself. It will remain here and be here after this issue is fought out. Remaining here, it is well able to look after and defend the industries of this country. I should like to emphasise the word “defend.” We are not attacking anybody; we are not seeking to destroy British trade, but if another State seeks to interfere with our trade, to attack our industries, we shall defend them and use every means and all our resources to defend them. It is in order to arm the Executive with the necessary power and authority that we are asking the Dáil to accept the principle contained in this measure.

The powers which we are seeking are wide; they are sweeping. I do not want to disguise that fact either from the Oireachtas or from the people of the country. They give the Executive Council power to impose stamp duties and duties of customs and excise with every possible variation of such duties that can be thought of or that may be found to be necessary. But if the powers are wide and sweeping they are not more than are required to deal with the present situation. They will be used with prudence, with moderation and with foresight, and the exercise of them will be subject to review and subsequent confirmation by the Dáil. I said that it was not our purpose to attack, but if the doors of the British markets are closed to us, then it is our duty, and the duty of the Dáil to give the Executive all the powers that may be necessary to find markets elsewhere. We are confident that such markets can be found.

Mr. Gorey: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  Where?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It may be necessary for us to offer inducements to other people to buy from us. We have given in the past substantial inducements to [1005] Great Britain to buy from us. We have all along recognised the principle of Imperial Preference in regard to her manufactures and her exports. And she has benefited accordingly. French cars and American cars just as good as any made in Great Britain were taxed one-third higher than any cars coming from Great Britain.

Mr. Gorey: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  Do not mind the cars now.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The same applies to every other manufactured article imported from Britain. Britain has enjoyed a privileged place in our markets, but not withstanding that fact the British Government now, not in an attempt to collect annuities, because that is not necessary, but in an attempt to anticipate the decision of the Arbitration Court, in an attempt, I believe, really to sabotage all Irish industry and to deprive us, as I said at the beginning, of the full benefits that would naturally flow from a decision on this dispute favourable to us, is now endeavouring to close her markets to us. It is then necessary, in order that we may find alternative markets elsewhere, to close our markets to Great Britain. I am not going at this stage to outline what the policy of the Government in regard to Great Britain will be, beyond repeating again that we are anxious to establish with the people on the other side of the Irish sea who are bound to us, I admit, by ties not merely of trade and commerce but by ties of blood as well, a cordial friendship.

Mr. Gorey: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  Hear, hear!

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The fact is that arising out of our juxtaposition we have got many interests in common and we are anxious to establish with that people cordial and lasting friendship; but it must be friendship based upon the sincere recognition by them of our rights and liberties. We will do nothing in the dispute that has arisen which will disturb those relations. We will do nothing which will prevent the re-establishment of cordial trading relations between us and them provided that they do nothing which will make that re-establishment impossible. We [1006] cannot give any guarantee when they are not at least willing to meet us in a spirit of friendship. We have, as I have said, given every indication that reasonable men could desire or that reasonable men could ask for that we are sincere in submitting this issue, the gravest economic issue which has arisen for this country for many generations, to the hazard of an arbitration tribunal. We are willing to abide by that result and by that tribunal. But if other people are not willing to do likewise, if they propose to attack us and to sabotage our trade, then we must defend ourselves; and if we are to defend ourselves the powers we are asking in this Bill are absolutely necessary.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Last night, sir, in response to a very earnest appeal on the part of Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy McGilligan asking for some information, we got the speeches which we got then from the Government Benches. The spirit of these speeches must have rooted themselves in the minds of everyone in this House. We might have expected, in putting before the House to-day the proposal for taking these wide and sweeping powers, as the Minister for Finance has himself described them, that something hopeful, something constructive and something of a policy would be put before the House and before our unhappy country. And what more depressing or more crushing thing could be added to the situation in this country to-day than the speech just now of the Minister for Finance asking this House to give him these powers? If anything more dispiriting or crushing to the people of this unhappy country could be given I do not know what it is.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  The Public Safety Act.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  We are at the moment to-day in as critical and perhaps more critical position as we were in December, 1921. when we previously discussed what our relations with the people and Government of Great Britain were to be. If an earnest examination of the situation was then required, an earnest examination of the [1007] situation is now required. Last night Deputy Maguire, reaching the key-note of depression for our people, told us that we had now enjoyed a great Cumann na Gaedheal victory. The implication is that those who spoke for the President last night told this House that what they have to-day is the failure of the Fianna Fáil policy of the last few months. Because that is what we are faced with here to-day. Even at this eleventh hour, what is the Fianna Fáil policy for to-day? What is that policy that the President puts before this House and puts before the people as to what our relations, economic and political, with the people of Great Britain are going to be?

That is the question we are up against to-day. There is no use in thinking this is a dispute over how the Land Commission annuities shall be settled. If is can be reduced to that simple issue then we have to hear again, and clearly, from the President, what the issue is, because we have not heard it from the Minister for Finance. We are told that somebody is to judge whether we are morally entitled to hold these moneys. We are told that it is to be justiciably settled. We are told that the Fianna Fáil Party cannot stand for giving up the land annuities to Great Britain. For what reason? Because, in the first place, if they give them up it would be acquiescing in the confiscations and the persecutions of the past. We are told in the second place that these land annuities are the life blood of our people here, and that they cannot establish the industries that are necessary for the life of this country except they hold them. Another reason in between is that we are told by the President so far as we can understand him, that there is a dispute between the Government of the Free State and the Government of Great Britain to-day, and that the dispute is as to the legality and the liability of the Government here to hand over the annuities. We have this important legal issue and this important moral issue smeared over in every possible way by the [1008] Minister for Finance. The case is based on the legal issue and on the history of confiscations during I do not know how many centuries. The case is based on the fact that these moneys are necessary to build up industries here. I can excuse even a British Government for not understanding what exactly is in dispute, as regards land annuities, between the Government of this country and the Government of Great Britain.

The people of this country and its representatives have to stand back from the situation and to ask, what is all this about? It is all about the question as to what our economic relations and what our political relations are going to be in the future with Great Britain. These were matters that we discussed previously in December, 1921. President de Valera said in December, 1921, that he had a policy. He has recently been speaking about that policy in the Seanad. At the time he was saying that he was expounding his policy, and in very difficult and critical days for the people, he was putting the alternative policy as against the policy of acceptance of the Treaty. In Dáil Eireann we had to challenge the President that he was not giving his own policy a fair chance. I had to say that he had not at that time presented clearly before Dáil Eireann what his alternative was, and that, therefore, it had not been perhaps fairly discussed by the opponents of that policy. Certainly it had not been fairly discussed by himself. I had to say then: “I have to admit that on the President's side it has not been treated fairly. If this alternative does not get us away out of those things that are so essentially horrible to us, all the passion of the President and all the passion that could be gathered on the Presidential side should be put towards pointing out to us what roads lead to the alternative and to what objective they lead.”

To what roads does to-day's alternative lead us? To what objective does it lead us? In the alternative put before Dáil Eireann, the President, even in December, 1921, did not [1009] explain the methods by which he was going to get the alternative and where the alternative was going to lead. He had that experience of dealing with critical matters in a nebulous and unclear way. Can he not to-day, in the responsible position which he holds, tell us plainly what is his policy with regard to our economic and political relation with Great Britain?

Speaking in the Seanad on the 2nd June last President de Valera said:

In 1921 when I was in a position, also, of responsibility and I had to take upon myself as a result of that responsibility, to suggest a policy at that time, I suggested a policy of external association. No closer association would have been compatible with the position that had been proclaimed here. I suggested external association of the whole of Ireland that had been proclaimed as a Republic-external association which would have meant that Ireland would come in and associate with the representatives of Canada, Australia and so on, on terms of practical equality. What was the difference between that and the Treaty? It was this: that it would have been compatible with the State that we had sworn allegiance to. It would have done something more, because it would have removed from any doubt whatever the question of whether the constitutional position would be reflected in the legal position in the British Commonwealth of time. Things were not quite the same in 1921 as they have been since the Imperial Conference in 1926.

The question of whether the rights which Canada claims to be constitutional rights, and which the other States claim to be constitutional rights, would, in fact, be allowed to over-ride the legal position that England might claim was a question that was in doubt, and the Statute of Westminister was principally intended to end that doubt for all time. We were looking ahead. We wanted to make sure in 1921 that we would have in our relations with the States of the British Commonwealth, actually, legally, a guarantee of the same constitutional rights that [1010] Canada and Australia claimed they had, and which were really in doubt from the point of view as to whether they would be held to over-ride the legal position that actually existed. I thought for one at any rate, that the Twenty-Six Counties here, as a result of the 1926 and 1930 conferences, had practically got into the position —with the sole exception that instead of being a Republic it was a monarchy—that I was aiming at in 1921 for the whole of Ireland.

At this stage Senator Milroy intervened and said: “As a result of the Treaty.”

Proceeding, the President said:

I am quite willing to give to Senator Milroy or anybody else any credit that can be got for the policy they aimed at, and I am prepared to confess that there have been advances made that I did not believe would be made at the time. I am quite willing to confess it, and it is because I do not want to see these advances which I think have been made beyond what would be reasonably expected at the time, lost, that I am anxious that no retrograde steps should be taken at the moment.

The President who is putting before us to-day a policy of economic war is the President who, in a muddled way in December, 1921, put the alternative to the Treaty at that particular time, and looking ahead has to turn around now in 1932 and to say that in respect of the Twenty-Six Counties, whatever circumstances kept the Six Counties out in 1922, that as a result of the work of the Free State Government for the last ten years we had achieved in 1932 a position that he thought we never could have achieved by that time—a position of absolute equality with Great Britain and Canada and Australia and the other Dominions—the position that he said he was aiming for, for this country, in 1921. Looking back over the fruits of his policy and over the fruits of the way in which he presented his policy in 1921—looking back over that period, and seeing the destruction and the loss to this country that have been caused on the one hand, and the achievements that have been reached [1011] on the other hand by reason of the fact that there were in this country men satisfied to take upon themselves responsibility and to go and sit down in council and in conference and bring about the political—not to talk of the economic—progress of this country, the political progress of this country that has been made up to this particular moment.

Will he not look back, and will he not come to us and say, before he asks the House to pass this measure—not to speak of before he takes upon himself responsibility to put the provisions of this measure into operation—will he not tell us, and will he not tell his people, what exactly his policy is, and where he expects that policy to lead him? Are we going to be members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, or are we not? That is the question that stands over the whole of this discussion to-day. That is the question that stands over the whole of the difficult relations, either economically or politically, that exist between the Government of this country to-day and the Government of Great Britain. Is there any Deputy on the far side that expects in the most satisfactory way to decide what is going to be done with these land annuities, without getting clear in his mind first, before he goes into any discussion about them, whether he is going to remain a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations or not? Can we have any kind of a clear statement from the President to-day as to whether, whatever policy is here, he wants this country to remain a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations or not? Many matters, in the hurry of business here within the last few weeks have been left undiscussed, but whether it is the Oath, of which we were told last night so pompously, with the futility that characterises the opposite side, that it is gone—whether it is the Oath, or whether it is the Governor-General, or whether it is our financial relations with Great Britain, the whole spirit and the whole way in which these matters are dealt with are all small pieces of the whole question as to whether the policy of the Executive Council is to [1012] remain to-day a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations or not.

Last night, in the first approach to this question, we heard from Deputy Cleary and from Deputy Maguire and from Deputy Corry. We got a sample, in spite of how much the President may desire to say that he does not know anything about how these things are done, of how the electorate is dealt with in the different constituencies. We had speeches here made last night by Deputies who wanted to make these speeches but who were afraid, in the circumstances of to-day, to go and make these speeches at the cross-roads if they wanted to make them. We had thrown at us by these Deputies last night, and by the Ministerial newspaper organ to-day, that the Deputies on this side are making England's case and playing England's game. The words of the President, given in columns 937 and 938 of the 2nd June, 1932, are an answer to these people, as far as this House is concerned, and as far as any thinking people in this country are concerned. The policy of 1921 was a policy which obstructed in every way the policy of men of whom the President is forced to turn round to-day and say: “They made advances that I never thought they would make in the time. They gave this State absolutely equal status with Canada and Australia and Great Britain.” If the same independent spirit in which Deputies on this side did their work during these last ten constructive and successful years, if the same spirit is applied to the problems of to-day as was applied to those of yesterday, then the Deputies may say to-day that if it were making England's case and playing England's game the people who are to review this order after ten years of denial will yet have to review their outlook, and we ask them to get all this inferiority complex out of their own minds. Let them learn from what has been done in the past that by boldly facing up, face to face, with members of other Governments and arguing out with them our economical as well as our political problems, that we have been able to achieve things which the President never thought would be achievable [1013] in the time. Learn from what has been achieved in the past and go and face up to those people with whom you have to discuss these things. Settle definitely what are the things that have to be finally faced and finally decided, and settle these things face to face.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Eamonn Cooney  Zoom on Eamonn Cooney  The way you settled the Boundary.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The Deputies on the far side can examine their consciences on the Boundary question any time they like. We are saying this— that, as far as that particular part of this country, the Twenty-Six Counties, that we were allowed, by whatever circumstances, to handle in 1921, is concerned, we have made a State of that and put it on an absolute equality with the other countries in the British Commonwealth of Nations, although the Deputies on the far side did not believe that Irishmen were capable of doing that in the time. We are charged, as I say, with making England's case and playing England's game. General Hertzog, the leader of the South African Party in the Imperial Conference of 1930, had experience enough there to say that the most abiding memory of his life of a fight for nationality will be the fight made by the Irish Free State delegations under the leadership of Deputy McGilligan at the Imperial Conference of 1930. So, do not let the inferiority complex of Deputies on the far side, in this terribly critical time for our country, blind you to the fact that Irishmen have it in them to sit down and face the most difficult of problems and argue them out with men of any other nation and come out of these discussions not only successfully for their own country but with deeper bonds of friendship and deeper bonds of appreciation knit between this country and other countries. If there is one thing that Ministers, who have gone to Ottawa, will find amongst the representatives of Canada, Australia, South Africa or Britain, if they have courage enough to talk to them, it is the magnificent appreciation of the character and capacity of those people who met them in negotiation, and in discussion, on the part of the Irish Free State during the last ten years.

[1014] Again, on the threshold of the most critical time that this country ever faced we are being asked by the Ministry to give them these wide powers. We have been given no explanations of what powers are to be used, either excise, stamp or customs, and we have been given no scintilla of information as to what the policy is that is being pursued by the Executive, and what objective they have set before them to achieve by that policy, for themselves, and for our people. I submit it is useless, almost damaging to our situation here that this House should be asked in a blind way—blind, at any rate, so far as the policy and objective of the Executive Council are concerned—to carry on a discussion on this very serious and critical position. I ask Deputies, on the far side of the House, to ask the President to come in here, and put before us what his policy, and what his objective is. Before I sit down might I ask if it is intended that the President will speak early in this debate?

Mr. Hugo Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  Keep on asking.

Mr. M. O'Reilly: Information on Matthew O'Reilly  Zoom on Matthew O'Reilly  I listened attentively to Deputy Mulcahy, and I came to the conclusion that the main part of the speech would be better addressed to Mr. Thomas, and that portion of it had nothing at all to do with the Bill now under consideration. He asked whether we were “inside or outside” and what were our inclinations and policy upon that matter. At the present time, I think if he asked Mr. Thomas that question he might get from him what is the real intention and cause. As I say the position is, from our point of view, an extremely reasonable one. I do not see that anything, whatsoever, has been done, by the Government of this country, that should draw from a Government, with a tradition behind it as the British Government has, such a frantic effort to try and stampede the people of this country into a position favourable to the British Government.

