Thursday, 22 March 1934
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. MacDermot: I had intended on the adjournment to make some remarks couched in a friendly and conciliatory tone, but the event which has just happened makes that somewhat difficult. Before we adjourn, however, I should like to say a few words, and I think my colleagues would like to join me in making one of our periodic, and so far unsuccessful, attempts to bring back the Government from the realms of fancy into the realms of fact. It is difficult not to become more and more discouraged by the degree in which we are being led on to expend our time in futile and undignified Party wrangles while the main industry of the country is perishing. The President, the other day, suggested despairingly that the occupants of both front benches should emigrate together to some South Sea island. If we did, and if we carried with us the spirit that has dominated our proceedings of late, I am afraid that it would be a case of coelum non animum mutant, and that we should introduce into the earthly Paradise where we settled the same sort of bitterness and futilities that occupy us here. It would appear to me to be a more satisfactory cure for the evils to which the President alluded if we tried to get together here where we are on a basis of commonsense, on a basis of conciliation, in the hope of finding—and I would say in the certainty of finding—that it was possible to arrive at solutions of some of the troubles which beset us by common consent and with far greater ease than the public at first would imagine.
The Government have to face difficulties, on the one hand, connected with the maintenance of peace and order, and of the rights and liberties of individual citizens; and, on the other hand, they have to face difficulties connected with the economic condition of the country. As regards the first, they have themselves enormously exaggerated these. The idea that we are on the brink of civil war or even heading in the direction of civil war is fantastic; but that there is an atmosphere which one would prefer not to see existing, I admit. What we ought to do is to find out whether the causes which produced that atmosphere are really beyond removal by goodwill on all sides.
I do not want to repeat what I was saying two or three minutes ago, but I do wish that Deputies opposite would try to realise the extent of their own responsibility in producing the evils of which they themselves complain. If they had not yielded, as they did, to the temptation of using against the Opposition the weapon which in this country is so fatally easy to use, the  weapon that consists in labelling your opponents as traitorous and unpatriotic, we should not be where we are to-day. The Government affect to see something terribly dangerous in the wearing of political uniforms. I do not agree with them. At the same time, I would go this far with them, that I do think that the association of uniforms or semi-uniforms with politics is in itself a thing that is undesirable. What they do not realise is that the existence of a political uniform or semi-uniform in this country is not the disease, or the central feature of the disease, but merely a symptom, and a symptom rather of a beneficial nature than of a malevolent nature. The real disease is the perpetual threat to the individual, consisting in the fact that not only illegal organisations but even legal organisations like the Fianna Fáil Party themselves have done so much to create an atmosphere in which people are intimidated and deterred from exercising the rights and duties of citizens, as they are entitled and bound in conscience to do.
I quoted the Attorney-General's words a moment ago and will not quote them again, but his remark was a very valuable one, and if it had only been made a year or two sooner and repeated by his colleagues all over the country it would have done an enormous amount to prevent the present situation from being created. None of us, on this side, like the atmosphere of bitterness. None of us, on this side, want to see politics deteriorating into a mere faction fight in which one Party is distinguished from another by the colour of its shirt, or by some external symbol of that sort, rather than by differences in political philosophy, differences of principle, or differences about matters of practical importance. We want thought in politics. It has been a tradition, I might say, of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, when it existed, to favour thought in politics as against regimentation. The tendency to regimentation has come far more from the highly successful organisers on the opposite side. I had plenty of opportunity to observe the working of the Fianna Fáil political machine in action during elections, and anything  more slick and, I might almost say, more military in the smoothness and precision with which it worked could hardly be imagined.
Mr. MacDermot: But the element of thought, the element of argument, unless argument be confounded with abuse, was conspicuously absent from the political tradition of the Fianna Fáil Party and from the electoral methods of the Fianna Fáil Party. Now, the President, if he was prepared to pursue commonsense and conciliatory methods, could perfectly well dispose of any tendencies in the political life of our times that could justly be regarded as dangerous.
