Wednesday, 14 June 1933
Dáil Éireann Debate
Professor O'Sullivan: I would like, sir, to take this last opportunity of asking the different sections in this House to consider this Bill carefully before they fall in with the Government's wishes in this particular matter. We have had opportunities of discussing some of the details of this Bill. Certain main general principles were discussed during the Second Reading. Members of the House have read the speeches of the Ministers. If there is any truth in those speeches that we have heard from the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Industry and Commerce about the buoyant state of the finances, about the flourishing state of industry and about the unexampled prosperity of agriculture, if there is even one-tenth of a grain of truth in them—and even that, I admit, would be a large assumption—it is very hard to understand the justification for this particular bill. I do not think it is necessary to go into any quotations from the speeches of the Ministers in this respect. When they are  speaking on other aspects of Government policy they are very eloquent and very definite about the exceedingly prosperous state of the country. And yet this is precisely the moment they choose to bring forward not a permanent measure of economies, but a temporary measure of salary cutting for the present year.
It is extremely difficult to reconcile to any extent the optimistic statements of the Ministers when dealing with the general results of their policy with the attitude they are adopting on this particular Bill. There might be two excuses put forward for a Bill of this kind. If it were an effort at real economy, if it were part and parcel— as decidedly it is not—of a general campaign of cutting down taxation, if it were some evidence of their realisation of the economic conditions confronting the country, that at least might be an arguable case which the Government might put forward. The other case which the Government might put forward would be this that they are not getting value for the money—that they are not getting value from the various services that are being interfered with by this particular Economies Bill. That was a question that was once or twice raised by the members of the present Government when on the Opposition Benches as regards particular services. But even the Minister for Finance when he lost his temper, does not now even suggest that justification for cutting the salaries of the teachers for instance. He did not suggest that they are not giving good value. That excuse has not been put forward as a justification for that particular economy as far as that particular service is concerned. If you run through the various items on which the Government expect to save money by this Bill you will find that in none of them, with a doubtful exception of the Guards, has the Government put forward what might be an excuse that they are not getting value. Not one statement of that kind has been put forward by them. They now realise the value of the services they are getting from the various public servants.  That I think ought to be patent to everybody in this House. Yet I suggest it is one reason why a measure of this kind might be brought in.
I ask the House now on this very last chance so far as this measure is concerned to reject it as a fraud. It is a fraud I fear in its title and it is a fraud in so far as it pretends to stand over a policy of economy. The Government again and again in dealing with the class in the country that they have hurt and in dealing with the various interests that they have injured and damaged have shown that they are exceedingly callous in the way in which they have set about deceiving the people. The word “temporary” introduced in this Bill is, I suggest, only another instance of Government deception and fraud. If the measure is only a temporary measure, if the Government is sincere in that particular matter, if its sole interest is a question of £ s. d. I ask any person seriously to consider whether it is worth the disturbance occasioned by this measure, that is to say, whether the amount of money expected to be saved by this measure is worth the disturbance created in the public service of this country for one year.
Does anybody believe that the amount of damage done is to any extent compensated for by one year's saving of £250,000, especially when we consider the way in which the Government has dealt with the national resources in various other respects? Then we have here simply a case of downright fraud. Economy is not the purpose of this Bill. Anybody who has listened to the Budget speech of the Minister, and anybody who has listened to the various Ministers in this House, know that economy is not the purpose of this Bill. Anyone who has seen the squandermania policy, to quote a word that was used by supporters of the Government when public expenditure was much less than it is now—anybody who considers these things must be perfectly clear in his mind that economy cannot be the purpose of this particular measure. The pretence at economy is the main purpose of this measure, and the pretence that this is a temporary measure is merely the Government  giving way to its usual habit, a habit it cannot get out of—the habit of deceiving the people. To quote an expression that is probably familiar to some supporters of the Government— I saw one of their Fianna Fáil Clubs use the expression—I am not afraid of sabotage on the part of the public services. I quote that expression from a resolution of a Fianna Fail Club—I am not afraid of sabotage on the part of the public services. But even if there was no decided purpose not to give the same service as was given before, the actual discontent existing in the service, at the unfair terms imposed, is bound, taking human nature as it is, to act on the efficiency of the service given to the Government. It is only human nature that it should be so. I ask if that is the case does not every other Deputy feel that if there is slackness of work much more will be lost to the public revenue than will be saved by this fraudulent measure that pretends to introduce economies when the policy of the Government is downright extravagance right through. The Government cannot get away from this policy of extravagance by a “Cuts” Bill of this kind. It is only throwing dust in the eyes of the people, and it can only blind people who wish to have dust thrown in their eyes.
There is this other explanation for the determination with which the Government is pursuing this particular matter, and that is a perverted sense of justice on the part of some members of the Government. It reminds me of a celebrated occasion on which the head of a Government insisted upon certain executions because it would not be fair, he thought, having executed a certain number, if he did not execute the others.
Professor O'Sullivan: I want to point out how that analogy stands on a level with what is being done here, and that because the Government having depressed by their policy one class after another of the population are now determined to depress other classes of the population—the Civil Service, the Guards, the Army and the teachers. As I say, a perverted sense of justice of that kind is the only real excuse that the Government have for pushing a measure of this kind through the House. They have made certain people suffer and, that being so, they will see that other people will suffer as well. There are minds to which arguments of that kind appeal. Apparently such minds are dominating the Executive Council. There is to be equality-equality of suffering and for what? What does the country get out of it? Does anybody pretend that these measures bring the least share of relief to the other classes of the community that have been hit? Surely the opposite is true. Surely the diminished efficiency in the public service that will follow from this Bill, though not a deliberate policy on the part of those hit, will occasion a great deal more loss to the public than what is pretended to be saved under this Bill.
What is the demand for all this from the point of view of the Government? It is sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. Sacrifice is something ennobling, it is something upon which we will build a more virile future generation in this country. That is what is at the back of the minds of some of the members of the present Government so far as this is concerned. Other classes have been reduced to beggary by the policy of the Government. This will not relieve them in the slightest, from that beggary, but at least this class will have the satisfaction of knowing that other people are hit as well, and the Government has not shirked that particular punishment. The process of levelling must go on. It is quite clear when you consider how various classes  have been unnecessarily brought into this Bill that the policy is, we must save a couple of hundred or a couple of thousands of pounds merely for the purpose of display. When we examine that and bear it in mind I would say it is quite clear that the aim of the Government is not the £250,000 they expect to save by this measure but the aim is to see that there is sacrifice, to see that everyone is hit and cut down. They take no account of the value of the service given; that is irrelevant so far as we can gather from the Government's point of view. It was certainly treated as irrelevant at every stage of this Bill and on every amendment put put up from various portions of this House. The question of value for the pay given was not even once discussed by the Government. It is quite clear as I say that this is a development of the policy of the hair shirt long ago initiated by the Government, and gradually turned into the porcupine shirt apparently so far as the population of this country is concerned. They have tried it forcibly on various classes of the community and they are determined now to try it on people who derive their livelihood from the various public services. This is not a question of justice; it is a question of politics. If it were a question of pounds, shillings and pence weighing on the one side what is gained, and on the other side what is likely to be lost in the case of efficiency, there is no case for this measure.
There is a case for this measure if it is portion of the general economic policy in this country, and it is because it is portion of that economic policy that the Government is forcing upon the country that I ask the House to reject it. If it is portion of the hair shirt policy that the Government, for political purposes is forcing upon the country, if it is portion of that policy which is often attributed to the Executive Council of levelling, not up, but down, something may be said for the measure. But if you look at it as a matter of mere pounds, shillings and pence, considering on the one hand what the community is likely to lose,  and on the other what the Treasury is likely to gain, there is no case for this particular measure. It will not help the nation in its present crisis; it would not help us in a normal state of affairs with the present Government in power.
It is impossible for anyone who listens to the speeches from the Government Benches or anyone who is taking part as a listener or a speaker in the various debates in this House to believe that economy and balancing the Budget is the main purpose of the Government's concern. The Minister, as Deputies will remember and as the House will remember, did suggest that when he came to balancing this year's Budget he found himself short £250,000, but he went on to confess that he had made up his mind on this matter 12 months ago, before there was any question of balancing this year's Budget. Not merely that, but surely the House must by this time be aware that it is not a question of balancing the Budget; that the main aim of the Government and the main aim of the Minister has been to find ways of spending money, and not of saving it. There are new avenues of expenditure in every direction, new commitments of local authorities and central authorities and in those circumstances to pretend that national economy has anything to say to this Bill is simply blinding ourselves to the real issues which the country has to face.
I oppose this Bill and I ask the House to reject it because I feel it is a fraud. It is a deception, a deception partly on the class against whom it is directed, owing to its title; a deception on the country as a whole, and a deception on those who cry out for some kind of economy in public services. This is no evidence of any conversion of mind on the part of the Government. Their whole effort has been, as I say, to find methods of spending money and not methods of saving money.
I want to say one word, purely personal, in conclusion. There were various matters discussed during the debates on this Bill, and the Minister made various speeches, impassioned and otherwise. During the course of those speeches we had a certain  revelation of the kind of argument that the Minister was inclined to use. They were not lies; they were the half-truths that are worse than downright misstatements. They were juggling with figures which, as I said before, might deceive anybody who had not a full knowledge of the facts. Figures were used and statements were made that could only have the effect—I am sure the Minister was not aware of it—of deceiving 99 out of every 100 of the people reading them. When he was challenged he said: “Did you read my exact words?” I suggest that sophistry of that kind does not become the Minister. I even suggest to him that he is poaching. There is a much greater master of it in his own Party, and when that master is away the Minister need not have poached on his preserves. Furthermore, he cannot do it nearly as well. There is no conviction about it when the Minister does it. It does not carry conviction to the ears of his listeners. I suggest that statements of that kind made in this House in connection with this Bill are very lamentable, coming from a man whose business ought to be great accuracy so far as figures are concerned.
Mr. MacDermot: A Chinn Comhairle: My colleagues and myself have played a very inconspicuous part in the debates upon this Bill. We have been practising an economy of speech that is symbolic of our desire for economy in general. I hope I may be forgiven if I intervene briefly at this stage. We did indeed introduce an amendment on the Second Reading of this Bill, inviting the House to put themselves in a better moral position for inflicting cuts on others by submitting to a proportionate cut themselves. That amendment was defeated. It did occur to me many times during these debates, and particularly when it was being pointed out that the bulk of the money to be saved is coming from people whose salaries range from £300 to £400 a year, that there must be some at any rate among the members on the Fianna Fáil Benches who feel by now that their moral position would have been enormously strengthened if that amendment had been accepted.
 The speech which we have just listened to from Deputy Professor O'Sullivan is far more prudent and more reasonable than any which I personally have heard from the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches during the debates on this Bill. It was the first speech I have heard on this Bill that gave any indication that the Cumann na nGaedheal Party regard economy as a good thing in itself. I had come to the conclusion, from earlier statements during these debates, that they abhor economy and consider it immoral. I am glad, at any rate, that they do not still think that economy is something that is not good for the State to have regard to. Deputy Professor O'Sullivan said that this measures involves too minute an instalment of economy to be worth while. He also said a great deal as regards the motives of the Government in bringing it in. It appears to me that he pays altogether too much attention to the motives of the Government. I am interested only in the merits of the measure itself. Even if the Government are the most terrible villains and deceivers in bringing it in, I do not think that that ought to influence the attitude one takes towards it. As a matter of fact, I prefer to assume proper and good motives until the contrary are proved, and I do not see why proper and good motives should not exist as regards this measure. This measure is undoubtedly a very tiny measure of economy, but still it is a measure of economy. We have been reading in the papers during the last few days how in connection with the war debt to America the British have under consideration, and, I believe, have adopted, the device of paying a token instalment to show that they are not repudiating their obligations. If the conditions of the time do not admit of any great economy, I think it is nevertheless valuable to have this measure even as a token of economy. Professor O'Sullivan remarked that nobody on the Government Benches has pretended that those people who are now being cut are overpaid, with the possible exception of the Guards. I think the answer to that is an observation which was made by Deputy Corry, and which I am bound  to say I thought one of the most sensible observations made in the course of the entire debates on this Bill, namely, that no man is worth more than the country can afford to pay. You may prove up to the hilt that certain men's brains are worth in the abstract very high salaries, but the question is, what can the country afford? You cannot get away from answering that question honestly.
As regards the bearing of this Bill on the economic war, the Cumann na nGaedheal Party has talked about it as being something in the nature of furnishing ammunition to the economic war. I confess that that argument seems to me to be absurd, as would easily be seen if carried to its logical conclusion. It would mean that we should do everything to scatter money about and encourage the Government to spend it so that they would get into financial difficulties sooner, and so that the economic war would soon be brought to an end. I do not think that argument is seriously urged. I personally do not understand how, having objected to the economic war, we could oppose this Bill. I do not suppose for a minute it was the motive for which the Government brought it in, but it seems to me that this Bill is eminently calculated to spread to other classes of the community the dissatisfaction with the economic war that prevails amongst the farmers. I think it is just that the sacrifice should be spread. I think it is just that other classes should bear their share. Apart from being just, I think it is expedient. I think it is a good thing that every class in the community should feel the economic war as something that hits them personally.