A dispute arose here about certain moneys, and it was agreed, after a very short time, that that dispute [1015] would be referred to arbitration. When these disputes arise, either between Governments or between individuals, the general policy pursued is that both parties should be agreeable to the court to be set up. If that is not the case it is hardly to be expected that the losing party would be in agreement with the decision, so, for that reason, arbitration generally is set up along these lines. What is the attitude here? What has compelled Mr. Thomas to rush into the position he has now rushed into?

Mr. Gorey: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  Because he is a damned good judge.

Mr. M. O'Reilly: Information on Matthew O'Reilly  Zoom on Matthew O'Reilly  Perhaps he is a good judge. None of us could tell, at the moment, whether he is or not, but, at a later stage, that will be proved. He is relying, perhaps, on tradition of the trade connection between this country and Great Britain because this is not the first time that this has happened. This seems to be the ordinary process in the last 400 or 500 years. We had, in the 17th century, something similar to it, when an effort was made to destroy whatever agricultural industry we had. We then developed some sort of a commercial policy, and had some industries, and the same thing was tried with regard to our industries. Now, that we have developed agriculture, which was at one time developed only to a certain extent, there is an effort to upset that. Mr. Thomas believes that the same condition of affairs prevails now as did in the years gone by, and that the moment he makes this threat we will get weak at the knees, cave in, hold up our hands and ask for mercy. In no part of the world will that occur to-day and Mr. Thomas ought to know that perfectly well, and least of all it is going to occur here. It has created perhaps a day's dislocation. That is what has happened; nothing more. Prices for agricultural produce, to-day, may be low, but prices were not very high, hitherto, and there is not the slightest reason, within a week or two, that prices will not go back again to what they were before this “stunt” policy was adopted.

[1016] The whole of the trade relations between this country and England has been, as I said, one continual effort to suppress industry after industry here, and the excuses adopted were something similar to the excuses adopted to-day. Under no conditions can Mr. Thomas, or anybody else in England, prove that this money has been interfered with in any way. The sum in dispute is lodged by this Government in a suspense account. It is there for the winner of the case, and I do not think any reasonable individual could assume that the tactics the British Minister has pursued mean anything else than that he has an extremely hopeless case. If his case is a good one the money is there if he hopes to win it. Nothing can interfere with that money. Why then should he make an attempt to stampede us into admitting—that is what it roughly amounts to—that this sum of money should be paid to them? There is not the slightest danger of that occurring. From conversations I have had to-day with people in business, I know that there is not the slightest intention to give way. For that reason I say that the position to-day is entirely different from what it was at other periods when such events as this arose. Even though they were successful temporarily on other occasions, the reactions were totally against them, and the reactions will now be against them. I believe that a policy of this nature at this stage of the world's history and the condition of the world as it is to-day could not under any circumstances be successful. After all, there is a world looking on at this condition of affairs—a world which has suffered a good deal and is suffering a good deal from such policies as this. There is nothing at all unreasonable in our attitude. Deputy Mulcahy spent quite a considerable time discussing other events and making a speech that would be much more appropriate in the British House of Commons in opposition to Mr. Thomas. If Mr. Thomas has a good case, I wonder why he makes such differentiation between members of this Commonwealth of Nations? As I understood this instrument—treaty, agreement, convention or whatever it is—I believed that we were all co-equal. Yet, when Mr. [1017] Thomas was asked—I think by Mr. Lansbury—in the British House of Commons the other day, at the end of the debate, what would be the position if Canada had adopted those tactics and would he do the same to Canada as to the Free State, he replied without any hesitation whatsoever, “No.” Why then all this talk about co-equality? Was that purely and simply propaganda or bluff, as this particular affair is? If Canada could not be treated in this way, why should we be treated in this way? I am not making any statement that is not definitely correct. That statement appeared in the public Press, and, I take it, appears in Hansard. I should like to ask somebody who understands the position of the Commonwealth of Nations why, if we have that co-equality, we should be treated differently from Canada or any other country.

I believe, as I said before, that this is a question of bluff. For what reason? To bluff the unfortunate people into a position from which they cannot retrieve themselves, into a position which will prevent them from feeding the people of this country. I make the statement now, and nobody can deny it, that for the last four or five years all over this country there were people hungry. We talk here about an export of butter. I may not be definitely correct in saying—but I think I am very near the mark—that all the butter produced in this country could easily be consumed by the people of this country and there might be given only a very small portion to each person. I wonder if an economic system that drives us into that position is sound or correct or can be backed by any of the moral laws? I believe it cannot. We, the farmers, have for several years been exporting at a loss. For what purpose? To create a credit abroad. A few farmers may say that they had a profit for one year, but practically nobody had a profit except in that one year. We have had practically nine years of loss and still we were told to produce more. We were told that our export trade was worth £30,000,000—a great consolation to the individual. So long as an export trade [1018] is not profitable to the individual, I do not believe it can last and it is not good nationally. By that export trade, we created credits abroad so that certain importers of foreign materials might be enabled to import. That is the sum total of it. I hope the challenge which has been thrown down to us will give us an opportunity of getting out of that position and enable us to say to the world, at all events, “We fed our own people before we exported any of our produce.”

Mr. J.J. Byrne: Information on John Joseph Byrne  Zoom on John Joseph Byrne  We have heard the speech of the mover of this very important Bill and also the speech of the supporter of the Bill, Deputy Matthew O'Reilly. I wonder if the House is seriously asked to accept the reasons adduced by those two speakers as to the necessity for passing this Bill? I wonder does Deputy O'Reilly seriously ask us to accept the statement that nobody can say that the money that is due to England has been interfered with in any way? Let us face up to the facts. Payment of this money has been stopped. It has been definitely stated that payment will not be made until, to use the words of the President of the Executive Council, the English have proved their right to receive this money. Other nations will not look at this matter in the way that the President looks at it or that Deputy O'Reilly looks at it. They will put the plain interpretation on this measure—that the Irish Free State is defaulting. I do not propose to follow Deputy O'Reilly back into ancient Irish history as to the trade relations between this country and Great Britain. We all thought that, with the passing of the Treaty, the relations existing between Great Britain and Ireland had been put upon an entirely different footing. For ten years, while the Cosgrave administration was in office, no decent Irishman can doubt that a proper understanding was arrived at between the two countries and that a new era in that relationship was established. The constructive acts of ten years have been torn up in ten weeks by the new Government.

The Minister for Finance said they would do nothing to embitter relations between this country and Great [1019] Britain. Have they not, since they got into power, done everything humanly possible to embitter these relations? Does the statement of the President made here yesterday, that, when time and opportunity served, he would demand a republic—does that make for the betterment of relations between the two countries? Has the insult given to the members of the British Commonwealth, in refusing to accept a tribunal drawn from that Commonwealth, made for the betterment of the relations between the two countries? Has the tearing up of the Treaty of reconcilation, to which I have just referred, made for the betterment of the relations between the two countries? Has the wanton insult to the representative of the King in this country—the Governor-General—made for the betterment of the relations between the two countries? Has the Bill for the abolition of the Oath, which, we are told, has been destroyed for ever, made for the betterment of the relations between the two countries?

When Canada is referred to in the course of the debate I want to ask one question: do you think that Canadian statesmen would act in the way that Irish statesmen have acted since the new Government took up office? Do you think they would be guilty of any of the acts to which I have referred in the remarks I have addressed to the House? If Canada acted in the provocative way that the Government have acted since they took up office, do you think that any other action would be taken by Great Britain against them, other than the action that Great Britain has taken in defence of her own rights, and in defence of certain agreements, entered into on behalf of Britain with this State, in defence of her rights to get such moneys as we agreed to pay? We are told that the matter is still open for arbitration and that it was an unfriendly act to proceed with the imposition of a 20 per cent. tariff on exports to this country, while arbitration was open. Did not the President state yesterday that his mind was [1020] made up irrevocably not to enter into any negotiation until a tribunal was set up to his own satisfaction, whether to the satisfaction of the opposite party or not? Let us face the facts. The new Government do not want a settlement of the difference that exist between the two countries. The new Government, since they came into power, have done everything they could to defeat a settlement. They realise that the promises they made to the country can never be fulfilled. It is now clear beyond doubt to any thinking man that in order to free themselves from the difficulties into which they have entered, their only solution of the difficulties is to create such a state of chaos in this country as will free them from carrying out the pledges they gave to the electorate.

I should like to ask this question: Does any Deputy who has any knowledge of countries outside the Saorstát think for a moment that you are going to get a better tribunal than the tribunal that might be set up within the British Commonwealth? Let us look at the thing from a sensible point of view. If you appoint a Frenchman, a German or a representative of the United States, do you think, for a moment, that by doing that you will eliminate the bias which the President complains would exist in a tribunal whose personnel was drawn from the British Commonwealth? We all know that the influence of Great Britain is perhaps more powerful on the Continent—as France and Germany are both debtor nations to Great Britain— than it is in countries who are members of the British Commonwealth. I want to ask this question: Do you imagine, for a moment, if you had on that Commission acting as arbitrator, a representative of the United States, that you would eliminate the bias that might, through the influence of Great Britain, arise there? Do you not realise that America is a creditor nation of Great Britain, and that the influence of Great Britain is just as paramount in the States of America as it is amongst any of the units of the British Commonwealth? Only one conclusion can be drawn from this pretence of the selective tribunal that the [1021] President wishes to set up, and that is the logical conclusion that the President has no wish, or intention, to settle the dispute in a friendly way.

We have been told that every day's disturbance here will mean a day of prosperity in future for our country. But if you have an economic war started, has the President thought out any measure to avoid the losses that this little country will have to endure before we enter on any such era of prosperity? I want to ask the House would any sane statesman proceed to destroy the export trade of the country and then turn round to say that in the process of the destruction of that export trade he can foretell a future prosperity? Everyone in the House knows that we have a surplus of £30,000,000 exports to deal with, and that the only market available for these exports is Great Britain and Northern Ireland, that 96 per cent. of the exports have gone to these markets and that no alternative market exists. I see on the Front Bench the Minister for Defence. In the brief speech he made to the House yesterday evening he stated that an alternative market would be found. The Minister for Finance, in his opening speech on this measure to-day, also referred to the question of alternative markets. A question came to him from this side asking where the alternative markets were, but there was no answer. We say before a measure of this character was introduced to enter upon an economic struggle that may mean the bankruptey of the State, the Government had a duty to perform and that was to find an alternative market for the markets they now propose to destroy if such markets can be found. If the markets cannot be found, will the President tell us where he will find or where the Irish farmers will find a means of disposing of the £30,000,000 surplus products that they can neither consume nor have any means of sending to any other part of the world if the British market is destroyed?

The introduction of the Bill has brought us face to face with a crisis which in my opinion has not been [1022] equalled since 1916 or 1922. If this Bill becomes law, if the powers conferred by it are passed into the Government's hands, we have immediately brought off an economic coup d'état. We had yesterday the exhibition from the Government Benches of refusing to participate in the debate and putting up two back benchers to answer the Leader of the Opposition. That can only be termed as an insult to us on these benches. We say that if this measure is to become law we should have more reasons for its passage through the House than have already been adduced in its support. We believe, from the attitude of the President in the House yesterday that if the Bill passes and if these tremendous powers are passed into his hands, President de Valera at once becomes a dictator, a position in our opinion he has always tried to attain since he first came into political life. I should like further to ask if this great export trade of £30,000,000 is to be destroyed in this economic war and if the great industry of agriculture should go down in the fight, what will become of the numbers of unemployed for whom the other day we passed a Bill, according to members on the Government side, involving a sum of over £2,000? Do you think you are going to deal with the problem of unemployment in this way? Do you think you are going to have the money to run the social services of the State if you wipe out at one blow an export trade of £30,000,000 sterling? Where are you going to find the money to carry on the services of the country? Where are you going to find money to deal with the unemployment problem?

We all know that the necessities of this country which come in by way of imports must be paid for in return by way of exports. If the export trade of the country is wiped out I would like that great financier, the income tax abolitionist, whom I see smiling on the opposite benches to tell me in the course of his speech where the money is to be found, the £27,000,000 which has been budgeted for by the new Government. These are the questions we want answered. When we are told we are playing the game of [1023] England and that we should stand united behind the Government, we simply ask are we to remain here inactive and permit the livelihood, the industry and the export trade of this country to be destroyed without doing everything humanly possible to prevent it? There can be no doubt that, since the Government took office, they have been feeling the scathing criticism directed to their policy in this House. There is no doubt whatever that their dearest wish is to rid themselves of that criticism and there has been an attempt to create an artificial atmosphere in the country that this is an issue between Great Britain and Ireland. No such issue exists. Since the new Government took up office, scarcely one single constructive Act stands to their credit on the Statute Book of this country. First, we tore up the Treaty, then we abolished the Oath and now, we are abolishing our export trade. Is it statemanship, is it wisdom, is it common sense, to destroy a thirty million pounds export trade, when every nation in the world to-day is seeking fresh markets and unable to find them? I hope that before the debate concludes, in common honesty and fair play to the people, we will be told where these alternative markets are to be found. We have undoubtedly been told that they do exist but we want to know definitely and precisely where these markets are to which the Irish farmer can send his produce when his existing market is destroyed.

If this Bill passes, in our opinion, the last hope of a friendly settlement of the differences between Great Britain and Ireland disappears. If it becomes law, it proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the President has no wish for a settlement of the dispute between the two countries. This Bill stands for the retention of the Land Annuities. It stands for the destruction of our export trade with the markets of Britain. A few weeks ago, the consumers of this country were asked to bear a burden of almost £500,000, to place Irish butter on the English market. When this Bill becomes law, what will become of that [1024] half million of money that the consumers of this country will have to pay, and how is it hoped, in the face of the passage of this Bill, to retain our butter export trade? We have been told that it may be a blessing in disquise because it will mean proper economics. Is there any sane economist in the world who could justify, for a moment, the economics of the new Government, or who would say “If you want to have an economic war you can have it and we are prepared to face it. If you want an economic war, we can afford to do without our export trade,” regardless entirely of one fact, that 96 per cent. of our trade goes to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, whereas the amount of trade affected, so far as Great Britain herself is concerned, amounts to 7 per cent? Do you think that if you force Great Britain, as you are forcing her every day, to tighten her belt, she cannot afford to lose this 7 per cent. trade? But how will we be affected if 96 per cent. of the trade of the country is wiped out? “It will be a blessing in disguise and there will be a future prosperity and national economics will be put in force more quickly and more readily in this country”—what do these national economics mean? Do they mean returning to the primitive and to a state not consonant with our present state of civilisation? Does it mean living here isolated from the rest of the world? If you cut off our export trade, as the present President threatens to do, what results can follow?

I can only conceive this as an act of madness on the part of those who sit on the Government side. I cannot conceive, as I have already said, where the £27,000,000 budgeted for this year can possibly come from if our £30,000,000 export trade is cut off. I cannot see where the money is to come from to pay the teachers, to pay the Civil Service, to pay old age pensions or where the money is to come from to pay the Dáil itself. We must have ways and means if the country is to carry on, and, if you cut off the means, you cannot have the ways, and that is the procedure that the Government is adopting in this Bill. Cut off [1025] our export trade and budget for £27,000,000 for the nation and where is the revenue to come from? These questions, at least, are entitled to an answer if this Bill is to become law and to become an instrument in the hands of a Government which is in office for a period of eight or ten weeks.