The questions that are affecting the country most nearly at the present time, however, are not those questions relating to peace and order, which have been so much exaggerated by the supporters of the Government. The questions that are really affecting the people most nearly are those arising out of the state of economic decay into which we are falling. The Government, on the one hand, profess to regard as inevitable the destruction of our export trade, and on the other hand, they seek to console us for it by pointing to the results of the enormous Government expenditure that is going on. In both respects their reasoning is absolutely fallacious. It was remarkable to hear the Minister for Industry and Commerce, a member of a Party which, in the past, has talked of an import trade as a great national disadvantage, getting up and endeavouring to persuade us that we were prosperous because of increases in certain lines of imports. Now, I suggest that we should accept it once and for all that if Government expenditure is proceeding on an unparalleled scale in this country, as it is, that is bound to have an inflationary effect which will show itself for a certain length of time in increased consumption of various kinds of articles. You had that occurring during the boom, for instance, in America, where there was such a frenzy of spending both by Government  and private individuals, with even the humblest classes buying motor cars for themselves and so forth, that you had men who were supposed to be responsible and well-instructed financiers persuading themselves that the prosperity of America would go on increasing at the most extraordinary rate for all time. In point of fact, the whole thing was unsound. They shut their eyes to certain unpleasant economic factors, and the consequence was that the crash came and the country had a bitter awakening.
In the same way, during the European war, in England, where enormous Government spending was going on, certain classes of the community were, for the time being, very much better off, and a false prosperity was created. If the same tests had been applied then in America and in England which supporters of the Government apply here to prove that we are prosperous, you could have equally proved that the economic condition of those countries at those times was thoroughly sound and satisfactory when, in fact, they were rushing straight to perdition. Here in the Saorstát, in spite of all our expenditure, there are some terribly bad signs even at present—the increase of home assistance, the increase in unemployment, the ever-growing demand for relief works. You have all those things. The fact that you are able to point to certain inflationary expenditure at the same time, to the consumption of articles of semi-luxury, is not an answer to the objections that are urged against the economic policy of the Government.
You cannot get away from the basic unsoundness of putting your main industry in a position where it can only exist on the charity of the Government. I defy anybody to deny that agriculture as a self-supporting proposition in this country no longer exists; that the agriculturist, great and small, is either going into bankruptcy, or, if he is not going into bankruptcy, it is because of Government aid in one of the numerous  forms in which Government aid is available owing to the size of Government expenditure. While you may subsidise small industries for a certain length of time at the expense of the public, you cannot go on subsidising the main industry of the country. That way simply leads to national bankruptcy.
It is not true that the position of agriculture is something inevitable. It is not true that the new policy of the British Government would have forced us anyway to give up the British market. It is not true because, except for our own follies, there was no reason at all why we should have occupied a position other than of home suppliers to a home market. We are not to be compared with New Zealand or other nations overseas, because our consumption of British imports has been on a relatively larger scale than any of the Dominions or any other country in the world. We had a privileged position geographically. We had a privileged position by reason of the fact that the British Government had good reasons for wishing to heal old sores and establish the best possible relations with this country, especially with the advent of the Fianna Fáil Party into power. We have thrown that away by our own folly, by our own lack of business common sense.
It is tiresome to be always flogging a dead horse. I do not want to go over old controversies that we have gone over many a time in this House before. But I think it is worth while to keep repeating that the Government could, without any reproach from anybody who had the welfare of this country really at heart, even now get down to business with the British. It is not as if in fundamentals they had to fear opposition from any section that counts in this country. We all want to get the best possible financial arrangement with the British. I cannot help believing that the President, who feels so much the ignominy or the economic disadvantage of a sum of money flowing out from this country year by year, could settle the question  on the basis of our paying, at any rate, not more than the equivalent of what is actually coming back into this country to holders of Irish Land Stock here. I believe, as far as the amount that we might have to pay is concerned, that we could settle it on as good a basis as that, and I should be far from surprised if we could not settle it on a better basis than that. But I am quite certain that we cannot settle it by methods of repudiation. I am quite certain that we cannot settle it as long as we insist on regarding the actions of the Cosgrave Government as null and void; as long as we treat the Cosgrave Government as traitors and the British who had dealings with them as swindlers. If we could only get away from arguing about these matters and get down to a business offer to put us in the position in the British market that we ought to occupy, I cannot help thinking that we would meet with success.
