Wednesday, 1 March 1933
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim bhreise ná raghaidh thar £350,000 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1933, chun síntiúisí i gcóir fóirithinte ar dhiomhaointeas agus ar ghátar.
That a supplementary sum not exceeding £350,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year  ending 31st March, 1933, for contributions towards the relief of unemployment and distress.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: A Chinn Comhairle, as I explained when this Vote came before the Dáil before, it is not my intention to vote against relief schemes, because I recognise that they are now essential—that relief schemes are going to be, as long as the present Government remains in office, part of the permanent economy of that Government, and that it will be necessary that relief schemes should form part of their permanent economy. We all recognise that there must be relief grants or starvation. That is the policy of the present administration, but there are a couple of things on this relief grant on which I would like some information from the Parliamentary Secretary. I am not going to repeat the speech which I made on the last occasion, but there were a couple of matters in it to which I would like to again draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary. One of the matters is that employment under these relief schemes is being given out with gross unfairness, and that certain persons in my constituency, at any rate, are proceeding to dominate the giving out of work, and declaring who is to have work and who is not to have it, and that there is a policy of proscription in force, by which members of a certain political party are proscribed and are not allowed to get any work on these relief schemes. And what is more than that, this is now spreading to other Government Departments. I will have something to say on another Vote on that matter, but I will just simply mention the fact that it is spreading to other departments in order that the Parliamentary Secretary may recognise that this is a very real grievance. These relief schemes are granted by this House for one purpose, and for one purpose only, i.e. for the relief of people in want—and in the greatest want—and they are to relieve the people who are in greatest want irrespective of what political views those persons may happen to hold. Then demoralisation is bound to set in,  indeed has set in, in this State. I cannot imagine anything more demoralising or worse to the people of this State than that it should become common knowledge that the benefits derived from the Votes of this House are to be enjoyed by supporters of the Party in power, and by no other persons. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary, because I am sure the Executive Council cannot approve of what is being done, to take immediate steps to see that these relief grants are given out fairly to the persons in the greatest need.
There is another matter to which I would like to refer. I suggested to the Parliamentary Secretary that enormous sums are being spent this year for relief works and that a future generation looking back will see nothing for this huge expenditure. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that he should endeavour to think out, with the help of the best expert advice he could get, some schemes which would be, if not economically productive, that is to say, schemes, even though they did not return a fair rate of interest, so to speak, on the capital invested, would at the same time return some rate of interest, as there would be something to see. But, unfortunately, the bulk of this money, looking at it from the permanent point of view, is being completely wasted. The bulk of it is being spent on road work and this money spent on road work is not real or lasting or even an improvement to the roads. I see roads being widened and trenches dug along by the sides of them filled up with the most hopelessly bad road material, and sometimes not filled up at all. I know, and everybody knows, that in a couple of years time the grass will have grown precisely where it was before and the roads will show no permanent improvement. Besides, this work, which is useless, is fully recognised by the men engaged upon it as being valueless work and this is the most demoralising thing of all. Better give a man whatever you are going to give him, whether £1, 25/- or 30/- and do not ask him to do anything, rather than turn him out and say: “You are only going to-day and you need not do anything more than a quarter day's work.” Teaching  a man to idle when he ought to work is more demoralising than paying him and allowing him to be idle. And that is not alone our experience. For many years in England when relief schemes and poor law benefits were being given to relieve distress, it was determined that work, which would be of benefit to a particular individual, should not be done, and therefore, the workman had to be kept on road work. Whenever you do not know what to do with a man the usual course is “We will do something to the roads and give him work on them.” Now, in the year 1834, there was an Inquiry into the working of the Poor Law Relief in England—a very important and very famous Inquiry. I will just quote to the House one passage from that Report, and it is as follows:—“Whatever the previous character of a man may have been, he is seldom able to withstand corruption on the roads. Two years occasional employment there ruins the best labourer.” And that is what is happening now. I will again press upon the Parliamentary Secretary that you have got to spend this money. It is a national necessity that relief work should be carried on, but give up the road work and put them on something which is useful. Put them on drainage, land reclamation, put them to something that is useful, but do not keep them on this useless work where they are idle, and where you are not only getting no value for the money you are expending but you are deliberately demoralising the people. I do think that surely the Department of Local Government and Public Health and the other Departments of State cannot be so entirely devoid of imagination as to be unable to evolve any schemes which are capable of being in any way reproductive and are incapable of spending vast sums of money usefully, but are driven to spend them as they are being now spent uselessly.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. H. Flinn): Before the Deputy sits down, will he give me any scheme which, in his opinion, would fulfil the requirements which he has put down, that is, some scheme of wide distribution capable  of being used generally over the country and which would usefully and economically absorb surplus labour? I ask for a reply to that query before he sits down.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Not alone will I say I could not do anything of the kind, but I will say that anything of the kind would be entirely undesirable. What I do say is, that you have got to look to your various districts and see what can be done usefully in those districts. You should not put everything in a sort of press and say: “This is a scheme that must be universally applied.” It is because the Parliamentary Secretary evidently thinks that there must be only one universal scheme for the whole State, as his question to me certainly implies, and I say that is probably the reason of the breakdown. I do not mean every parish should be examined, but every substantial area should be examined and see what work can be done there. There are areas of land which are now lying useless that can be reclaimed. That would apply to a great number of places in the County Mayo, County Galway, County Donegal and in other counties of that nature, but land reclamation is not at all applicable to Kildare or Meath, or at any rate only to a very small extent in those counties. You may look at each county by itself and see what can be done to improve that county and get the assistance of experts—get the views of the Land Commission. See what drainage can be done here and there and where it may be desirable to spend the most money. You should consider if it is not possible to spend the money profitably and not simply throw up your hands in despair and say there is no profitable way of spending Government money and then put people to useless work on the roads.
Mr. Flinn: I would like the Deputy to contribute usefully to the discussion. He has spoken about drainage and land reclamation, and these I will deal with later. Has he any other suggestions to put forward? He says he cannot give one definite instance. He  refers to a whole series of counties and sets out different conditions. Let him give me a list of the things which have come to his knowledge. On one occasion I offered the Deputy £100 for a definite suggestion. I still have the £100. I do not want the Deputy merely to sit down after making a declamatory speech. I want him to give to the House the knowledge he professes to possess. The Deputy knows quite well —and I challenge him to deny it—that in speaking as he has spoken he is merely playing into the hands of a man who wants to use what he says.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I told Deputy Flinn that he could spend his £100 relieving people who are in need. I am glad to say that at the present moment I am not in need of the Parliamentary Secretary's charity. I think his offer is just the offensive sort of thing one might expect from the Parliamentary Secretary. I am glad of one thing, and that is that the Parliamentary Secretary recognises he is not competent to carry out his work, and he wishes me to come to his assistance. I am glad of it, because up to this I never saw any sign of modesty on the part of the Parliamentary Secretary; I thought it was the other way about. I am glad to see that the Parliamentary Secretary, with all the machinery behind him, thinks he is incapable of evolving schemes without my assistance. The proper thing for the Parliamentary Secretary to do is to discover areas in which there is a considerable amount of land which needs reclamation. He might then spend his money in having lime burned, drains cut, fences made and the land generally reclaimed.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: There are other areas in which the main need is drainage. There are areas in which various other things suitable to those particular areas can be carried out. The main thing is to show that the face of the country is improved by the expenditure of this money. The money should not be wasted, as it is being wasted for the most part, on useless road work.
Mr. Davin: Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney simply discloses his ignorance of the circumstances under which money is provided for the relief of unemployment out of this Vote. The Deputy knows he is not correct in saying that all the money provided for the relief of unemployment is being wasted. Does he suggest that the fairly generous grants given out of this Vote for the provision of suitable sewerage and waterworks schemes is wasted money?
Mr. Davin: I advise the Deputy to put a question to the Minister as to what percentage of the money provided is allocated for that very useful and necessary purpose. My complaint is that the grants for the carrying out of useful works of that kind are not high enough. I hope the Minister will provide an additional sum for necessary works of that kind and therefore avoid placing an excessive charge on the ratepayers.
Mr. Davin: The ex-Minister suggests that money should be provided for the carrying out of local drainage schemes. If he knows anything about the method of allocating money he should know that money has been and is being allocated for that purpose in some parts of the State.
Mr. Davin: Does the Deputy suggest that money was not necessary for such work while he occupied a Ministerial position here? We never heard anything from him, when he was a Minister, about the necessity for such work. I maintain that money was not provided for very necessary work of that type during the time the Deputy occupied a responsible position on the benches here. This Government has declared itself in favour of providing work for all able-bodied citizens and, failing the provision of that work, it has declared itself in favour of maintaining the unemployed citizens at a decent standard. I think that policy carries with it the acceptance of a national responsibility for the maintenance of the able-bodied unemployed who are unable to get work and a determination not to allow the financial responsibility to be borne, as it is being borne to an increasing degree, by the ratepayers. I do not see why the ratepayers of different localities should have to bear the increasing charge for the maintenance of men who are unable, through the agency of the Government or the local authority, to get work. I hope we are not far away from the day when the Government will put its declared policy into operation and so relieve the ratepayers of the responsibility of providing home assistance. I hope to see the day when the Government will make that a national charge.
I, too, have received complaints in regard to the method of selecting men for employment on relief schemes. In some cases I am told that preference is given to members of the A.C.A. In other instances you will get the complaint that the men are selected by local Fianna Fáil Clubs, and it is stated that deserving, able-bodied, married men in receipt of home assistance are being ignored. Members of this Party have conveyed the views of the Party to the Minister for Industry  and Commerce in relation to that particular aspect of the question. I agree that it would be absolutely impossible to put, in clear-cut English, regulations which would satisfy everybody. I agree that the best regulations that could be drafted by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in consultation with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, would not prevent some complaints coming forward. The present regulations require to be altered and amended and I hope that will be done as soon as possible. I hope when the promised regulations are issued that it will be impossible for anybody to make a charge against a county surveyor or the manager of an employment exchange to the effect that preference was given to certain people for political reasons because they had certain political affiliations. I am surprised at Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenny's lack of knowledge as to what is going on even in his own constituency. Does the Deputy know of any grants that have been allocated to the constituency he claims to represent or, if so, does he know for what kind of work these grants have been allocated? If he does he should know very well that none of the money in this Vote goes for trunk or main roads or even for county roads. It is only for such things as bog roads. Considerable sums are allocated to boards of health for waterwork schemes and the Deputy should know——
Mr. Davin: Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has spoken three times already. The carrying out of these waterwork schemes should not be made a charge on the people in a local area. I am very glad that the Minister has considerably increased the grant for waterworks and sewerage schemes, compared with the grants provided by the previous Government. The provision of these schemes will in the time to come considerably reduce the public health charges, which now have to be borne by the ratepayers in the localities where we have any of  these useful public schemes. Time will prove that these will be a saving in themselves, apart altogether from the benefits to the people who occupy houses in the area where such schemes have been carried out.
There is just another matter to which I want to refer. I think the conditions of employment on these relief schemes are quite unfair. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance is responsible for these conditions. The conditions under which the men are working on relief schemes in the rural areas cannot be justified. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance is very eloquent, but I think it is impossible for him with all his eloquence, to defend the payment of 24/- a week to men employed in a quarry getting materials for bog roads knowing that in the same quarries men are employed doing the same class of work for the county councils at a rate of 29/- a week? Is there anyone who can defend the payment of 24/- a week to men working under the relief schemes while there are payments of 29/- a week to other men working in the same quarries both procuring the same class of road material? I hope that state of things will be altered, and I hope that the local rate of wages will be paid to the two classes of men doing the same class of work. I want also to say that the hours during which the men are to work set forth in the circular from the Board of Works are simply ridiculous. It is simply ridiculous that men should be compelled to work until 5.30 o'clock on a December evening while the men who are employed by the local authority are allowed to leave their employment just before dark.