We have been told that the Government stands for the maintenance of the rights of the people. Have the owners of the soil affected by these Land Commission payments which have been withheld no rights? When they purchased out their holdings, was there not one inalienable right, which the Government now proceeds to destroy, the right of free access to a free market? How will free access to a free market be affected by this Bill? If you cut off the free market, and, not alone that, but cut off the entire market for the Irish farmer, what will his condition be after this Bill has been in operation for a few months? If rights are to be defended and maintained, I say that the most important right the farmer needs to-day is the right to sell his goods unhampered and without let or hindrance. We have been told that this is a dishonest Opposition. The President says that we have exceeded our duties to the country because we have declined to permit him to carry a measure through this House without analysing its implications and ramifications——

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  We will carry it through without the Deputy.

Mr. Byrne:  —because we have refused to permit the livelihood of the farming community of the country to be destroyed without protest; because we have refused to allow the great staple industry, agriculture, to be destroyed. I want the House to remember that, when agriculture has been tariffed to-day, the great exports of Guinness and Jacobs may possibly be tariffed to-morrow, and then, not alone will the agricultural community in the country areas be affected, but the industrial community in the city areas will also be affected.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Wire that to Mr. Thomas.

[1026]Mr. Byrne:  I do wish that that Deputy could cultivate common courtesy and decent common sense. I would like to ask one other question.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  This is the fifty-eighth.

Mr. Byrne:  What is going to become of the horse-breeding industry while this economic war is being fought out? What is going to become of the sale of horses at Ballsbridge Show in a few weeks' time? Eighty-five per cent. of these horses go to the English market. Will they continue to go, and, if they do not, what will the breeders of Irish horses do with them? Will President de Valera and his Parliamentary Secretary institute prize studs in the country and take them off the farmers' hands? They should tell us what is going to become of the three millions egg export trade which was built up here by the industry of the ex-Minister for Agriculture. They should not lose sight of the fact that, to-day, Denmark is only waiting to supply every commodity which will be cut out from the English market by the passage of this Bill. They should not forget that this is the golden opportunity for Denmark for which it has been waiting for years, nor should they forget that the powers in this Bill are such that no decent assembly should be asked to pass it. I notice here, in one section, the power to—

Impose, whether with or without qualifications, limitations, allowances, exemptions, or preferntial rates, a stamp duty on any particular description of document or transaction as from any specified day and, for the purpose of such duty, require a document or a particular form of document to be used in or in connection with any particular description of transaction.

Under this section what powers would the new economic dictator possess? Let us assume that he wanted to keep the new members that will be returned at the by-elections in Waterford and Cork from sitting in the Dáil. He could say: “I want a £500 stamp placed on a certain document [1027] before you enter the House,” or if he wished to go further he could say a £10,000 stamp, in order to ensure that they would never enter the House. We are asked to pass a measure of this kind, and we are told when we perform our duty in this House that we are playing England's game. I want to remind the Government of one thing before I conclude. They came into office a few months ago with just about 13,000 votes over the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. I challenge the President to go to the country on the issue as to whether or not this Bill should become law and see if the late verdict of the country will be upheld or if that verdict will be reversed.

Mr. Shaw: Information on Patrick Walter Shaw  Zoom on Patrick Walter Shaw  This country is faced with the most serious crisis that it has had to face in its many troubles and difficulties. In a time of crisis, persons should be calm and the speeches they make should be calm. I intend to approach this matter in that spirit. I am not a politician, and the only interest I have in being in public life is to see the country improving and getting prosperous. If this economic war is persisted in it can only have one ending, and that is national bankruptcy and the permanent loss of the British market for our exports. The President says that this might be a blessing in disguise. If that is the case, it is very strange to see all the other countries of the world vying with one another in their endeavour to cultivate and extend their export trade and, as far as I understand, that is the objective of the Ottawa Conference. That, in my opinion, is not a sane statement. We know the conditions that prevailed in this country when the ports were closed for a short period because of foot and mouth disease. Now we are apparently going to have permanent foot and mouth disease, because the tariff of twenty per cent. which has been imposed will mean practically closing the ports. That is a very serious situation for the people of the country, and a serious responsibility will rest on the President and those who support him in developing this economic war. He should be very slow [1028] to create a position that will bring about the gravest privation, poverty, suffering and unemployment for the people of the country. Deputy Norton and the Labour Party also have a very grave responsibility, because without Deputy Norton's support this economic war would not develop, and I hope and trust that Deputy Norton's visit to London may result in averting this desperate misfortune for this country.

If this tariff of twenty per cent. is put on, the County Kildare, which Deputy Norton represents, will be crucified, because that county is the home of racing and of horse-breeding, which is one of the biggest items in our export trade. The result of the imposition of this twenty per cent. tariff will be that the brood mares, stallions, thoroughbred yearlings and other animals will be taken out of this country and brought either to Northern Ireland or England and the name that this country has got for supplying the whole world with the best horses that can be produced will be destroyed. I firmly believe that if this tax is imposed the business of breeding these animals will be transferred to another country, because it is apparent that if a twenty per cent. duty is imposed on these animals when exported, the stallions, the mares and the foals must be taken out of this country. At the Horse Show last year £100,000 was realised in the sale of animals which were practically all exported. Does anybody believe that the buyers of these animals could afford to pay £20,000 in duty on them? Other Deputies will deal with the question of cattle, sheep and pigs, etc., but this is a very important matter and the reason I stress it is that the man who sits over there is the master and Deputy Norton will have to face thousands of unemployed in Kildare when the racing and breeding establishments there are shut down as shut down they will be. I know one particular stud in this country and the value of the animals there is £500,000. That establishment, along with the others, could not be retained here if a twenty per cent. tax had to be paid on the animals exported. We have the Aga Khan's stud and the National [1029] Stud in Kildare in which there are animals worth millions of pounds. These animals will be transferred out of this country if this tax is imposed. Deputy Norton knows as well as I do that one county that is going to be crucified by this is the county he represents. He has a great responsibility if he supports this policy, which everybody knows the Labour Party do not believe in. I hope the Labour Party will have the courage to do what they did the other day in connection with another matter before 10,000 persons are unemployed in one particular industry alone. As I said, this is a very serious crisis and it is my honest opinion that it could be very easily averted. I believe that the British are not unreasonable and I go so far as to say that I think they have acted too hastily and that if both sides show more give and take a catastrophe for this country could be averted. As far as the counties I represent are concerned, they have unfortunately no industries. If this tariff is imposed, I believe that the people I represent are going to be put out of business. The business people, the farmers and others are going to be seriously affected, and, as I said before, national bankruptcy is staring us in the face. It is certainly a very unfortunate position and a position which I say could be averted.

With regard to the Land Annuities, I firmly believe the vast majority of the people are not able to pay the annuities. I have seen small holdings under water and, in wet seasons, the crops are a dead loss and I honestly believe that a great many of the people are unable to pay their annuities. They are hampered by many adverse conditions, particularly by the depreciation in the value of their stock. These unfortunate people have been brought to the position that they are not able to meet their debts. I do not think we would be humbling ourselves one bit if we told the British Government that it was impossible in a great many cases to collect the annuities. I believe if the British were approached in that manner they would be sympathetic. I have had a good many dealings with the British Government [1030] in connection with war pensions and I have always found them sympathetic and prepared to stretch a point, if they could, to meet a case.

The position that has been brought about here may have desperately serious reactions for this country in the future. The reason I speak so strongly as I do to-day is that I am firmly convinced that if this economic war should start we will end in national bankruptcy. It can only mean that we are going to have sufferings and privations that are, perhaps, at the moment underestimated. I sincerly hope that some means will be devised to bridge over the trouble. If the economic war is started we do not know where it will finish. It will be a sad day for this country if an economic war is started with England. Such a war can only be injurious to both countries, but it will be most injurious to the weak side and there is no doubt that we are the weak side. In a fight we are bound to come out second best.

To-day the President talked about providing work for 8,000 or 10,000 people. It is perfectly apparent to anyone with common sense that if this position develops you will have that many per month unemployed. Even at this eleventh hour there should be some attempt to solve this problem. If there was goodwill shown on both sides I believe it could be solved. If an economic war is started it will mean starvation and poverty in this country; it will have very serious consequences and there will be privation and want amongst the unfortunate people we represent.

Mr. Curran: Information on Patrick Joseph Curran  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Curran  Apparently Deputy Shaw thinks he can intimidate the men who sit on these benches. He is mistaken. The Opposition are very wrong if they think that the Labour members are going to be intimidated over this Bill and will go over to the other side. In the “Independent” to-day and in the “Evening Herald” this evening there is a lot written about Labour Party meetings. You can take it from Curran that we of the Labour Party have decided on the action we are going to take in this [1031] issue. There is going to be no intimidation. I am sorry to observe the attitude taken up by members of the Opposition. It is a pity that they are not with the President and the Government in this fight which is put up by England. Our Government has not put it up to England. England has refused to arbitrate and they have imposed a 20 per cent. tariff and I say that something would be wrong with our Government if they caved in to England in this fight.

If there is going to be an economic fight let it be a fight to a finish. The people in the Labour movement fought England before. The workers of Ireland have brought the country to the position in which it is to-day. They fought for it. If the Labour Party in 1920 had the guts that some Deputies here have to-day there would be more than seven members to go on with the fight against England. There are good men in the front benches of the Opposition. I know what they have done and I am sorry that some of them have taken up a certain attitude on this occasion. On the back benches over there there is one good man, no doubt. I have been all through the fight since 1916 with many of them. I am sorry Deputy Norton is not here to answer some of the arguments that have been addressed to the Labour Party.

Deputy Shaw mentioned that he had been in negotiation with England over pensions and they treated him decently. Since the year of 1, not to mention the year 1800, the English have crucified the people of Ireland. Why should we be terrorised and why should we be obliged to vote with the Opposition on this question? I consider this is the most important, the most vital Bill that ever came before any country in the annals of history. If the people are united, England will not be able to do so much. We of the Labour Party are going to stand by the President and by the Government in this struggle. I would advise Deputies over there not to mention the Labour Party any more until this Bill is dealt with.

[1032]Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Deputy Curran, in the eloquent speech which we have heard, said the Labour Party would not be intimidated. There is no need to intimidated them for they appear to be intimidated already. We have had a very interesting exhibition by Deputy Curran only this week. We have had the exhibition of a Deputy who can speak in favour of an amendment, but when it would be displeasing to Deputy Boland and Deputy Allen, could not walk into the Division Lobby to support it. I think the Labour Party need not talk about intimidation. They are so completely in the pocket of Fianna Fáil that nothing is likely to give them sufficient moral courage to drag themselves away.

The speech which Deputy O'Reilly delivered in the House this afternoon was very interesting. I want to know how Deputy O'Reilly is going to vote upon this particular Bill because his speech was the speech of a man who, if he believed in what he was saying, most certainly and distinctly should vote against the passage of this measure. It was a very strong speech against the passage of this measure; because he told us that the only result of the imposing of the 20 per cent. tariff on our agricultural produce going into England would be a day's dislocation of our trade; that after that everything would be perfectly all right from our point of view; and that everything would be as good in the immediate future and infinitely better in the more remote future if this tariff is kept on.

I would like then to know if this measure, this 20 per cent. duty which is imposed upon our produce going into England is going to do our trade absolutely no harm, is going to do our agricultural industry absolutely no harm, and is ultimately going to be of the greatest benefit to our agricultural industry, because it will prevent us exporting anything—and Deputy O'Reilly's great ideal is that we should export nothing—what is the meaning of this measure that is before the House now? If the British legislation is doing you no harm, if you have nothing to retaliate against, why go into what you call retaliatory measures? [1033] Here you have got a retaliatory measure, so that if Deputy O'Reilly's argument has any soundness in it, Deputy O'Reilly should most distinetly vote against a measure which according to his own argument addressed to the House here is a wanton piece of provocation to another country.

Now I turn to the speech of the Minister for Finance in introducing this measure. I must say that coming from a Front Bench Minister that speech was certainly on a lower level than I considered likely to come from any Front Bench member. I do not think that quite a poorer speech could be delivered in introducing a revolutionary measure of this kind than the very vague, would-be rhetorical speech which the Minister for Finance delivered. It was, of course, in all ways a most contradictory speech. He fell, to some extent, into the same morass into which Deputy O'Reilly fell later on. He commenced by telling us that he did not wish to have any bad feelings towards Great Britain and that he did not wish to engender in this country any bad feelings towards Great Britain, but wished that the best relations should exist between the two countries. And then he proceeded to deliver a speech which could not be improved upon if his intentions had been to stir up still further the unfortunate bad blood which has been engendered recently between these two neighbouring States.

He, of course, tells you that the British must pay the tariff; that our people will not have to pay the tariff, and that it will do us and our people no harm. Why then this measure? Why does he come along in the next breath and tell us that this measure is an absolute necessity? Personnaly, I do not think that the Minister for Finance can possibly be so wanting in knowledge of his country, and so wanting in general knowledge as to be ignorant of the fact that the British tariff has struck as heavy a blow as has ever been struck or can ever be struck against the agricultural interests of this country. It is all nonsense for him to say that the real object of Great Britain is to sabotage our agricultural industry. It is not to Great [1034] Britain's advantage that our agricultural industry should be destroyed. Great Britain's own agricultural industry is not sufficiently strong to supply her own agricultural needs, and she has no desire and it would not be to her advantage that she should wantonly set out, as the Minister for Finance states, for no cause whatever, to sabotage our agricultural industry. And on this whole question I would venture to say that the situation is fraught with the possibilities of terrible consequences to this State. If the situation remains as it is, a very serious blow has already been struck against our most important industry. If the situation gets worse, and there seems to be every sign at the present moment that it will get worse, then we may look for the injury done to our agricultural industry which cannot be redeemed or made good in this generation or possibly for several generations.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  Oh, dear!

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  If we lose the British market now the winning back of that market, so as to have the same position in that market which we had six months ago, will be a task which will be beyond the powers of this generation and probably beyond the powers of the next generation to accomplish either. Nothing can be harder than the gaining back of goodwill where you have lost goodwill. Nothing can be harder than the regaining of a market which you have once lost. For that reason I would again make the same appeal to the Executive Council that I made off a public plat-form something less than a fortnight ago. I then said that there seemed to me to be a fair and honourable course which the Executive Council could pursue, and that moreover that fair, straightforward, honourable course was also the only legal course which they could pursue. I suggested that the Executive Council should take the course of saying to the British Government: “We will hand you over this half-year's annuities. We will hand them over to you reserving the status quo, but we will hand over without prejudice, and if the results of the arbitration are such that you are [1035] entitled to retain them, you will retain them; but if the results of the arbitration are such that we are entitled to get them back we will get them back.”

I cannot for the life of me see why the Executive Council should not take that course, and I believe that if the Executive Council takes that course at the present minute it may yet put an end to the economic warfare which must have such ruinous results in this country. I want to see peace between this country and Great Britain. I do not believe that anybody except a fool would wish to see anything else except harmonious relations between these two neighbouring States. But I do want to see the peace which is achieved not through the medium of war, not through the medium of economic strife, but I want to see peace achieved through negotiations. We can have the harmonious and friendly relations which I believe we had one time, and, if the Executive Council wishes, the relations can be made harmonious again. In the interests of this country I would urge upon the Executive Council with all the energy with which I can urge any proposition, not to engage in economic warfare against Great Britain unless there is no other conceivable course open to them. Economic warfare should be the very last thing. It is as great a catastrophe as can happen to this country. Yet, you are choosing to go in for economic war. It may be, of course, that it is the deliberate wish of the Executive Council and that they do want economic warfare; that that is their hope; that this is what the Executive Council has been aiming at and that that is what it is now succeeding in achieving in pursuance of a fixed plan.