After all, however confident you may be about those new industries, however protectionist you may be in your outlook, you cannot be so foolish as not to wish to take advantage of the new British policy of protection for home products, if it can be taken advantage of. I believe that our interests coincide with those of the British farmers and that we can do so much to help British farmers as against, if you like, British industrialists, as against interests in England that are not so much concerned with farming, that we ourselves could obtain a most enviable position for the Irish farmers in the matter of supplying the British market.
I do not know what stands in the way of taking advantage of the economic opportunities that present themselves except the two “R's” that Fianna Fáil have adopted—repudiation and republicanism. Repudiation is mere folly. Taking it on the lowest ground, leaving honour and everything else of that sort out of it, as a business proposition repudiation does not work. It does more harm than good to those who indulge in it. Republicanism equally is folly. Republicanism has been dropped in South Africa. You had yesterday Colonel Reitz, one of  the most distinguished leaders on the Boer side in the Boer War, saying that republicanism in South Africa is dead. It ought to be dead here. It ought to be dead here even more than in South Africa, because the disadvantages flowing to us from republicanism are even greater than would be the disadvantages flowing to the people of South Africa from that policy.
Here again is a matter on which, perhaps, we are not so far divided as we seem to be, because on the sentimental side, I take it, that there is no one on either side of the House who looks at this matter from any point of view except from the point of view of Irish interests. If it is necessary, in order to satisfy even empty sentiment, if it is necessary in order to turn Irishmen into good citizens that we should have a republic, then I should say let us have it. If we cannot have good citizenship without it, let us have it. At all events we would all be content to take the verdict of the Irish people on that issue, if only they would be asked for that verdict. As long as the thing is left in its present mystic condition—with half the members opposite willing, perhaps, to take a Twenty-Six County Republic to-morrow; with the other half, perhaps, not willing under any circumstances to have a Twenty-Six County Republic; with the issue kept alive by all that insincerity and ambiguity; with a lot of unworthy persons obtaining prestige for themselves by going about the country and representing themselves as Irish soldiers fighting for the only true Irish cause, and thereby entitled to interfere with the property and with the liberty of their neighbours—so long will you not get satisfactory political conditions, nor will you be able to begin to tackle your economic problems in a satisfactory way.
I appeal to the Government to believe me that we are not preoccupied with the question of turning them out of office for the sake of turning them out of office. Those on this side who have already had experience of office are wise enough to know that it is not very attractive; those who have not had experience of office—I myself have not had experience of office—have seen  enough of politics to be quite aware of that fact too. If only the Government would conduct the affairs of this country with common-sense, with the requisite inattention to the shibboleths that they used in the past, with the requisite lack of regard for the empty and idle assaults that might be made on them by the more feather-headed persons in the community; if only they would not merely see the better course, but follow the better course, they would find that they met with a patriotic response from the Opposition Benches.
We are now adjourning for the Easter Recess, and it is typical of the confusion, the childishness, and the sordidness which Irish politics have been allowed to drift into, that for Easter week we have advertisements appearing in the papers showing two competing sets of persons holding demonstrations in bitter opposition to each other; each seeking to annex all the glory and all the credit arising out of the Rebellion of 1916. I should like to see all sections of Irishmen joining equally in homage to the memory of the men who have fallen for Ireland, whether in 1916 or in any other year. I should like to see all sections of the community, ex-Unionists and others, attending ceremonies in honour of the men of 1916; I should like to see members on the opposite benches, and even members of the I.R.A., attending ceremonies on November 11th in memory of the 50,000 or more Irishmen who were killed fighting for Ireland in the European war——
Mr. MacDermot: If we could have that as the guiding spirit in our political life here, if we could approach all the minor and major problems in that frame of mind—the economic  problems and the problems affecting peace and order, too—I do not think we should find it difficult to arrive at solutions which would make for the prosperity, the happiness and the dignity of the people of this country.