I want to say also that I think it is quite unfair that men should be employed on this class of work without having their cards stamped by the authority responsible for giving the employment. I hope these matters will be looked into at once. I know that representations were made by members of my Party on this matter during the past few months and before the Dissolution of the Dáil. We were then  assured that these matters were under the consideration of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the Minister for Finance and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. I hope before this Vote passes that the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to make some statement with regard to the matters complained of.
Mr. McGovern: I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance if the resolution unanimously passed by the Cavan County Council with regard to relief schemes has had his attention. In that resolution the Council stated that it was their wish that all grants should in future be spent on drainage works or schemes instead of on roads. I would like now to have the assurance of the Parliamentary Secretary that this resolution will have effect given to it. The Cavan County Council will undertake to formulate and prepare schemes and furnish them to the Parliamentary Secretary with a view to having them carried out.
Mr. Seán Brodrick: For years I have been listening to debates on these relief schemes. We had these debates here when Fianna Fáil Deputies were on these benches. Time and again, year in and year out it was said that unemployment was not going to be relieved by relief schemes. But on different occasions since the Fianna Fáil Government came into power we have these schemes for the relief of unemployment put forward in just the same way. I do not care what work is being carried out under these relief schemes. I believe all power is being taken out of the hands of the county surveyors and the assistant county surveyors. In the West of Ireland all the power lies in the hands of the members of the local authority and in the hands principally of the Fianna Fáil members of these local authorities. I am not speaking from hearsay. I am going to give the House a few instances of men who worked under relief schemes generally. I know of two men, one of whom worked for one week, who were dismissed by order of the Secretary of the Galway Board of Health. The dismissal order was  signed by the Secretary of the Board of Health who stated that he was instructed to inform these men that their services were no longer required.
Mr. Brodrick: Yes, under a relief scheme in Galway town. In that scheme there were 50 men employed. Within a few days after another letter came from the Secretary of the Galway Board of Health dismissing the ganger who was in charge of 50 men, on that particular scheme without any reason whatsoever. I know that that ganger was fully qualified to carry out the work. There were very few men qualified to act as foreman over 50 men or able to handle 50 men properly. But this man had been certified by the engineer as most satisfactory. The engineer in charge of the area approved of his work. These are the conditions under which relief schemes are being carried out in Galway. I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to take a note of these matters and to say whether the Chairman of the Board of Health has any power to order the dismissal of men working on relief schemes.
I submit that men worthy of employment and who are most in need of the work on these roads should be given priority. I know of several cases in the County of Galway where men who have been working on the roads for the past three or four years are big farmers. Some of these men got land, as much as 30 or 40 acres within the last eight or ten years. I say that it is not fair that such men should get employment on relief works. Men who have land should be made work on it and the relief work given to the unemployed who have no land. Deputy Davin made a remark in regard to what Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney said about drainage—that is that relief grants should be given for drainage schemes. I take it that is what Deputy Davin referred to. I have not seen any relief grants for drainage under previous votes. Deputy Davin said that money was given under the Land Commission schemes and not under these relief schemes. Deputy Davin also  stated that there was a big amount of work being carried out in the way of waterworks and sewerage works in the different counties. I cannot say the same in regard to Galway. I know that in Tuam in North Galway a demand was made time and again for help in the carrying out of a sewerage scheme in that town. The sewerage in Tuam at present is by an open drain. The people have asked for a grant to carry out proper sewerage works there but none has been given them. The grants are not sufficient and the local rates are called on to bear too much.
Mr. Brodrick: Yes, and twice during the time of the present Government, and we have got no further. I have seen no grants given in the way of sewerage or waterworks schemes in Galway except in Roundstown, where a grant was given for waterworks a few years ago. Beyond that there have been no grants given for sewerage or waterworks schemes in the County Galway. I say that it would be very useful if such grants were made available—I mean sufficient grants to enable the local authorities to carry out these works, because the grants given formerly were only about one-fifth of the estimated cost and were not sufficient, nor is the present grant sufficient. The rates would be too high on the ratepayers if the work were carried out. Another difficulty is the area of charge. I would like if some means could be found by which the area of charge could be settled. I know that in the different counties under the local authorities the area of charge is disputed time after time; the people cannot agree on the area of charge for particular works. I would like the Government to consider some means by which we could get over that difficulty.
Mr. Brodrick: If there was some scheme suggested by the Government to the county councils you might get the local authorities to agree. I know that is a great difficulty in the carrying out of waterworks and sewerage schemes. I suggested here on a few occasions, in order to reduce the cost where grants were given, that a small rate should be struck in each county for the carrying out of waterworks and sewerage schemes and that a grant should be given for such schemes as they would be put up.
Mr. Corry: It was rather amusing to hear Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies getting so vocal on this matter. We had Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney complaining of the special treatment that he said was being given to one political party over another in connection with relief grants. It was rather amusing to hear it coming from him when the late Executive Council were responsible during the last ten years for putting up a proposal here by which single men got preferential treatment over married men with families for all work. Even if a man had a wife and ten children to support, if he had not served in the National Army a single man who had served in the National Army would get employment before him. There was another special Department under Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney's direct control, under which individuals, because of their political views, were hounded out of private employment and black lists supplied to employers, particularly to Messrs. Ford of Cork, warning them not to employ these individuals. It appears rather peculiar to hear Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney complaining now. He also complained that two years of road work would ruin any man. Any little money given for the relief of unemployment during the last ten years by the late Executive Council was devoted almost entirely to road work. I wonder how many men are they responsible for ruining permanently during the last ten years. When Deputy Brodrick complains about these matters we wonder  why he did not get any of these schemes put into operation during the last ten years, when he had his own Executive Council in office.
Mr. Corry: We will do it, but we will do it in our own way, not in your way. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney spoke about land reclamation. I wonder how much relief money the late Government spent on it when they had the advantage of his voice in the Executive Council. I wonder he did not put forward that scheme and see how Deputy Mulcahy would view it. Deputy Brodrick also complained of useless work. I saw men under the last Government breaking half a load of stones per day and considering they were doing too much for the 29/- per week they were getting. Of course they were all ex-members of the National Army and were entitled to the work, no matter who else had to go by the board. I remember the second week I served on the county council I had to go down to Glanmire for the purpose of clearing out a gang of hooligans brought from the lanes of Cork City to work in Glanmire, five miles away, while married men in Glanmire were left idle. These people got that employment under the direct orders of the late Minister for Local Government, Deputy Mulcahy.
Mr. Corry: I am giving a specific case where there were twenty-three men employed on a job in 1926. I proposed a resolution at the county council that all unemployed men should be eligible for the work no matter what army they served in, and that any preference given should be given to married men with families. It was in connection with the enforcement of that resolution that I attended at Glanmire and found that twenty out of the twenty-three  men employed were ex-members of the National Army drafted from the lanes of Cork City five miles away.
General Mulcahy: I was interrupting with reference to 1932 or any year before it. I think the Deputy should be given a chance to correct himself. He has made a statement that the percentage of National Army men employed on the roads in Cork was more than six per cent.
Mr. Corry: I have given a definite case where twenty out of twenty-three men employed were ex-members of the National Army and single men drafted from the lanes of Cork, five miles away, and set to work there.
Mr. Corry: I have seen proposals that were turned down in 1929 by the late Executive Council brought forward during the last twelve months, and by reason of small grants being given under the relief scheme these works gave as much employment as if three times as much money was spent. As a matter of fact the result was that permanent employment was given to a large number of men. I have seen that in my constituency. My sole complaint is that the  Cork County Council were invited to put forward schemes for these relief works. They put forward schemes all right, but we have got no reply from the Parliamentary Secretary yet. We are waiting for that, and we want cash, too. I hope that we will have a reply immediately in regard to that proposal. Undoubtedly, the amounts are not sufficient or nearly sufficient to cover the large number of unemployed that unfortunately there are in the country.
I would urge on the Parliamentary Secretary to look for extra funds and see that the money, when obtained, is devoted immediately to the relief of unemployment in the rural districts. We find in a large number of cases that where you have work for twenty or twenty-five men on a relief scheme you have from eighty to one hundred men looking for the same employment. If there are any people who have reason to complain of the manner in which these relief schemes have been worked they are certainly the Republicans. They have had no employment during the last ten years. During that period they were barred from getting any employment, and because of that they were unable to get married. Therefore, they are largely single men and because of that they are barred from getting employment now. The married men get first preference. Because of the circumstance that I have stated, I think that single men with dependents should get the same preferential treatment as married men. I have seen this proposal of giving a preference to married men work out very badly. I have seen, for instance, an old man close on 65 years of age having to go out to work, leaving his three able-bodied sons whose ages would range from 25 to 35, sitting down at home idle. The old man had to go out to work because the sons were not eligible for it, but the father was on account of being a married man. That is a matter that I took up before. I hope that now something will be done to rectify it and that single men with dependents will get the same treatment as married men on those relief schemes. I hope, before Deputies on  the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches again complain, that they will remember their past sins and not start talking about other people's faults.
Mr. Dillon: I take it that the money to be provided in this estimate must be allocated to the public authorities before the end of the financial year, or else a fresh estimate must be introduced. I mean to say that the money provided in this estimate could not be allocated to a public authority next May. It must be allocated and disposed of before 31st March, or else it will be necessary to bring a fresh estimate before the Dáil. Would the Parliamentary Secretary state what is the purpose of the estimate?
Mr. Dillon: I appreciate the industry and the zeal of the Parliamentary Secretary, but I wanted to draw his attention to circumstances that may have escaped him which create a difficulty for the administration of this sum. Most water and sewerage schemes are normally prepared by county surveyors. Two such schemes about which I wrote to the Parliamentary Secretary, consequent on a speech which he made in the last Dáil, have been held up because the county surveyor has had so much work thrown upon his shoulders administering minor relief schemes that he is unable to find time to prepare adequate schemes for laying on water to towns and for sewerage improvements. If some means could be devised whereby  county surveyors' duties could be lessened in connection with minor relief schemes, such as the making of bog roads and minor road repairs, there would be greater hope of getting some important and useful schemes prepared in such form as would enable the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance to provide funds for them forthwith.
I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if there is anything fundamentally wrong in the possibility of giving assistance to the Electricity Supply Board with some of this money in this way. I take it that light, water and sewerage are all very desirable public amenities for small country towns. There are a number of small towns into which it would not be an economic proposition to bring the Shannon power at the present time. The result is that there is no street lighting in those towns and none of the amenities that a town is entitled to. The Department of Industry and Commerce have laid it down that they cannot sanction an extension of the Shannon lines into any town unless there is an immediate prospect of an economic return for the moneys invested. What I am anxious to know is: would it be possible to consider contributing something towards the capital cost of bringing the electric light into a town and then handing over whatever work was done to the E.S.B. on the ground that it was making available to a rural district a very valuable amenity, and at the same time was making available to the E.S.B. an added market for their current? I quite see that there may be some grave objection to that on the ground that it would establish an undesirable principle. I would be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary would consider it.
With regard to the complaints about the victimisation of persons who do not hold Fianna Fáil views, in getting work on the minor relief schemes, I think the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that cases of that kind are arising up and down the country. I know how very difficult it is to prevent that kind of thing happening in remote rural areas, but I think that the  Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and, more particularly, the Minister for Local Government, could do a great deal to prevent it if they let the county surveyors and the assistant surveyors down the country know that where cases of that kind are brought to their notice they are prepared to take very strong action and hold them responsible. The truth of it is that it is only men on the spot who can correct that kind of business, and unless the assistant surveyors know that they must compel their gangers to stop preferring this man to that man in a county on account of his political convictions, they will be unable to do anything. The Minister for Local Government and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance should make it clear to county surveyors and assistant surveyors that if cases of victimisation are proved the Ministry will hold them responsible. They should be told that this is a local problem and that it is their responsibility to see justice done. I do not believe that the central organisation can do anything more than to make it clear to the county surveyors and the assistant surveyors that they are prepared to insist on that. I think if that course is followed victimisation will be very largely put an end to.