The general atmosphere of the debates that took place on this measure was extremely curious. It is characteristic, I suppose, of modern democracy in general, but it was curious to see the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and the Labour Party full of spirits and eagerness to attack this Bill and, apparently, absolutely confident of the justice of their cause and the propriety of the arguments  they put forward, and to see the Government Benches, apparently, filled with gloom and most of the Fianna Fáil Deputies holding their heads down in shame while they listened to the denunciations from the Labour and Cumann na nGaedheal Benches. What is the situation? It is that, at a time when our expenditure has reached a perfectly enormous figure, the Government are pressing a small economy. One would have thought that reason was so entirely on the side of the Government that all the confidence would be on their side instead of being on the side of the other benches; but when it comes to particular economies, as opposed to economies in general, modern democracy seems to be perfectly hopeless. There is never any possibility of making a Bill that proposes to enforce economies a popular Bill, and that fact was reflected in this House.
There were one or two points made in these debates to which I should like to advert. First of all, a word more about this general question of our expenditure. Our present expenditure is just double the expenditure of Denmark. Looking at the trade figures for exports and imports I find also that the trade of Denmark was just double what our trade was before the economic war began. I also find that the population of Denmark is considerably larger than ours. I think one might bear those considerations in mind as well as bearing in mind the comparison of our present expenditure with what it used to be. If we do bear those considerations in mind I think we shall, perhaps, feel more kindly disposed towards any measure of economy that may be proposed, even if it is only the small one which we are debating now.
As I said, there are two particular points that have been made in attacking this measure to which I want to advert. One was that the measure is an attack on the standard of living. Another was that it is an attack on the spirit of security that has got to exist if our public servants in general are to be efficient. As regards the question of a spirit of security, I agree that it is an extraordinarily desirable thing to  have in public servants. One does not want public servants to have the competitive spirit of a businessman. One wants public servants to have a different attitude towards their work. I do not think that this is a Bill that tends to make them insecure. Security for all of us, for every class of people in the civilised world, even of the civil servants, was blown away by the guns of the European War. There has been no security since for anybody, owing to the political and economic turmoil that has resulted from the European War and from which we are nowhere near recovering yet. It is the fact that nations have been led into spending grossly more than they can afford that has made public servants insecure. It is essential that all public servants should realise that they cannot be safe as long as the State is overspending. If they do realise that they will develop a spirit of parsimony in the public services as regards the handling of any public money which they have to handle and it will give them an enthusiasm for economy in the public interest that will make things very much easier for the Minister for Finance of the time being. That is not to say that I am in favour of penalising public servants or anything of the kind. I merely want to say that they cannot be secure if the State is overspending, any more than a family can be secure if the head of the family is spending more than he can afford.
The answer to the argument about the standard of living is somewhat similar. It is not the Economy Bill that attacks the standard of living. When people are living far beyond their means sooner or later there is going to be a crash if things are allowed to go on as they are going. To cut down expenditure is not ultimately to reduce the standard of living. Of course it is to reduce the artificial standard of the time being— to reduce the inflation of the time being —but in the long run the proper way to secure the highest standard of living in any country is to see that the expenditure of that country is within the country's means as well as that the expenditure, of course, should be wisely directed. We have had some contemptuous references made from  those benches as to our lack of qualification to pose as experts and to say whether there should be economies or not. I quite agree that we have had no opportunity of being administrative experts. When we are called upon by Deputy Corry or other Deputies to bring in a scheme better devised for bringing about economies I agree that we are not qualified to do so. We have not the experience. But we are not posing as experts, and it does not require an expert to see the obvious thing, and that is that this country is overspending. It was suggested by Deputy Norton that money could be raised in a wiser way. Would it be done by increasing taxation? Would not that also cause insecurity and reduce the standard of living? There is indeed one way of securing economy that is more satisfactory than cutting down existing salaries, and that is to stop taking on new people. I wish I could feel confident that the Government was doing more of that. I understand they have stopped recruiting for the Civil Guards and have stopped recruiting for the Army, but have they stopped recruiting for any other branch of the public service? If they have not, would it not be well if they did so? I understand that, on the contrary, it has greatly increased since they came into office. If that is so I think it is deplorable. I think it would be far better to begin by stopping recruiting and by reducing the staffs to the lowest point consistent with efficiency and to redistribute the personnel we have at present and not engage new ones, rather than to cut down the salaries of the personnel we have. However, perhaps the Minister will throw a little light on what the Government is doing in that respect.
In general, we have no choice but to support this Bill. We would be absolutely false to our election promises and to our principles if we did not support it. It is a measure of economy, however small, and we believe that this country cannot survive without economies. We support it also because it is a step in the direction of spreading the losses caused by the economic war over other classes of the community besides the farmers.
Mr. Norton: On the Report Stage the fact that Deputies were limited to one speech prevented me correcting very definite misstatements made by the Minister for Finance. I must, therefore, avail of this opportunity to deal with these inaccurate statements.
Mr. Norton: And what is in the Bill. On the Report Stage I submitted an amendment desiring to secure the exemption of lowly-paid sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses from the scope of the Bill. I said that because of the way in which these people were remunerated it would be necessary for the Finance Department or the Post Office Department to carry out an individual investigation in the case of over two thousand of these officers in order to ascertain what portion of their salary was in respect of personal service and what portion was in respect of service which was not personal, such as the provision of premises, light, stationery, and keeping offices clean. I told the Minister, and I tell him again—and I again challenge him to deny the accuracy of what I am saying—that the cost of carrying out that investigation would be greater than the economies which he hopes to effect in respect of this particular class. The Minister has not distinguished himself by accuracy, nor even by fair methods of debate in connection with this Bill. He made this statement here:
That is a clear suggestion from the Minister that it is a characteristic of mine always to mislead the House. I suggest that was an inaccurate remark, an unfair remark, and it was not supported by the Minister's subsequent statements.
 With the permission of the Chair, I was allowed to make a statement on my amendment and I proved to the satisfaction of the House, and even to the satisfaction of members of the Minister's own Party, that I was perfectly right in the matter and that I knew what I was talking about. I quoted the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, who told me the information was not available, and the Minister for Finance was trying it on the dog when he was making the point that the information was available. I would like to know from the Minister whether he is now satisfied that the statement I made on the last occasion in the House on this matter was inaccurate. If he has not the information now he ought to withdraw the allegation he then made. He certainly should withdraw the reference to me that I always mislead the House.
That is not the only instance I can give of the Minister's inaccuracy. It has become more illuminating since we last discussed this Bill. Under the Bill, national teachers will be cut, in very definite defiance of the guarantee given to the national teachers by the President. On the Report Stage the Minister for Finance, speaking in opposition to an amendment moved by me to exempt salaries below £400 from the operation of the cut in respect of the teaching profession, made a definite statement. Resisting that amendment, the Minister for Finance said:—
“said that speech was made when I was down the country. The speech was made by the President at a meeting at which I was present. I was on the platform at that meeting. When the President, in making the statement at the time, referred to public services it was quite clear from the context of his remarks that the only people he had in mind were the civil servants.”
Mr. Norton: Logic chopping will not save the Minister's reputation on this Bill; it has been badly sullied and badly stained already. Subsequent to that remark by the Minister I quoted the “Irish Press” on the morning of the general election—a very significant date.
Nineteen days after the Rathmines speech, according to the Minister, that undertaking was given by the President. It is an undertaking, it is a guarantee, it is a pledge to the teachers. This Bill is tearing up that pledge. On the last occasion I quoted the fact that a certain member of the executive of the teachers' organisation stated very definitely that he had  got that assurance from the President on the telephone. Now I am in a position to quote from the “Irish Press” of the 10th June, a letter from the teacher concerned, who is a responsible member of the Central Executive Council of the I.N.T.O. Having read the Minister's speech in the Press, this teacher who, like everybody else, believes in truth and accuracy, was outraged because of the inaccurate statements made by the Minister. He wrote to the “Irish Press”:
“Mr. MacEntee's statement in the Dáil on Wednesday night re ‘cuts’ in teachers' salaries, as reported in the public Press, illustrates the extent of the change which this onetime champion of the teachers' rights on the pension question has undergone since he assumed Ministerial responsibility.
Mr. MacEntee says that in the Rathmines speech the only body the President had in mind was the Civil Service. I was one of the teachers who on the night before the General Election in 1932 asked the President what was his attitude re teachers' salaries. He replied that when he spoke on the question of Civil Service salaries, a short time previously in Rathmines, he had on mind the teachers as well, and he, himself, volunteered to put a statement in the public Press to that effect. Next morning the following appeared on the front page of the ‘Irish Press’”:—
Then follows the quotation of the President to the effect that his Rathmines speech was intended to apply to the teachers. It may be 19 days old, but here we have it from the person who actually made the speech that when he was speaking about civil servants in Rathmines he had in mind the teachers as well. The writer of this letter goes on to express views which, I think, will be shared by many in this House. He says:
“It is an easy matter for the Minister to shelter behind privilege, but while Mr. MacEntee may rely on half-truths to whitewash his case, he cannot get away from the fact that the promises that were made by his  Party and accepted in good faith by the teachers, have been shamefully broken.”
I suggest that inaccuracy No. 2 has been illuminated in such a way as to make it impossible even for the Minister, notwithstanding the effrontery with which he tried to defend his inaccurate statement on the Second Stage of the Bill, to attempt to repeat that disgraceful performance to-night. On the Second Stage of the Bill, I said that the Title of this Bill was a masquerade; that it was a wage-slashing Bill; that its only purpose was to bring down the standard of living of the public servants of the country simply because they were within the reach of the greedy financial maw of the Ministry. If I had any doubts on the matter, Deputy Briscoe has completely removed them. Speaking in Dublin a few days ago, Deputy Briscoe used this language as reported in the “Irish Press”: “Speaking in reference to reductions in wages, he (Deputy Briscoe) said that he made no apology for the Economies Bill. They had always maintained that there must be levelling down so that the people below could get something.”
That is the real purpose of the Bill frankly told by Deputy Briscoe who, I am sure, will not be congratulated by the Party managers for his candour, especially during election times. Deputy Briscoe is clear as to what the purpose of the Bill is, because he says that his Party have always maintained that there must be levelling down, and this Bill is implementing the levelling down policy. This Bill has no other meaning and will have no other result except that of imposing a special tax on one section of the community simply because they are within the reach of the Ministry.
Last week-end the Minister for Education, who distinguished himself on this Bill by his silence, went down to Carlow and there, apparently, had more to say about this Bill than he had to say in this House. The Minister for Education has been particularly silent during the discussion of the Bill. He had very little to say.  What he did say did not give one the impression that he was a convinced enthusiast for the Bill. After close association with the Minister for Finance, accuracy would not be his strong characteristic last Sunday, however he might have behaved if he had not been thrown so much in with the Minister for Finance during the discussion of the Bill. Here is the Minister for Education's statement at Carlow: “The Government were giving their attention to the matter of unemployment constantly and had a right to expect more than senseless criticism and misrepresentation from those who professed to look after labour interests, but whose chief function seemed to be to look after the interest of officials who, when one considered the condition of the country, could not be described as being badly off. The Government in their efforts to make economies were merely fulfilling their promise to the electors.”
There never apparently dawned on the Minister the promise given by the President in the Rathmines Town Hall and repeated on the authority of the President in the “Irish Press” on the morning of the election in 1932. The Minister thinks that the Labour Party's chief function is to look after the interests of officials. I do not say that that is the chief function of the Labour Party, but it is a function of the Labour Party, and not a discreditable function of the Labour Party. In any action we have taken to save people from the viciously comprehensive cuts imposed in this Bill we, at all events, have no cause to regret our attitude on that matter. Officials, apparently, are not very valuable between election times. The speech of the President in the Rathmines Town Hall was made in a constituency where there are many civil servants and public officials and that speech, in my opinion, was made definitely to woo the public officials in the constituency whom the Minister for Finance was courting for No. 1 votes. Does anybody believe that the statement in the “Irish Press” on the morning of the poll of the 1932 election was not some kind of electoral interest in the officials who now,  apparently, count very little in the estimation of the Minister for Education? The Minister went on to say: “As regards the higher paid officials it is only right that they should make the same sacrifices in the present emergency.”“The higher officials should make the same sacrifices in the present emergency,” said the Minister for Education, in Carlow. Deputy Briscoe, in Dublin, says they had always maintained that there must be levelling down. Deputy Briscoe's statement, of course, seems true in the light of this Bill. The Minister for Education says that “as regards the higher paid officials it is only right that they should make the same sacrifices in the present emergency.” I wonder were those thoughts in the minds of the Executive Council and of the Minister for Education when recently a person was appointed to the Chairmanship of a Committee of Reference in connection with the Hospitals Sweepstakes at a salary of £1,000.