I know that before the last General Election the President announced to his followers that he wished to establish, if Great Britain insisted upon maintaining the Treaty, and would, if he could, establish a policy of non-co-operation between this country and Great Britain. When this measure becomes [1036] law, if it does become law, we have got to that for all practical purposes, with a British tariff wall—not, I am glad to say, against all, but against our main industries. We have got to the desire of the President. We have non-co-operation between these two countries. Of course, we have broken the Treaty. We have abolished the Treaty as far as this House could break and rescind the Treaty. Now we are coming up seemingly to this policy of non-co-operation. The Executive Council that has chosen this policy of non-co-operation; that wants economic war between this country and Great Britain; whose spokesman, the Minister for Finance, delivered the provocative speech that he delivered to-day, the Party that is talking through its back benchers—because the front benchers did not join in the debate—and through its spokesmen are always talking about a fight to a finish, and are delighted that they have an opportunity to fight Great Britain to a finish economically—until one side or the other is beaten to subjection, are, in my opinion, the very worst Irishmen walking the soil of Ireland to-day. They are Irishmen who are doing real material injury to this country, a country which they should serve and should not deliberately injure.

In this speech, the Minister for Finance talked about retaliation on England, and said that there were powers here to put customs duties upon British goods coming to this country. He stated that every power in the Bill would be used with prudence, with moderation and with foresight. Certainly there has been nothing that I have seen, or that any person has seen, which would go to show that either prudence or moderation, or, above all, foresight are properties of the Executive Council. They have not shown in one single measure that they have brought in the slightest claim to prudence, to moderation or to foresight and, in the administration of this Bill, we cannot suddenly expect that they will develop qualities that they have heretofore shown they do not possess. [1037] So much for that part of the Bill, the minor and the unimportant part, with which the Minister for Finance dealt, as far as he dealt with the Bill at all. I come to the major and the far more important part of the Bill. This is a Bill which for practical purposes has nothing to do with the dispute going on between Great Britain and Ireland at the present time. This is a Bill which is giving absolute, complete and entire control to the Executive Council over every single penny of money that any individual in this State possesses. It is not the power that it has to tax British goods that should be debated. It is the absolute unlimited power that, by a stroke of the pen, they can raise any sum of money they like by taxation. The Executive Council are asking for powers far greater, and far more important, than, I believe, any Executive has ever asked from any representative chamber in the world. There is no limit to what they can raise by a mere stroke of the pen from any individual. We heard nothing about excise duties, and the powers of external taxation upon subjects of this State, which are given to the Government by the Bill. We did not hear a single word about that from the Minister for Finance. Yet that is the important part of this measure.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Read the Public Safety Act.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  If the Deputy wants to know about the Public Safety Act, it was an Act that preserved the liberties of the subjects of this State. It preserved those liberties from the aggression of persons who wished to deprive ordinary citizens of those liberties by force. This Bill, if it becomes-law, enables the Executive Council to deprive every single person, law abiding or not law abiding, of every single farthing's worth of property he possesses.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Tell us the story of the kicking cow.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  During my three hours occupancy of the Chair to-day Deputy Corry has been guilty [1038] of ten interruptions. That disorderly conduct must cease.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Under Section 1 (d) this is the power which is given to the Executive Council:

impose, whether with or without qualifications, limitations, allowances, exemptions, or preferential rates, an excise duty, or

I think there is a misprint here, and that the word “or” should be “on” in order to make sense of line 37:

any particular matter or thing as from any specified day and, for the purpose of such duty, require the taking out of a licence for the doing of any particular thing;

Remember, too, that they have the most complete powers of discrimination, and that these powers are imposing duties which may be imposed upon one person and not on another. They could be, and they are, specially made subject to preferential rates. One person may be charged at one rate and another person at another rate. Under that sub-section as it stands there, the Executive Council may go to one of the banks in this country and may say to the bank: “Hand us over one million pounds.” No answer. “You must take out a licence for banking that is subject to a stamp of £1,000,000—hand it over.” No answer. They may go to any single private individual and say: “You are carrying on your profession, doctor; you must have a licence,” or “Merchant, you must have a licence, and we will charge you for that licence £10,000 or £20,000, or £100,000,” and it has to be paid up. For eight months that power can be exercised by the Executive Council wihtout any hindrance. I will seriously ask the House if ever an Executive Council has asked such unlimited fiscal powers as are asked by the Executive Council in this Bill? Without coming to this House at all, without consulting this House under the terms of this Bill by going around to the various individuals in this country and taxing them, by saying that they must take out a licence if they are going to eat, [1039] even, they can collect £100,000,000 or £150,000,000 or whatever the entire capital value of this State is. Those are the fiscal powers that the Executive Council are coming here gravely to demand, and, therefore, I say that it is not any question of what is happening between this country and Great Britain that is really important, as far as the discussion of this measure is concerned. What is really of prime importance is the extreme dictatorial powers which the Executive Council is asking over the property of every single private individual, and over every single company which is carrying on business, or even living in this State. What is this excise duty? It has nothing to do with Customs or with Great Britain. You are coming in here to get a blank cheque upon the finances of the people of this country and upon the finances of every single person in this country.

It will require very little ingenuity under your terms here in sub-sections (d) and (f) to enable you to take every single farthing from any single individual that you wish to deprive of his money. You come here gravely asking this House to give you those powers, and you come here with a Bill introduced by a Minister for Finance who does not even allude to what is the most important item in the thing at all. He never once, in his opening statement, alluded to what is the real kernel in this Bill—the extraordinary powers to be used, not against Great Britain at all, but against the citizens of this State. That is not alluded to by the Minister for Finance at all. Is the House going to vote for that? If it does, then certainly this Dáil is no credit, I am afraid, to the people; because I do not believe that the Irish people wish to hand themselves, and every single farthing that they possess, over to be dealt with precisely as this Executive Council, or any other Executive Council, wishes to deal with them.

As I said, you are given powers to fix preferential rates. You can go to one bank and say “You can only carry on banking if you pay £1,000,000 [1040] hard cash,” and you can go to another bank and say: “You have got to pay £1,000 hard cash,” and you can go to another and say: “You need not pay at all.” It is these extraordinary powers that the Executive Council gravely comes and asks this House to grant.

I must say, when I read this Bill I was filled with astonishment. I honestly did not think that any Government would come to any House and ask for powers which no Government in the history of the world, I believe, has ever asked for before. After all, this Bill means the end of private property. This Bill says that there is no private property left to any single individual in this State. You cannot deny that. The powers are there clearly for you. You have got this unlimited, indiscriminate power of fixing excise, licence and stamp duty. You can put a stamp duty on any single transaction between two individuals. You can fix a stamp duty on anything you like on any particular deal. Suppose somebody goes to a fair and sells a bullock for £15, if you like. Your agent there can say, “That is a transaction and you will have to pay us 15/- stamp duty on the sale of that bullock.” You are asking for that power under this Bill. It is there, clearly. Surely to goodness such an outrageous demand as this Executive Council is making upon the people, is making here to this House, should not be tolerated, even by the Fianna Fáil Party, or by, as Deputy Byrne has called them, the tame Labour Party.

This is the whole Bill. I have gone through it very shortly. I have not dealt with it in minute detail, but I trust that I have made it clear that this Bill is one that has really substantially nothing to do with the dispute which is going on between Great Britain and Ireland. This Bill is not at all a counterpart of the British Bill. which simply gave limited powers of taxing certain produce coming in there. Great Britain is not mentioned here at all. You are given limitless powers over all goods coming into this country from any country in [1041] the world, and, at the same time, unlimited powers over the property of all the residents in the Irish Free State. I say that this is the most monstrous measure, the most socialistic, confiscatory measure, that could be introduced, and I sincerely hope that neither this Executive Council nor any Executive Council that may ever sit in this country will ever be entrusted with powers so horrible as these.

Mr. Roddy: Information on Martin Roddy  Zoom on Martin Roddy  This Bill appears to me to be the first result of the policy of non-co-operation enunciated by President de Valera in the Mansion House in October last. This, apparently, is the first step in the carrying out of the policy embodied in Document No. 2. If every step on the road to his ideal of external association is to be accompanied with the same results with which this first step of his has been accompanied, I think there is not very much occasion to worry about the future of the country, because it cannot last very long. When the Fianna Fáil Government took over control of this State, they found that friendly and good relations existed between this country and England. They found that the trade relations between this country and England were good. They found that there was a feeling of friendship and good-will for our products in the English market. After four months of government of the Fianna Fáil Party, the hard work of the last ten years has been undone. The sympathy and the good-will which had been established after so much effort, and after so much sacrifice, has been destroyed, and we are thrown back to-day into the position that an economic war is about to begin between the two countries.

The President told us last night that he was glad that this situation had arisen, and that the people would be called upon to make sacrifices, that every class of people and every section in the community would be called on to make sacrifices in order to achieve his ideal of an Ireland self-contained and self-supporting. But I wonder who are the people who will be called upon to make these sacrifices? Will it be President de Valera, or the members of his Cabinet, who will be called upon [1042] to make these sacrifices? Will it be Deputy Norton, the leader of the Labour Party, who will be called upon to make these sacrifices? It certainly will not be any of these people. These sacrifices will have to be made by the plain people of this country; by the working class people, by the small farmer; by the large farmer; by every section and class of the community. In circumstances such as these, it is unreasonable for the President to demand from the people that they should make such sacrifices.

It appears to me that it was the bounden duty of the President, and the members of his Government, to resort to every possible means for the purpose of preventing such a situation as this arising. It was the primary duty of the President and his Government to take every possible step to prevent this situation arising. I submit that if this question had been handled, as such a question would be handled in any other country where the elements of statesmanship existed amongst Ministers, such a situation would never have arisen. If this question had been handled as similar questions are handled in other countries, and the normal channels were resorted to for bringing about a settlement, then, I have no hesitation in saying, the situation in which we find ourselves would never have arisen. If the channels of diplomacy, conference and correspondence were resorted to, I am quite certain this situation would not have arisen and that we would have succeeded in preserving the position brought about by the late Government between this country and England, maintained and secured in the last ten years, and we would have succeeded at the same time in maintaining our position in the British market, and holding the good-will and respect and confidence of the British people who buy our products.

A good deal of play was made last night with the fact that it is possible for us to obtain alternative markets for our products. A good deal of play has been made with the fact in the country and in the Dáil on a few occasions. But no one has yet told us where it is possible to find the alternative market. [1043] Although the Minister for Agriculture was asked a particular question on that subject his reply was very vague and indefinite. The most he could say was that he instructed his agents in other countries to find out if it were possible to obtain markets for certain lines of our products. I am certain that that enquiry will go on and on ad infinitum without any possible results. Every sensible person in this country knows there is no alternative, and that it is not possible to find an alternative market for our products. There is no alternative market in Europe for our products. Surely the members of the Fianna Fáil Government are not seriously considering sending our products to Australia, New Zealand, China or Japan? I do not know any country in the world that would afford an alternative market for our products, unless the President and his Cabinet are thinking of getting into contact with the inhabitants of the planet Mars if it is inhabited, or with some other planets.

Deputy Aiken last night took up an extraordinary attitude on this question. He made a most sinister speech, that showed complete lack of responsibility, and no conception, at all, of the seriousness of the position, and the situation that has arisen. His attitude seemed to be: we mean to go ahead with our policy and damn the consequences. He said this country would suffer nothing financially by the policy which the Government proposed to carry out. He said that although we will probably lose, approximately about £5,000,000 as a result of the duties imposed by the British Government, on the other hand we are keeping £5,000,000 at home. That is the Minister's answer to the questions that have been put upon this matter. Surely it does not require much thought, or very much consideration to appreciate that while £5,000,000 is a substantial amount, it is relatively small in comparison with the loss of sympathy and good-will, and eventually, possibly, the loss of the major portion of the English market, and if the present policy is persisted in the complete loss of the British market [1044] for our products. In other words it is not £5,000,000 but something like £27,000,000 we may lose by the duties imposed recently by the British Government.

If this economic war continues between the two countries for any length of time, almost inevitably it will become more bitter. Bad feeling will be generated on account of the operation of the tariffs. Antagonisms will arise between the two countries and, in the end, it may be quite impossible to bring about any sort of reconciliation or understanding. If feelings instead of beiny allayed should be embittered, it may follow, as Deputy Byrne pointed out, that the scope of the present British duties may be extended and that this country will be subjected to a more extended and more extensive form of suffering. I am primarily concerned with the people who will suffer most as a result of this economic war. It is inevitable that it is the farmers of this country who will suffer most during the period that this economic war lasts. Everybody in this House is quite alive to the situation in which the farmer finds himself to-day. Every farmer in this House knows that he is passing through a very depressed period, that that depression is still here, and that we have not yet experienced the worst effects of that depression. Every farmer knows that prices have been falling for some months past, that prices are still falling and that all indications are that prices will continue to fall still lower. In the case of cattle, bacon, pigs— the whole range of agricultural-products—prices are falling, and yet it is in a situation such as this that the Government has succeeded in bringing about an economic war that can only mean, if continued for any length of time, the complete wiping out of the farming community.

How are the farmers in such circumstances as these to meet their liabilities? How will it be possible for them to pay their rates, their annuities, their shopkeepers' debts—to pay the debts usually and normally incurred by farmers? It will be quite impossible, and the result will be there will be a general dislocation of business [1045] throughout the whole country and a dislocation of local administration throughout the whole State.

Every person in the community will be affected by these new duties—the shopkeeper, the trader, the manufacturer, all will suffer. Perhaps the farmers and the working classes will suffer most. The shopkeeper will certainly suffer his share and the manufacturer will also have to bear his share. There will be all-round suffering, all-round poverty, and the country will inevitably go to disaster. This is the first contribution of the Fianna Fáil Government to the progress of this State. This position could have been avoided had this question been handled in a different way. Had it been handled in the way such a question would have been handled in any other country, this situation would never have arisen. I submit that it was the primary duty of the Government to safeguard the interests of the main body of producers—the farmers and agriculturists. The duties imposed by the British Government are directed entirely against the products of agriculture. These duties will hit the farmers in this country and these duties, in conjunction with the present depressed prices of agricultural produce, will inevitably drive the farmers out of business in a short space of time. The Government which has such a grave responsibility on its shoulders will have to answer—and answer seriously—to the people in a short time. If the Government felt that they were not in a position to settle this question satisfactorily, if they felt that they were not in a position to settle it without bringing about the state of warfare they have succeeded in bringing about, then it was their duty to clear out of office and leave it to some alternative Government to settle the question in a sane and sensible way.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  We have heard to-night practically a rehash of the statements we heard from the Opposition last night. One would think, while listening to the speeches of the Opposition, that the whole of this trouble was brought about by Fianna Fáil and that Fianna Fáil had declared war on England. [1046] Deputy Mulcahy, when speaking here this evening, gave as the reason why the last Executive refused to find the finance for the Old Age Pensions Bill, that one-eighth of our revenue was going in old age pensions. Deputy Mulcahy and his Executive thought it right and proper that these poor, old, infirm people should starve, while, at the same time, this money was being handed over each year to the British Government. We believe in looking after our own people first. We have not sought this trouble. We offered the case for arbitration. The people gave us a definite mandate to hold the land annuities, as was stated very clearly by Deputies opposite. Deputy Gorey and other Deputies stated that we had got a mandate to hold the annuities. We are holding them. We are so sure of our rights to hold them that we have offered to let the case go to arbitration. I could offer to let one hundred cases go to arbitration in the morning on condition that I would be allowed to pick the court. That is what Mr. Thomas wants. He says that he is willing to arbitrate but that he will pick the persons who are to be arbitrators.