Mr. Everett: Deputy Dillon has referred to county surveyors, but I would remind the Deputy that county surveyors have nothing at all to do with the employment of the men. It is the method of employment through the labour exchange that I object to, and we have put forward proposals to the Parliamentary Secretary and the Ministry on several occasions for the purpose of preventing the friction and disagreement that is going on all over the country.
Mr. Dillon: Might I interrupt the Deputy to say that he is entirely mistaken in his belief that county surveyors have nothing to do with the employment of the men. They have everything to do with it, and if you can get the county surveyors and their assistants to behave it is as much as you can do.
Mr. Everett: As a member of a  county board, I can say that we have a grievance because neither we nor our officials have any say in the number or class of men that we must accept under relief schemes.
Mr. Everett: County council money spent on roads is under the control of the county surveyor and his assistants but on relief schemes the county surveyor has no more to do with the employment of men than Deputy Dillon.
Mr. Dillon: Might I put it this way? Suppose a man who is a supporter of the National Centre Party or Cumann na nGaedheal gets a job, with a flourish of trumpets, at the labour exchange and is sacked the following morning by the local ganger, what consolation is it to him to say: “You got your job even if you did get the sack afterwards.” It is a mystification but, perhaps, the Parliamentary Secretary will enlighten us later on.
Mr. Everett: The whole objection is in the arrangement made with the labour exchange. I have had experience of large numbers of men with families who are in receipt of home help and the men who were the first to get employment were the owners of ten and twenty acres of land, with a number of cows, against men in receipt of 5/- and 6/- a week. We recognise that we are dealing with a national question but I do suggest that when public bodies put up proposals to the various Departments the least that should be done is that these proposals be considered with a view to remedying the state of affairs I have mentioned.
On the last Estimate I pointed out that, in my county at least, we had men receiving 32/- and 35/- a week and that, under the regulations made by the Board of Works, you were going to place men alongside them who, owing to starvation and unemployment in the area, were to be forced to accept 24/- a week, longer hours and not the same facilities with regard to the stamping of their unemployment  cards. We had the Parliamentary Secretary adopting the attitude that these men were agricultural labourers employed by the Land Commission and, as such, not bound to be insured in respect of unemployment benefit, although doing similar work to that done by employees of county councils, on engines, in quarries, raising stones, breaking stones and spreading them in various places. I suggest that some change will have to be made, and I know that it is not the policy of the Government, having adopted the policy of maintenance, to force men in the present wave of unemployment to accept 24/- a week. I have advised men that it is better to take the 24/- than to have to live on 5/- or 6/- a week home help, but I warn the Parliamentary Secretary that there are men organising various clubs who will demand in my county maintenance for the unemployed, and I am not going to be a party to having men working at 24/- a week in company with men who are receiving 32/- and 35/- a week and working a lesser number of hours. It may happen in the West of Ireland, but even there such conditions should not exist. The principle whereby farmers paid for the improving of land running up to their houses under a minor relief scheme was all right, but when you accept men from a labour exchange and put them to work, I say that these men should be paid the same rate of wages as is paid by public bodies and they should receive the same benefit.
Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has suggested that it would be better to give men 24/- or 25/- a week and not ask them to do anything. Under the relief schemes sponsored by the previous Government's predecessor I have not found that there were any useless schemes put up. Any scheme to be sent up would have to be put up by the county surveyor and submitted to the engineers of the Department and it must be approved before they give it sanction but, according to Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, it would be better to give them 24/- or 25/- a week than to have them pretending  to be working. My whole objection is that in my county at least—I do not know what happens in Mayo—men have to work longer hours and have to work harder for a lesser wage than they ever had before, and no scheme has been put forward unless sanctioned by the various Departments. I am not going into the question of political favour because I realise that it may happen under the labour exchange system, but I do suggest that the method of employing men through the labour exchanges must be changed. We want to get the most deserving men no matter what army they were in or what political party they belong to. A man is entitled to work, and let an Irishman get preference over others; but give no favour to any man because he happens to be a supporter of Labour, Fianna Fáil or anything else. I objected to that system when the previous Government maintained that unless you had been in the National Army you were not to get work. The Minister's officials know that I have fought it in my own county and that we got work for every man no matter what his views were.
The Parliamentary Secretary asks for schemes. I have sent in to the Forestry Department schemes in respect of thousands of acres of land in my county which is suitable for afforestation. You can absorb a large number of men and get useful work done under these schemes. I admit that our county is suitable for it and we have had large numbers absorbed on minor relief schemes and under relief grants but much more can be done. On another estimate, I want to say that you will absorb a large number of men and give plenty of work, work that will give a return, by placing men on forestry operations. In Wicklow, owing to the recent storm, a large amount of property is in danger and you can put men at work on coast protection and absorb them in employment, instead of paying them home help, while saving a large amount of property. I admit that you are not going to get 20/- in the £1 for it but you will save valuable property and give plenty of employment. £150,000 is not going to do very  much and I agree with Deputy Corry that it is insufficient to meet the demands of the unemployed. Boards of health are overburdened at present. We have deputations and marches from the unemployed demanding maintenance because they have got letters from the Local Government Department pointing out that it is their duty to go to the board of health and that it is the duty of the board of health to provide maintenance. The boards of health. I know, went out of their way to do all they could to relieve distress, but the Government should not ask boards of health and other public bodies to bear full responsibility for the maintenance of able-bodied unemployed.
Most of the public boards have taken advantage of the relief schemes. In County Wicklow every village and small town has availed of the relief grants for waterworks, sewerage and drainage. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to bear in mind what I have said about the small wages, the long hours, and the unfair conditions that prevail where men are engaged on minor relief schemes. I ask that a change be made, because if it is not made the men will make it themselves. I, for one, will not continue to be an advocate of support for a Party that would ask men to work for what is merely sufficient to keep body and soul together, not to mention their wives and families. On the other hand men employed by public bodies are treated fairly in the matter of wages, hours, and conditions. Instead of the hours being reduced for the unemployed an effort is being made by officials in the Land Commission, who have the old British mentality, to increase them. Men are being asked to work 60 hours a week for 24/-. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to have that state of affairs changed, and to say that he is not going to be a party to increasing hours and paying 24/- for work for which the men should receive 36/- a week.
Mr. Dolan: I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that a useful way to spend portion of the relief money in County Leitrim would be on drainage, which is one of the most necessary  improvements that could be carried out there. Arterial drainage is badly needed in that county. Proposals have already been made to the Department and suggested works have been inspected by the engineers. Some of these proposals were turned down because they were considered uneconomic. But, in the long run, if these works were carried out, they would prove economic, because the farmers are concerned, seeing that each year's harvest is damaged by flooding. One scheme I have in mind affects areas from Lough Allen to Dromahair and has been inquired into by the engineers. Another scheme embraces the area from Glenade to Dromahair, and another in the opposite direction, towards the sea, from Glenade to Tullaghan. Another is in the district of Ross Inver, on towards Kinlough. Proposals in connection with this have been made to the Board of Works. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that if he examines the possibility of spending money usefully in County Leitrim he might come to the assistance of the ratepayers concerned by making grants for the carrying out of these schemes. Work would be provided for perhaps 1,000 able-bodied men for a period of three months. As the schemes are ready all that is required is approval by the Department. They could be carried out this spring. Some of these schemes came before the county council, but unfortunately there were differences of opinion about the grant-in-aid and the danger that for a few years the rates might be considerably affected in the upkeep of the works. These difficulties could be got over, and much needed employment might be given in large areas in County Leitrim, if the schemes were carried out. The work would be reproductive and would be of untold benefit to the farming community. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will look into the possibility of giving grants in aid for these schemes, the carrying out of which would, I am satisfied, be of untold benefit to the county.
Mr. T. Murphy: I want to add a word of complaint to what has been already stated from this quarter of the House  as to the totally inadequate provision made to deal with the present situation. Undoubtedly, the position is an extremely difficult one. I find that local boards of assistance in County Cork have an increasing difficulty in meeting the claims made on their funds. A striking instance of that was provided at the meeting of the West Cork Board of Assistance held at Cork on Monday last. I want to say that I think the wages provision for minor relief schemes is nothing short of a scandal. It is a most inconsistent provision, because in all public works and contracts that have to be sanctioned by the Board of Works, in connection with the erection of public buildings, there is what is called a fair wages clause. There is, on the other hand, a very unfair wages condition in the relief schemes. As soon as the Board of Works takes over the administration of schemes of this kind the hours are lengthened. When schemes of a similar kind were carried out by the Land Commission work started at 8.30 a.m. and stopped at 4.30 p.m. On some works now, where the wages are 24/- weekly, work starts at 8 a.m. and finishes at 6 p.m. I want the Parliamentary Secretary to try to imagine the position of men during the last two months who have been engaged on small drainage schemes, where they were standing, in some cases, up to their waists in water for 4/- a day. I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if he is satisfied with that position. I think he should be ashamed of it.
I want to refer also to the very frequent complaints made to me, and to other members of this Party, about the selection of men and of gangers. I do not want to vouch for all the complaints made, but they are of such frequency, and made in such increasing volume, that I am inclined to believe there is something in the story. For instance, it has been stated that lists of gangers to be employed on relief schemes were sent from the office of the Board of Works to county surveyors. I am aware of the fact that a good many people so recommended were people who worked previously for  the Land Commission, but I understand that quite a number of people who never did any work of the kind before, such as ex-shop assistants and others, were recommended for political reasons. If that is so it is a shame. I characterise it as a shame, and I dissociate myself from action of the kind. It has been suggested that men have been victimised for political reasons. That has been suggested so often that I am inclined to believe there is something in the story. In connection with relief works it has been reported to me that men have gone round and told the unemployed that unless they belonged to certain clubs and certain organisations they would not get work. If that is so it is not only a shame but a public scandal. I want to say that if certain men attempt to play that game they will be met and beaten at it.
This is not the time, certainly it is the last time that any attempt to exercise political preference should be made. We on this side of the House opposed the same preference under a previous administration and we shall certainly oppose it as strongly now because we think it is decidedly unfair.
In connection with work that should be carried out in future, drainage appears to be the most urgent, the most necessary and the most useful. Cork County Council submitted to the Parliamentary Secretary a scheme embracing very wide opportunities for drainage work. Quite a number of schemes have been already examined, during the last two or three years, by the local surveyors and are ready to be executed as soon as sanction is given for the execution of the work. I can see very much greater possibility of doing useful and necessary work by the expenditure of money on drainage than in other directions. Quite a number of schemes of that kind are available. Quite a number have been lodged in the Office of Public Works already. I shall hope and ask for a very early examination of these schemes.
I would also suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that when works of this kind are being executed in future he should make very careful enquiries  as to whether there is any foundation for the charges made very frequently, and made by responsible people, too, and that he will not have again the position that where a road is being made into two or three farmers' houses, one of these farmers is the ganger on the work. That is a very undesirable position. In work of that kind it should be possible to find a competent labourer, not from that locality, who could be put in charge. He would see that the work would be carried out properly, and he would not know the political views, the relations or friendships of any man who worked under him. It is not going to be permitted in future, and if it is tried in the country or in the Office of Public Works it will be exposed. I want to express the hope that as a result of this discussion the slightest sign of anything like that will be completely and ruthlessly wiped out in the future.
I trust the Parliamentary Secretary will be in a position to indicate shortly what further provision is to be made in this respect. The provision that has to be made up to the present would be some way useful in normal circumstances, but the present situation is not normal. It is altogether abnormal. It is extremely difficult and hard, and the people who have to suffer most in the present situation are people who have nothing to sell but their labour. There should be greater opportunities for the sale of that labour by the provision of further moneys. I suggest that that can best be done by the initiation of a very large number of useful drainage schemes that can be carried out at small expense and with the greatest possibility of useful results in the immediate future.