Mr. Norton: It is, perhaps, not definitely stated in the Bill, but I think I am entitled to show the inconsistency of the Government in one matter, especially when challenged by this challenging statement of the Minister for Education.
Mr. Norton: I think, sir, that you possibly have experience of the fact that it was quite impossible to get Ministers to talk in the House last week. They reserved all their eloquence for outside the House, and it is not my fault if Ministers are silent in the House and prefer to talk to their constituents instead. In any case, quite clearly this policy of making the highly-paid official pay, of making him tighten his belt and make some sacrifice, does not apply to these three recent appointments. In view of that fact, I think the Minister for Education  might well have got a sub-editor at his speech before is was published in the Press in that form.
However, apparently, when he came towards the end of his speech the Minister had Deputy Cormac Breathnach in mind. He said: “As often happened, it was not those who suffered most by the ‘cuts’ who made the biggest display in public or talked most loudly.” If Deputy Breathnach has taken that knock out, or if he feels like getting up again, he ought to read on further. If Deputy Breathnach has any hope of being Commander-in-chief of the Free State Army, or perhaps the Minister for Defence, his hopes, I am sure, will be rudely shattered so long as the Minister for Education remains in the Executive Council, because here is what the Minister thinks of Deputy Breathnach, the President of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, unanimously elected at a recent Congress: “Had the teachers been given a wise lead he was sure they would have responded”—a clear accusation against the chairman of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation that they had not been given a wise lead. The Minister for Education got over good Party stuff when he criticised the Labour Party. Apparently, the Minister was quite off-handed in his criticism in Carlow last Sunday, because he even brought Deputy Breathnach into it, as if he was making too much noise in public and talking too loudly. In any case, as the chief officer of the teachers' organisation he did not give them a wise lead, and, if he had, the Minister for Education believed that they would surely have responded. Of course, I congratulate Deputy Breathnach on not having given the teachers the wise lead the Minister referred to. The Minister's wise lead was a lead into the net. When the Minister talks about a wise lead, what he really means is that he is vexed with Deputy Breathnach because, as chairman of the organisation he refused to accept these cuts. The Minister's wisdom! The Minister talks about wisdow. There is no wisdom in accepting the cut at all.  When one examines the Minister's speech it means nothing more than that the Minister for Education is very vexed with Deputy Cormac Breathnach for not having walked into the spider's parlour that had been so beautifully woven for him in his negotiations with the Minister for Finance. In my opinion there is no case for this Bill. No case has been made for it.
The circumstances of the country do not justify the introduction of this Bill. If anybody had any doubt about that, that doubt was surely relieved by the statement made in this House last night by the Minister for Finance. The Minister said that last year when the Budget was under discussion the Opposition had said that the people would be finished in six months. What was the position then? What is the position in this finance year? The Minister said here last night: “The Exchequer was in a stronger position than ever before and they found themselves with ample resources to carry out their programme.” There you are. He tells us that the Exchequer is in a stronger position than ever before. According to the Minister for Finance the Executive Council has ample resources to carry out their programme. What then is the case for asking this House to pass this wage slashing Bill, to pinch and cut every body of public servants as they will be cut under this Bill? When the Minister feels so buoyant about the Exchequer and about its being in a stronger position than ever before, what is the case for his Bill?
I charge that this Bill has been argued on a basis of hypocrisy in this House. It has been bolstered up by absolute clap-trap but no serious argument has been used in its support. The Bill is steeped in the capitalist philosophy that cutting wages is a remedy for every economic or industrial evil. If cutting wages could have made the world prosperous during the past ten years then the world should have been prosperous during that period because of the wage-slashing policy which was characteristic of the world during the past ten years. Cutting wages throughout the world  during the past ten years did not bring prosperity to the world. Cutting wages did not bring prosperity to this country. If low wages could have made this country prosperous the Ireland of pre-war years would have been the most prosperous country in the world because of the notorious standard of living of the Irish working people in that period. Let it not be forgotten that in that period the Irish manufacturer had a permanent tariff in the form of low wages to enable him to produce his goods. This Bill is based on false premises that cutting wages is going to be a remedy for economic or industrial ills. This Bill in respect of its total policy will bring about in this country the same results that wage slashing has already brought about everywhere in every country, including our own. No serious attempt has been made by the Minister to defend the Bill. No member of the Government and no member of any Party stood up for that Bill or tried to show that a saving of £280,000 will bring to the country apparently that unnecessary prosperity; for if we are to believe the speech made last night by the Minister for Finance we have that prosperity already.
Deputy MacDermot stated that he is prepared to support this Bill. Presumably he is going to vote for the Fifth Stage of the Bill. Deputy MacDermot, on the Committee Stage supported an amendment designed to exempt the lower ranks of the Gárda Síochána from cuts. Now, if this Bill passes they are to be cut. How the Deputy can support this Bill after the rejection of his amendment in Committee passes my comprehension. If the Deputy can do that he has an easy time with his own conscience. Because voting for the Fifth Stage of the Bill means cutting the lower ranks of the Gárda whom the Deputy wanted to save. Voting for it now means cutting the Gárda Síochána. The Deputy cannot get away from that responsibility.
I hope that something will happen this evening by which this Bill will be defeated. I think its defeat would be the best thing that could happen to the Government. It would help the  Government's own policy. I feel that the passing of this Bill is a bad day's work for this House. Its rejection is the best work that could be done by the Fianna Fáil Party. The defeat of the Bill to-night would help that Party eventually. I hope there will be sufficient opposition to the Bill to prevent the Government securing the endorsement of this House for it. In the present financial circumstances it does not merit to pass. The Bill is based on sheer economic heresy.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Since this Bill began to come under discussion in this House it was always a source of surprise to me to find that Deputy MacDermot and the members of the Centre Party could support it. I must confess after I heard Deputy MacDermot speaking to-night my wonder has become greater still because certainly if Deputy MacDermot has read and considered this Bill, then having made the speech which he did make, it is perfectly obvious that he should vote not for the Bill but against it.
There are certain things that Deputy MacDermot said with which I would like to deal. He said he was astonished at the attitude of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, that the Cumann na nGaedheal Party abhorred economy and that their action was immoral. What authority has the Deputy got for a statement of that nature? If the Deputy had been in this State while it was being ruled by the Executive Council representative of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, the Deputy would know that this country was run for millions a year less than it is run at the present moment and there was no squandermania. He would know that in the extra five millions which are to be raised from taxation; the money which is being borrowed; the million pounds which is being taken from the Hospitals' Sweepstakes and the large sums out of this £5,000,000 in dispute which the Government has taken possession of, the Administration is spending millions and very many millions of pounds more than the Cumann na nGaedheal Party ever spent. He would know that the condition of the country is  infinitely worse now than it was when we were in office. He would know of the great works which we have left behind us. Therefore, for the Deputy to say that the Cumann na nGaedhael Party did not look for economy is absolutely absurd and can only come from the fact that Deputy MacDermot lived out of the country when the Cumann na nGaedheal Government were in office. He says that the Bill is a timely measure and that he is voting for it because it is not really an economy at all. It is a sort of token, a sort of spirit on the part of the Government—“we would like to effect economies; we have got a will towards economy, but we have not the remotest idea of effecting economy.” Therefore, Deputy MacDermot will come along and vote for this token economy. The Deputy seems to forget two things. In the first place, he seems to forget that this token vote may be, as it is, of no importance to the State. It is a token economy. But this token economy presses hard upon individuals. Why individuals should be made to suffer for what Deputy MacDermot describes as a mere token, certainly beats me. What lies behind this Bill? What is the theory behind it?
As far as we can gather, in theory, what it does is this. Salaries in the country are not too high; nobody is being paid more than he ought to be paid. Salaries are on a right and sound basis, and as a permanent measure of economy we do not intend to interfere with salaries. That is the supposed theory that is behind this Bill. It is entirely against Deputy MacDermot's views, for he would like to see lasting economies in practice as well as in theory. This is not a demand for permanent reduction in salaries at all; it is a demand, if anything, that these salaries should be kept at their present rate. But look at it from the point of view of the individual suffering under these cuts. It is not a help to the country, and it does not make the Budget balance. That matter was dealt with by my colleague, Deputy O'Sullivan, so that I do not want to go over lines already covered: but this Bill is no advantage  to any class of taxpayers in the State. If they are being asked, at the present time to make this sacrifice, as they are, is there any reason for it except that Deputy MacDermot says it is a token of the goodwill of the Executive Council towards economy.
But there is another point of view and that is the point of view from which this matter must really be looked at. The country is in a very bad way economically and financially. The Executive Council have seen to that. They have taken every measure that persons anxious to create financial chaos could take, and they are getting very close to a state of financial chaos. Remember that the Budget next year is obviously going to be a more difficult thing than the Budget was this year and, therefore, economies, which are called temporary economies in this Bill, and those fixed up to a certain figure, must obviously, to the civil servant and the Guard and everybody else, appear merely as a token of the policy of cutting down. There is no stoppage here. It is not said by the Ministry: “We make this cut, but from the time this cut has taken place salaries will remain fixed.” Nothing of the kind. It is a temporary cut until the condition of finance improves. In other words, it is a cut that is going to grow in extent in each succeeding Budget that this administration brings in. That is one of the most serious points of view from the aspects of the people receiving the cuts.
But there is another aspect in this Bill, and that is an aspect that I cannot understand any Deputy, in any part of this House, ignoring: that is, that this Bill is retrospective in its action; that it is robbing the servants of the States of the wages they have earned from the State. I see that the Centre Party are absent from the House at the moment. But if Deputy MacDermot and his Party, or any member of the Fianna Fáil Party has any respect for the principles of abstract justice, if they have any respect for the Ten Commandments, they will vote against this measure, which is the deprivation of working men of the wages they have earned. That cannot be denied.
 Dealing with the Civic Guard Vote here in this House some time ago, I challenged, first the Minister for Justice as to any legal justification for the cutting into the Gárda salaries which has taken place, and is taking place at the present moment. The Minister was dumb and could make no reply. The Minister for Finance the other day endeavoured to make out that he could, if he wished, have brought in these cuts and that he had power so to do. That was wrong. The Minister, no matter what power he may have, troubled to exercise none of these powers, and, as far as the Civic Guards are concerned, the Attorney-General was forced to admit that there was absolutely no justification at all for what was done. These men are entitled in law, and, therefore, they are entitled in justice, to the wages they have earned, and no vote in this House could set aside the highest of all principles. You may get a vote to legalise your immoral action. You can do that, but at the present moment every single civil servant, if his case could be brought into court and heard before this Bill became law, could recover from the Government the wages that they are illegally and immorally withholding from them. There is no question about that. They are legally entitled to these wages; it is a contract which the Government cannot break. The Government has not attempted, in any way, to interfere with the legality of it. That is the position in which they stand. The Government have deliberately taken away from those people, and refused to pay them, the money they have earned as officials and employees of the Government.
As I say you may legalise that, but remember there is no power in this House to drive a coach and four through the Ten Commandments. The Seventh Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” has been broken by the Executive Council, from the first day of this financial year and is being broken by the Executive Council down to the present minute. They may legalise their action but there is no power on their part to make their immoral actions moral. I cannot,  therefor, understand how any person who believes in Christianity and a system of ethics can vote for this measure as it stands and in its present form. I dare say that this consideration, as to what is right or wrong, just or unjust, moral or immoral, is not a matter to which a certain Party in this House pays the slightest attention but they ought to remember that the country pays attention to these matters, and that there are people in this State who do consider that such things as what is actually moral or immoral, right or wrong, will have to be considered in this country. I do not see how a Government could give a much worse example to the people, or how it could do more harm to the people than the Government is doing by measures of this kind, and this is only one of them. How can you ask the ordinary man in the street to obey the law if you have an Executive Council which comes in here and says: “We snap our fingers in the face of the law; the law does not bind us”? How, if you have lawlessness on top, can you expect to have anything but lawlessness right down through the State? Every man in this State is morally bound to obey the law, yet the Executive Council, the head of this State, deliberately tramples upon the law, and makes this cut for which it can put forward not the slightest justification. I could understand Deputy MacDermot and his Party, and I could understand the Fianna Fáil Party voting for this measure if those retrospective sections had been cut out of the Bill, but I cannot understand any single member of this House voting for it with those retrospective clauses in it. Though it may be too much to hope, I do sincerely hope that even at this eleventh hour the consciences of Fianna Fáil and the consciences of the Centre Party may prove to be not entirely asleep.