Major Myles: I am not concerned with higher branch politics; I am concerned with the grievances under which my constituents are suffering. I asked a question of the Minister for Agriculture in this House this afternoon, and I am sorry to say that I consider his reply very unsatisfactory. There is a great deal of ignorance throughout the country generally, in spite of the various discussions which have taken place, as to what the quota for fat cattle should be; this afternoon the Minister said it was 42 per cent. I take it that is 42 per cent. of last year's exports. He then went on to tell me that in Donegal for the month of March licences had been issued for 198 cattle, and that the total number of fat cattle available for export was 1,613. I cannot by any stretch of imagination bring that in any way near the 42 per cent. I take it that the licences issued in that case would be for the full quarter.
I should also like to know whether, in view of the fact that evidently we have not got our proper quota for the first quarter of the year, we will lose in that county for the remainder of the year. If we have not got what we were entitled to for the first quarter, how do we stand? I am afraid it will not be like the land annuities—there will be no arrears. There is a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction existing among the feeders in Donegal. I am afraid the Minister knows very little about that end of the country. He may not be aware that in Donegal there is a distinct class of farmer, second to none in the Saorstát. If I could have taken the Minister around with me yesterday and visited those numbers of cowsheds where fat cattle were tied, I think he would really have stretched this quota to a further length. There is a constant cry from every one of those men: “How are we to get licences?” I have had letter after letter from them saying: “I have so  many cattle ready. What can I do to get a licence? The inspectors from the Department were here once, or twice or three times, but that is the last I heard about it.” The Minister told us this afternoon that he had no information about the quantity exported last year. If he has no information about the quantity exported last year, how does he arrive at a quota? I may be wrong, but I understand that the quota is based on last year's exports. If he has not that information how does he arrive at a quota?
Now I come to what I think is the sorest point of all, and that is that the Minister has seen fit to single out—I was aware of only one at the time I put the general question, but I since understand that there were two, and he himself has admitted it—two individuals to whom he has (I will put it politely) given preferential treatment. The Minister said that in the exercise of his discretion he had authorised the issue of a greater number of licences than the recipients were entitled to according to the number of fat cattle on hand. I respectfully suggest that this is one of the worst things any Department of State could do—to single out individuals in a countryside for preferential treatment. It is favouritism. Though the Minister will not give us the information, I think the House is entitled to know why any one individual in this State should be put on a better basis than his neighbour, particularly as in one of those cases I am personally aware that the man has been engaged in farming for only a few years. He only came there within the last three or four years and started farming, and now he can come up to Dublin and go home with a pocket full of licences. I understand that he got 30 licences for the first fortnight in March. Thirty cattle were certainly shipped during the first fortnight and I am informed that, since then, he has got 30 more licences for the second period. Amongst all the men I visited in connection with this matter, I found only one man who, for the whole month of March, had nine licences and he had 40 cattle in his byres. The remainder of these farmers had only two, three or four  licences. The average number of stall-fed cattle these men had in hands ranged from 35 to 40.
To crown matters completely, practically every man to whom I spoke in connection with this matter handed me a 15 days' notice from the Sheriff of Donegal stating that he would seize for the annuities due in December last. They were unanimous in stating that, if they got the licences and got their cattle away, they would not have the slightest trouble in paying their land annuities. These men do not want to be piling up arrears against themselves. It is well known that they are the most industrious farmers in the country. They are men who made farming pay when others were not able to do so. They cannot make it pay now because they have no market for their cattle and the fattening of cattle is their staple industry. I think the Minister should give the House the information I asked for. On what grounds are two men getting ten times the number of licences that their neighbours are getting? Why should they be so favoured? After all, I understood that, in this country, all the citizens were equal in the eyes of the Government. To single out one or two, put them on a pedestal and hand them out licences as and when they want them, provide them with licences for practically every beast they have, is sufficient to create apprehension in the mind of every bona fide farmer. I ask for that information and I think the House is entitled to have it.
Mr. V. Rice: The present session of the Dáil will be memorable. It will be memorable mainly because of the attempts of the Government to bludgeon out of existence every person and everybody who refuses to accept their policy. We had in the first place what is popularly called the Blue Shirt Bill—an attempt to suppress the rising tide of the youth of this country who are politically opposed to the Government. We have had to-day the First Reading of a Bill to suppress the Seanad because the Seanad refuses to adopt the political policy of the Government and refuses to aid the Government in suppressing the political Opposition. The whole proceedings  are marked by petulance, irritation, and bad temper.