Mr. Curran: I wish to bring under the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary the condition of the streets of Carrick, in Tipperary. I think I can say that their condition is the worst in Ireland. They have not been repaired in the past for the reason that the sewerage was not considered to be in a fit condition to allow of the streets being repaired as they were in every other town. These streets are certainly now in a very bad state. They are awaiting grants, and I hope the  grants will be forthcoming. In regard to the references made by various Deputies to the manner in which the work under these unemployment grants has been carried out, I can say that it has been reasonably and fairly done in my district. There has not been much room for criticism in that regard in so far as the work carried out by the county council is concerned. It is news to me that a rate of 24/- per week is in operation, where, I do not know. I have heard it for the first time here.
Mr. Curran: I heard it for the first time here but I do say that it is hardly playing the game to pay such a rate with all due respect to everybody. It has come under my notice also, although I do not say it is prevalent to a large extent, that there has been victimisation in regard to the political views of workmen. I join with other Deputies in calling the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to this matter and in asking him to do his best to see that that practice is not permitted anywhere in carrying out these works. I want further to complain that sufficient money has not been allocated in connection with road work. I do not mind what some other Deputies may say, but I know that a lot of road work can be done and it is much better to do this work than to spend the money in home assistance as it is being spent in my county, to the detriment of ratepayers. It was never expected that the rates or the ratepayers should solve the unemployment problem. I think that is a task that devolves on the Government of the day. I hope they will take it up and try as far as lies in their power to remedy it, because that is their duty and not the duty of the ratepayers.
Mr. McMenamin: There are one or two matters to which I should like to refer in regard to my experience of the administration of these grants in County Donegal. Deputy Murphy has used very strong language and has said that instructions went down from the office to the county surveyors to select particular gangers. I have made some inquiries myself concerning  the administration of the grants in County Donegal. So far as the machinery was concerned, in justice to the office I should say that the order of procedure was, when a grant was made to a county council, that the county surveyors were put in complete charge of the money to be spent. I never heard that any further instructions were sent to them, but there were grave complaints that where a ganger was selected, he generally got himself pushed on, for some reason unknown to me or perhaps unknown to anybody. That ganger was usually the head of a Sinn Féin Club and he would not employ any worker unless he was a member of the club. I think that it is unfair to attribute that to the Office of Public Works. It is very unfair to charge the county surveyor with it either because it may well be that he would not know anything about the politics of the man. It undoubtedly was the case in various districts that the ganger appointed was a violent political partisan and that he openly refused to employ men, poor men with families, on these jobs, because of their political views. I want it to be clearly and distinctly understood that I am not attributing that to the office, because as far as I know no instructions of any kind went out from the office. The county surveyors in the respective counties were put in complete control of this money.
Secondly, with regard to the spending of this money, I agree that this road work is very necessary and very useful, but I would urge on the Parliamentary Secretary to apportion some of this money for drainage purposes. The difficulty is that when this kind of work is given in the winter time money is scarce and it is very difficult to carry out these drainage schemes. Hence I would recommend that a portion of this money should be given in the summer time when the weather is dry and such work could be undertaken.
Mr. Corish: Before proceeding with what I want to say, I want in the first place to pay a tribute to the Government for the amount of money that they have made available to local  authorities to do certain useful work; but, at the same time, owing to the abnormal situation prevailing in the country at the moment, I am very sorry to say that, in my opinion, the amounts allocated are absolutely inadequate, with the result that the life of a public man at the moment is not to be envied. We have demonstrations and marches by the unemployed, and they are not to be blamed because they are faced with a situation where their wives and their families and themselves are faced with starvation. I do think that, apart altogether from the amount of money allocated for relief work, some subsidy will have to be given to public health boards in order to supplement the amount of money that such boards have to pay in relief generally. In my own county of Wexford the maximum given amounts to 6/- per week, and I think that everybody listening to me will admit that you cannot do much with 6/- a week. These boards are faced with rates getting higher year after year and, as far as I can see, during the coming year there is no prospect of the weekly relief of the men, who are unfortunate enough to have to seek it, being raised. I think that the best thing the Minister could do would be to allocate some money from some fund—no matter what fund it might be—in order to help those people over the difficulties which they are encountering at the moment.
As far as the methods of employment are concerned, I have heard nothing about political prejudice being used in my native county of Wexford, but I will say that there is great dissatisfaction generally about the method of employment through the labour exchanges. I do not want to blame the managers of the various labour exchanges, but I submit that they are not sufficiently familiar with local conditions to deal with the matters that should be dealt with. People can go in to the managers and state things with regard to their needs which are contrary to fact. In a great many cases, as a result of this lack of knowledge, a man gets preference in getting work which he really should not get. My point is that there should  be some kind of consultative or advisory body in the different areas so that the manager of the local labour exchange might be able to get bona fide information to enable him to make up his mind as to the particular men who should be employed in the most deserving cases. Preference is given to married men, but I suggest that certain single men with dependents should be enabled to get work also. I think that at least 25 per cent. of the available work should be allocated to single men.
In so far as the wages paid on minor relief schemes are concerned, I want to enter my protest with regard to the amount paid. Surely, we should expect more from the present Government than 24/- per week and the men not having their insurance cards stamped. After all, if these men are employed at quarry work or road work —as they are in a great many cases— it comes under the National Health Insurance Act, and I believe that it is compulsory that these people's cards should be stamped and that the Government has no right to intervene in the matter. If their cards were stamped they could derive some benefit. I think that the Government should agree that the wages paid should be at least as much as those prevailing in the area and paid by the local county councils. Quarry work or road work is very hard, and after all if a wet day comes in a week there is very little left of the 24/-.
Apart from this type of worker, there is one type person for whom I should like the Government to make provision, and that is the dock labourer in the seaport towns in this country. Owing to the economic war which is going on at the moment, both imports and exports in the seaport towns have fallen off considerably, with the result that dock labourers who, up to quite recent times have had a large volume of work, find themselves compelled now to draw outdoor relief. Whilst I admit  that the farmers are entitled to the bounties and subsidies which the Government has put aside for their relief, I submit that dock labourers and people of that kind, who have been hit by the present economic war, are victims just as much as the farmers and should be treated accordingly. I submit, therefore, that some special provision should be made for those who are immediately affected by the conditions prevailing to-day, and amongst these I would particularly include the dock labourers in the seaport towns.
I should like to give the Government credit for what has been done. They have made large grants available but, owing to the very abnormal condition which prevails at the moment, I think that much more should be done. Waterworks and sewerage schemes have been mentioned—I think by Deputy Dillon—and I submit that in consequence of the fact that county surveyors and people of that kind have to submit their estimates beforehand, without knowing what amount of money is available, they are not able to cope with the matter. I would suggest to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health that before a local authority is forced to indulge in a certain amount of expense, the Minister should give an indication as to the amount of the grant which he proposes to allocate to the particular local authority, and that then the surveyor and other people concerned would be in a better position as to the plans and specifications which they should submit.
Again, I should like to stress the position with which local authorities are faced as a result of the abnormal demand which there is for home help at the moment. I would ask the Minister to consider the advisability, where work cannot be provided, of giving some subsidy to county boards of health to enable them to supplement the meagre allowance which is being given at the present moment to able-bodied men at home.
General Mulcahy: The members on the Labour Benches have shown themselves so wide awake to the realities of the situation that it would be a pity if  Deputy Corish would attempt to suggest that his colleagues, when they speak about political preference in the matter of employment, are in any way drawing on their imagination.
Mr. Corish: I do not think that I suggested anything of the kind. I said that I heard no such complaints in my constituency. That was not suggesting that my colleagues were telling lies. I speak for my constituency. They speak for theirs. I suggest that Deputy Mulcahy should speak for his.
General Mulcahy: The fact is, as Deputies on the Labour Benches have told us, that there is a wave of unemployment throughout the country. As Deputy Everett said, the present is not a normal situation at all. In the words of Deputy Murphy, it is altogether abnormal. The situation with regard to unemployment in the country is, as Deputy Corish said, such that the life of a public man is becoming impossible. Unemployment is pressing very severely on all sections of the people, including shop assistants, as Deputy Murphy mentioned. The situation is pressing on people with small holdings in the country and on people without small holdings. In these circumstances, there are complaints from every part of the country that the money being spent on relief, as well as the money being spent on ordinary road-fund matters, is being spent on political lines. The conscience of the County Wexford gangers, surveyor, and County Council may be quite clear. A question has been addressed to the Parliamentary Secretary arising out of some suggested responsibility in the Office of Public Works. That may or may not be the case, but the wider field from which I hear complaints is from persons who are seeking employment under local bodies. The complaints made show that a very scandalous state of affairs exists in some counties. While Deputy  McMenamin would, to some extent, relieve the Minister and the Department concerned of responsibility, I think a considerable amount of responsibility does lie in view of the widespread nature of the complaints. When this Estimate was before us in November last, attention was drawn to this matter. I raise the matter again now because complaints have come from County Mayo that men have been “stood off” employment because they are not politically acceptable to the people they were asked to associate with in employment. When we were dealing with this Estimate in November, I had to draw the attention of the Minister for Local Government to a letter addressed by the county surveyor to the County Council of Mayo, in which he pointed out that he was being completely over-ridden so far as employment on the roads was concerned; that some of the gangers, put into office without consultation with him, to replace gangers previously employed, had refused to take instructions; that they employed more men on some of the jobs than they were authorised to employ, and that 60 per cent. only of the value that might be expected from the expenditure was being got. He gave instances in which numbers of men pressed themselves into employment in the area without reference to him—men who simply made up their minds that they were going to work on a particular part of the road and went in and worked. In so far as there was any kind of instruction that men to be employed on this work should be taken from the labour exchanges, that, he said, had completely broken down in Mayo.
General Mulcahy: Yes. When I raised this matter before, the Minister for Local Government stated that inquiry was being made into it. In view of the continued penalising on political grounds of persons looking for employment, I ask what has transpired as the result of the inquiry into the county surveyor's complaints. The complaints of the county surveyor suggested that instructions which were stated to exist, that men should be employed through the labour exchanges, had completely broken down, that unmarried men were being employed where married men were available, and that men had been employed who had not been registered, good, bad or indifferent. He stated that men simply came on to work on their own account, that the gangers permitted them to come on and work and that, in many cases, the gangers allowed them to do so because they were afraid to tell them to go home. I have paraphrased some of the complaints of the county surveyor and, in view of that report and of the position in different parts of the country, I think responsibility does lie on the Minister, notwithstanding that Deputy McMenamin would, to some extent, relieve him of that responsibility. The House ought to be told what the result was of the Minister's inquiry into the Mayo position and whether, in view of the complaints still coming from Mayo, he will inquire further into the matter.
Mr. Davis: I am anxious to know from the Parliamentary Secretary or from anybody else with responsibility for the expenditure of this money what arrangements have been made and are being carried into effect with regard to the expenditure on roads which are already under contract. What arrangement has been made with the contractors in these cases? Is the contractor being paid for maintaining the road and is money being spent on it at the same time in another way? Many complaints have come to me with regard to the position in County Mayo and I think the Parliamentary Secretary, through one of his chief executive officers, is aware of the circumstances. Is the contractor to be  responsible during the time that this money is being expended on the roads and how is he to be made responsible for the maintenance of the roads in the future?