Mr. Davin: The vacant benches usually occupied by the distinguished members of the Centre Party show how unnecessary it is for them to be convinced that they should support the Minister in a policy of this kind. I will go further and say that I believe this  is one, and not the only one, of the cases which have occurred in recent times where Deputy MacDermot would have given an assurance in advance to the Minister for Finance that if he brought in a measure of this kind he would support it. I notice in the literature that was circulated during the general election by the Centre Party candidates that they stated quite definitely that they stood for public economy, and that they also stood for the policy of making war on poverty. I wonder would it be correct for me to ask Deputy MacDermot, if he were here, whether he believes that a measure of this kind, proposing to cut the very small salaries of over 1,300 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses, who are in receipt of the pittance of £60 per year and under, would be giving effect to his election policy of declaring and waging war on poverty? What good purpose can be served by the members of the Centre Party in backing a measure that proposes to reduce the miserable salaries of £60 and under which are received by this 1,300 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses throughout the Free State? As far as I can see, anything that will reduce the present pay and salary of any public or other servant of this State down to the level of the down-and-out will get the support of Deputy MacDermot and the other members of the Centre Party. That is the policy by which they hope to build up a better home market for this country, and the policy by which, I suppose, people of that kind believe that they will get a better price for what the agricultural community has to sell at this stage. It might well be proved to them, as it has been proved to the farmers of every other part of the world, that such a policy is bound to fail.
The Minister would not have dared to bring in a Bill of this kind to the last Dáil, because he knew that he would not, in the lifetime of that Dáil, receive the measure of support that he is now receiving in this Dáil from Deputies who do not listen to debates, and the majority of whom I believe do not know what they are voting for. I believe if it were submitted to an  ordinary meeting of the Fianna Fáil Party that they should back a measure which would cut the salaries or wages, or pittances if you like, of these 1,300 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses who are in receipt of £60 and less per annum, the majority of the members of that Party would, on a free vote, turn it down. The absence of so many members of the Fianna Fáil Party from their benches during the whole of the discussion on this measure is proof that this measure is being put through in a steam-rolling fashion by the Minister for Finance, based upon arguments which could not stand the test of any genuine debate in this House. Deputy Norton has ridiculed, and I think smashed, the arguments—if you could call them arguments—that were put up in this House by the Minister for Finance in support of this measure. Look at the House at the moment. The Minister has been backed by one loyal member of his own Party during the last half-hour that this measure has been under discussion. The other 75 or 76 members were careless as to whether a case was being made for or against the measure—so careless that they would not come into the House while those in opposition to it were opposing this Bill.
This is the first time, as far as I can remember, since this House was first set up that a majority of its members have been found to back a measure making provision for retrospective legislation. I doubt if Deputy MacDermot, when in his full senses, would have backed it, realising that by so doing he is backing the Minister in putting certain cuts in salaries into operation before this House or the Oireachtas has given him the proper authority to do so. I remember, I think it was in 1926, when the then Minister for Industry and Commerce brought before this House a measure which included retrospective clauses. The Minister on that particular occasion, in spite of the loyal support he was receiving at the time from the members of the Independent Party, was threatened with defeat if he did not remove those retrospective clauses, and as a result of that threat he withdrew  that clause from the measure. The cuts in the salaries provided for in this measure should not, in an ordinary Parliament, be put into operation until the measure had received the final approval of the Oireachtas. Deputy MacDermot and his Party, or anybody else who votes for the final passage of this Bill, will vote to indemnify the Government against actions which might have been taken against them in the courts on this matter before the Bill received the final approval of the members of the Oireachtas.
I am definitely opposed to, and will oppose, any proposal brought before this House by any Government for further interference with the pay or conditions of the Gárda Síochána. I believe it is very bad political tactics, apart from being bad national economy, for any good Government— or any Government that calls itself a good one—to be continuously interfering with the pay and emoluments of the members of its police forces. I would ask the Minister when looking at the matter, if he can look at a matter of this kind with an even mind, to refresh his memory as to the policy of the Six-County Government and the British Government in regard to the pay and conditions of their police force; and to compare the pay and conditions of the Gárda Síochána with the conditions given by the Six-County Government and the British Government to their own police forces. I believe it can be proved that, taking things as a whole, the pay and conditions of the members of the Gárda Síochana are much worse than those obtaining in any other English speaking country at the present time. I believe it is bad political tactics, and I think I have said so to the Minister privately, for the present Government to be continually interfering with the pay of the Gárda Síochána. I believe that the late Minister for Finance, Mr. Blythe, gave an assurance to the Gárda Síochána publicly in this House when the last cut was put into operation that there would be no further interference with their pay or emoluments; that they were down to bedrock. I feel certain that the Minister for  Finance, when he was Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee—and he was a very able Chairman of that body —was furnished with the same evidence and the same kind of report by the Auditor-General, and that the same matters were brought to his notice during the period of his Chairmanship as were brought to the notice of the Public Accounts Committee during my membership and Chairmanship of that body. I believe it is possible for the Minister for Finance, if he wishes to cut out waste, to find in the Estimate for the Gárda Síochána certain sums of money which could be saved, say, in the case of unnecessary charges for transport for members of that particular body. I remember, at any rate, during the period of my membership of that body, that it was brought under our notice that the amount set aside for transport for the members of the Gárda Síochána, particularly those in the higher ranks, could not be justified. I believe that was brought under the notice of the Minister for Justice recently by a deputation of the Representative Body which waited on the Minister for the purpose of opposing these cuts and pointing out other ways and means by which a very large sum could be saved without cutting the salaries and wages of the Gárda Síochána.
I venture to express the opinion that this Bill has been brought in for the purpose of making a gesture to the bankers and employers of this State in the hope that, when the National Loan comes to be floated, in the near future, they will get more support from that element of the community than they would get if they had not introduced this wage-cutting policy. It was admitted that the saving of £280,000 that will result from this is not going to save the State although the Minister claims that it will help him to balance the Budget. Senator Connolly, the senior representative of the present Government who is presently attending the World Economic Conference in the hope that he will help to cure the ills of other nations as well as bring good results to our State, said, in effect, in an interview to the world Press on Monday,  that a policy of this kind will not save the world and that there must be fundamental changes in the existing system before the people of this State or of any other State can be saved, and that salary cuts of this kind are not going to help, either here or elsewhere, to save this Government, although they may, as the Minister claims they will, help to balance the Budget for the time being.
I think it would be unfair and that it would be taking up too much of the time of the House to deal with the question of whether there can be any justification for the proposed cuts in the teachers' salaries. I think it has been proved to the satisfaction of every Deputy who listened to Deputy Norton's speech that the Government, in seeking the votes of the electors, and of the teachers in particular, in the elections of 1932 and 1933, did not anticipate putting into operation any cuts of this kind. Deputy Norton has quoted from a letter of the 10th June, written by a member of the Central Executive of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, who, to my knowledge were strong supporters of the Fianna Fáil Party during the last two elections and who now realise that the Minister has broken the very definite pledges given to the teachers, through President de Valera, in his speech in Rathmines in 1932. Let the Minister produce any sentence from either of the two manifestos issued by President de Valera in 1932 or 1933 in which he sought to secure a mandate for any of the measures proposed here. He has not produced anything himself to justify the passage of a measure of this kind. I do not think he can quote any passage from either of the two manifestos issued in 1932 and 1933 to justify it and I think that, perhaps, there are many members of this House who would be prepared to bear with him in patience in dealing with a matter of this kind if he would do so, although nobody with any realisation of what is required to put this country on its feet would admit that this policy would succeed in doing so.
We are definitely and positively opposed to the policy contained in this  measure. We would oppose it no matter from what Government it came; and I think that time will prove that the policy contained in this measure is bound to fail in the long run. Apart altogether from the justification for the percentage of cuts proposed in the measure, we are definitely opposed to the retrospective clauses contained in the Bill, and I believe that any democratic member of this House, who knows the meaning of retrospective legislation, would not back the Minister in putting this Bill through its final stages in the House.
Mr. Costello: I understand that some people are liable to find sermons in stones and good in everything. It is rather difficult to find, in this particular brick that the Government have thrown into the public services, any good, or to extract any sermon from the pernicious doctrines and principles and policies that are contained in every line and detail of this Bill. But I have some hopes from this Bill. In fact, I may say I have great hopes from this Bill, and they are these: that this is the last Bill that will ever come before this House, sponsored by any Party, cutting the salaries and wages of public servants of this State. I hope the debates that have gone on for the last few weeks in this House on this Bill will have convinced every Party in the House, including the Centre Party, of the injustice that is being perpetrated on a loyal body of servants who have given very faithful service and done very useful work for this State and in the building up of this State. That is my great hope from this Bill.
I have great hopes from this Bill, too, because of this, that speakers from every Party in this Dáil paid tribute after tribute to the various sections of the public service of this State who are being adversely affected by the provisions of this Bill, and not even a member of the Centre Party dared to repeat that particular slander that was uttered during election campaigns about the hordes of overpaid and underworked public servants that were being employed and who were battening on the public moneys of this State. Everybody has paid tribute to the  work that has been done by the Civic Guards, by the Army, by the civil servants, by the teachers, and by all the other servants of the State who are being adversely affected by this Bill. Nobody has suggested in this House— and I listened very carefully to see if such a suggestion would be repeated —that this country at the moment is carrying too many civil servants. It is a useful thing, even if it is a costly thing, that this Bill has made it clear to the people of this country that there is no lavish expenditure and no extravagance in connection with the administration of the affairs of this State.
Deputy MacDermot admitted that he had no experience of public administration. It was a frank admission and a proper admission to be made. I think it explains his speech and it explains in a good part the votes that have been cast by the Centre Party in reference to the various matters that have arisen during the passage of this Bill. He said it would be a good thing if civil servants would develop a spirit of parsimony and an enthusiasm for economy. I wonder was he thinking of the statement of a famous Chancellor of the British Exchequer who said that the national finances were balanced and maintained by a series of petty-fogging and vexatious parsimonies; or did he know what he was talking about at all? If he had any experience of public administration he would know that in the Department of Finance, which is sponsoring this Bill, there is developed to the very highest possible degree, and even to a very scientific extent, a spirit of parsimony and an enthusiasm for economy.
Any person who has been trying to extract from the Department of Finance a small amount of money for any necessary development or scheme of reconstruction during the last ten years would know that every obstacle was placed, every argument, good, bad and indifferent, was put forward and every delay made use of, by the Department of Finance and its very expert officials to hold up the spending of money for the advancement of even admittedly sound schemes. I would like to see a Government presided over  by Deputy MacDermot in which the officials of his Department of Agriculture, let us say, would have developed a spirit of parsimony and an enthusiasm for economy and when Deputy MacDermot's Minister for Agriculture would come forward with a scheme for the betterment of farmers and the improvement of agriculture, civil servants, in order to ensure that sense of security which Deputy MacDermot admitted was desirable and which he advised them to seek along the lines of parsimony and economy, would show Deputy MacDermot's Minister for Agriculture that his scheme for the betterment of farmers should not be carried out or conducted at all because, in view of the spirit of parsimony and the enthusiasm for economy which they had developed at his direction, it was better that civil servants should be secured in their jobs than that the farmers should have schemes put up for their betterment or for the improvement of their industry.
Deputy MacDermot also stated that no man is worth more than the country can afford. Translate that into actual words and it means that this country cannot afford to pay for good men. That statement of Deputy MacDermot's has no other meaning than that. I say this country cannot afford to pay cheap wages for cheap men and this country will lose on the policy of wage cutting and salary slashing; it will lose in prestige and hard cash. I drew attention during the progress of this Bill to the fact that while the Minister for Finance stated that the public servants of this State ought to reconcile themselves to the fact that they must bear this economy, the country could not afford to do without this economy, I say that the country cannot afford to do with this economy, cannot afford this pretended economy, because in the long run far more expense will be put upon the State. Ten times the amount that will be saved, if any is saved by the provisions of this Bill, will be lost through lack of efficiency, through lack of zeal, through a sense of discouragement that will come upon public officials, great and small, the men with big salaries and the men  with small salaries, as a result of the provisions of this Bill.
The farmers cannot afford to have this Bill passed, because most of the public services are run for the benefit of the farmers and, in order to have proper schemes for the benefit of farmers, you must have good men thinking them out, considering and knowing the interests of the farmers. You will not get those good men by paying them paltry wages, or cutting a few shillings off their weekly sums. I object to, and I enter a strong protest against, that principle. I think I would be failing in my duty if I did not protest strongly against any such principle being accepted by any Party as that this country cannot afford to pay for good men. We are not a fifth-rate or a sixth-rate State. We have our international responsibilities and also our national responsibilities. We have our duties as well as our rights in reference to other members of the family of nations. We have our intercourse with them and we have our economic repercussions with them. As I said during the various stages of this Bill, we will, in the course of our discussions on economic matters, not to talk about political matters, be up against the best political brains and the best financial brains in the world, and if our problems are to be solved, if we are to get the best that can be got out of these discussions and negotiations which will inevitably have to take place, then we must have the best brains we can get and we must pay the best salary we can afford for those brains.