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney excelled himself to-night. He told us that we ought to hand over a half-year's annuities without prejudice. They handed over ten years' annuities— £52,000,000—to Britain and I do not think, if we won the case in the morning, we would have much chance of getting any of that money back. We will look for it at any rate, but I am sure there would be little use in sending the last Executive Council over to get it. Their policy is a policy of surrender; “hands up.” I asked a Deputy of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, who, I believe, is a large exporter of cattle, a question last night and he gave me a straight admission. I admire his honesty. He admitted that the farmer could not produce cattle or any agricultural produce at the price which he has been getting for them. Deputy Hogan said that this went in cycles—five bad years and five good years. In other words, Britain always kept us one “jump” ahead of the bailiffs. Deputy Hogan considered [1047] that a good position for the Irish farmer to be in. Unfortunately, during the last ten years the bailiff caught up a long way on us. When we came into office, he was right on our heels. In fact, he was in possession. The first duty the Minister for Lands and Fisheries had to discharge was to call off the bailiffs from the Irish farmers for the arrears of annuities they could not pay. Deputy Gorey can laugh at that situation. I am sorry to see the Deputy laughing at that situation.

Mr. Gorey: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I was amazed at the lie contained in that statement.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Do not interrupt. In facing the situation, I consider that the Executive Council are acting rightly. The farmer will not be the first man to complain. We had Deputy J.J. Byrne telling us of the woes of the broken-down farmer and of all that was going to happen to him. Deputy Byrne will no longer be able to import 90 per cent. of what he sells. That day is finished. The position of the farmers, as I said last night, has been that they have, during the past four years, been selling at less than the cost of production. They could not continue to do that.

Mr. Gorey: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  This will help them.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I believe that it is high time the farmer found some other way of earning a livelihood besides producting cattle for the British market at less than the cost of production. I wonder would Deputy Byrne sell an article in his shop for less than he paid for it—even one of the “sham-rock” shovels? That has been the position of the Irish farmer, as admitted by Deputies opposite. Why all this shouting about the English market—a market in which we must sell at less than the cost of production? What use would a market be to any businessman in this country if he could produce an article at a shilling and he was told “Oh, yes, I can find you sale for 10,000 of these articles at 9d.”? That has been our position and that is a position that in my opinion it is high time to end. It is going to end. We are not at all afraid of the result of this war, if you can call it a war, that [1048] has been forced upon us. We are not afraid of the results of it.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  You will not be in the front trench.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I promise you—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Deputies should address the Chair.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  If these people are not prevented from interrupting me I cannot help it. Deputy Mulcahy says he is anxious about the front bench. I can promise Deputy Mulcahy that during his time in this Free State, be it long or short, he will not sit in this front bench any more. I can guarantee that to Deputy Mulcahy.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The Deputy mis-understood me. I said that in this war, which he speaks of, Deputies opposite will not be in the front trench. Deputies who have to earn their living in this country will be.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I have always earned my living in this country and I have earned it with my hands—working. I do not know whether the Deputy can say as much. I am a farmer and I stand to lose as much by this as any Deputy in the House. My farm has suffered from the results of two wars. I had to suffer the economic effect of the Black-and-Tan War. I had to suffer the confiscations and the economic effects of the Civil War under Deputies opposite. I survived them all and we shall survive this too, please God.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I regret to have to remind Deputies, for the second time this session, that they are responsible for the conduct of visitors introduced by them to the Public Gallery. Deputies should intimate to their visitors that admission is not a matter of right but of privilege and that expressions of approval or dis-approval by visitors are a gross abuse of such privilege.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  We heard a lot last night from Deputy Hogan about the terrible effects of this tariff on the butter industry. I have before me in to-day's “Independent,” a statement from Mr. Semple, Secretary of the Irish Creamery Managers' Association. He [1049] states that they not alone got rid of all their surplus stock of butter which they had in cold storage, but they got rid of it at a price increased by 5/- per cwt. There is not 1lb. of Irish butter in cold storage to-day. That was the little tariff that John Bull had to pay as a result of the 20 per cent. duty. Before it took effect at all he had to pay some little bit of it. He states “There is no fear at all of their not being able to carry on.” The cold stores are empty now and they can start putting in butter to-morrow to prepare for our requirements in the winter. We are, therefore, not going to lose as much as Deputy Hogan thinks. He further says that they have increased the price of cream by 20 per cent., and that they can do that and still command a good market. That is a statement that appeared not in the “Irish Press.” but in the “Irish Independent” to-day.

A Deputy:  It must have slipped in.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Does that include our 4d.?

Mr. H. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  It includes 20 per cent. anyway.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Mr. Semple says that Irish cream is in a strong position in the British market where its popularity has been growing. He further states “Our 20 per cent. increase will mean an extra 1/3 per gallon on the other side”—I hope the British will like that result of Thomas's tariff—“and whole-salers there, it is very likely, will be able to pass that increase on to the consumer.” That is the result of the tariff. They will be told what a shopkeeper down my country, a Cumann na nGaedheal shopkeeper, used to tell a poor woman who went in for an ounce of tea. He increased the price of two ounces by 1½d. and used to say: “That is the result of the 4d. tariff.” In the same way the English shopkeeper will increase his prices by probably 2/6 and say that is the result of Mr. Thomas's tariff.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  What about this Bill?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  So it is not going to be an unmixed blessing for England at all. Why, for the last two months, we were told from the Front Bench opposite that every single tariff proposed [1050] here was going to be passed on to the consumer. Now when a tariff is imposed against us we are told it is going to be passed on to the producer. They have been ten years arguing that. Deputy Hogan at any rate was not a believer in tariffs. I wonder was it Thomas converted him? I, for one, have no fear of the result of this tariff and I am very glad that the Executive Council immediately started to protect the Irish people against this unwarranted attack by Britain. We had Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney again to-night excelling himself talking about the power that Ministers were talking under this Bill but he forgot that it is not six months since he took on himself such power that, if he did not like the colour of my tie, he could order me to leave the Free State within 24 hours. He took on himself the power that left George Gilmore in a bath towel in Arbour Hill. Then they talk about the power which the Minister for Finance is taking under the Bill. I am glad that the Minister for Finance and the Executive Council are taking immediate steps to protect the Irish people from this unwarranted attack. It is an unwarranted attack. The matter has been offered for fair arbitration. We had Deputy Brasier telling us last night, in such a way that I thought it was a leading article from the “Cork Examiner” I was reading about the three just men that could be found.

A Deputy:  The three blind mice.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The three blind mice or the three just men who could be found to settle the question within the Commonwealth. I wonder has he picked them already or is there any knowledge amongst the Opposition as to who the three just men are, who are going to settle this question? I wonder is Feetham coming over again or is a new apostle picked this time for the job? I am very glad that we have now an Executive Council which will not always adopt the policy that was laid down here to-night by Deputy Fitzgerald Kenney—“Pay, pay before they hit you.” England has put up the gun. England need not think that this big stick is going to frighten the Executive [1051] Council. It is not going to frighten the Executive Council. As far as the Irish people are concerned I can say that they are solidly behind the Government in this fight whatever their so-called representatives opposite may say. I do not say this in any spirit of aggression. There were statements made last night that we were attacking the Opposition and that we were trying to make this a fight between Cumann na nGaedheal and Fianna Fáil. I, for one, am not. I made an appeal to Deputies opposite because I believe that in this fight there are only two parties—those who are for Ireland and those who are against her. It is the duty of Deputies over there instead of working for England in this House, to be here with us showing a solid front to the enemy who are making this desperate attack on the Irish people.

It is their bounden duty to do it, and, in my honest opinion, they should do it. The Irish people, in the election, with a definite policy before them, were asked to give a mandate to Fianna Fáil to hold the land annuities. They gave that mandate, as has been admitted by every Deputy opposite, and it is the duty of those who shouted so much about majority rule, in the past, if they believe so much in it, to show a united front to the enemy in this fight. I make that appeal to them and I believe that it will not go unheard.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  It is rather humiliating, I think, that on a matter of such great importance as this, in this great national crisis, we should be treated to the type of debate that we have had in the House, this afternoon. This matter has been dealt with with a certain amount of levity. It has been dealt with as if it meant very little, if anything, to this country, either to-day or in the future, and I want to submit that we should forget, in this great national crisis, our Party feelings and Party obligations, and that we ought to forego what perhaps is a natural temptation to score Party debating points. This is a matter that affects, not the Fianna Fáil Party, not the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, the Labour Party or any other Party. It [1052] affects the country, as a whole, and every member of this House, and, while I agree that the farmers are primarily interested and concerned in this matter, remembered that it affects every man, woman and child in this State, whether they are farmers or not, and there is no use in throwing from one side of the House to the other the question as to whether Britain or ourselves are responsible for starting this economic war. The fact is that it has been started. They may suffer in Britain. They will suffer in Britain, but we in this country are going to suffer, and it is our duty, as representatives of the people of this State, to consider how our people are going to suffer and not how the British are going to suffer.

I would like Deputies, in addressing themselves to this matter, to speak to the Bill before the House and not to make speeches as if they were speaking in the British House of Commons to the Bill passed there this week. Deputy Corry has made the best case against this measure, introduced by his own Minister, that I have heard in the House. He told us that the tariffs will be passed on. Of course, they will and the main effect of this Bill, if passed and given effect to, will be to increase the cost of living on the people of this country, but I do not want, at the moment, to concern myself with that aspect of it. I was waiting to hear some responsible member of the Labour Party giving the views of the Labour Party on this matter. I regret that the matter seems to be to them of such little importance that there is no member of the Party in the House at the moment. As one who has been connected with the Labour movement in this country since he was a schoolboy; as one who was sent into this House, even at the last election, by the votes of the workers of Tipperary; as one who has some regard and respect for what Labour in this country stands for, I say that, if Labour votes for this Bill, they are throwing overboard everything that Labour in this country has stood for since the Labour movement was founded in the town of Clonmel by the late Jim Connolly.

[1053]Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  Hear, hear.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Deputy Flinn was not in Ireland at that time.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  He was in Ireland at that time.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  He was in Liverpool or in the Isle of Man, I do not know which, and in any case, whether Deputy Flinn was in Ireland or England, he certainly was not in the Labour movement.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  He was working—what a lot of the so-called Labour representatives do not do.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Labour in this country has always stood for the rights and liberties of every citizen and every subject of the country.

Mr. Jordan: Information on Stephen Jordan  Zoom on Stephen Jordan  And still stands for it, evidently, and the Deputy is not satisfied with their attitude.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Labour, as I have said in this House and outside it— and I might say that I can claim to speak with much more authority than any of those who interrupt me—has stood for the liberty of every citizen of this country, and I maintain that if this Bill is passed in its present form, and if this unlimited power is put into the hands of the present or any other Government—I do not say it will be used—but I say that it can be used to take away any liberty we have left to us to-day. I do not know why the leader of the Labour Party is to-day absent from this House, but I learn from the papers—

Mr. Curran: Information on Patrick Joseph Curran  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Curran  Oh, do not mind the papers.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  ——that he is on a mission to England. If he is on a mission to try to bring about a settlement, or to avert this economic warfare, then I say that he is doing a good day's work, not only for the Labour Party, but for Ireland and so far as I am concerned I wish him good luck but I do say that on this Bill, which, if it is given effect to, must increase, and increase to a very large extent the cost of living of the people of this country, and must in my opinion lead to the disemployment [1054] of many men, who to-day are in employment, the duty of the Labour leader is here looking after the interests of his own people.

Mr. Curran: Information on Patrick Joseph Curran  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Curran  Let the Deputy mind himself now.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  I have a perfect right to express my opinion in this House.

Mr. Curran: Information on Patrick Joseph Curran  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Curran  The other man is not here to defend himself.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  And I would ask Deputy Curran to refrain from interrupting. I can say to Deputy Curran that I have spoken from the Labour Benches in this House for the last ten years at least. I do not interrupt Deputy Curran and I am saying nothing against Deputy Norton that I would not say if he were here. I am not now saying anything against him, but I am suggesting, as one of the representatives of the workers of Tipperary, one county out of the Twenty-Six, that those who are charged with looking after the interests of the workers and unemployed have a duty to look after those interests. I am trying to do it to the best of my ability. I may be wrong. I am sure that in the minds of a great many members of the House I am wrong, but I am prepared to be judged by the people who sent me here.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  Tell us something about the Bill.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  I think I am keeping a little nearer to the Bill than many of the previous speakers, and I am quite certain that if I stray very much from the Bill the Ceann Comhairle will direct my attention to that fact. I want to make an appeal on this matter. The President last night appealed to every Irishman, not only in this country, but throughout the world, to stand behind him and his Government in this fight, to take the Irish rather than the English side. I do not believe there is a man in this House of any Party who wants to take the English side, but I put it to the President that he ought to give us a chance of taking the Irish side and of standing behind him. If the President does give us a chance of doing that, I, for one, am prepared to stand behind him and to [1055] take the Irish side as against the English side. But we cannot have it both ways. We cannot take up the attitude that it is justifiable for us to do everything which we think is right and to squeal if the people on the opposite side hit back. We cannot deny them the right to hit back. We may not agree with them. It is a question as to which can hit the hardest. I suggest, however, that the way in which this matter is being approached, particularly by the introduction of this Bill, is not going to help the Free State. I suggest that this Bill will be of more help to the English side of the matter than to the Irish side. Not only do I suggest, but I state emphatically and believe that if this Bill is passed it is going to do more damage to this country than any Bill Great Britain could itself pass.

Professor O'Sullivan: Information on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  Zoom on Prof. John Marcus O'Sullivan  The alleged excuse, at all events, for introducing this Bill is a dispute between the two Governments, the Irish Government and the English Government, on the question of land annuities. They did not reach an agreement on the question as to how arbitration could take place. We are now departing from the practice in vogue for the last nine or ten years. We refuse to pay over as we had done up to the present, the annuities to the National Debt Commissioners so that they could pay them to the bondholders. The English Government then proceeded to pass a Bill which gave them wide powers to put a tax or tariff or customs duty on every article that came directly or indirectly from this State to Great Britain. They followed up the passing of that Act into law by imposing a tax of 20 per cent. There has been a lot of discussion in the Press and in this House as to the effect of that particular 20 per cent. tax. We are told in the Press, especially in one organ of semi-public opinion, and we have been told even in this House that that step taken by the British Government of imposing a 20 per cent. tax on agricultural produce coming from Ireland into the English market is a blessing—a dawn of a new era—[1056] that it will do no damage to this country. On the contrary, it will bring great benefit to this country. The only people it will damage will be the English people.

Yet, though the people are told that —I presume the purpose again is to delude the people—we are asked to react to that particular move of England by giving the Government absolute power to take money—from England, is it? Nothing of the kind. To take the money from the people of this country, to tax the people of this country. That is the way we hit England back. We hit England back for the 20 per cent. tax by taxing our own people. That seems to the ordinary citizen of the country a most amazing method of benefiting the people of this country. It may cause embarrassment in England. I will admit that. Any dislocation of trade, even though our trade may be only 7 per cent. of the English trade, will cause embarrassment to the country affected. I have no doubt that this measure, if put into operation, will cause embarrassment to England, but it will cause ten times as much embarrassment to the people of this country, and that is what seems to have eluded the observation of the Government responsible for putting the measure before the House.