Roads have been widened, sides that existed heretofore have been removed. It is purported to widen the roads, but I say that instead of improving it has disimproved the roads, and their appearance and utility has not been the same at all but, on the contrary, has been very much less. Heretofore a contractor entered into an engagement at a particular time and with a particular specification. There was a certain width defined in that specification, which was to be maintained. The contractor now, if I understand the position rightly, will be responsible for the maintenance of a different road altogether. Is that so or is it not? Materials are put there but nothing is done except to throw the stones on to the road. There is no effort to put in the necessary material that would make the road passable, or that would show that there was anyone in charge of the work with any sense of responsibility as to the work undertaken. As for the existence of political partisanship that goes without saying. There are many instances. I point to one where a particular ganger is employed. He is a young man, son of an ex-national teacher. His brother is the principal in the school where the father formerly taught. The father is now on pension and this son is employed as ganger in that particular area. In that particular district a man with a wife and nine or ten children applied for work and was refused.
Mr. Flinn: I am up against a lot of these difficulties. What is the specific complaint? Is it because the man is the son of a national teacher? That is what I am trying to get at, or is it  alleged that the man is in possession of a large income?
Mr. Davis: No, but I think it goes without saying that he is a man with no dependants. His brother is principal teacher in the national school; his father is an ex-national teacher enjoying a pension, and he himself is quite a young man. He has no wife or family, but here is a neighbour of his with a wife and eight or ten children and he seeks employment and cannot get it. One of his children is now in employment as a result of complaints made and, also, because I drew the attention of some responsible person to the particular case. He was refused on political grounds. I make that statement and can prove it. I have received various other complaints; some of these are already in the possession of the responsible officer, who I am convinced, is endeavouring to the best of his ability honestly to carry out a very difficult duty. I think the Parliamentary Secretary must be fully aware of these facts. They are known not only in Mayo, but all over the country.
Some people suggest that because some men have a few acres of land of a certain valuation they should not be entitled to employment. But there are many farmers, up and down the country to-day, who are much more in need of employment than any other class, as a result of certain consequences of which we are all aware, and for which these men are not responsible. I have investigated the lots of many of these people. It is unnecessary now to go into the reason why they are in such an unenviable position. I do not desire to introduce matters of that kind into a debate like this, but I say that there are many of those farmers very badly in need of employment. They are in debt because it was necessary to enter into certain obligations to maintain their homes and families. And as a result of these things they find themselves in a very difficult situation. Many of them are undoubtedly more in need of employment than many single men who, perhaps, as a result of their own indifference are not in employment.  It goes without saying that there are such people. There are people who need employment and who are worthy of employment if they could get it, and there are those who are certainly not so deserving.
I desire again to draw attention to the fact that money is being expended on roads already under contract. As far as I know and as far as disclosures were made as a result of communications between the county surveyors and the county councils and the Local Government Department, nothing has come to my knowledge to show that any necessary or desirable arrangement has been made as to whether this money is being expended to the advantage of the public——
Mr. Davis: I am aware, that at the time this expenditure was embarked upon, those roads were under construction and I am further aware that the time of those contracts has not been terminated, unless terminated by some special arrangement entered into between the county councils and the surveyor of which I am not aware. I am trying to point out the difficulties and the overlapping. If there is overlapping it must follow that there is waste of money in between. You have the contractor at the one end liable to see these roads are maintained——
Mr. Flinn: On a point of order. I ask whether the Deputy is in order in discussing, now, the maladministration of a fund that is not before us; that is the allegation. I say that not a single penny of this £350,000 that we are now spending has been spent or could be spent upon such a road. If it has been spent upon such a road and that was within the knowledge of the Deputy, or the county surveyor, then it was the business of the Deputy or the county surveyor to bring that to our knowledge. But to the best of my knowledge and belief the Deputy is now discussing something which has no  relation whatever to this £350,000. I do not want to restrict discussion in any way but I do not think this is in order.
Mr. Flinn: Minor reliefs; advances to local bodies for public health schemes; a certain amount of money advanced for helping forward housing schemes. But it does not include a penny for main roads or county roads or anything of that kind.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Has Deputy Davis any knowledge of any road that was under contract on which some of this grant has been expended? If he has such knowledge he may proceed; if not I have to ask him to discontinue.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That is not the point. The Parliamentary Secretary is not making a speech at the moment; Deputy Davis is. Deputy Davis is saying that funds voted for a certain purpose in this Dáil are being utilised for purposes for which they were not voted. Can he quote any cases to his knowledge which will prove this?
Mr. Flinn: May I say this? I am only too anxious that the Deputy should tell the very worst that is possible to be told. He will be doing us on this side of the House a service if he will bring to the knowledge of the House anything which is wrong that we do not know. I am most anxious that he should do so.
Mr. Davis: That is my object in intervening in the debate—to bring to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary what I believe is happening. I know that money is being expended and that gangs are employed on certain roads——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: We want to get this matter clear, and there is no good in the Parliamentary Secretary interfering. What I want Deputy Davis to convince me of is that money which has been allocated for certain purposes in this House is being used for some other purposes. He has suggested that some of this money is being used to repair contract roads where the contractors had a certain agreement and certain responsibility towards the county council. Can he tell us to his own knowledge is that happening? If he cannot I must ask him to discontinue in that direction.
Mr. Davis: I will give you a perfectly legal intimation, and if you have taken a note of the case I have pointed out you have only to refer to your Chief Executive Officer in Mayo, who by this time I am sure must have his finger on the facts which I pointed out to you.
Mr. Flinn: Surely it is up to the Deputy to give the facts, and not to suggest somebody else—whom I may or may not know—who does know them, and from whom if I went to inquire I might get the information. Give us the facts.
Mr. Davis: Is that not sufficiently clear and lucid for you? I gave you credit for having a lot more intelligence. I always thought you would be able to judge who was the Chief Executive Officer in the county, who is responsible to you for the carrying out of work of that kind. That Chief Executive Officer will be quite able to answer you. The indications which I have given you will put him in possession of the necessary information, and he can point his finger to what it is. I will abide by the ruling that I must discontinue, as I am not in a position actually to put my finger on the expenditure of this money, but I now put it up to the Parliamentary Secretary himself to show at any future time that the money that I have pointed to is not being used as part and parcel of this grant. I will now leave it at that.
The money might have been expended in various ways which possibly would be more beneficial than the way in which it is being expended just now. I have heard references made by many Deputies to the fact that expenditure on drainage would be very beneficial. I have no doubt in my  mind that it would be much more beneficial than the way in which it is being expended. When I say that, I fully realise that this is not just the time at which expenditure on drainage would be most beneficial. The summer season would be the best time to select for the expenditure of money for drainage purposes. It would bring better results at that time. I fully realise that it may be quite beyond the power of the Parliamentary Secretary —and it has been fully revealed by the Chief Executive Officer in Mayo that it is beyond his power—to keep control of the expenditure of this money so as to prevent it from being expended on political lines. Beyond yea or nay it is being and has been expended on political lines. I do not know whose is the responsibility, but whoever has the responsibility, there is no good in trying to get away from the fact that such is the case. That has been proved beyond yea or nay. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will now interest himself in the manner in which this money is being expended, and whether it is being expended on political lines.
Mr. Flinn: The Parliamentary Secretary will be very happy deliberately and at once, personally and continuously, to interest himself in specific cases cited in writing by the Deputy from his own knowledge.
Mr. Goulding: From time to time in this House when relief schemes are being discussed we hear complaints of political bias being used in the administration of the money. Everyone of us comes up against those complaints. Within the past couple of days I myself have come across them. Men have come to me and told me that certain gangers in certain parts of the county have used political influence. They have told me that this particular ganger or that particular ganger, because he happened to be a strong supporter of the Opposition Party in this House, would not give them a job. Probably other men will go to representatives of the Opposition Party in the House and tell them that because a certain ganger is a supporter of the Government Party he would not give  them a job. Very often those complaints are exaggerated. Because men, for reasons other than political ones, cannot get a job, they immediately jump to the conclusion that they are refused it because of the particular political opinions they hold. Very often those complaints should not be taken too seriously. I myself made a complaint to the county surveyor that certain men had complained to me that they could not get a job. He said: “Look at this. Here is another complaint from another side that certain other men could not get a job. Do not take them too seriously.” I think a lot of Deputies in this House are taking those complaints too seriously. Personally, I do not think that any money has been unfairly spent in this country for a long time on relief schemes. Apart from the advantage it was to the unemployed— because practically every penny of the money spent went into the pockets of the unemployed; no money was spent on machinery; no money went on special salaries—practically every penny of the money went as it should have gone.
Apart from that altogether, many of these by-roads which have been put in a passable condition were very urgently in need of repair, and very many of the small farmers in this country and the big farmers, too, who for years past have been unable to get out of their places are now in a position to do so. In future, when money is to be expended on the relief of unemployment, I do not think that it should be spent as it has been spent for the past few months. I may have certain pet schemes of my own upon which I would like to see money spent. One of them is the repair of embankments along our rivers, especially tidal rivers, and I think in some cases it would be very well worth while if these embankments that have been maintained in the past were looked after and so keep the land from being waterlogged, and see that the necessary repairs are executed at once. There are many embankments which would need repair, and if not done now will in two or three months' time cause damage which will cost thousands of pounds to repair. If  done in time the repair can be executed for practically a very small sum of money, but if they are neglected, and if the neglect is allowed to go on for any length of time, it will cost an enormous sum of money. Then again there are farmers living adjacent to these embankments, and if the banks are not done in time their land will become absolutely useless. In the past they were repaired by the landlords. In some cases the landlords took it on themselves as a legal liability to keep the banks in repair. Now that liability ceases. The Land Commission, in many cases, refused to accept liability, and if they are not looked after there is grave danger that most of these lands will become absolutely useless.
There is another matter I should like to mention. Nothing has been done in connection with the supplying of lime, and I think it would be well worth while to invest some money in it. Individuals cannot do it, and, of course, it would not do for the State to come to the support of individuals and finance them to produce lime, but I think it would be a good idea if the county surveyors would get power to use some of the limestone they have at their disposal and turn it into lime or crush the stone—this latter course, I believe, would be the better one—and have that limestone available for the farmers for manure.
Now, I said at the beginning that I thought this money was well expended, and I hope in the future when money is to be expended it will not be expended on any work which will need the use of machinery. One of the strongest complaints we receive down the country is from workmen, where machinery is used in the quarrying and crushing of stone as, of course, it deprives them of employment. When we have to spend money on the relief of unemployment we should see that every penny goes into the pockets of the men who need it most. It is a pity, indeed, that we have to spend money towards the relief of unemployment, and it is a pity that money has to be spent on purely temporary relief, and that time and again Ministers have to come to us for money to expend it in this way. We can only hope that some  day we will be able to provide a more permanent form of employment for our people. We cannot keep the people on the dole for ever, and we cannot provide temporary relief schemes. It is up to every one of us to see that our people are provided with work in some form of employment.
Mr. M. O'Reilly: I was very glad that this scheme was introduced, and especially when the money was devoted to the repair of many of these lanes and by-ways, because I have been for many years attempting to get that done. In fact, since I entered the Dáil it was one of the pleas I made each year. The reason I did that was because I had seen the difficulties and hardships which had to be encountered. I had seen the difficulties and hardships which clergymen and medical men found in entering some of those houses situated along those lanes. Up to last year there seems to have been no attention paid to that plea, and I believe the people are extremely thankful that these improvements are taking place. I only hope that it will be continued. I know in County Meath, as well as in many other counties, that the condition of affairs there was very extreme and that the hardships were enormous, in fact at times it entailed loss of life, and up to the present there was no heed taken of that. Now that it is being done we hear, for instance, Deputy Davis trying to rake up some question of a political issue.