Let me repeat that the salaries that are being paid to public servants here are very much less than those paid to British civil servants and British public officials. You may take it that the British Treasury, when open competition was introduced as a principle for the recruitment of the British Civil Service, did not, in the case of those people who came into the Service, from which all patronage had been taken away—the sons of farmers from Kerry and Cork and the wilds of Connaught—allow themselves to give lavish salaries. They set themselves out to find what would be the least  salary they could pay for the best brains and they fixed the rate on that principle. We are paying less to those people than corresponding men are getting in Great Britain.
Deputy MacDermot expressed surprise at Deputy O'Sullivan's statement that we were anxious for economy. He said he always thought Cumann na nGaedheal abhorred economy and considered it immoral. Deputy Fitzgerald - Kenney has answered that point and I do not propose to comment upon it other than to say this, that we object with all the strength we have and with all the conviction we feel to any economies based on immorality. The economies enshrined in this Bill and that will be perfected by it when it passes into law, are based on injustice and, therefore, on immorality. This Bill legalises a breach of contract. It authorises a unilateral breach of contract, and any breach of contract by the stronger party by which the other party to that contract is bound to keep his part of the bargain while the stronger party is released in whole or in part from his part of the bargain, is unjust and, therefore, immoral.
I recommend that the Executive Council should take the advice of an expert theologian on the provisions of this Bill and find out whether, according to Catholic principles and Catholic theology, the provisions of the Bill, in so far as they are based on breach of contract and injustice, are not immoral. I object personally on that highest ground to this Bill, on the high ground that it is against justice and against morality. I object because it breaks contracts unilaterally, because it introduces insecurity into the public service and because it will make for inefficiency in the public service.
Let me repeat, for the third time, that when I say it will bring inefficiency in the public service of the State, I do not for a moment mean to suggest that any person who remains in the public service after the operation of this Bill will not give as loyal and patriotic service to this State as he has given in the past. It is, however, the extra  zeal that counts; it is the extra push that matters. Anybody who has had experience, as we have had for ten years, of administration and what civil servants and public officials generally have done, will know that a public official or a civil servant can work from 9.30 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon, give a good day's work, commensurate with his pay, and no rebuke officially or otherwise can be administered to him, and he can be entered up on the records of the Department of Finance as a good official, but he will not be the best official for this State. He will not be like those officials to whom the State owes so much, who worked, during the last ten years from 9.30 a.m. until 1.30 the following morning, if necessary, without thanks, without extra pay, and without any notice whatever having been taken of their extra effort. It is by people going back to their offices after hours, without saying anything about it to their chiefs, that extra revenue was got in during those ten years, and that push can be properly and regularly absent from those services that may be given by public servants if this Bill goes through.
The Minister for Finance made a pathetic and impassioned appeal on behalf of the provisions of this Bill because he was going to look after the interests of the poor. This Bill is not going to affect or to help in any way the interests of the poor. However, we may differ from the Labour Party on points of policy, it is only due to them to say that, if this Bill was going to affect adversely the interests of the poor, the members of the Labour Party would not be going into the Lobby against them. I fail to see how it is going to help the interests of the poor with dispensary doctors, who give their services for a paltry wage in looking after the poorest of the community, the sickness, poverty and misery that exists in the slums of the city and elsewhere in the country; how the interests of the poor people of that class, the sick poor who require our practical sympathy more than any other section, are going to be benefited by a few pounds being taken by the State off the paltry salaries of the dispensary  doctors. I cannot even see how the interests of the poor are going to be affected by the taking of a few pounds off the national teachers, who give their lives teaching the children of the poor, and a few shillings taken off the Civic Guard who walks his beat seeing that the poor will not be exploited and that the lives and bodies of the poor will be protected.
Dr. O'Higgins: I have listened to the discussion on this Bill practically from beginning to end. I must say, frankly, that the more I listened the more puzzled I became at the action of the Minister for Finance, and his lightning changes, following the example of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He comes into this House one day as perky as a peacock preening in the sun, to tell us that revenue was never more buoyant, that the country was never going better, that money was never easier, that unemployment was decreasing at such a rate; the next day he is pulling the poor mouth, wailing and telling us that in the interests of the country, in very difficult times, when money is scarce, when bankruptcy is threatened, that every policeman, every teacher, every doctor, every civil servant and every soldier must sacrifice some of his pay. In that kind of an atmosphere, are we not entitled to ask which story is true, which is the real state of affairs? Was the picture painted for us last night a true picture or a false picture, or was the picture painted on the introduction of this Bill a true picture or a false picture? He cannot have it both ways. It has to be one way or the other. If we had a little honesty now and again from the Government Front Bench it would be worth attending in this House, if it were only to see the unusual exhibition.
We are putting through this Bill to reduce the salaries of all public servants and officials paid directly or indirectly by this State. Very little consideration is given to the position of these individuals—given to the services they render. Not a single tribute from the Government Front Bench to the officers, the civil servants, the police, the soldiers, the teachers, who in the darkest days carried on doing  their job. When money was actually running out, when their pay was reduced, when many of them went for months without salary in a real national crisis, there was no complaint, no discontent. Now, when the revenue was never more buoyant, we turn around and lop every one of them. Deputy MacDermot approves of this gesture. He supports this Bill because it is gesture of a kind. It is very easy for any one of us to economise retrospectively, provided it is at the other fellow's expense. What would Deputy MacDermot and his Party think of me if, at a fair some three months ago, I bought some stock and now altered the price and paid a little less?
One of the foulest things in this Bill is the retrospective application of these cuts. If I went home this evening and reduced the wages of my servants, not from to-morrow, not from next week, not from next month, but from 1st April last, every Fianna Fáil Deputy would be out for my blood up and down the country; every one of them would hold me up to scorn, and rightly so. Yet, that is what the Minister does with loyal servants, with people who, in the main, are the people who made and saved this State, the people on whom the Minister, during his period as a Minister, will have to lean more and more. He is cutting them retrospectively. The Attorney-General, who is in the Government, admits with regard to one particular force, at least, that the reduction is illegal. Now we are asked here to-night to share in the sin and pass the Bill that will cover up the sinful tracks of the Government according to the Attorney-General himself. The Minister was asked here to-night to reconsider that particular clause of the Bill. I do not think that is asking anything very extraordinary or anything that should not be asked.
What is going to be the result of this all-round reduction? It is unquestionably going to lead to a lack of confidence in this State. It is unquestionably going to lead to discontent and to instability in the Government. The Government of the State suddenly  turns robber and then retrospectively legalises the robbery. What headline is that State giving? What healthy tone, what kind of stability can you expect in that State? What kind of security can you have in that State? The State is supposed to be the model employer. A State both in good and in bad times should set an example to all employers. The Government of a country should be an example to the ordinary individuals up and down the country with respect to contracts and with respect to bargains made. Even though it is difficult for financial reasons the Government should respect the position of the individual with regard to the State.
Remember the ordinary civil servant, the policeman, and the officer who serves this State at the present minute are having their pay reduced by the Dáil this evening. Remember this public servant at one time as an ordinary individual took up a table pointing out the scale of wages year by year and rank by rank, and having studied that with the stamp of the State on it, and relying on the honour of the State, and on the honour of the people responsible for administering that State, he read those terms and saw by them where he would be in 1928, or where he would be in 1930, or where he would be in 1933, and he took his choice. He went into that particular service—he might have gone elsewhere. But he came into the State service, and most of these public servants were induced by the idea that there was some stability, some security, about their salaries. He believed that the last place where he would suffer from a breach of contract would be at the hands of the State.
Dr. O'Higgins: I am certainly and definitely serious with regard to that contention. It would be very serious that an official of the State, after the terms of his employment had been  pointed out to him, should find he is not entitled to expect that salary, or that that salary is to be reduced. And that is done in a year when the revenue is booming, when the State was never so strong financially or otherwise, as we have been told by the Minister. But in the midst of this great Fianna Fáil prosperity we are asked to celebrate the boom by making sacrifices all around. Any of those servants of the State who have the courage even to question it are picked out for bitter and unfair attack by the Minister for Finance. I would ask the Minister and his supporters over there to consider that whether a man is a teacher, a doctor, a civil servant, or a soldier, that he has certain rights, and that when he sees and witnesses those rights being filched from him he is at least entitled to express his views. One would think that it would be sufficient to take the money out of that man's pocket and take it out retrospectively without his being asked in addition to submit to a bitter attack from the Minister for Finance.
I would ask the Minister to remember this, that it takes more time, more study, more perseverence, and, indeed, more education, to make a teacher or to make an officer than it does to make a Government Minister. If the position of the State is really so bad as we are told it is every second day, why then are one class of salaried servants of the State asked to contribute their share to this particular crisis, and others exempt both from increased taxation and reductions in salaries? In dealing with this particular Bill I think, really, that the most inconsistent Party in this House is the Centre Party. Prices are slumping, particularly the prices of farm commodities. Every one of us regrets that. Every one of us is living directly, or indirectly, by the Irish farmer. When farming is in a bad position we are all in a bad position together. I put it to the Centre Party this way: are you going to improve prices by lessening the amount of money in circulation? Do you not know when you cut the officials that this is merely the first step? Do you not know that there is going to  be a general tightening; that there is going to be a general reduction and that there is going to be considerably less spending? If there is considerably less spending in any country do you not know that the industry of that country must suffer? The bigger the industry is the more it will suffer. I would remind the Centre Party that the only case made for this particular Bill was that it was to provide the sinews of war for the economic war which had to be carried on. Do they not know that every teacher has got to pay the price that every doctor and every policeman has got to pay under this Bill? It was mentioned clearly from the Government Front Bench that this was a Bill introduced to provide more ammunition for the economic war. Now, if there is one Party in this House elected more directly than any other Party to end that particular economic war, it certainly is the Centre Party. They should, even at this Stage, before this Bill is finally passed, consider their position and be true to the people who sent them here for the purpose of ending this economic war. They should ask themselves are they clearly representing those people by going into the Division Lobby to provide more ammunition for the economic war.
Mr. Corish: The statement of the Minister is in keeping with the statement he made on the Report Stage of this Bill when he said that the money he was proposing to save in this Bill was in order to help the poor. I do  not think that that kind of statement is going to take us very far. I want to make my final protest against the passage of this measure. Everything that requires to be said has been said already. Certain statements were made by the Minister on the Fourth Stage to which I think it only right to refer. The Minister said that one justification for the cuts so far as the teachers were concerned was that the teachers themselves had agreed to the cuts. One is entitled to ask why the Minister is seeking cuts in the pay of the Guards, the Army, the Civil Service, and other people affected. Will he say that there would be no cuts in the teachers if there had been no agreement? The Minister's statement is the fullest justification for any action that Mr. J. H. Thomas has taken or will take. The Cumann na nGaedheal Government in the Dáil made certain agreements with the British. The people when they got an opportunity discharged the Cumann na nGaedheal Government and the Fianna Fáil Government interpreted that as meaning that the people repudiated the agreement made as between the Cumann na nGaedheal Government and the British Government. The Minister knows that a certain agreement was arrived at between the National Executive of the Irish National Teachers' Association and the Government in 1931 at a special convention. But the Minister also knows that a National Convention afterwards turned out the National Executive of the teachers because of their having accepted that cut. It is hardly necessary to remind him that at that particular time he wrote letters condemning the action of the General Secretary, and the National Executive, of teachers for accepting the cuts.
Mr. Corish: I have not got the letters before me at the moment, but my recollection is that the Minister, then as Deputy MacEntee, condemned  strongly the executive of the teachers' organisation for accepting the cut at that time, and went further and described it as a betrayal of the teachers. He was not alone in that. Every Minister who now occupies the Front Bench, certainly, said the same thing in different parts of the country. I wonder is there any use again referring to the statement made by the President at Rathmines. On the last occasion that that was quoted he denied the President referred to the teachers at all.
Mr. Corish: But it is only he who has denied that; and if the President at that particular time did not mention the teachers, in his speech, the Minister cannot deny the fact that on the morning of the elections in 1932 a statement appeared in the Irish Press, in leaded type, stating, very definitely, that the President meant the teachers, when he was referring to people having salaries of £300 or £400 a year and under. I suggest to the Minister that promises have been broken, and faith has been broken, so far as the teachers are concerned. It has been proved, conclusively, by responsible members of the teachers' organisation that at a conference with President de Valera on the night previous to the general election in 1932. The Minister for Finance said, when Deputy Norton was speaking, that that was the election of 1932. We are quite well aware of that but we are also aware of the circumstances that prevailed last year, and which prevented the Minister for Finance taking the action that he is taking now. Different people hold the balance in this Dáil during the last 11 months. We all know the policy of Deputy MacDermot and his Party in regard to salaries, and that the Government can bank upon their support on that particular question. So much for the teachers. But before I pass away from that I want to mention that reference was made to the poor. The cut in the teachers' salaries will seriously affect the poor because, up to this, teachers have, out of their own pockets, been providing books for  children who attend their schools in the poor districts. I doubt that they will be able to continue this in view of the fact that their salaries are being cut.