What are we asked to do? Let Deputies and the citizens of the country read the Bill. What we are asked to do is to give absolute power into the hands of the Executive Council over every penny in this country, whether it belongs to Irishmen, Irish companies, or English companies, or anybody else, in this country. There is no safeguard whatsoever. At the last moment, it is true two sub-sections were introduced which have the pretence of preserving some kind of Parliamentary control over this matter. In reality, of course, the sections do nothing of the kind. It is not in sub-sections (2) and (3). You have not the usual provision that the order shall remain in force two or three months. It will be for eight months, which will incidentally bring us up to the end of the financial year. Apart from that, I should like to have [1057] it explained by responsible members of the Government, if it is not possible for the Executive Council to issue an order for seven months. It does not cease to operate by the flow of the eight months, because it is not an order for eight months. Then, on the following day, they can reintroduce this for another seven months, with the result that there is absolutely no control, even in form. Even if it were put on eight months, the control would be only a mere matter of form, but, as it stands, even in form there is no control by this House over the actions of the Executive. Remember the power is absolute. It is not merely power, as Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney pointed out, to put a customs duty on every article coming from England, directly or indirectly, into this country, but a power to take complete control of all the wealth of the citizens of this country.

It is characteristic of the Government that in introducing a Bill of this kind no explanation was given of the meaning of the different sections. Printed and given into the hands of Deputies, the most important Bill probably we have ever discussed, cutting at the very root of our whole economic system, it was thrown at Deputies without explanation, with, at the very best, a lot of rhetoric. There was no reference even to that paragraph (d) of sub-section (1). There is no limit whatsoever in this Bill to the Government's control over every penny belonging to any individual in this country. If they cannot get it by customs duties, by excise duties— though these are so wide that I do not know what the limits are—there are the stamp duties. It may be said that they cannot increase the income tax. I am not so sure that they cannot do something by the way of stamp duties even there. We saw what stamp duties and other things could effect, when we were dealing with the Finance Bill. They could raise pretty sums of money for the Government.

How is this Bill going to effect its purpose? It will probably do some dislocation, great or small—we need not dispute the extent, for that is a matter only time can tell—to the English [1058] trade; but it will completely dislocate the whole trade of this country. It means bankruptcy if it is enforced, and I presume the intention is to enforce it with vigour; otherwise I do not understand what all the pother is about. It means bankruptcy for many private individuals and firms in this country.

I am not a bit surprised that the Labour Party are supporting this Bill. Deputy Curran need not have assured us that they were going to do so. Not-withstanding the rumours of dissatisfaction that appear in the papers, nobody in this Party ever suspected that the Labour Deputies would kick against the Government. We knew they would come to heel. I would have much more confidence in some sensible members of the Fianna Fáil Party, and I presume there are such, voting against this Bill, before the Labour Party would do so. The Labour Party may have other inducements to vote for this Bill. It means complete State control. It is the climax to the whole economic policy that has been pursued in the last couple of months. The tendency has been more and more towards State control. So far as legislation can give State control, you have it in this Bill. There is no limitation so far as this Bill is concerned.

England has not the will to damage the agriculture of this country. It is not to her interest to do so. Many of the Fianna Fáil appeals to the people in the past have depended upon that very state of affairs. They have told the people, again and again, that the English Government will never impose this tax; that they dare not do it. It is against their interests, we are told, and therefore they will not do it. I say they have neither the will nor the interest to do it. This whole situation which we are now facing, which as was said last night, any sensible man could have foreseen, is the result of the way in which negotiations, or lack of negotiations, were conducted between the two countries. We had a great deal of time spent and a great deal of sensation caused by the finance policy of the Government that was introduced in the Finance (No. 2) Bill, and in the Budget Bill. But all that, much as it upset the country, great an upset as [1059] it was to our whole economic system, pales into insignificance in comparison with the powers asked for by the Executive Council in this Bill. If the people felt themselves hit, if industries were ruined by certain proposals in the tariffs already imposed and in the Finance Bill, all that is nothing in comparison with the effects of this particular measure. Nobody can tell the disaster that a Bill of this kind will cause to the people of the country. And all what for? For causing a certain amount of uneasiness, a certain amount of dislocation, to English trade. We are to commit economic suicide, social suicide; we are to destroy our whole social economic system for the psychological satisfaction of having hit back, because that is what it amounts to.

We are discussing this Bill as we have discussed every piece of policy put forward by the Fianna Fáil Party, from one point of view only, and that is the effect it is going to have on the people of this country. We opposed their Oath Bill and their tariff policy, because we felt that these things were disastrous to the people. Despite the threat the President uttered a couple of nights ago—I suppose he will deny it was a threat and will declare it was a mere statement, but we have learned from the past that prophecies and statements from the President are liable to get a very practical application from his followers in the country-it is the duty of the Opposition to prevent, as far as they can, this country being sabotaged merely for the psychological pleasure of hitting back at what has been referred to on the opposite benches as the enemy.

We want peace, we are told, and friendly feeling. With whom? The people who, in the next breath, are referred to as the enemy? We have listened to professions of good-will, but when it comes to practice where is the good-will or the good feeling? Where is there any sense of justice? We are ready to sacrifice all our interests, not to promote any ideal of national liberty, not for anything of that kind, but simply for mere hatred of the other side.

[1060] We oppose this measure on purely Irish and national grounds because we think it means disaster for this country —disaster and not, as some people have said, the dawn of a new era. I see no trace of the dawn either in the 20 per cent. put on by the English Government on our produce, or in this retaliatory measure that we are told is no retaliation. What else is it? Are we going to collect the land annuities? The English suggest that they will collect them by means of the 20 per cent. Are we going to do anything of the kind? Who is going to pay? The person who will pay is the person who buys English produce in this country. If the English people only sent into this country one quarter of the amount of goods that we import it might be a different situation; but when they send in most of them, of course, it is we who will have to pay.

Let us know precisely how this Bill is going to be worked. Let us be told what is the significance, not merely of the customs clause, though we should like to know the extent to which it is to be enforced, but also of clause (d). Let us be told what is the reason for clause (d). That is the clause that most of the public have paid no attention to, and yet I believe it is the most sinister clause of the lot. There is an aim in that clause that has not been put before the people, and it is time the Government told us what they intend by an excise clause, and what they intend to do.

This is a Bill, I admit, to hit the English, but it will punish Ireland ten times as hard for the pleasure of doing that. The Dáil has to make up its mind. The country, we know from the way in which the Party opposite have treated the interests of the country up to the present, will be dragooned into obedience to this Bill. The people will not have a chance in the matter. I say the responsibility is on the Dáil for all the disasters, all the unemployment and all the bankruptcies that this Bill is bound to cause if it is put into operation. There is no trace of economics in this Bill. It is simply politics gone mad, as in the case of most of the so-called economic measures of the Government. Everybody [1061] knows that in most of the so-called economic measures there is a great deal more politics than economics. This is pure politics and nothing else.

From the economic point of view, we stand to lose not to gain by this Bill. Deputy Roddy, I think, stressed the importance of good-will in respect of markets. That applies to every country in the world. We are not going to be an exception, though, from the way people speak here, one would think that we were in a position apart, that the same laws that operate and hit other countries are inoperative so far as we are concerned. Good-will is necessary in a market. That good-will, to a large extent, we had in the British market. It was important for us in our principal market. Before this Bill was introduced, was any effort made by the Party opposite to preserve that good-will? Did they care whether it was lost or not? Did they care whether, apart from any action by the British Government, the British people might revolt against some of the acts of which they were guilty and boycott our goods? They did not care. They went ahead. They behaved precisely as if what we did here would have no economic effect whatsoever. I know no country that would behave in a similar fashion towards a country which provided its principal market.

This is a thing that other countries, as I know, are particularly keen about. They go to a great deal of trouble and a great deal of expense in working up good-will. Here we have a Government in power with the most simple ideas about anything connected with commercial life—with the idea that you can take a thing asunder, break it to bits, do what you like with it and at your own good pleasure put it back again and it will be as sound as ever. Unfortunately, commercial relations are not to be dealt with in that summary and simple fashion. A market is a difficult thing to get into. It is a difficult thing to hold and it is a difficult thing to regain when you have lost it. It was criminal, at least, not to weigh the consequences of a policy that endangered our principal market, after [1062] the home market. We have examples of what I have been urging in certain commodities that we export to England. Everybody knows that one of the difficulties so far as the butter trade with Britain is concerned is the keeping up of a constant supply all the year round, keeping hold of the customers you have and keeping in touch with the good-will you have established. Apart from this Bill, all that is thrown to the winds but it will come to a climax in this Bill if it is enforced.

So far as this Bill is concerned, is it not quite clear that those who speak of taking the Irish side are incapable of seeing the Irish side on account of their hostility to the other country and their hatred of the other country? Even now that we are free—so free that, as a peculiar result of the “slavery” which was established here ten years ago, we can bring in this measure and that we are at full liberty to take other measures of a far-reaching character—their hatred of England is so great that it shuts off the view of this country completely. So long as England can be hit, Ireland can go down. To-day I met a man—he did not know to what Party I belonged—who did not mind so long as there was a fight to a finish. He was going to lose. I pointed out to him that he would lose. He said: “I am glad it will be a fight to a finish now, no matter what the finish is.” That is an example of the slave mind that we have noticed continually in the opposite party, the hatred and the obsession of England being so great that Ireland is completely shut off from their view. I can tell Deputy Maguire that we had certain fears when this Government took office. We feared what any reasonable man could have foreseen. We feared that, as the President said last night, “a situation would arise that anybody could have foreseen.”“The position,” he said, “was bound to occur or something like it was bound to occur if we were really determined to stand by our rights.” Again, he said: “I have said at the beginning that there was no person in this country who did not realise [1063] that if we were serious in this matter we would have to face a situation such as we are now facing.” He did not tell the people of the country that during the election. He told them that he was going to keep the land annuities and that he was going to abolish the Oath. He told them that there was not a single person in England who would raise the slightest objection to the abolition of the Oath. He told them that in several speeches before the election. He indicated to the people that there would be no trouble. He did not tell them that they were in for an economic war. Now they are in for it. We had fears as to what the result of the policy of the Government would be. I am willing to confess to Deputy Maguire that all these fears have been amply justified. We knew perfectly well that the Executive Council, led by the President, would lay destructive hands on the magnificent structure set up here as the result of the work of the last ten years, but the most pessimistic of us was amazed at the quickness with which that work of destruction proceeded.

It is poor comfort for us to know that the serious fears we had of the President's actions are justified. It is no comfort to us that, in an attempt to justify himself, the President should come here and say, “Seanad or no Seanad, the Oath is gone.” The law does not matter with the man. He is above the law. “Seanad or no Seanad, the Oath is gone.” In order to give him the satisfaction of putting his policy into operation, this country is to be destroyed. We had very little doubt as to the effects of his policy on the relations between this country and our neighbour, though he never put before the country the likelihood of this economic war. The members of the Fianna Fáil Party preached “Peace, peace,” and all the time they were heading for trouble. They had that word, “Peace,” in their mouths, but all the time their actions were dictated by hostility and by hostility alone. Their actions could not have been different had they proclaimed a policy of open hostility at the time [1064] they were preaching peace. They said they wanted peace, and they took every step calculated to make peace impossible. Speaking on the Oath Bill, I ventured to point out that there was a possibility that if that policy had been taken up in another way it would have succeeded, but the Executive Council had gone about the matter in such a way as if they wanted to fail. Regard the whole economic policy of the Government and you must come to the same conclusion. The policy, even in its declared objects—the abolition of the Oath and the retention of the land annuities— raised a delicate situation between the two Governments.

I believe that if the new diplomacy had not been tried some accommodation might have been possible on these two points. I am only forced again as I was in the case of the Oath to the conclusion that if there is failure here it is because the Government wanted failure. Remember that is not far-fetched. Deputy O'Reilly speaks of the golden future. This is the first step to the golden future. Deputy Corry representing a farming community from Cork is delighted that this step is taken, and again he speaks of the great future there is to be built on it. The President himself, on more than one occasion, has spoken of the necessity of making this a self-contained island. When I see him adopting the policy which carries out that declared purpose, I suggest that it is not ineptitude that has led to the present situation.

It is deliberate policy. He does not want a peaceful settlement of these matters. There is only one possible way of reading the declarations and actions of the President and some of the principal members of his Government. It is very cold comfort to be told as we were by Deputy Corry last night that the farmers are going—I think his words were something like this—“The farmers are going wallop anyway and the quicker they go, the better.” There is great comfort in that for the farmers of the country? That is the sort of thing that will put great courage into them to face the new situation? That is the way to [1065] overcome the spirit of defeatism that the speeches of the Government members are instilling into the farmers. “They are going wallop anyway, and the sooner the better.” That is Deputy Corry's contribution to the situation. I referred to Deputy Corry on more than one occasion because I am convinced that the Deputy has the unhappy knack of telling in his own blunt fashion what is in the minds of the Executive Council.

Here we have Government control in excelsis. When we pointed out the dangers of the various other measures of the Government and said they were leading in the direction of complete State control, in the direction of the socialisation of the wealth of this country, of course the President scoffed at it. He always does scoff when we point out these things. He scoffed at the idea of any trouble with England as a wicked thought. He does not want socialism, not he. He only wants to break the present system. He is a man with a mission, a man who wants to remodel it. Plainly in his policy every step has been in the direction of State control in this country.

This is the biggest effort and the longest step that has yet been taken in that direction and I have no doubt that he will scoff when the charge is made again about socialism. He will merely call it remodelling our system on Christian principles. Well, we prefer to take our Christianity and our ideals of Christian principles from a man with a different record from the President of the Executive Council. We see that his policy is facing in a certain direction and we are not to be cajoled into an acceptance of those dangers and damnable doctrines by putting “Christian” before them. I am not aware that a dose of Bolshevism may be more readily swallowed if you put “Christian” before it, especially if that is put before it by an unauthorised person like the President of the Executive Council. That does not change its nature.

The President is a man with a mission, a most dangerous kind of man. We saw the hysteria with which he treated this House on more than one [1066] occasion. We saw him whip his followers into hysteria on more than one occasion. This issue should not be treated in an hysterical fashion. But he is a man with a mission, a man who is going to smash the present system and remodel it in accordance with the principles he has, but which no man is clear about. He is to smash the present system; that is his mission. According to the ordinary man's judgment he seems to be facing straight for State control. I suggest that the Irish nation is not the corpus vile on which can be tried his experiments of socialisation and reconstruction. The Irish nation is not the body on which he can experiment so as to show the world that he was right always. We appeal to the people on the opposite benches if they have the welfare of this country at heart to look at this issue from the Irish point of view, and from the Irish point of view there is nothing to be said for this Bill but total and complete condemnation.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  We have listened to the speech that one has been listening to for the past ten years. Since we came into this House and before we came into this House we have been reading these speeches or listening to them preached by certain people who have got the superiority complex and who talk about their opponents as people with the slave mind. Now these vapourings and mouthings did not get Cumann na nGaedheal very far. That superiority complex may have helped them and kept them in office for ten years. It may have hypnotized some of their back-benchers into the belief that what the superior people on the Front Benches said was a thing in which there was something. This is an issue that we have been trying to approach in a reasonable attitude; that we have been trying to approach in the way that we feel is in the best interest of the country, consistent with standing up for our rights. We have not been trying to approach it by talking of our opponents as people with the slave mind. That is an attitude so typical of the Party opposite who with that sort of superiority complex have hypnotized themselves [1067] into a condition which is largely responsible for having them in Opposition to-day. You had Deputy Mulcahy, having I suppose at the back of his mind the superiority complex, talking about the inferiority complex and saying that we should get away from it. Whether it is that he wishes that we should be in Opposition by adopting his methods and tactics I do not know. But he suggests that we are suffering from the inferiority complex because we will not take part in conferences and because we will not run away every time that England raises her hand. That is undoubtedly the inferiority complex that he is hoping for and wishing for to see revealed by the people on these benches. I am afraid he will have to wait until the present Government is got rid of before he will find that sort of inferiority complex on these benches. In relation to the present matter and to the present issue with which we are concerned there was to some extent a conference or conferences.