That is a chronic state of affairs. I have complaints from many parts of Meath which go to show that it is all Cumann na nGaedheal supporters who get the work, that the gangers are Cumann na nGaedheal and that everybody is Cumann na nGaedheal. Deputy Davis knows that as well as I do, but of course we must allow him to have a little play on that point as perhaps that is the only satisfaction he has. So far as relief schemes are concerned, I am glad money was devoted towards the repair of those old lanes and by-ways and I am surprised that further steps were not taken to devote other moneys from the main roads and put them to some more reproductive purposes. I know we  have roads in Meath which are the best in Europe—in fact comparable to the best in the world. They will remain that way for years to come and I do not see why more money should be spent on them. However, I think that some of the smaller farmers should get an opportunity of having their water-logged land drained, and that, of course, is reproductive work. I would suggest that that matter be considered and see whether it would be possible to be effected even though you may break the law in doing so. Besides it would give a lot more employment; no machinery would be involved; the value of the land would be increased and it would undoubtedly give the farmers a chance of working. At the moment, as a result of the big storm, a greater part of the lands of Westmeath is under snow and the land not under snow is now under water. We have this big problem of drainage. I believe the draining of small rivers leading into the minor drainage schemes could be well undertaken to the advantage of the workers as well as to the advantage of the farmers. I hope the steps taken to improve the laneways will be continued still further. I also hope that relief will be given towards the drainage of water-logged land, which, of course, would improve the health of the people generally.
Mr. Wall: I intervene at this stage for the purpose of supporting the appeal of Deputy Goulding in connection with the expenditure of some of this money on the repair of river embankments. These embankments, in many cases, have been sadly neglected, and I understand there is no sufficient reserve fund in the Land Commission to put them in proper repair. The amount of money necessary to put them in repair now would be comparatively small if compared with the amount of money necessary at some future date when breaches would occur. A couple of hundred pounds expended now may in many cases save thousands of pounds later on. I am aware, from personal experience, that many embankments in the County of Waterford are badly in need of repair, and I would like to support Deputy Goulding's appeal to the Parliamentary  Secretary to have this matter investigated, because the land, which will be lost as a consequence of any breaches, is the land which is security for the annuities.
I would like to support the appeal made in regard to the burning of lime throughout the country. There are many lime kilns lying idle and very useful employment could be given if lime were burned extensively. The lime could be utilised with advantage on farms as a cheap form of manure. I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to have these two items closely investigated.
Mr. O'Neill: It would be very interesting to know how much of this money is still to be spent. It strikes one that for a considerable period the time of the House has been taken up discussing a Vote that has already been allocated.
Mr. O'Neill: With regard to the general discussion, I can sympathise with the Parliamentary Secretary, or indeed with any man who has to deal with the expenditure of money in connection with relief work of this kind. It is a very difficult job and, not only that, but it is also a thankless task. It would appear that the Parliamentary Secretary's efforts have pleased nobody.
Mr. O'Neill: Very few, at all events. We are told that the work in some cases has been useless. From my own experience of relief work, and from contact with some officials who had charge of the work, I am aware that in every case an examination was made into the merits of schemes put forward and in every case I think the desire was expressed that sanction should be given only to schemes possessing the highest labour content. I  found that was the main object of the Parliamentary Secretary and his officials. Of course there have been complaints about supporters of Fianna Fáil getting too much work and supporters of Cumann na nGaedheal getting too much work. Such complaints are bound to arise. There have been, no doubt, cases where local prejudice intervened and, perhaps, some political prejudice. If this is a new scheme and if new money is being issued it would be as well to let us know so that we will be in a position to put some practical ideas before the Parliamentary Secretary. On the other hand, if the money has been spent already—and I am afraid it has —then we have been beating the air, so to speak, for the last couple of hours.
Mr. J. Flynn: I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary if the final allocations of the money involved in this Vote have been made. I would like also to refer to a point I made during the last session of the Dáil. I then pointed to the fact that the total number of unemployed in Kerry had not been calculated at a given period, but that the figures were subsequently handed in. May I take it that in the matter of allocating money on the basis of the number of unemployed, full credit will be given in the case of Kerry? A certain amount of difficulty was experienced in getting the total number of unemployed in the county and submitting it to the Department in the given time. In view of the circumstances that prevailed I would like to know if full credit will be given to the county when the relief money is being allocated.
With regard to reproductive works, I have discussed with many people the question of lime burning. I have assisted in putting forward a scheme for the establishment of a system whereby lime will be made available for the inhabitants of the poorer districts in Kerry. I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will give every co-operation in that matter. I hope a  substantial sum will be set aside for the inauguration of a scheme for supplying lime to the poor people in the mountainous districts in Kerry and other counties.
Mr. Flinn: Again I would like to say that, to me, the administration of an unemployment fund is a big responsibility. A certain amount of money is set aside to be used for the purpose of relieving, as far as possible, distress due to unemployment. My object has been—and it is the only possible honest way of looking at it—to see that the money gets into the hands of those who require it in the areas in which it is most required and at the time when it is most required. I have considered every proposition put forward, whether it concerned the desirability of drains, afforestation or anything of the kind, purely and simply on those grounds.
There has been very unfortunately, running through this debate an atmosphere which was not by any means as marked on a previous occasion. I refer now to the suggestion of conscious collusion in victimisation by those who were responsible for the administration of this money. The first line upon which victimisation could take place was in the division of the money over different areas in the country from the point of view of counties and, within those counties, over areas depending upon the popularity of certain people. The answer to that is that for the first time, I think, in the history of unemployment relief in this country, the whole of the facts have been openly at the disposal of any member of the House who chose to go into the office of the officer responsible to the House; there he could get the facts and improve on the distribution, if he could do so. There are men on every side of the House who can bear testimony to the fact that they have been invited to examine into the distribution and to suggest an improvement. It is within my knowledge that a considerable number of people, who were prepared to make complaints of the unfairness of the distribution, were not prepared to accept that invitation lest they should have to stand over their responsibility of having seen a document  in course of preparation which their knowledge, their sense of fairness and humanity might have improved.
I have told to the House that when this scheme is finished I will lay on the Table, in the Library or wherever anyone wants it, a map showing the distribution of every penny of this fund. There are going to be mistakes in it. I hope there will be mistakes in the distribution of it, because any practical man who wants to get through a job must be prepared for a certain amount of mistakes in detail or, in the attempt to prevent them, he is going to pay insurance in overhead cost and delay which would be out of all proportion to the degree of improvement he will get in the elimination of probably a very small proportion of mistakes. And for that reason if anyone will point it out to me I will look carefully into it. For instance, I gave you two cases where wrong work has been started. There have been little things of that kind. As to those, we make no pretence at all to hide them. These are the things that would have to happen if you were to get away with new machinery to deal with this kind of work.
Gross unfairness has been attributed in the allocation of the employment. I want to say that everything humanly possible has been done to get a fair distribution. We have examined every complaint that has come to us. We have had complaints from the Labour Party against the Fianna Fáil Party and from the Fianna Fáil Party against the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and from the Cumann na nGaedheal Party against the Fianna Fáil Party. We have had complaints from the Centre Party and from all Parties. As far as I humanly could I investigated these complaints. I got a special office from the Executive Council for the purpose of investigating them, and I investigated the complaints without any regard as to whom they came from. Because apart from the ordinary sense of decency in administering this money which is the gift from the people to those who are poorer and more unfortunate—in my opinion it is damned bad politics over a period of years to attempt to do anything else but to be rigorously fair in a matter of that kind. I looked upon it from the point of view  of the Government that was here to stay, not a Government that was to be here for a short period. We have got to get down, in administering Government relief, to the position where all will know that they will get a fair crack of the whip and that is what we have tried to do.
There have been some allegations such as the allegations made by Deputy Davis, that he told somebody whom I should know about something which, being inquired into, I might find out. That is exactly what he did. He had knowledge of the particular incident. I think he was Chairman of the Mayo County Council, if he is not now At any rate, he is a very responsible Deputy. He was Chairman of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, and that is the sort of stuff he offers here, and he offers it to a man whose office was open every day to him as it was open to every member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. There is not a man on the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches who can say that any information of any sort or kind or description that he was in possession of, that he was in a position to give and that he can give in relation to schemes of this kind, whether for or against this administration, is not eagerly welcomed. Instead of using the ordinary machinery of franking a letter which he could have used if that was so, or if it worried him, of writing to me to say that “on a particular road which is under contract you are spending money for doing the job,” he does nothing of the kind. Instead of writing to me he gets up here and says that some particular official that I do not know has whispered into his ear something which I never heard, whispered a story which maybe is not true.
I will take another case where the Deputy, I am sure, did not intend to be unfair. That was where Deputy Dillon got up here and said: “I have in my pocket a letter from a man,” saying that the surveyor or the Deputy county surveyor in Donegal had refused to give work to a man because he had voted for Deputy Dillon, or something to that effect. Does Deputy Dillon realise what he is doing? Does he realise that he was accusing the whole  body of county surveyors and deputy surveyors of Donegal? And he has not produced that letter to me.
Mr. Dillon: I produced that letter to the responsible Minister, who is sitting beside the Parliamentary Secretary, and if the Parliamentary Secretary was eager to inquire about my actions he has had time enough to do so.
Mr. Dillon: Did I not ask the Minister to make a full inquiry? I told the Minister when I exposed it to him in his room that I courted full inquiry into the matter and that I did not ask him to accept it without the fullest inquiry.
Mr. Flinn: To the extent that I have misjudged the Deputy in connection with this letter I apologise. But that statement did cover the whole body of the surveyors and deputy surveyors in County Donegal and I made the same inquiry of each, but I found that I could not find one case of the kind referred to. It is just stories like that and there are millions of them in that vague way.
Mr. Dillon: I must ask the Parliamentary Secretary not to refer to vague stories of that kind. I made a statement and I said the moment the House rose I would wait on the responsible Minister and place the facts before him. I waited on the responsible Minister and put all the facts to him. There was nothing at all vague in it, no general attack. It was a specific case for the Minister and at the earliest possible moment I placed all the facts before him.
Mr. Flinn: No man in this House is an enemy of this Government who exposes anything that is wrong in the expenditure of this relief. No man in this House is a friend of the Government who hides anything. We want  all these cases exposed and I hope that is understood. Now there have been abuses. The questions raised by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney and Deputy Mulcahy were all practically in relation to Mayo and have nothing whatever to do with these roads. There were attempts in Mayo—and I will take that specific case under the Minor Relief Schemes—of individuals to abuse the relief schemes. Certain people did attempt to run it but I want to know whether any of them got away with it after we had knowledge of it? If any one starts trying to get away with a game of that kind it is the duty of every Deputy to put the information in writing before the officer who is responsible to this House for the honest administration of these schemes and strict inquiry will be made into the matter. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney wanted works of permanent value. He was full of these works until he was asked for them. It was another bluff. For ten years—and I am sorry that item has to be dragged into it—the previous Government had been administering these schemes. They did not leave on their files any of these permanent works that we could indulge in. If they had left these on their files I would have investigated them.
Take the question of land reclamation. I have half a dozen land reclamation schemes covering 800 or 900 acres. I did not get one in which the value of the land would be a quarter or a fifth of the value of the money which would have to be spent, and one-eighth of the value which went into the labour working in any one of them. It goes to my heart to spend money on things which are unproductive. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has brought forward certain schemes in relation to mineral development—going in and taking over the burden of minerals of various kinds. If we can find any case which we can fit in under the mineral schemes we will do so. I merely complain that there are no permanent schemes but if any Deputy has them let him bring them along. Somebody in England suggested that as they were up against the problem of unemployment,  they should use the railways to bring the refuse from the dumps in the mines in the North of England down to fill up the lakes in the South. I do not know if anyone here is going to suggest anything quite as large or as foolish as that. But if anyone is going to suggest any new lines in which we can use money for relief in the future we are only too glad to have these suggestions. I have tried drainage schemes. The difficulty with drainage schemes, as has been admitted by some Deputies, is that you may get the money spent in the areas you want it spent, but you cannot spend it at the time you want it spent. The time we want to spend it is from November to March. You are then in the dark days, the wet days and the short days. In addition to that, the specific value of an hour's work done at that time in wet ground and so on is altogether lower than the other. There again it is a question of fitting it in.