During the Committee Stages of the Bill the Minister for Finance said that whether the economic war was in being or not it was intended to cut the salaries of the Gárda. I consider that a very serious thing, especially when made in connection with a force like the Gárda where we should strive to have content always. A statement of that kind leads to grave discontent. The Gárda are entitled to know where they stand in this matter. In the year 1928 or 1929, I forget which, when the allowances of the Gardá were being cut, the then Minister for Finance (Mr. Blythe) said very definitely that the time had arrived when the Gárda should know where they stood, and that, as far as he was concerned, their salaries were now down to bedrock. Surely a change of government ought not to alter that situation. As I said, if anybody should feel content, or if we should strive for content in any part of the State service, it should be in the ranks of the Gárda. I suggest to the Minister that when he comes to reply, in this debate, he should state very definitely that we have come to bedrock so far as the Gárda are concerned. The Minister quoted figures as to the pay of the Gárda and showed that their wages averaged about £3 per week. That may be so, but the Minister will admit that in various country towns, when the member of the Gárda has to seek lodgings or a house, he has to pay infinitely more than the ordinary citizen. In almost every case he is called upon to pay almost double what the ordinary citizen has to pay because he is regarded as being in a privileged position. I hope the Minister will make the position clear because grave discontent prevails in the ranks of the Gárda since that statement of the Minister, and I think we are entitled to such a statement as I have asked for now, so far as the Gárda are concerned. I feel it is no use saying any more. The Minister and his Party are adamant so far as this Bill is concerned. I would like to add  my protest in regard to the retrospective action of this Bill. Retrospective legislation is always very objectionable, especially when it amounts to something like robbery in the shape of cuts in the salaries of public servants.
Mr. O'Neill: Before Philip drunk appeals to Philip sober, before our Chancellor of the Exchequer, riding buoyantly on a sea of bullion, takes his departure and is replaced by the headsman pointing his axe at the roots of all salaries of this country, I would like to make my little protest against the whole of this Bill. I have done so before, but, above all, I appeal to the Minister, and his Party, to give some consideration to one of the weakest elements in the community attacked by this Bill. I instanced some of those on the Second Reading of the Bill, but there is one class, not mentioned before, that I would like to mention now, and that is the class known as District Court clerks. They have salaries of less than £200 a year; these salaries are now being cut by £1 per month, which is a very big percentage cut. They are a new class of men and they have taken on very onerous duties, and very important duties; they have to cover a wide area in their service. Each District Court clerk now covers an area that would have been covered before by at least three Petty Sessions clerks. Their duties are very much more varied and extensive owing to the scope of the District Courts which approximate to what was once known as Quarter Sessions Courts. Cutting their salaries by £1 a month is to them a grevious evil. They are new men who have to set up a new tradition and a new and distinct service in this country. The Minister told us last night how well off the country was. When putting the Budget before us, and later, dealing with the details in the Budget, I think he said he was out to get something like £5,000,000 or £6,000,000—a small amount of money—which, he said, was to be raised by borrowing or otherwise. I think this scheme of saving a few  thousand pounds is included in the plan of bridging this gap amounting to something between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000. If this plan of economy had been sincere and honest I think the whole House would be unanimous in backing it up, but we see very little necessity for trying to save a few paltry thousands while the Government's policy is directly engaged in squandering millions in carrying on the economic war which is reducing this country to the level of penury day by day.
Another class affected by this cutting scheme is the industrial schools. I put in a plea for those on the Second Reading. Nobody has mentioned it since. Even the little helpless children, the orphans in the industrial schools, are affected. They get a capitation grant of, I think, 5/- a week from the Government, and those grants are to be cut to such an extent that even those unfortunate children, the weakest in all our social system, are to be cut to the extent of 4½d. a week as a contribution to this great scheme of economy. I think that is the most senseless thing in connection with this whole matter. We know that economy is necessary. It is not long ago since the President himself stood up here in the House and told us that this matter should be approached by us all in a crusader's spirit. What example has he himself given us of the crusader's spirit? A silk hat and morning coat in Paris, a red carpet in Dún Laoghaire? I am not against those things, because I think the President of this country should have his comings and his goings marked with the dignity of any self-respecting State. At the same time, it comes badly from persons who have scoffed and sneered at those conventions of social custom. I believe that economy is needed in the reckless expenditure and job-creating policy of the Government. Economy is needed in bringing before us such wild cat schemes as the turf scheme brought before us to-day, and the creating of jobs such as turf controllers and others. I ask if the Minister thinks seriously that this country is going to be saved from the gulf into which it  is being plunged by taking 4½d. a week off the orphans, or by taking something like 5/- a week off the national teachers, men whose initial salary does not exceed £150 a year? Does he think he is going to save £6,000,000 by taking a miserable sum of 2/6 off an unmarried Guard? Is this what he calls parsimony and enthusiasm for economy? I think behind this Bill there is no really decent, well-reasoned or honest attempt to effect economy or saving.
Mr. T.J. Murphy: I should like to re-echo what has been said by somebody else, in expressing the hope that even still there might be sufficient reason manifesting itself in the Division Lobbies to defeat this measure. I think it would be a tragedy if this Bill were passed, because I think that the policy which it enshrines will constitute one of the biggest blots on the records of this House. This Bill, in the main, is based on a series of broken promises and dishonourable treatment of the public officials concerned. It has not been denied that in the case of the Gárda Síochána they were assured some years ago by the predecessor of the present Minister for Finance that no further inroads would be made on their wages. It has been proved now, although the Minister attempted to deny it, that the President included national teachers in the promise that he made to public officials generally in the speech which has been so often quoted during the progress of this Bill. It has certainly yet to be shown that the policy of the Government contemplated at any time demanding sacrifices from public officials who were paid, as in some cases they are paid at the present time, at the rate of £20 a year—the sub-postmistresses and sub-postmasters. The whole mentality of the Bill is miserable and wretched, and is, above all, dishonest. I think in the interests of the honour of this House and the honour of the country it would be a very good job if, at the eleventh hour, this Bill is defeated.
Deputy Costello in his speech said that he noted that in the course of  the debate there was no reference to the old slogans about the hordes of over-paid servants who had very little work. It is true that there was no reference to that kind of thing in the course of the debate, but that is the mentality that is behind this Bill. It is intended to play up to the feeling in the country that all public officials, whether national teachers, members of the police force or members of the civil service, are rolling in riches, are entirely over-paid and have nothing to do. It is no harm to repeat again what has been said already, that this Bill is a sop to that sort of ignorant clamour we have always had in this country, and that it is intended to appease it in this particular form at the present time.
I want to refer to the Minister's actions particularly in connection with the national teachers. I should be glad if, in the course of his reply, he would explain to us why it is that under the provisions of this Bill he is asking for a much more substantial cut from the teachers than was asked originally. The original demand made by the Minister was for a 5 per cent. cut, and that cut would carry with it a settlement of the pension question. The cut proposed under the present Bill is a cut of from 5 per cent. to 8 per cent., and there is no indication or promise that any provision will be made in the immediate future to settle the very big and outstanding question of the pensions. There is no guarantee that further sacrifices will not be demanded from the teachers when that question comes to be settled. I should like particularly that we would have some explanation from the Minister as to why, since the original proposals were mentioned, very substantial additions were made to the proposed cuts. I should like the Minister to explain particularly how it is that he states that economies of this kind are necessary, in view of his statement here last night that the finances of this State are perfectly sound, and that there are ample resources at the disposal of the Government to carry out their programme and to put through any schemes that they consider necessary?
 I want to refer to another matter, and that is that the provisions of this Bill are providing a headline for every employer in this country who desires to reduce wages at the present time. They will provide that headline if the Bill is enacted, and a great many other people who are not at the moment affected by the provisions of this Bill will feel, at the hands of their own particular employers, the effects of the policy enshrined in it. I think that on two or three occasions in this House in the past ten years Bills have been brought forward which contained retrospective sections or provisions. On two occasions, at least, that I heard discussions on such Bills I can well recall the vehemence of the protests that were made against the retrospective clauses in the Bill and I can quite remember how the Minister, sensing the violent opposition that prevailed in this House to such retrospective clauses, gave way to that opposition and agreed to withdraw the proposals. It is a scandalous breach of faith with the officials concerned to find that, without one word of sanction from this House, the Minister anticipates the passing of this Bill and puts its provisions into effect without any authority.
Deputy MacDermot, fresh from the election where he proposed to make war on poverty, can go joyously into the Lobby and vote to put cuts on the salaries of such officials as postmasters through the country, some of whom are getting only £20 a year at present. I want Deputy MacDermot to reconcile that with the election manifesto slogan in which he said that one of the things his Party would do would be to make war on poverty. I wish him joy of it when he goes into the Division Lobby to cast his vote for the cutting of the salaries of people who are getting only £20 a year at the present time. I think that of all the dishonesty, and of all the miserable subterfuges which have been employed to defend this Bill, the most contemptible of all is the pretence that this Bill is going to bring any relief to the poor. If the whole amount that will be saved by this Bill was made available  for relief works to-morrow morning it would only enable such works to be carried on for a few weeks. The poor people are going to gain nothing whatever from this Bill; but the intention is to persuade them that they will gain something and it is sought to justify it by the same doubtful methods employed for every proposal of a similar kind up and down the country. This Bill proposes to endorse in this country a lowering of the standard of living and to give into the hands of every employer in this country, who could look to the State as being the best employer in the country, authority to cut wages. Already the provisions of this Bill have been used and employed all over the country to secure wage reduction. I was present at a meeting of the county council in Cork where, in regard to another such wage, somebody suggested that the wages of the employees of the county council should be reduced like the Government wage. The Government wage enshrined in this Bill will be, and is already being used, all over the country to achieve the purpose of wage reduction and the worsening of working conditions. It is a bad policy and a wretched policy because, if it means anything, it means bringing the country down to the level of a country like China where the people only get a handful on which to sustain life. This policy is held over us for a number of years at a time when the country teems with poverty and there are millions of hungry people all over the world. We have been informed as a result of the meeting of the World Economic Conference that 30,000,000 are unemployed in the world to-day. That is the position in the world and in face of that fact we are putting this wretched policy into effect. That policy has been tried in every country in the world.
Mr. Murphy: It was tried across in England. The general election was fought on the question, and the whole policy of the National Government has been in this particular direction. It has been tried in America, to mention another country. I say that the  position that reveals unemployment for 30,000,000 people in this world to-day is a most damning indictment of the futility of a policy of this kind.
I hope that this Bill will not be passed. I hope that the House will be able to rise above the dishonesty that surrounds this Bill and that they will be able to tear away from this Bill the subterfuges, the excuses, and the miserable defences which have been employed to surround it; and that the House will realise that this Bill will be interpreted as a mandate from the Parliament of this country to go down to a lower standard of living, and that it will be welcomed by everybody who wants to bring back to this country the standard of living that used to be known as “Sixpence a day.” It does not need any argument to prove it. The history of the world to-day reveals the fact that it is a false policy. I hope this House to-night will reject it, not alone because it is false, but because it is based on dishonour and on the breaking of pledges that were definitely given prior to the elections in which the Government were returned to power, and because it is an attempt to appease and assuage the prejudices of people who have no conception of the value of good public service in this country and who measure everything only in the light of pounds, shillings and pence, without ever taking into account for a moment the question of the efficiency of public servants or the standard of efficiency that must be maintained in the public service if the best value is going to be got out of it. I doubt if there is any further use in appealing to the Minister, but it is possible that, even yet, the members of one Party in this House, who can assist in defeating this Bill, will realise that in supporting it they are not doing anything that will improve conditions in this country, but, on the contrary, are doing something that will create justifiable discontent amongst the public services in the country and do a great deal to undermine and sap the loyalty, or, if not the loyalty, certainly, the enthusiasm, of public servants who deserve well of this country.
Mr. V. Rice: Deputy Murphy has expressed a hope that even at the eleventh hour the House will reject this Bill. I hope they will because, apart altogether from the consideration of the efficiency of the Civil Service, the passing of this Bill is a sanctioning by this House of a shameless breach of public morality. I do not want to go over, in any detail, matters that have been referred to in the House in the last few weeks as to the promises made in the last and previous elections. The President, in Rathmines, made a definite promise to the civil servants that, below a certain grade, their salaries would not be reduced. Deputy Norton and others referred to-day to the fact that the President's newspaper, on the morning of the polling, pointed out that people with salaries under £300 or £400 a year would not be reduced. That promise was extended to the teachers in the President's newspaper on the morning of the polling. I say that if the House passes this Bill it is sanctioning a shameless breach of public morality. That Government there, as Deputy McGilligan told the Minister for Finance, were elected on false pretences, and one of these was the false pretence they made to the public servants and the teachers. The President was in the House when a reference was made by me to this matter on an earlier stage of this Bill, and no explanation has been given yet as to why the promise given by the President in his speech in Rathmines, and extended in his newspaper to the teachers on the morning of the polling, is broken now.