We had a rather shameful exhibition by a Minister yesterday evening when he referred to people who refused to accept the Government policy as British and allies of Britain. We had, in the other House of the Oireachtas last night, the President of the Executive Council using language to a member of that House which I suggest was shameful. “Shut your mouth,” he said, “and the air will be purer.” The supporters of President de Valera used to say that there was one thing could always be said of him—that he never descended to language beneath the dignity of a member of this House. That may have been true at one time, but now we have this exhibition of shameful language. For any member of this House to use it, would be shameful, but it is more shameful still when used by a person in the position of the President, representing, as he does by his election, all the people of this State. Every person and every body who opposes the policy of the present Government is to be suppressed. That is the policy. Shall we have at the next meeting of the Dáil a Bill to suppress the courts because of the number of defeats the Government have received in these courts on constitutional matters, turned down, as they had to be turned down in law, on important questions? Are they going to suppress the courts for doing their duty, as the Seanad did it last night? Is everybody who objects to the folly, the ignorance and the nonsense of this Government to be suppressed?
We were told that peace was to be produced by the policy of the Government. It is a nice state of affairs when the President announces, as he did in the Seanad last night, that he could not hold a general election now because he could not keep order. We have a highly efficient police force and the Army is also, thank God, highly efficient. The confession made last night that order could not be preserved and that the citizens, exercising their right to go to the poll and register their votes, could not be protected, was a shameful confession. Why is that the  position? Is it by reason of anything done by the political Opposition? There are 100,000 young people in the League of Youth on our side. They are unarmed and they are law-abiding. They have shown the most amazing patience under provocation.
Mr. Rice: Their houses have been raided. Some of these men have been murdered but there has been no retaliation from their side. That is one of the most amazing exhibitions in the life of this or any other country— the patience and the self-restraint that these young people have shown. Can it be suggested that the danger to a free election is from them? The President says he cannot have a free election. Why cannot he have a free election? If he cannot have a free election, is it not because the disorderly elements who put him in office and who are keeping him there still would not allow a free election and that he is afraid to restrain them? The people have no doubt whatever that, if the forces of the State are allowed to do their duty, there will be a free election. They have no doubt either that if our young people are allowed to keep order in a peaceable manner, there will be a free election. I suggest that the reason the President does not want a general election is that he cannot have the kind of election he wants. He knows what has happened in the country in the last six months. He knows that the tide is flowing against him and that he dare not face the people now. We are met in this House every week with the most extraordinary statements from Ministers as to the prosperity of the country and how well it is doing. We are living now in this country on the policy of Coueism:
Factories are growing up and industries are prospering all over the country. The country was never so well off. Everyone listening to these singular statements knows what the truth is, namely, that the country is being bled to death by the policy of  the present Government. When it suited us to make comparisons, we were told the capacity of this country, as compared with Britain, was one to 66. Yet we are told we must carry on an economic war against an adversary that is 66 times as strong as we are. If we may take an example, from the prize-ring, let us imagine what would happen to a gentleman of one stone weight if he stood up against an adversary of 66 stone weight. And this is what is happening in this economic war. We are told that the odds are 66 to one, yet if we hit out we are sure to win. The thing would be a great farce if it were not such a disaster.
We heard from the President the statement: “Thank God the British market is gone,” yet the taxpayers of this country are bled white to pay a bounty in order to get into the British market half the goods that we used to be able to get there freely before. The economists on the Government Benches told the people that when they would get into office they would reduce taxation by £2,000,000, yet they have the audacity to send out an Estimate this week for £29,000,000 for the coming year. That is £7,000,000 increase in taxation over and above the last year that President Cosgrave was in office. And that, in face of the fact, that our exports to the British market are reduced by something like 50 per cent. and in order to get that 50 per cent. in we are paying bounties amounting to millions of pounds, out of the pockets of the taxpayers of the country. That is the position the Government are in now. What do the people of the country think of what the Government have done? While they promised to reduce taxation by £2,000,000 they have instead increased taxation by £7,000,000. “Still,” they say, “we have a policy and we are carrying it on; we are followers of Coue; and we tell you that any evils or sufferings that you are undergoing are a myth. We tell you that your pockets instead of being empty are full, and in order that everything may come right we want a vote of confidence from you again.” Instead of doing that they are trying to continue  to delude the electors by remaining in office and they are proceeding to bludgeon out of existence everybody in the country, and every institution in the country which tries to restrain them in their mad career. Of course they are not fools and that is the reason they will not face the country.