As far as lime kilns and so on are concerned, we are spending money on lime kilns in Kerry to the great joy of Deputy Flynn, even if he did not know it. It is being spent there in three or four places. It is being spent in West Cork, in Laoighis and in Galway. We hope to spend a good deal more money upon things of that kind if we can get them. For instance, I did go to the trouble of reading—it was only a summary unfortunately which came into my possession—a memo. prepared by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney under the old system in relation to the grinding up of stone as distinct from the burning of limestone but we could not fit that in. Again I say if any of you know anything, this is the time to speak.
Mr. Flinn: As a matter of fact, every lime kiln job is a difficult one because as a rule it is on private property. In certain cases it means financing the repair of an existing derelict kiln. In some cases it means putting a road  into a limestone deposit which is not otherwise available. In other cases it means financing the production of a lime kiln. There was a rather curious but fortunate case in West Cork, where there is one single out-cropping of limestone in a great big boggy area. The land has been vested in tenants and curiously enough this piece of limestone is vested in tenants surrounding the boglands who have no bog. It has been necessary for us to set up a little Public Utility or Co-Operative Society in order to have someone to whom we could make the grant which would enable us to open that limestone quarry for them. In practically every case where we have run up against limestone we have run up against difficulties of that kind. All I can tell you is that there are a couple of members of the Dáil who are a little committee on the subject—Deputy Fred Crowley and Deputy Seán Moylan —who have a very close knowledge of the particular problems engaged in it and if any Deputies have a limestone proposition of their own that they want to put through I would rather suggest that they should discuss with these two Deputies the difficulties in relation to it and see what can be done.
Mr. Flinn: I am very sorry. It is a purely advisory committee who look into and see what is the title to land or whether there are rights-of-way into the lime kiln after we have made it, or whether in fact the benefit would inure to an individual instead of inuring to the district.
Mr. Flinn: I am not going to say there are not. There are in North Cork and in East Cork, on the borders of West Cork and on the borders of Kerry and Cork. Deputy Davin suggested that unemployment should be a national and not a local charge. I do not quite know whether we are in a position to discuss that on this particular Estimate or not.
Mr. Flinn: Deputy Davin said that the regulations in relation to the labour exchanges were faulty. I certainly would like to see included, and I think there will be included in it, a certain clause. The two classes, broadly, up to the present have been married and unmarried. It will be with dependants and without dependants as a beginning. In other words, a single man with dependants, if his dependants were somewhere approximate to the same conditions as a married person, certainly ought to be somewhat on the same level. In addition, I think, there ought to be some provision for men who are neither single men with dependants nor married men with dependants, but are simply single men. I cannot take the line myself that the mere fact that a man is single is to leave him out of the whole ambit of unemployment schemes. I should like to see a certain proportion of single men definitely included in that.
Deputy Davin, I think it was, wanted the charges on local authorities reduced from the point of view of sewerage; in other words, a larger proportion of grant for sewerage schemes. In this particular case you got £500,000 of an additional grant which was to be used for all these purposes, and side by side with that £550,000 of money raised out of revenue this year to be used as loans for local authorities. It is simply a question of the proportion in which they take it. I think the proportion there is about £103,000 gone out as grants to energise loans for public health purposes.
Mr. Corish: In that connection might I ask the Parliamentary Secretary a question. On the money advanced from that fund there is an interest charge of 5¾ per cent. Does not the Parliamentary Secretary consider that too high? If it could be lowered, certainly that fund would be taken  advantage of to a greater extent than at present.
Mr. Flinn: There is a hope that it may be. Roughly speaking, the grant varied from 30 per cent. up to 70 per cent. Seventy per cent. was given in cases in which the local authority had refused to do the work at any price but where, on public health grounds, it was absolutely essential it should be done. In connection with public health schemes, what happens is that all applications for sewerage and water supply schemes first go through to the Local Government Department, where they are examined on their merits. They then put them forward for a grant out of the unemployment fund, and, to be quite frank, on as low a basis as they think they can get away with for the purpose of getting as much work done as possible out of whatever limited sum we have. In every case it is a question of working within the limits we have. When we came to the allocation of the £500,000 this year, we allocated about £100,000 for the purpose of grants for sewerage schemes and that sum energised, roughly speaking, two and a half times that amount of money.
Mr. Flinn: All these things—every single condition that you put there— will limit your freedom in the matter of making relief schemes in the future. Deputy Brodrick, of Galway, spoke of dismissals by the board of health on a relief scheme. Up to the present I have not been able to trace that. I know of no minor relief scheme that took place in the City of Galway, though in the County Galway there were a great number.
Mr. Flinn: I will be glad. We have no knowledge of any such thing, and if the information comes to our possession we will do the best we can with it. The allegation was made that, in  relation to some of this £350,000, certain board of health people in Galway did, under conditions of victimisation, dismiss certain people. If Deputy Brodrick gives us the facts we will go into them. All that I am concerned with is that so long as the Deputy gives me the facts I will see what I can do with them. Again, I say to the House that there is nothing that we want to conceal. If anyone tried to play games of that kind let us know. We have no right to do anything except to administer the money fairly.
Some Deputy said that no money had ever been given out of a relief vote on drainage. Money was given in two cases, in the case of the Fergus in County Clare and of the River Sow in County Wexford. Broadly speaking, we are very anxious not to mix up drainage work of a fairly large order with minor relief work. The reason is this: that if you take an ordinary drainage scheme it is put forward for the purpose of benefiting a particular agricultural area. What happens in that case is that three people are asked to subscribe to it: the people whose land is benefited; the county council that benefits by the benefit that the people get, and the central authority which is unable to resist the pressure to provide the largest sum of money possible for the purpose of carrying out the scheme. All these things have to be worked out in an engineering scheme and have to be reduced to a definite price. If that is so, you are going to get into grave difficulty if, in the employment of people on those schemes, you are going to have a purely relief atmosphere worked into them. You have got to get full value for all the money you spend, because, otherwise, when the whole thing is over, if the estimate is exceeded, then in every case you are going to have a row with the central authority which will be asked to make a larger grant, with the local authority which has already granted more than it believed it ought to have granted, and with the beneficial owner of the improved land who will be difficult to convince that he ever got value at any time. For that reason we do not want to mix up the two. The only drainage works carried out have been minor  ones. The following are some fairly good examples:—(1) the removal of rock obstruction in a river, (2) making a new road in a district where previously tenants had to carry their meal and flour on their backs, (3) the erection of a bridge to render a road passable, (4) the drainage of flooded lands, (5) another removal of a rock obstruction which was causing a river to flood plots of land, (6) repair to a damaged bridge, (7) clearing floods. Small floodings of that kind can be done, but when you come to deal with schemes where there have to be contributions from two or three authorities, if you mix them up with relief schemes then you are going to get into trouble.
Deputy Dolan is under the impression that there are a lot of drainage schemes which, while uneconomic, would do untold good if carried out. I do not quite know what the Deputy means. I can tell the House that I have been through all the schemes—remember these are the chosen pet ones—which have come forward up to the present: the ones that the Board of Works have carried out, the ones that they are carrying out and the ones that they intend to carry out. So far from being economic, the position with regard to them would be represented in this way: that for every £4 spent only £1 is effective in the sense of realised improved value due to the work done. If that is the position in relation to what one may call the choice schemes, I need hardly tell the House what it would be in regard to the ones rejected. Against that, there are small works such as what you might call local drains and things of that kind which, under a relief scheme, if a relief scheme were wanted during the dry weather, would be very valuable. These schemes are very difficult to carry out with any economy during the wet and dark winter months in which the work is really required.
I come now to the question which I think has been worrying a good many and that is the wages paid upon minor relief schemes. Minor relief schemes are really an extension of the work that used to be done by the Land Commission and by the old  Congested Districts Board. The ordinary way of making a relief grant in this House in the past was to make that grant to the Land Commission. It was really a very ingenious method. It really did not cost anything—the giving of the money to the Land Commission to do unemployment relief work. The unemployment relief work they did was on those bog roads and so on which they previously used to do and they found that their establishment and activity were only capable of reaching on a given total which they had done in the last year and, therefore, anything you added to them —this is their own contention and not mine—to do new unemployment work meant that they could not do their own work. The result was that while you issued £240,000 or whatever it was for unemployment relief, it simply meant that you had coming back out of the Vote something approaching the same amount.
Mr. Flinn: Yes, the £240,000 voted for relief work last year was put through the Land Commission. They did the work and we wanted them to continue to do it. However, what we are dealing with now is a simple question. The work we are carrying out under minor relief was the work I speak of here and these works were carried out as a rule, in the old areas, that is, the old congested areas, and, at the present moment, I think there are between 9,000 and 10,000 people employed on minor relief works in the different districts and there has been no difficulty and no complaint of any sort or kind in relation to the wages paid for those works in these old areas. In fact, the position is entirely different. I am satisfied that there is more enthusiasm and more interest and more willingness to work on these particular schemes than there are in any other portion of the work which we have to do. However, in probably a mistaken sense of fairness, in this  particular year, we did extend the minor relief schemes into areas in which they previously had not been. There have been no such works done, for instance, in Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford or Leix, or any place of that kind, and, to a limited extent, we have had complaints in those areas in relation to the wages paid on the minor relief schemes. What the House must remember is that this is a mixed scheme. Two million pounds have been provided for the purpose of relieving unemployment and of relieving distress. The money which is being spent, as the House knows, in Donegal, Mayo and places of that kind is more in relief of distress than it is in relief of mere unemployment, and the standard of distress was that men desired to get work at agricultural wages. That is the test. That is the test under which all the work is done under drainage schemes and that is the test under which the whole of the Land Commission work is done. It is exactly the standard under which the work has been done for the last ten years. There has been no change of any sort, kind or description in doing that except that, in a mistaken sense of fairness, we have extended into the areas which were comparatively prosperous the kind of work which used to take place in the really distressed portions of Ireland—Clare, West Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo and Donegal. What we have done there is that we have simply allocated money to the different areas as fairly as we can on a money basis. We can do two things. We can leave the position as it is in relation to carrying out that number of minor relief works on the same basis in Leix as they are carried out in Galway, or we can use the same amount of money to employ a lesser number of men to do a lesser number of works relatively in Leix than we have in Galway. Either of those are fair methods. Neither of them are popular methods.
Mr. Flinn: There is not. That is the plain English of it. Is it suggested that Leix should get more money—I am  putting this up to Deputies and I do not regard this as an easy proposition —for its unemployment relative to Galway for the same unemployment?
Mr. Flinn: That is the point. That is the difficulty I said I had. My difficulty was to justify having extended the minor relief works into places like that because there were not in those areas the kind of works that used to be done under minor relief schemes in other places. In Kildare and places of that kind, men were not carrying turf two miles on their backs over a mountain in order to get into their houses because they had no road. They were not carrying flour halfway across a mountain because they had no road. The people who speak of that have no conception of the difference of distress, the difference of need that the people have who are eagerly anxious to get work done at this rate. If we have a limited sum of money, I put it to Deputies simply as a matter of fairness, how should we spend it. Should we do a lesser number of jobs at a higher wage or should we do a larger number of jobs at a lower wage and, in an agricultural district, are we to make as a standard for relief a standard higher than the standard of agricultural wages?
Mr. Corry: I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he is aware that, under instructions from the so-called Centre Party in this country, farmers are actually cutting wages to a point below a living rate. The standard he has been preaching now is the standard adopted by the previous Minister for Agriculture here.
Mr. Flinn: This is really a serious and difficult problem and it is perfectly easy for all of us to get on each others necks and say the popular or unpopular thing, but every day, so far as relief works are concerned, I am up against all these horrible problems. I am up against refusal where I should like to give money. I have only a limited amount of money and what I am concerned with is to let the House understand that, so far as I possibly can, I am trying honestly to face up to the difficulty and that, if people will find a solution, there is a solution. In Leix, at present, am I to reduce the number of works and what works? Am I to give to Leix and other places of the kind—I am only using Leix because it was the first one that came into my mind—more money relative to their unemployment than I am to give to the distressed districts of Kerry, Connemara, Galway, Mayo or Donegal? That is my difficulty.