What kind of service could be expected from public servants when promises made by responsible persons who are elected to office on the strength of those promises, are not fulfilled? What reliance can they have upon assurances they get from the people who are now in office? What treatment are they to expect in the future in this State? That was only one of many promises made during the pre-election period in order to induce the people to return the Fianna Fáil Party to power. Fianna Fáil were elected under false pretences to govern  this country. On the Order Paper to-night there is a Vote which has as its object the relief of unemployment. At the same time as the President made the promise that is now being broken in relation to public servants, there was a promise made that 84,605 extra people would get employment in this State as soon as Fianna Fáil got into office. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, who is regrettably absent owing to illness, told the people in Townsend Street, Dublin, on the occasion of an earlier election, that there would not be enough people in this country to do all the work and that we would have to bring Irishmen and women back from America. What hope can this country have in regard to the efficiency of its public servants in the future if promises are made to them and are broken in this way?
Deputy MacDermot, who is very fond of small legal points, says there is no contract with public servants. Admittedly there is no contract on which they could go into a court and say: “I have the right to get so much a year.” But there is a contract which is much higher than the law of the courts in the sense that a public servant, when he goes into public employment, sees there a definite prospect of getting so much a year to start with and his salary rises to a certain figure as years go by. He looks upon his position as a permanent one. I do not care for Deputy MacDermot's fiddling points when he says there is not a contract.
Mr. Rice: I say that Deputy MacDermot is making fiddling and futile points. He is making the point that there is not a contract, meaning thereby a contract on which a civil  servant would go into a court and say: “I was a public servant and I am entitled to certain considerations.”
Mr. MacDermot: I meant to convey that it is not treated as a contract by any other country in the world. No other country regards as a contract the conditions under which civil servants are engaged. It is not so regarded either in law, morality or public practice.
Mr. Rice: I think it is plain to everybody in the House, even to the Minister for Finance, that persons going into the public service in this country have held out to them certain prospects as to what remuneration they are going to get. It is no answer to tell us that they should not have relied on these terms as being the terms of a contract, and that it is erroneous to think that the State is not entitled to reduce them. The State is entitled, as we have learned since Fianna Fáil got into power, to come in and, with the weight of its numbers, to bully subjects and interfere with the rights they have. The State has done that repeatedly in the last 15 months, and it is doing it again to-night.
Deputy Murphy expressed the hope that this Bill will be defeated to-night. I do not know why he hoped for that, because I am sure he knows perfectly well the technique that is being pursued in this House. When the Labour Party are opposing the Government, the Centre Party always come to the Government's aid. A new technique in the politics of this country has been introduced by Deputy Mac Dermot and his Party. One never knows, when they speak in this House on any subject, what way they are going to vote. They speak one way and then vote another.
Mr. Rice: And that has this advantage, that the people who do not like the way Deputy MacDermot spoke can be referred to the way in which he voted, and the people who do not like how he voted can be referred to the way he spoke.
Mr. Rice: I do not know what Deputy Cooney is saying. There are two languages permitted in this House. One is Irish and the other is English. So far as I am able to judge, Deputy Cooney is not speaking either one or the other. If the House passes this Bill it will be sanctioning a gross breach of faith. I do not mind the fiddling points made by the Centre Party to the effect that there is no contract here. I say that if this Bill is passed, the House will be sanctioning a gross breach of faith with the public servants. The Dáil will be discouraging people of intelligence from entering the public service, and will be upsetting all feeling of stability. We have in this country as fine a Civil Service as could be found in any country in the world. We have as fine a police force and as fine a body of teachers as could be found anywhere. Those are the last people who ought to be interfered with. All this is being done in order to get enough money to carry on the economic war for the period of one week.
Mr. McGovern: The reason is very easy to understand. The Centre Party refuses to be led by either of the big Parties. The Centre Party cannot sanction a continuance of the economic war that is impoverishing the country. On the other hand it cannot sanction  the policy of paying out 30/- where only 20/- can be paid. The agricultural community are the paymasters of all parties. They pay everybody in this House, and they pay every official who is affected by this Bill. It is not a very pleasant task for us to support the cuts. I do not agree with some of them. I do not agree, for instance, with cutting the pay of the rank and file of the Guards.
Mr. McGovern: I do not agree with cutting the salaries of the lower-paid teachers, and I do not agree with the imposition of cuts on people who are drawing small salaries. But at this stage we have to take the Bill as a whole, or leave it. There can be no question that we have to take it as a whole, because the country cannot afford to pay. I think the Centre Party are quite consistent with their policy and their promises. If they make themselves unpopular in the atmosphere of this House they are certainly gaining popularity in the country.
Mr. Keyes: Lest there might be any doubt in the minds of Deputies as to the policy of the Centre Party, I think Deputy McGovern has come to the rescue, and has cleared the air considerably. Most of us did not require an explanation. Deputy MacDermot was at a loss to have an instance quoted by Deputy Rice of any inconsistency in his attitude. The Deputies on the Centre Party do not seem to be speaking with one voice. We had Deputy McGovern's views so far as the present measure is concerned. The Centre Party do not want to cut the lower grades of the Civil Service; they do not want to cut the lower grades of the Gárda, but yet they are going to record their votes in favour of that very thing.
We could quote instances ad nauseum of the Centre Party facing both ways at once. We had a notable instance of it recently when they went into the wrong Division Lobby. I do not agree with Deputy McGovern that the agriculturists are the sole paymasters. Even if we accept that contention, I think it is very foolish for  the agriculturists, as has been pointed out by Deputy Norton, to think they will promote the business of agriculture by reducing their potential home market, by reducing the salaries of civil servants and others. It is hardly necessary to declaim further against this Bill, except that I think all the members of the Labour Party should express their utter repugnance at the measure being introduced by the Government under the guise of economy. It is simply a gesture and has been so described by several Deputies. It is a gesture that is going to have very costly consequences, if it is to cause disaffection amongst civil servants who have hitherto given loyal service and enjoyed the confidence of all parties and who, in return, relied on the honour of Governments to abide by an agreement. It is going to be a very costly economy. Its reactions will be felt by the agriculturist, in so far as it is a headline to others to reduce wages. We on these benches feel that it is introduced as a headline to private employers to do the same as is being done by the Government.
Mr. Keyes: That is a tribute from the Centre Party, because our idea of nonsense is different from theirs. We contend that this is going to be a very costly thing for the agricultural producers, because it is a definite attempt to lower the purchasing power of the community. It cannot be seriously contended that the salaries paid to these officials at present are exorbitant. Is it the policy of the Government to reduce the standard of living? It has, at any rate, been stated by a Fianna Fáil Deputy in Dublin that the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party is to have a levelling down. That is not a policy for which any patriotic Government, or any Government claiming to be progressive should stand. I think they are starting at the wrong end. I reiterate what Deputy Murphy said, notwithstanding Deputy Rice's belief that it is only a pious hope expressed from the Labour Benches, that even at this late hour such determination  in opposition to the measure should be shown that it will not be put on the Statute Book.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Let us be clear about the position. The Minister for Finance has offered himself on six different occasions to the Chair and, lest it should be thought that the Chair is in anyway discourteous towards the Ministerial Benches, it is necessary that the position should be clearly put. The position is that there is a motion before the House: “That this Bill do now pass.” The Minister for Finance has moved that motion. According to the Standing Orders he is entitled to speak again to reply to the criticism made on that motion. So long as Deputies offer themselves to speak on that motion, the Chair has no power to refuse such an opportunity to Deputies, and call on the Minister to conclude the debate.
Mr. MacEntee: May I submit to you, sir, that the Chair is entitled, when it considers that a matter has been sufficiently discussed, to call on the Deputy responsible, whether a Minister or otherwise, for making the motion, to conclude the debate?
Mr. MacEntee: We have had speeches which have been merely a repetition of those preceding them. There has been no new matter contributed to the debate. I submit to you, sir, that in these circumstances, I should be called upon to conclude the debate.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Since I came into the Chair, I have not had any definite evidence that there is obstruction, or deliberate repetition on the part of Deputies. If the Minister wants facilities to terminate the debate, I am prepared to arrange for the person who is competent to deal with that position to be brought in. Until that is done, however, I have no power to terminate the debate.
Mr. McGilligan: Before the discussion on the point of order is concluded, I should like you, sir, to indicate that you are not accepting the point of view that the Minister is to be the judge as to whether new matter has been introduced into the debate or not.
Mr. McGilligan: I want to thank the Labour Party—which is a thing I seldom do—and particularly to thank Deputy Murphy for one phrase introduced into the debate to-night, a stereotyped phrase, rather a platitudinous thing, but possibly in its application it may have something of the novelty which the Minister wanted to have introduced into the debate. The Deputy talked about the Bill being a yielding to ignorant clamour, and so it is. I wonder what does Deputy Murphy mean when he uses that phrase? Does he mean a clamour raised by ignorant people, does he mean a clamour raised such as will appeal to ignorant people, or a clamour which is so bad and so disgusting that it can only be excused on the part of those who did raise it, on the ground of their ignorance? I shall apply that phrase in all these meanings to Deputy MacDermot. It is an ignorant clamour in the sense that it is an appeal to the ignorant sections of the community. It certainly is an ignorant clamour in this sense, that it can be excused only on the ground that the people who raise it are ignorant. If Deputy MacDermot does not intend to raise that plea in his defence, and I am sure he will not, I know of no defence for his taking up the attitude that he has taken on the Bill. When I came into the House to-night Deputy O'Higgins was trying to drive home, in something of an individual way, a view of what these economies must mean to civil servants, to Civic Guards or to members of the Army. He ventured to refer to the point on which Deputy MacDermot has been so tenacious— the point about the contract. Deputy O'Higgins put that matter in this  way: Referring to the retrospective clause in the measure, he asked what would Deputy MacDermot think if the price arranged for cattle last week were this week, after the sale, to be reduced? That was not a bad attempt on Deputy O'Higgins's part to bring home to Deputy MacDermot just what a breach of contract means. Of course, it missed its mark, because Deputy MacDermot does not care about the prices of cattle in this country, because he knows nothing about them, except that the morning after some question is raised he may see in it something upon which he might hang a political point.
Deputy MacDermot, speaking on 31st March on one stage of this measure, stated that he had been out of this country for so many years and knew so little of it that he knew nothing of the Sinn Féin movement, which he thinks is responsible for all the trouble we are in now. Certainly, to my mind, it is one of the aggravating features of the situation that the salaries of civil servants are going to be cut under this measure; civil servants who have given their lives up to this to the service of the State, who have, at any rate, entered into something so far in the nature of a contract that they have tied themselves close to the destinies of this country; and who are in such a position that everything they earn is affected by every change in price, by every change in production, and by every change in economy in the country; should be lectured and advised to become enthusiasts for economies, zealous for parsimony, by a Deputy who has no moorings attaching him to this country whatever, and who could in the morning, if the country were going bankrupt, clear out of it and not be a penny the worse. It is adding insult, and a very grievous insult, indeed, to the very grievous injury which this Bill is inflicting on men who have tied themselves to this country and whose fortunes are bound up with the fortunes of the country and who cannot deal with the matter in the detached spirit of indifference which Deputy MacDermot can show to the economics and politics of this country.
 On the Second Reading Stage of this Bill, two members of Deputy MacDermot's Party moved and spoke on a resolution to cut the salaries of members of this House and the whole plea that Deputy MacDermot made was that, while he did not like reductions in salaries, he wanted to be put in a strong moral position to effect the cuts in other people by suffering some cut himself. On that occasion I referred, and I want to refer again, because I think it is meet that the point should be made a second time, to the vulgarity of a person in Deputy MacDermot's position talking about cutting moneys that are paid here as allowances to Deputies for carrying out their duties, allowances which never, as I have said——
Mr. McGilligan: If it is a point of order I will give way, but if it is not a point of order I shall not. The Deputy has had time to speak. Deputy MacDermot wants to be put in a strong moral position. What is the strength of his moral position at the moment? Let me get him to the point of contract. Is there or is there not a breach of contract in this measure? On another stage of this Bill the Deputy did agree with me that, so far as the transferred officers were concerned, no matter what the Minister for Finance might say, they had a contract and that was being broken. Where is his moral position? There are people who have a contract, a definite contract, and a contract that can be tried out in a court of law, so strong is it. Deputy MacDermot, when we were discussing the Oath Bill in this House, commented on what he called the bad manners of the Government and their method of dealing with an international agreement. I think he used the phrase that “they were behaving like guttersnipes in the matter,” and he certainly said that they should not attempt to show themselves as being in an equal position with other international units by going into the council room, so to speak, and putting their feet on the table. That was his descriptive phrase for what the  Government was doing in relation to one international agreement. Will Deputy MacDermot be annoyed with me if I tell him that, in this matter, his words can be applied to himself and that, much as he may parade himself in another guise before the members of the House, his conduct in relation to the transferred officers merits exactly the epithet that he applied to the Government in relation to the Treaty and the Oath? That is the Deputy who wants a strong moral position in relation to this measure by having the salaries of Dáil Deputies cut, so that, with a clear conscience, he could go into the Lobby and vote for the imposition of cuts on other members of the community and, mind you, even then I doubt if he would have said, if the point was put up to him, that the cut imposed by his own vote and by his own free will would have established him in any strong position to break a contract.