Perhaps we will hear a different explanation from a great soldier like the Minister for Defence or from the Minister for Justice who is at the head of affairs for neither of them would make the confession made by the President last night that order could not be kept in the country at a general election if it were to happen now. They probably will find some other explanation as to why the Government does not want to go to the country. Everybody knows why the Government will not face the country now. It is because they know they have been found out and they are afraid to face the people.
Mr. Rice: The greatest living exponent of Coueism is the Minister for Industry and Commerce. No one can spread a smoke screen like he can. He tells us we have factories all over the country at a time when we have over 100,000 unemployed. When the Minister got up to explain why the figures of unemployed increased by 100 per cent. after his Government came into office he said:
says the Minister for Agriculture. That is his policy. Selling a few hens here and a few eggs there brings little comfort to the farmers of this country. He is selling butter in Germany, and what is he getting for it?
Mr. Rice: Yes, because you are paying sevenpence a pound in subsidies in order to get it into the British market. How can you sell in the British market when you declare the British market is gone for ever? Why are you paying this bounty to get your butter into the British market now, if you think the British market is gone forever? Why does the Minister continue to take huge poundage out of the pockets of the Irish taxpayers in order to get goods still into the British market? Will he explain that?
Mr. Rice: Of course you will not. The whole policy of the Front Bench opposite is the policy of bluff—simply bluffing the people of this country. But that bluff must come to an end because the people are coming to the end of their resources; and before they come to the end of their resources they will put an end to this Government.
Mr. Richard Holohan: I would like to make a few remarks in reference to the treatment of the farming community in this country under the present Government. From time to time appeals have been made in this  House to the Government to bring about some reduction in overhead charges and general burdens which are thrown upon the farming community, but nothing has come of them. One has only to attend the fairs and the markets all over the country to see nice cattle selling at £3 and £3 10s. a head that a few years ago would realise from £8 to £10 a head. We have any amount of fat cattle in the country at the moment for which we are unable to find a market. The number of licences granted by the Government was nothing like sufficient. It is not enough for one-third of the cattle that we had ready for the market. The state of depression all over the country is hourly becoming more acute. I do not see any hope for the farming community from the policy of the present Government. The only hope is in a change of Government. The position is so bad at the moment that not only are the farmers not able to meet their rates and annuities, but they are hardly able to pay their weekly bills for provisions for their household and their families. Farmers that gave employment in the past are unable to employ any men at present.
A good deal has been said by the Government from time to time in regard to live-stock breeding. In Carlow and Kilkenny the majority of the farmers carry on a system of mixed farming—dairying and the rearing of young stock. Without dairying and the rearing of young stock you cannot have much tillage in the country, because if you are not able to put manure into the land to keep it in condition you will not get the return from it. One would imagine from some of the statements made by the Minister that you could grow wheat or barley or oats on the same land as long as you liked without putting any manure into the land. I have experience of farming all my life. I was brought up on the land from boyhood, and it has been the means of my livelihood, and I know that any farmer who continued to grow a particular crop year after year without having sufficiently cared and manured the land would work the land out in the course of a very few years.