Mr. Flinn: I am told I am giving instructions. I am not. I am issuing to the City of Cork a first allocation of £3,000 to be used on specific work in which the local authority is not concerned, except to the extent that its surveyor acts as my agent, and his business is to carry out those works of that character on the same basis as that on which they have been carried out for the last ten years, on the basis of agricultural wages for agriculturists.
Mr. Flinn: The Deputy may not recognise that there are other people in the House and that the other people who made complaints have their difficulties. He may be vocal. It does not mean that we do not feel it. The question is: In agricultural districts am I to go out deliberately to provide, at the cost of the community, relief at wages other than agricultural wages?
Mr. Flinn: The instructions are 24/-. I do not care for anyone in this matter. If the Deputy makes the statement that we are paying less than agricultural wages, he must be in a position to put me in possession of such facts as will enable me to deal with what is a breach of my regulations.
Mr. Flinn: I am putting the proposition of being given a certain amount of money to administer. It is not a question of so many days' wages, or of a certain allocation of wages for certain districts. Am I to reduce the number of jobs for particular places where they say agricultural wages are not wanted in relief? Deputy Mulcahy stated that there was a wave of unemployment. I do not believe there is.
Mr. Flinn: I have had Deputies coming to my office who wanted money for unemployment, wanting to know  if they were going to get a share. I have not found any suggestion that the position was critical. I said to them: “So long as you are satisfied that you are going to get your share for your county and district do you want the money now?” The answer was “No.” They did not want it then. “Did they want it critically,” they were asked. “No, they did not,” was the reply.
Mr. Flinn: Deputy Davis is again on the point that there is something going wrong in Mayo, and that we do not know anything about it. Again I tell the Deputy: “Put it in writing.” As to the allegation that farmers are working when others are unemployed, there may be cases where farmers are just as unfortunate as other people, just in as critical a position, for instance, as Donegal people, or those in Mayo. A good many may be little farmers. It does not follow that there are not certain cases where men have been employed who should not have been employed. We have done our best to alter the fact. I want to see a fair solution. I come back to the question of wages. What I suggest is that in future in cases where we are dealing with areas that are not congested areas, where there is no work of  a bog road character, that in order to get over the difficulty of two people doing work that is similar, only minor relief schemes are put forward, or minor county roads. In that particular case the only way I can see that we can justly meet the difficulty in these areas is to add to what might be called the ordinary relief the proportion which otherwise would have gone into other relief funds, and the county surveyor can carry out of the Road Fund minor relief to the extent to which he could do it within the amount of money, but at the same rate of wages. That is my difficulty. The only way I can see that we can meet Deputies—and I am anxious to meet them—is that in future there will not be a separate allocation of minor relief money for areas in which that money was all spent before; that a sort of composite fund would be made out of which such work would be met. Otherwise I find it very difficult to find a solution. As far as I know we have about 34,000 men employed on relief schemes. At the end of September we had about 20,000, at the end of October about 23,000, at the end of November about 27,000, and at the end of December about 37,000. As the money runs out towards the 31st March we will be dropping down again to the level of September. As the House knows the object was to spend that money during the peak portion of unemployment. From the diagram it will be seen that we have, as far as possible, followed in our unemployment allocation the actual necessities of the case.
Mr. Davin: I want to raise a question of privilege. During the concluding remarks of the Parliamentary Secretary he made the allegation that on some mysterious occasion I informed him that money he was prepared to allocate need not be sent out immediately. During my membership of this House, over a period of almost eleven years, I have conducted all my correspondence with every Government Department and Minister by letter. I am luckily in the position of having a copy of every proposal I submitted to the Parliamentary Secretary in connection with the proposal for a grant  for relief work. I want here and now to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to name the time, the place and the scheme in regard to which I made any observation of that kind. I want to assure the House that on not more than two ocasions had I any consultation of any kind with the Parliamentary Secretary since he was appointed, unfortunately appointed, to that particular position.
Mr. Flinn: There may be a slight misunderstanding and I hope to remove it. As the House will remember this grant of £2,000,000 was made somewhere in March or April. All sorts of Deputies came to me in relation to their constituencies. This lasted through March, April, June and July. In all cases when I produced the graph showing the unemployment level, they were all satisfied that the money should be spent, not in the summer—that is the point I was concerned with—but over the winter months. My recollection was that Deputy Davin was one of those. Deputy Davin says he was not and I will accept that.
Mr. Davin: I want to say that on these two occasions to which I referred, I remember I was accompanied by Deputy Patrick Boland and Deputy Gorry. I want the Parliamentary Secretary to say now what were the schemes I referred to.
Mr. Flinn: I withdraw the statement if I in any way misunderstood the Deputy but I certainly understood that what he wanted, like everybody else, was that the money spent in his constituency, should be spent during the period of greatest necessity, that is, during the winter months.
Mr. Norton: Now that the Parliamentary Secretary has concluded will he see that a copy of his speech will be circulated to every wage-cutting employer in the country so as to incite them to reduce wages?
Mr. Hogan: (Clare): Could we get from the Parliamentary Secretary any ruling showing whether a man working on a drainage scheme is not entitled to have his cards stamped? He said in his concluding remarks that there would shortly be a drop back to the number of people employed in September. That would mean that a large number would be unemployed and they would not be entitled to draw insurance benefits. To suggest that some of the work they are doing is agricultural work is something I could not stand over. I want to know what decision the Department has given, and whether they are stamping the necessary cards to enable these men to get unemployment insurance benefit when they are unemployed.
Mr. Corish: It is a matter of legal responsibility. I understand that if the Parliamentary Secretary neglected to stamp the insurance cards of these employees, if the matter were brought to the courts, he would have to pay up.
Mr. Flinn: I am asked for a ruling. We have had previously on the files a ruling that this drainage work was treated as agricultural work. I would have that taken up again and if it is ruled that it is not agricultural work, then obviously these cards will have to be stamped whether we like it or not. The difficulty always has been that what you do in relation to one particular thing you must do in regard to the whole of these schemes.
Mr. McGilligan: I understood that Deputy Corish wanted a precise statement as to what prohibition had been imposed on the stamping of cards in connection with those engaged on relief works. Deputy Corish did not discriminate between drainage schemes by way of relief work and other schemes. I understood the Parliamentary Secretary's reply to be this, that drainage works have previously been declared agricultural work and that, therefore, they would not be obliged to stamp the cards of those engaged in these works. I understood him to make a discrimination with regard to drainage schemes and that only. Is that a fact?
Mr. Corish: What I had in mind was that I know of two minor relief schemes where the men are engaged in quarrying work. I say that is an insurable occupation, no matter what the Parliamentary Secretary may say.  It might be held that men engaged in erecting a hay barn were engaged in agricultural work. It is not a question of the Department they are working under.
Mr. Davin: May I ask whether the wages payable and the working conditions on minor relief schemes are a matter for Cabinet decision, or whether they are going to be left to this wage-cutting Parliamentary Secretary?
Mr. McGilligan: Might I get my point clear? May we take it that three things are now being done under the relief works that are going on— road works, land improvement schemes and the item to which Deputy Corish has specifically referred, quarrying work. As far as quarrying work is concerned, it was always regarded as an insurable occupation, no matter at what time of the year carried out. The same applied to road work. I understand that drainage schemes were held to be agricultural work and that, therefore, they did not entail the stamping of cards. On these three things has there been any change made? Quarrying was certainly an insurable occupation and so was road work, but drainage work was not.
Mr. Corish: As far as I can see the position is that on any work that is labelled a minor relief scheme no insurance card is stamped. The Parliamentary Secretary may not know that, but that is the point.
Mr. Flinn: I may be wrong but I have been under the impression and I have been informed that there has been no change whatever in relation to the stamping of cards and in relation to the amount of work we are doing, but I shall have that investigated if you like. That is what I am informed and what I believe to be the fact.
Mr. Flinn: I think the case has been put up by Deputy Hogan in relation to the drainage side of the works. I am  faced by the decision of those who are competent to decide—I cannot say it is entirely obvious—that a man who is working on a drainage scheme is an agricultural labourer.
Mr. Flinn: No, but in the same way as minor drainage. What I intend to do is to get a review of the position and get a decision. The only thing that one wants to be perfectly satisfied about is that the men themselves do want it. Whether we should press in that direction or not is another matter, but in the meantime I will get a review of the whole position, as I said.
Mr. McGilligan: I should like to get this matter cleared up further. The last phrase which has been used by the Parliamentary Secretary certainly does not relieve anxiety. The Parliamentary Secretary has now said that he would like to have it clear as to whether or not the men desire it. I submit that it is not for them to desire it. It does not depend on the men at all, and I suggest that it would be a very retrograde step to have unemployment insurance remitted, even in doubtful cases, just because the men themselves desire it. It is going to lead to a certain type of man being employed, because county councils and other such boards will say: “We have not any obligation to stamp cards and it is therefore cheaper not to do so,” and it will mean that in the end nobody will be able to ask for his unemployment insurance to be paid for him on this type of work. Otherwise, it would be almost blacklegging in a sense, to interfere in the matter. We are dealing at the moment with a sum  of £350,000, and I should like to know what proportion of that sum roughly, has been expended, or is likely to be expended, on what I have described as “insurable occupations”—say, quarrying, roads, or big reclamation works—and what proportion of it has been or is likely to be expended on the type of drainage work which has been declared to be a non-insurable occupation?
Mr. Flinn: The Board of Works spent £31,000 on agriculture, and I think that most of that would be on agricultural wages. The Department of Industry and Commerce has spent £27,425 on insurable occupations. On public health work £103,000 has gone out in grants along these lines, and most of that, I think, would be insurable. The Dublin Corporation— £122,000—all insurable. So that, practically the major portion would be insurable.
General Mulcahy: I should like to know whether the Parliamentary Secretary can assure the House that the condition of affairs, which existed when this Vote was last discussed in the House, does not now exist, and that the report from the county surveyor in Mayo with regard to the provision of employment has not been shelved and the scheme of the Minister for Industry and Commerce been completely knocked on the head by gangers who repudiated the authority of the county surveyor?
General Mulcahy: I should like to know whether, in view of the very great anxiety raised in the minds of Deputies in this House as a result of the previous discussion of this matter on this Vote, the Minister for Local Government and Public Health has anything to say on this matter or, if not on this Vote, would the Minister take an opportunity of informing the House on another occasion.
General Mulcahy: I tell the Parliamentary Secretary that they are, and that it was because of this that this matter was discussed the last time in the House and in connection with moneys being spent in Mayo.
Mr. Moane: Can Deputy Mulcahy give any proof that it was in connection with the minor relief schemes that the county surveyor in Mayo reported and can the Deputy mention the date upon which that report was made?
General Mulcahy: On 17th November, and it was discussed on this same Vote on 30th November last. On that occasion the Minister for Local Government and Public Health said that he had got a copy of this report and was inquiring into it.
General Mulcahy: I submit that in the discussion on 30th November last this whole matter was gone into and that the report of the county surveyor in question was dealt with at length. The Minister for Local Government and Public Health said on that occasion that he had received a copy of this report and that the matter was being inquired into. I submit, therefore, that unless an endeavour is being made to cloak over this matter, it is in order. All I am asking for is that the Minister should give us something to reassure this House that the scheme is not being completely overridden in Mayo, as reported by the county surveyor there, so that less than 60 per cent. of the value of the money expended is being got in Mayo. A few words from the Minister on this matter would reflect credit on his outlook, on his own responsibility, and are certainly due to the House.
Mr. McGilligan: When is it likely that this matter will come before us again on an Appropriation Bill? On account of the revelations made here to-night about the rates of wages, the Vote would require much longer debate.
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