There is a contract being broken —definitely there is a contract being broken. I welcome Deputy McGovern's intervention in this debate if only to get something in the way of humanity and something in the way of appreciation of what is happening in the country, something that is very far aloof from the detachment of his leader. Deputy McGovern thinks it is unfair to cut the salaries of the Guards. I think that even Deputy MacDermot, on Committee Stage, assented to that proposition himself, but for a different reason from that indicated, at any rate, to-night by Deputy McGovern. Deputy MacDermot thought that everybody had guardians of law and order in the guise of a special police force of their own, but that he and his Party had only the ordinary guardians of law and order, and he thinks that they should not be disappointed, that they should not suffer from any sense of grievance and, therefore, he plays to them for the reason stated in this House, not on any grounds of humanity, but just because he thinks—and the phrase itself was an insult to the force—that if he did not appear in that guise before them his Party might not get equal, fair and impartial treatment  from the Guards if there was an election on. That is not Deputy McGovern's idea. He simply says that he does not believe in and does not agree with cuts being imposed on the Guards. I join that up in the context in which Deputy McGovern used it with the statement that he did not believe in cutting the salaries of the lowly paid teachers—those of the teachers who are lowly paid was what he meant—and the lowly paid civil servants. In other words, what Deputy McGovern is at is some sort of estimate of what moneys are being paid to people and some evaluation of them against the services they render, and then a decision as to whether or not these people's salaries should be cut.
I have asked previously in this debate, and I want to repeat the question—why are certain people singled out for this treatment by the Minister for Finance, aided and abetted by Deputy MacDermot? Why are the civil servants' salaries being cut? Why are the Guards' salaries being cut? Why are the salaries of these teachers being cut? For no other reason than that their salaries are handy. Their salaries are near to the hand of the Minister for Finance and he can slash them. That is the only reason. I waited through all the stages of this measure to hear some statement made that the salaries of the civil servants were excessive, that the salaries of the Guards were not earned, that the salaries of the teachers were more than this country could afford to pay, and that the salaries paid to those in the Army were more than their services warranted. Not one single line of argument has been attempted in regard to these things. In fact, there has been a general inclination on the part of everybody who is in favour of the cuts to beat himself on the breast and to say: “I regret very much that I have to do this”—but they are going to do it. They are going to do it, no reason being given that these salaries are excessive or that they are not in accordance with the services rendered to this community.
The Minister for Finance told us  that salaries, looked at now, had got to be cut down from the point at which they were fixed in more prosperous times. Even by inadvertence, the truth sometimes leaks out from the Minister for Finance. The more prosperous times were the times of the Cosgrave Government. Let us put that on an election poster some day. That is what the Minister means. Why are the cuts being made? It is necessary to ask that again on the Fifth Stage of this measure. Why are these salaries being cut? If we want to save money in this State, if we want to get any more money by way of taxation, there are two ways of approaching these two different problems. Deputy Dillon, on 31st March, said that he would prefer to see the Government pursuing economy at the expense of the public services along the line of reducing personnel and, then, of course, there is the phrase, “the hordes of officials,” which Deputy MacDermot, in a vaguer way, throws out. Cutting down the numbers was the better line, at any rate, to Deputy Dillon, although the Deputy reserved the proofs for a little while yet as to the numbers of officials, and as to whether or not they are in such numbers as could be described as “hordes.” Deputy MacDermot is again aloof and detached, but he does not require proofs. His statement, his mere assertion, does for demonstration with him. There are hordes of officials in this country, according to Deputy MacDermot, and, therefore, we should reduce personnel—and that from a Deputy who said that he was so long absent from this country and who, to-night, confessed that he had no knowledge and no experience of administration—a perfect judge because he approaches the subject, at any rate, with a virgin mind. He has not even to wait for anyone to put the problem before him, and he has not given what we would expect from a good judge—the reasons upon which he founds his decision.
Mr. McGilligan: That is another statement I can treat with contempt.  If the Deputy will nerve himself for one statement, by way of proving the charges that he made, I shall see if I can break a lance with him. Let him not treat of it in a casual phrase.
Mr. McGilligan: I attacked the Deputy on a previous stage and he had this stage on which to reply, but did not avail himself of the opportunity. The Deputy has often used the phrase down the country that there are “hordes of officials” but he ventured no information as to the numbers nor did he make any detailed comparison. He should not subject himself to public ridicule by making a statement which he cannot stand over or support with evidence. Deputy Dillon, at any rate, thought that there might be some economies in the public service by a reduction of the permanent personnel. That is one way of approaching it. Supposing we want more moneys to run this State in the way it has been run, supposing we want sacks for peat, as well as sackcloth for civil servants, supposing we want £22,000 for publicity and sacks for peat, is there no way of getting it except by taking £37,000 from civil servants? There is an income tax code and the amount levied off incomes is very big indeed. There is an exemption limit. That exemption limit was fixed, whether it was right or wrong, with the intention of allowing people so much free tax, to enable them to get the necessaries of life—to get sustenance. If a person— a civil servant, a trader or a farmer— is driven below that level, he does not pay one shilling. If he is above that level, he pays and the higher he goes the more he pays. If more money is to be raised in this country for the needs of the State, the income tax is a fair way to get it.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is experienced enough to know that on  this stage he can only discuss what is in the Bill, that alternative methods of raising taxation are not in order, and that not even the Minister may suggest amendments on the Fifth Stage.
Mr. McGilligan: Your ruling, sir, surprises me. I am not going to go against it. I say that it surprises me, because I always understood that the Fifth Reading was a looking back on the Bill and that one could discuss, as on Second Reading, not merely what is in the Bill, but what might be in it.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is quite mistaken if he thinks he can discuss on the Fifth Stage what he would like to see in the Bill. He is confined to what is in the Bill and to stating reasons for supporting or rejecting it.
Mr. McGilligan: I am not even suggesting what I think should be in the Bill but I am mentioning counter-arguments which were considered so far relevant that they were allowed on this discussion on the Fifth Stage. If I am to be prohibited from doing so, I can speak on them on some other occasion. Let me get back to the contract. The breach of it is in this Bill. We have Section 5 still standing, for which Deputy MacDermot is going to vote:—
The making under this Act of a deduction from salary paid under a contract of service shall not operate to terminate such contract, and such contract shall, notwithstanding the making of such deduction, continue to subsist but subject to the obligation or right to make and the obligation to suffer such deduction.
The Minister for Finance is not so namby-pamby about the phrase as Deputy MacDermot. He can use that contract with regard to some public servants. Coming to the most infamous section that this scandalous Bill contains—Section 7 (5) I commend this to the Deputy who wants to be put into a position of moral strength in order to support this Bill:—
Every deduction made before the passing of this Act from salary paid to a person to whom this Part of  this Act applies which would have been a lawful deduction under this section if this section had then been in force shall be deemed to have been made under this section and to be and always to have been lawful accordingly.
We asked the Minister's colleague, when that was being discussed on the Committee Stage, could we get an assurance that if any transferred officer went into a court to assert the rights which the Minister still states were preserved to him, Section 5 would not be raised as a defence against him. The Minister would not give the assurance that the section giving the right to determine the contract, or any right which was intended, would not apply to these civil servants. I do not think that Deputy MacDermot was here when the assurance was requested. He can hear me now saying that that assurance was asked for and was not given, and that, at a later stage admissions were made, both by the Minister for Education and by the Minister for Finance, that it was intended to cut the salaries of transferred officers. That is the moral strength of the Deputy's position in regard to the preservation of the rights of civil servants to go before the Commission. The rights are not being preserved. The Bill applies despite the pleas they made, to the salaries that used to be paid to them. If there is a Deputy who was aggrieved on one occasion by a breach of contract, and who used strong language on that occasion, he should ponder before he decides on this occasion—to quote a remark made then—to behave like a gutter-snipe in relation to the provisions of an international agreement. Remember, when the provisions of the international agreement were under discussion, we put it to the President of the Executive Council whether civil servants and transferred officers were in the same old position, and had security under the Treaty, and he said they were doubly secured, as there were the reactions of the Treaty upon them, the further measure that this House had passed, and the additional assurance  from which Deputy Norton foolishly enough assumed that the Government had no intention of interfering with their salaries. That was accepted by these people. I think the Deputy must now regret the folly of believing that these people were buttressed not merely by something on paper, but by the explicit assurance of the Government, that they were not going to be interfered with; that their salary rights were going to be preserved. We had the famous phrase from the President that the strength of their position was this: that it was founded upon an international document which could not be changed except by the will of both parties to it. If the Minister for Finance still thinks that a Bill which includes Section 5, and particularly Section 7 (5), is carrying out the President's pledge, does Deputy MacDermot think that he is sufficiently strong morally—this clause being in the Bill—to vote for it? While it contains that section, salary cuts are going to be made. I have here the manifesto to the electors:—
Mr. McGilligan: I always like to refer to the reason why elections are different. I want to suggest to the Minister that when looking to the people who write advertisements about peat, they might get somebody in the gang to write these advertisements, because they were certainly flattering enough to make people almost vote for the Minister for Finance. As well as not proposing to cut the salaries of the middle and lower grades of the Civil Service, the manifesto went on—a reason had to be given:—
It was not proposed to cut the salaries of the middle and the lower grades of the Civil Service: “They are in most cases barely sufficient to meet the cost of the maintenance of a home and the support and education of children.” These salaries are being cut. Does the Minister now think that they are more than sufficient to meet the cost of the maintenance of a home and are more than sufficient for the support and education of children, or why are the cuts being enforced in relation to these people? I take that as one microscopic way of looking at this Bill. During his speeches on the different stages of this Bill, did the Minister for Finance attempt to show, with regard to any group of the various groups that have been cut, that their salaries were excessive? Did he take his own test of the pre-election period: the test as to whether the salaries were more than sufficient to meet the cost of the maintenance of a home and the support and education of children. If the Minister can tell me that that case was made about any one group that we are now dealing with, then I will say that that argument of his has got to be examined home in whatever detail it was presented. But I heard none of this argument, and I doubt if any other Deputy did. I doubt if Deputy MacDermot got his moral position strengthened by any such aid as that. And yet, why are these people to be picked out?
We used to hear that there would be economies effected on the lines that Deputy Dillon suggested in regard to the Civil Service: that is by way of a reduction of personnel. Need I again refer to Deputy Cooney's attempt at economy: to the £2,000,000 to be saved on the Army, but we are only getting £280,000 from all who are brought under the harrow here. Deputy Cooney was not content with two millions on the Army and half a million on the Civic Guards. The President himself thought that we could save most of the million and threequarters that were then being spent on the Civic Guard and that  there were other big savings to be made on the Army. All the time the atmosphere that was cast around the suggestion of economy was certainly this: that no individual's pay was going to be interfered with, whatever might be done with a number of individuals recruited into various forces. But this measure contains the reality.
I asked on a previous occasion if, when these advertisements were being written, was there in anybody's mind any question of cutting salaries; of actually taking something off the emoluments which people were then receiving? We know well that there were phrases used in all the election propaganda to counter that idea. If we ventured to spread the rumour at the election that an attack on salaries was imminent and that an attempt would be made to take something off the emoluments people were then in receipt of, it would be said that on our side we were trying to sour certain classes of the community against Fianna Fáil. But surely this means something more than the Minister for Finance thinks, something now definitely admitted to have been put up to delude people. Did the Minister mean what he said in these advertisements? Was he behind this type of advertisement? Did he know what was being promised, the strong moral plea that was being made for not cutting salaries? Had he concretely before his mind the phrase that you had to consider, in relation to any salary, the cost of the maintenance of a home and the support and education of a family? If so, can he reconcile what was in his mind then with what he is now doing? Will he take any of the salaries that are under discussion, the salaries that Deputy McGovern is so concerned about—the salaries of the lower-paid civil servants, the teachers who are lowly paid and the salaries of the Civic Guards—and tell us that, judged by the standards that he put forward in this advertisement, some of those salaries, or any of them, are now excessive and make his case on that? And if there is no case to be made, what case is there for singling out certain members of the community for  sacrifices, what case is there for limiting these cuts to the people at least who are indicated in the measure?
Is there anything more in this than ease, the thing that I have so often referred to? Certain people have their salaries paid from certain sources and it is an easy thing to cut them. No man's conscience need be disturbed by any long calculations as to whether a particular person is being paid an excessive salary or not. All that it requires is a suggestion to be sent to the draftsman's office and, with a measure of this kind prepared, and the use of a majority in the House the  thing goes through irrespective of the inherent justice or injustice of it. I move the adjournment of the debate.
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