So far as anything might eventuate from the correspondence, the fault does not rest upon the Government that that correspondence was suddenly cut short by the attitude which England believed would bring the Irish Government to heel, and that was by going back to the tactics she adopted in the years before 1922. She was not going to delay to see whether the next Note that would come from the Irish Government would make any new suggestion. No. She was going to do what Deputy Blythe and others on the opposite benches had been saying in 1931. In other words, she was going to put into practice the very things that were stated by them as being vulnerable parts, as far as the Irish people were concerned. She may have been examining, and not acting on what they pointed out as the vulnerable parts of our armour, but she believed that the Opposition were easy people to get on with, that she would have no trouble if Deputy Cosgrave was in power, and that she would be able to settle things very easily and amicably with his Party.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  Might I ask the [1068] Minister if he is reporting what took place at the conferences?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I am not reporting anything that took place at the conferences. I am stating what is already known to the House. What I was leading up to was that before the reply to the last Note was sent, the British Government, in true British fashion, had adopted tactics that they thought would pay, and which had been adopted before. That is what I referred to. We have been asked by Deputy Mulcahy where is this going to lead. Is it not strange, that it never occurred to us to ask ourselves, or to ask the British Government: “Where is the policy of Mr. Thomas going to lead to?” Is it because the British Government have adopted a certain attitude, because they threaten us, because they are now going to put into operation certain measures against the Irish people, and are going to get by force what they are afraid to leave to arbitration, we must put up our hands, turn our backs and run away? Has any self-respecting people, when a coercion of that kind was tried, ever turned their backs and run away? I think nobody on the opposite benches would suggest that they had. When we bring in a Bill to meet and to counteract such measures we are told by Deputies opposite that these are retaliatory measures. I submit that they are purely protective measures. We have been asked why this Bill is so drastic and so wide. The Executive Council, in getting the Bill through, has taken precautions, that they will have sufficiently wide powers, that no matter what eventuality may arise, or what difficulty they may be faced with, they could deal with it in the best way and defeat it.

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney made a suggestion which I am sure would not appeal to Deputy Hogan, that in a dispute such as this what you should do is to part with what you have without prejudice, and then go and suggest arbitration to the other people. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has gone back to the Bar, but I am afraid he will get very few cases, if he always admits to opposing Counsel that he is [1069] in possession of the money, that he will hand it over, and that the other side can select the arbitrators. If that method was adopted by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney I am afraid his business at the Bar would not be very lucrative. Can anybody make a more ludicrous, a more silly, or a more non-sensical suggestion? Could anybody who had given the matter thought make such a suggestion in the House? Had anybody ever heard such a suggestion in a dispute between two individuals? After all, one assumes that dealings between nations are the same as dealings between individuals. Had anyone ever heard of such a ludicrous or such a silly suggestion as that made by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney?

Mr. McMenamin: Information on Daniel McMenamin  Zoom on Daniel McMenamin  The Minister knows quite well that it is the practice, when a sum of money is in dispute, to lodge it in the name of both parties, or place it in neutral hands.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I thought when there was a dispute like that it was lodged in court. I may be wrong.

Mr. McMenamin: Information on Daniel McMenamin  Zoom on Daniel McMenamin  The Minister knows that there is no court in this case.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  England says there will not be any court except her court. I suggest that it is in keeping with the attitude adopted by the Opposition. No matter how unreasonable the demands that are put up by the British Government at present, we are told by the Opposition that we must concede them. If the British said in their despatches that they would name the three or four members of the court, and if we refused to agree, and came before this House to meet the measures we are trying to meet, I guarantee that you would have the Opposition here taking up the attitude they are taking up now. There is no doubt about it. Everything England asserts must be right from their point of view. I am not suggesting in the way that some people assert that the Opposition is playing England's game, but I am drawing the inference that, in view of the unreasonable attitude that the British Government has taken up in this matter, the Opposition is asking us to concede the whole way [1070] and nothing but the whole way. To my mind that puts the Opposition in a very peculiar and invidious position.

Deputy Roddy referred to sacrifices. The Deputy stated that it was not Deputies would have to bear the brunt of the sacrifices. No one is quarrelling with that statement, and no one wants to quarrel with it. The people of this country had it very definitely brought to their minds before the election, and many times before that, by the Party that is now in Opposition, what sacrifices would be demanded of them if we persisted in retaining the land annuities. In spite of the efforts made by the present Opposition, to indicate what were vulnerable parts in our armour, and to point to things at which British statesmen were always ready to jump and to take advantage of for use when such an emergency would arise, and realising their position, the Irish people had the courage that they always had, to stand up for their rights, and now, please God, they will persist in maintaining their rights.

Deputy Morrissey talked about the liberty of the subject. He said that he could not possibly stand for a measure such as this, which took away the liberty of the subject. Not many months ago Deputy Morrissey stood for a measure that took away not the material liberty of the subject but for a measure that would take away the life of the subject, as well. He stood for that without question. His position is that he heard some whimperings going around about Communism, which I never heard of before or since.

He voted there, not to take away the material liberty of the subject, but to enable them, as was mentioned at the time when they were looking for reason for the measure and Deputy Blythe said that perhaps one execution might do it, to take away the life of the subject. Deputy Morrissey was prepared to go blindfolded on that occasion into the Lobby with a lot of the people who are now questioning the liberty of the subject without any reason or the whimpering that is being indulged in——

Dr. Hennessy: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Is the Minister aware that there were two murders in Deputy [1071] Morrissey's constituency? Had he any duties to those people?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I want no interruptions in the best stage Irishman style.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  They were casualties, I suppose?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Well, there were not 77 of them anyway.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  There were two of them. Will he admit that?

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  There were a good deal of murders here along the roadside and nobody was brought to justice.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The Minister knows a lot about it.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I do know a lot about it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Minister is entitled to a hearing and must get it.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Deputy O'Sullivan, in referring to this Bill, stated that the object of part, or of one clause of it —I think it was clause (d)—was to tax our own. The object of it is to enable us, if such a position did arise, and if it is to be an economic war and that we have to meet it and defend ourselves against it—to divert trade, if need be, to the advantage of the people, from places from which it might be coming at the present time. A lot of play has been made of the anxiety that is supposed to exist on these benches for an economic war. Does any single Deputy on the opposite benches believe that anyone on these benches or any member of this Government desires an economic war? That has been used at election time and played on for all it was worth—that all we are aiming at and all we have been aiming at is to create a war in the country with somebody. That was good play at election time. But the people did not believe you and I ask you now to give up that cry of trying to confuse and deceive the people by saying that we are anxious for a war, because they will not believe you.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  They will believe it now. They have good reason to do so.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  The best way to meet [1072] a threat of war is to be prepared for it. We only ask in this measure to give us such powers—they may be wide, we do not deny that—to give us such powers as will enable us adequately and effectively to meet that war, if it is to be a war, that is now threatened upon us and forced upon us against our will.

A Deputy:  On a point of order. What are the powers exactly? The commercial community cannot understand it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That is not a point of order.

Sir James Craig: Information on Prof. James Craig  Zoom on Prof. James Craig  I should like the Minister to explain the meaning of paragraphs (e) and (f) of subsection (1). What do they intend by “excise duties” in that section?

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  The Government, in this Bill, are coming to this House to ask that the functions, which have hitherto been discharged by the Dáil, will be transferred to the Executive Council. It means practically giving absolute control over the banks and the land of the country and over property of every description, as well as over industry and trade. Worse than all, it probably will mean that they will have power to carry on, between two countries that have been friendly, a war in trade relations between those countries, between this country, with her exports in cattle and all agricultural products, and Great Britain, with that portion of her manufactures that have been exported to this country. I feel that this should not be under-taken without exploring every avenue for conciliation. A 20 per cent. tax has been put on and it means that that is a complete loss, a perpetual loss, if it is maintained on all our exports. Deputy O'Reilly mentioned that we were exporting at a loss, but he entirely overlooked that those exports are the envy of other countries with whom we are competing. It means that these countries will very gladly take up the market that we are losing by a precipitate and ill-advised action. The Irish Free State has enjoyed hitherto certain privileges within the Commonwealth of Nations [1073] which now she is about to relinquish. Will she relinquish those privileges in perpetuity? It is a loss that the agricultural community cannot afford. They will not be able to carry on. They will not be able to pay their land annuities or to pay for the various social services of this country. Our purchasing power will also be done away with. It means that the people of this country will not have the power to purchase the products of the various manufactures which are to be produced as a result of the various economic Bills that have been passed here. In the Butter Bill, which has been passed, there will be a 20 per cent. tax against that product. What possible chance have we of being able to carry on? I believe that we are striking a blow, against the interests of this country, from which we will be unable to recover. The export trade, which every other country has carried, will be enlarged by the action which will be taken by the Government at the present time. Quite recently, Holland lost through no fault of her own the export trade in pork which was acquired by this country. We will now have a definite tax against that. I feel that we will be doing an act by the passage of this Bill which will place power in the hands of the Government —power which no Government ought to have. If we are going to carry on our relations with other countries, I think one thing is certain and that is, that we should make haste slowly. There is an opportunity of carrying on and deciding this measure by arbitration. Hitherto, the land annuities have been paid and I certainly feel that it will not be difficult to settle this matter between the two countries. We see by the Press that Deputy Norton has gone across to England, and I am hopeful that there will be some results from the interviews which he has had, but I think that that was seriously imperilled by the statement of Deputy Curran to the effect that the Labour Party had completely surrendered to the influence of the Government, and that they were supporting them in every measure which they were about to bring in. I do not think that they are serving [1074] the interests of the class, which they have made their special care, by such a surrender of their powers in this House. We have an export trade of £30,000,000. We are told that we are exporting at a loss, but how much greater is that loss if the tariff, which is being imposed against all exports in this country, is to be continuous? I feel that there is in the hands of the Executive Council the power to end this state of affairs. We have, in the nations of the British Commonwealth, men who can be trusted to do justice to this country. I would ask the Government to accept that tribunal as a means of deciding the question at issue between the two countries.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Feetham!

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  Whoever may be the person who was alluded to, I feel it would not be difficult to form that tribunal after full negotiations. The questions at issue are so serious that the very life of the country is at stake. It is useless to talk about other export markets that can be found. Where are these markets to be found? Why was not action taken in years gone by to find them? We have no other market than the market we have had for the last hundred years.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  You are well off.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  I am sorry we are not well off. We are selling our goods in competition with the goods of the world, and it is the best answer to the Deputy that we have no other market in which we are selling in competition with the markets of the world.

What is our position now? Is it not twenty times worse? We have to fight against the 20 per cent. tariff, in addition to losing the preferential advantages that we had gained. Do the Government wish to go out of the Commonwealth of Nations? What advantage do they expect to gain by going out of that partnership which is envied by other countries like Denmark? How gladly Denmark would come in. You are relinquishing a position of affairs that they would be glad to take up, and that they are now getting the opportunity of being asked to take up. We are sacrificing one particular position. [1075] We are losing the trade that was lost to Holland, that is the pork trade.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Will the Deputy answer a question?

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  I will answer it afterwards. We built up a valuable industry, in the dead meat trade, which had been a tremendous success. That industry will be hit through no fault of those engaged in it. We are losing our greatest asset, in our cattle trade, which the Department of Agriculture have done considerable work to benefit. We are losing every advantage in the agricultural products that we have built up in this country. We are losing those advantages through ill-advised measures carried through this House. I feel, even now at the eleventh hour, we are foregoing any possible chance of bringing about reconciliation between the two countries which it is to our mutual advantage to enjoy.

There is this difference between the trade of the two countries. Great Britain is the only market we have. But the trade of this country with England is only a very small proportion of her trade. She can afford, without losing very seriously, to forego that, but it will be an overwhelming difficulty, on the part of this country, to acquire any other market, even if that market is to be our own country. What will be the position of this country when we will have to try to dispose of the overwhelming exportable surplus that we have hitherto exported to England, and when we have to try and dispose of that in our home market? Is it not clear that when the income of this country, derived from her exportable surplus, is lost we will be in a position where prices will slump below the cost of production? I think whatever measures the Government may take in the reviving of trade will not in any way compensate for the immediate loss we shall incur at the present time. We budget for £27,000,000 at the present time. Where is that sum to be got if our agricultural production is not to find a market? Where is the output of the factories, that are supposed to be increasing in production, to go? [1076] Where is it to be disposed of when the farmers and the agricultural population have not the means to buy?

I would ask, finally, that the Government should reconsider the action they have taken. They are asking the House to give them an enormous array of tariffs and to give them most drastic powers which I certainly do not contemplate acquiescing in without a very great degree of alarm. It is very easy to upset the trade mind. It is very easy to upset markets by precipitative action on the part of the Government. Every time inflammatory speeches are made, by members of the Government Party, a feeling of alarm goes through the country. There is a run on the deposits in the banks and on securities. The feeling of insecurity which will prevail will have a very detrimental effect on our trade relations. There was, for a time, a period of prosperity and a greater feeling of security owing to the conservative policy of the late Government. We may be suffering in common with all the nations of the world from a period of depression, but I do not think the drastic measures, proposed to be taken in this Bill, will do otherwise than accentuate a position which we must all deplore. I ask the Government to reconsider this measure.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The Deputy said he would answer a question I was about to put to him.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy is not compelled to answer any questions.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Hugo Flinn): Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  I do not know whether any member of the House has had the privilege of being present at a play called “Peter Pan.” If so they will remember that in a particular case there was a character called “Sharkey.”“Oh, miserable Sharkey”—and it seems to me that the whole of the Opposition, including the cloudiest of Brasiers that ever I came across, have made up a whole collection of miserable Sharkeys—“Let us gather together and weep upon each other's bosom. Let us all be sad. Oh! Miserable Sharkey.”“De [1077] profundis clamavi ad te Thomaso.” I have heard every word of that not merely in this session but in every session at which I was present here, in relation to practically every Bill. When this Government was returned that King of Jeremiahs, Deputy Hogan, told us that we would be bankrupt in nine months; that the bottom had fallen out of the world—wreck and disaster, red ruin and the breaking up of law.

When we introduced the Budget, red ruin and the breaking up of law; the worst law he told us he ever heard of in his life. When we introduced the first three tariffs, the shocked feeling of Deputy Hogan was such that he attempted to exhaust whatever language he had not yet exhausted in horror at the disasters awaiting.

When Deputy Lemass came down with something like forty-two tariffs—“Oh, Jeremiah! Oh, miserable Sharkey! Let us gather together and weep on each other's bosom.” We had the same thing all through the last session. Suddenly this great Catholic land had gone anarchist, had gone Communist. Deputy Hogan again: “The worst moment in the whole history of the world.” Again he told us, as he told us in relation to this Bill, as he told us in relation to every Bill we have introduced, as he told us in relation to every Act we have passed, which was not in consonance with his own purposes, and following his own ideas—“Oh, this is another proof”—and he said it with bleeding heart—“this is another proof that we are incapable of self- government.” We have had the same thing again to-night. “From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night, Oh, Lord deliver us.” That is the child's prayer against the terrors of the dark. When you have it off by heart, when you have remembered it, you will have known what we have been listening to from the Front Bench opposite—the child's prayer against the terrors of the dark.

When it comes to be boiled down— what criminal act have we entered upon? What folly have we commenced? What is the gravamen of the [1078] charge against us? That we have actually suggested that it shall be ascertained in an impartial court that we do owe money, before we pay that money. That is the whole of it. The suggestion is that we must acknowledge that any debt, any sum of money which is stated by a man more powerful in a military or economic sense than we to be due to him, must be paid at once without question. We do not do that in our private lives. We do not do it regarding ourselves as business men, because we do not do it in our private lives. I speak as a commercial man. I speak as one who has a very real respect for contracts, who knows the importance of contracts, who knows the importance of these verbal contracts which cannot be enforced by law, who knows that the whole commercial life of any decently and properly constituted country is carried on on the basis of men fulfilling engagements which are not enforceable in law. We all know that. How many of our transactions in their initiation do take place under conditions in which they are enforceable in law—what we say to a man in the street, what we say to a man over the telephone, the half word, even, between people who may be able to hold themselves out as our agents? Those things we stand for, and we stand for them because it is cound commercial practice to be more honest than the law requires you to be. That is ordinary commercial morality. Commercial morality is of a very high character, founded on unselfishness, founded on honesty. Be honest, be right, though the sky may fall, is the first principle of ethics. “Honesty is the best policy,” is the first principle of business. It is as one who approaches the matter from that point of view, who does not want any insecurity in contracts, who does not want any insecurity even in verbal engagements, that I approach the question of the land annuities.

Mr. Dockrell: Information on Henry Morgan Dockrell  Zoom on Henry Morgan Dockrell  On a point of order; is this a speech on the land annuities or on this Bill?

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  Oh, my God. Rip Van Winkle was asleep for forty years and awoke to find a very different land from [1079] that in which he went to sleep. If the Deputy had only remained awake for any five minutes during the discussion he would have known that it ranged from quadratic equations to the capital of Peru. Speaking as one who has that outlook on contracts, something quite different from the mere legal outlook on contracts, one who knows that it does not pay a commercial man and that it is not right for a decent man to break his contract, I say deliberately if there was in my possession any sum of money to which I had as good a moral right as this country has to the annuities, I would hold it, and if I had in my possession any sum of money which was claimed by another man to which I had as good legal right, I would hold it and tell him to sue for it in a court which was impartial as between the two of us, that I would not pay that money under threat, and I would not pay that money at the instance, or into any court, in which I knew, thought, or had reason or previous experience to know, was a packed court. Do not sue the devil in hell. Do not sue the British Government in any court over which a Feetham may preside. Now they have the opportunity. It is they who have defamed the justice of the courts of the Commonwealth.

If there was ever a case in which the ordinary meaning of a clause was clear to the ordinary man, it was the case of the Partition Clauses in what was called the Treaty of 1921. If there was anything which was clearly expounded to the people as being the meaning of a clause, it was that expounded in that case by Collins and his associates, and they honestly believed it meant that. It meant that to every one of them. Yet we have had experience of the court set up, such a court as we are told that we must go into, or they will use these methods against us. We have had experience of that court deliberately turning its back on that meaning, deliberately telling us that we do not know how to draft a law that they could not get through. I have repeated before in this House, and I repeat again the statement of Birkenhead, when Collins was claiming that that meaning, that obvious layman's [1080] meaning, would be given to a contract which laymen had entered into. “When,” he asked, “did Michael Collins learn to interpret the clauses of an Act of Parliament?” It was a Feetham that was sent to do that. They had the whole Empire, which we are supposed to insult, because we say that they shall not have a chance to reproduce a Feetham Court on this issue. Where have we done wrong in saying that? We say: “You have the whole world to choose from. We are prepared to submit this case to the arbitrament of an impartial and open court.” But they say “No. Unless you submit it to a court of the kind that we shall specify, we will declare upon you economic war by any and every weapon we have.” Where have we been unreasonable? You would not think that that was the condition. It is not we who started this game. It is not we who want to go on with the game. We go on if we must. They go on because they chose, and because they think that they are going to get away with it, and they would not get away with it for an hour, and they know it, unless they were depending on these people opposite. That is the meaning of it. They do not dare let down their pals.

They spoke of the magnificent improvement which they had made in the position. I believe that they have made an improvement in the position and I have borne testimony to it in this House and, seven years ago, in public, I bore testimony, not merely to the fact that it was happening, but that the results which we now find were inevitable to flow from it. Having regard to the constitutional position which, wisely or unwisely, they chose to give this country; having regard to the use which certain Irish statesmen present at Imperial Conferences made of the position; and having regard to the centrifugal tendencies in the whole Empire which they developed founded on the position, the position which has now arisen was inevitable and I have borne testimony to that. They did bring that position about. Why are they running away from the position they have produced? They speak of the great advance. [1081] Why did they not tell us of the great retreat? The man who marched 700 men up the hill damn quickly marched them down again. There was a moment in the history of Cumann na nGaedheal when they might have turned to the Irish people and said: “Yes, over the last ten years, we have done many things that you have not understood. We have fought a battle for you, by methods which it was not possible for us to disclose to you because we would, in so doing, have had to disclose them also to our opponents.” There was a time when they could have made a greater use of Kevin O'Higgins——

Mr. Hogan:  Leave him out.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  You had better leave him out. You have betrayed him and dishonoured him and I am going to show you how. There was a time when they could have made a better use of Kevin O'Higgins than to coin his death cries into party watch words and his blood into votes. There was a time when they could have said: “This man has achieved; this man has produced, by Machiavellian methods, if you like, behind the scenes, but by the inexorable use of his will and the opportunities that came to him, a position for the Irish Free State in the Commonwealth of Nations, such that the choice as to the whole future status of the Irish Free State rests with the Irish people.” That was the moment when there was introduced, into the British House of Commons, the Statute of Westminister. When there was introduced the Statute, dictated in every single word by members of the Commonwealth, and not by the British Commonwealth and incapable of change in any particular, there was laid down the constitutional position for the Irish Free State, which, properly used by a united people, might have meant, not merely the complete liberty of the Free State, but the complete liberty of a united Ireland as well, as far as that is possible within the Commonwealth of Nations. But no. I am taking their boasts that they have made progress and brought us along to this position. They run away from it. Thomas sent up his cry of distress. [1082] Thomas knew where he was. He knew that the inevitability of gradualness had brought a position in which he had to face the choice between recognising the liberty of the Free State as a really sovereign people, and not in a conventional sense, and breaking up the British Empire in the attempt, to refuse it.

He put the issue to the House of Commons, the crux from which these people, who had made that progress, had run away. He said, “You have two peoples with two Constitutions. You have South Africa and you have the Irish Free State. If it is put to this House that we do in relation to South Africa what is suggested in relation to the Free State, is there any man here who, knowing the conditions which that represents in South Africa, will dare to do it?” And the answer was “No.” They did not dare to do it. They did not dare to infringe on the actual legal position which had been built up by the Free State's use of their position in the constitution of the British nation. They did not dare to do it and how did they get out of the difficulty? They got out of the difficulty because when Thomas called in the wilderness, there were eager ears waiting and listening to hear his cry of distress. Thomas said, “I am in the soup. What can I do? Whom will I call on?” His pals, and they answered him, “Whisper and I shall hear.” They said, “Yes, we will contract out of the legal position which has been produced. We will bind ourselves by a bond of honour not to go into your court, even, and plead the law which your Dominions have passed in relation to themselves and to us.” That is what they call making a great progress—making a great progress in order that they may shamefully run away from the achievements of the only man of any intellectual stature they had on their benches.

That problem has so developed now that we are going to contract out as a matter of honour, of a position in which we might claim, in the face of the world, the arbitrament of an outside and impartial court as between equal nations. They do not want that. We would hurt vanity: we would [1083] interfere with the good relations; we would disturb in some unkind way our dear friend, in whose markets we are told we have the good-will that was disciplined with foot-and-mouth disease whenever it suited them. This is only the economic expedient for foot-and-mouth disease. They did it before; they are doing it now. What did we get in the British market? Unlike the Minister opposite, who speaks of it as dirty water, I have a very strong opinion of the British market. What is the value of the British market at the present moment to us? Let me take one example and that is butter— that neutral butter paste which for ten years Deputy Hogan has substituted for the old Irish butter. What exactly is the position in relation to the butter market which it is so disastrous that we should lose? Mind, I have not merely here, but even at cross-roads and chapel meetings, borne a very high testimony to the efficiency with which Deputy Hogan has worked for the purpose of producing the particular condition that he desired in relation to that butter.

I want to take this as a particular case. He succeeded in standardising that butter, in making it uniform, in making out of it exactly the sort and character he believed the British market wanted. He succeeded in so arranging that it would get to them in the condition, in the quantities, and in the way that they desired as far as it was possible to produce it. What was the result? With all his improvements, all his organisation, all the work he did to give them the stuff they wanted, in the way they wanted it, and in the better quality, from their point of view, that they undoubtedly got it, the gap between Irish butter and Danish widened. Not merely did it suffer the ordinary portion of the world slump in prices— that could not be helped, though I think that sometimes Deputy Hogan has suffered from the delusion that he could take this world in his two little hands and mould it in a perfectly different shape; he is getting out of it —not merely had the price of Irish [1084] butter fallen with the general tendency, but it had fallen relatively with its competitors, though he had improved its quality and its means of distribution on the market. That is what you call goodwill. Under these conditions it has deteriorated to the position in which the Bill which was introduced into this House a few weeks ago meant that it was being sold under the cost of production. The goodwill we had in the market for this butter! First it started with the idea that you are selling on the market a thing which is under the cost of production. That is not a market a thing you ought to be wildly hungry to retain. But then there was a Butter Bill introduced and, according to the statements made from the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches, that Bill amounted to this: that the ordinary consumers here were going to pay a tax of anything from £160,000 to £700,000, or something like that, for the purpose of a bonus upon export butter. In other words, we had reached a condition in that market in which we had such a splendid goodwill, and which we should be so hungry to retain against all competitors, that we had to tax the home consumer of butter in one year more than the total value of the whole of the creameries in order to be able to sell that butter under the cost of production in England.

Mr. Bennett: Information on George Cecil Bennett  Zoom on George Cecil Bennett  Not at all.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  That is exactly the meaning of it. Why have we got to give an export bonus into the British market? If we have all that goodwill, if we have all that hunger for our commodities, who is paying the bonus? What is the value of a market in which we have to pay our consumers to buy our stuff under the cost of production? That is the first portion of this lovely market. I do not want to say one word of any kind about that that I possibly could avoid. That is the result of ten years of strenuous, intensive and never-ceasing, conscientious effort on the part of the greatest Minister for Agriculture in the world, according to the “Irish Times.” Take the second portion of [1085] this market. We turn out, I believe, some 768,000, more or less, head of cattle—I am not including the “dumb-driven cattle”—which are sent to England. Why does England buy our cattle? Because she wants them. Here is a very remarkable fact in relation to that. It may suggest to you that she is rather keen on our cattle. Many years ago Canada decided to export cattle to England. When the first shipload of cattle arrived from Canada a veterinary inspector was put aboard. He certified that the cattle were suffering from tuberculosis and the cattle were not allowed to land, and the Canadian cattle trade was destroyed for a very considerable number of years.

There was a case of their deliberately intervening. There was no more tuberculosis in that cargo of cattle than there was foot-and-mouth disease in our country. It was the same game. They wanted, and quite rightly, to have here in Ireland, over the narrow seas, and in easy contact with themselves in case of emergency, as distinct even from ordinary consumption, a pool of cattle of a certain amount. In order to have a pool of cattle of a certain amount, they must pay net in their market, after all the other costs are deducted, at least the bare costs of production of these cattle in the pool in Ireland. If they paid any less, then the pool of cattle in Ireland upon which they depended, and which they desired to maintain, would fall. If they introduced Canadian cattle and they became an effective competitor with Ireland, then the price which was paid in England, as a competitive price for the cattle, would fall below the cost of production in Ireland, and the pool in Ireland, which they wished to maintain, would be reduced, and they could not have that. So they invented tuberculosis for Canadian cattle. They were deliberately protecting Irish cattle in the English market against the Canadians and they were doing it, with their eyes open, for a perfectly sound economic reason. For the same perfectly sound economic reason they will continue to maintain in Ireland that pool of cattle from which they can draw the quantity which their [1086] conditions require and they will pay for those cattle exactly what they have been paying previously over a period of years, the bare cost of production.

Now, some people who possibly are not familiar with this particular type of argument may not quite appreciate what I mean when I say that they will pay the cost of continuing production, nothing more and nothing less. The argument is quite simply put in this way: What I am getting at now in relation to this Bill is that it does not matter 2½d. what they do, whether they put this on or take it off, whether they double or treble it, or make some other regulations. They never have paid and they never will pay, while we are dependent upon them alone for a market, more than the bare cost of production, and they never can and never will over a period pay us less, because if they do the goods will not be there. I will give the House proof of that. Look back a few months and you will find Danish and Irish butter competing in the English market and you will find also the difference of price between the two. Danish butter always commanded the highest price and Irish butter commanded a relatively low price. Various reasons were given for that, such as continuity of supply in the market and various other things. There was a certain amount of truth in all these arguments. It is just the same as if I say I pay a certain price for bread because I like that bread; but the reason I pay that price for bread is because I have got to have bread.

That went on very nicely until one day the Germans put a prohibitive import tax on Danish butter. The alternative market which the Danes had, and which the Danes used during the War, disappeared and for a time, at any rate, the Danes found themselves in our position of having, temporarily, only one market for their butter. They had then only one market for butter that we were told was anything from 14/- to 24/- a cwt. better than ours; only one market for butter supposed to have an advantage because the cattle were fed in a particular way and the butter had a particular flavour; only one market for [1087] butter supposed to have an advantage in price because it was continuously in the market. Immediately it reached the position of having only one market, that butter fell to the price of Irish and it is staying at the price of Irish. The law is operating—one customer for a single perishable product and the price is the cost of production.

What wages can an ordinary labourer get who has only one possible employer? He can get as his wages the bare cost of continuing to be in a condition to produce the labour which is required of him. What price will the producer of perishable products get in a single market? Whatever the quantity or quality, whether he improves it or not, he will get the bare cost of continuing production, because there is no reason why his only customer should pay him more and there is no possibility of his customer getting the stuff if he continues to pay him less. If that is so, what sort of a position are we in? Except as an intimation to those people on the other side that they cannot play ducks and drakes or play the fool with our commerce in any way they like, our Bill does not matter very much. On the other hand, their Bill does not matter very much. They will still buy our products if they want to and if they get them, and they will get them if they can pay more for them than we can get in value in consumption or in value in any other exchange. But they will not get any more. There will not be any difference.

My own feeling is that if you increase the price of goods in a market you restrict the area of the market. [1088] If I sell boots at 10/-, and if I raise the price by putting on a 5/- tariff, somewhere near the 5/- will be paid, but the actual area of the market will be restricted to the 15/- area as distinct from the other. To the extent to which they are giving to the cost of production in Ireland the tariff which they themselves predominantly are going to pay, to that extent they will restrict our market; and any tendency which we have to force into that market the total previous product as distinct from that which will be represented by the restricted market, to that extent the price will tend to shade against us. In exactly the same way on the stuff they are sending to us—and I am assuming that we continue to maintain the inter-trade we had—our consumers will undoubtedly pay the tariff to a large extent, but they will pay into our Treasury in exactly the same way as the British consumer is going to pay into his Treasury, and poor unfortunate Thomas is going to be put in this extraordinary position, that because the Irish Free State will not pay him annuities he is going to collect those annuities from the English consumer.

Mr. Minch: Information on Capt. Sydney B. Minch  Zoom on Capt. Sydney B. Minch  Not at all.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  We are going to be in the position that because we have put the land annuities into a Suspense Account we will be collecting for revenue purposes and we will be distributing in services an amount moderately approximating to that sum. I beg to move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 15th July.


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