 The policy of tillage which has been put so strongly before the people by the Minister for Agriculture could not be carried out to any considerable extent without being able to secure sufficient manuring for the land. Dairying and the rearing of young stock gives more employment than tillage. A man with a dairy and who keeps young cattle and rears them to a year or two is giving more employment than a man who tills 50 per cent. and sells his crop at harvest time. I really think that anything done to interfere with live stock, and the breeding of live stock, is going to injure the farming of Ireland to a very large extent. In fact, it is the main branch of the industry. The raising and breeding of young cattle has received a good deal of attention during the last half century, and now that we have fairly decent cattle, the Minister for Agriculture comes along and says that we do not want so many cattle in the country; that we will have more tillage. I cannot see how we can pursue a policy of having more tillage without cattle. If we have a certain number of acres of tillage, and sufficient cattle for the home market, if we feed the surplus produce that grows on the land to more cattle, what will we do with these cattle?
As one who has been all his life associated with farmers, meeting them night after night, I appeal to the Government to bring about some relief in their condition before things reach the point at which relief will be practically useless. I can honestly assure the Minister that the condition of the farmers all over the country is very much worse than the Government imagines. I know numbers of farmers who always paid their way and met their liabilities who now find themselves in the position of not being able to do so. Those who are paying their way and meeting their liabilities now are people who had money saved out of hard work in the past. They are not doing so out of what they made from their land within the past two years. That state of affairs will continue until the Government changes its policy. I would like to hear what the  Minister has to say about the losses the farming community has sustained owing to the position in the markets, and about the money we are losing on cattle, sheep and other products. My own experience has been that I have lost more on cattle than would have paid my land annuities for two years. I also lost on the sale of horses, sheep and poultry. It is the same all over the country. I appeal to the Government to come to the assistance of the farmers before things have gone too far, and before the whole country is bankrupt.
Dr. Ryan: I think one of the best jokes heard in this country for some time was to hear Deputy Rice lecturing the President on good manners. Apart from that little incident there was hardly anything to be dealt with except the point about German butter, to which I will come later. Deputy Myles made what I might call a specific charge when dealing with allotment of quotas. I told the Deputy to-day that we had allotted licences to feeders in Donegal on the basis of one for every seven fat cattle. We regard every man with four cattle or over that number as being entitled to a licence. On that basis we allotted 198 licence. in Donegal during March. There were about 1,600 cattle there. What was meant by 42 per cent? We got 42 per cent. of the number of fat cattle exported, taking what was exported over the first three months of last year. Some Deputies, including Deputy Belton, thought we should export 42 per cent. every fortnight. If 42 per cent. were exported for six fortnights more than 100 per cent. would be exported. If 42 per cent. is divided by six, what we should be exporting would be about seven per cent. That is what I stated to-day. Evidently Deputy Myles did not understand the position.
Dr. Ryan: That is what the licences amounted to, compared with what was exported last year in the first three months. Whether we had more or less cattle is a question. There may have been more or less.
Dr. Ryan: There is one difficulty with which I will deal if I am given an opportunity. Deputy Myles said it was not right that there should be discretion used with regard to the issuing of these licences. He also mentioned that I said there was no information with regard to exports last year. What I said was there was no information with regard to exports of fat cattle in County Donegal last year. Everyone knows what we exported for the whole country, because the figures can be got in the official returns; but there is no record of what went out from the County Donegal and that is what I said in my reply. The Deputy said: “If we do not know those figures, how was the quota calculated?” So far as the British Government is concerned, they calculated the quota which they gave to us on our exports for last year, and we calculated how the licences were to be distributed on the number of cattle reared by individual farmers as reported by our inspectors.
Deputy Myles objects to any man getting preferential treatment. If I had 3,000 licences to distribute amongst 1,000 or 2,000 farmers, I would have to strike some rule of one in seven or in eight or in nine, but I  cannot use up every licence on that basis. If I could make a fraction it would be all right; if, for instance, I could take a quarter or one-eighth of a beast. As it is, I must necessarily have a certain number of licences over. The Consultative Council recognised that there would be a certain number of licences over and they left it to my discretion to dispose of them. The Department informed me that they got many applications from County Donegal for preferential treatment but, in their opinion, only two persons were entitled to it. They put up one case and I thought it right to give that man preferential treatment. I asked the Department for full files on the matter and I found in one case the application was supported by a Deputy behind me and in another case by a Deputy on the opposite benches, so that there was half and half, if you like. The Party opposite got as much out of it as my Party.
Dr. Ryan: In one case the farmer would have been entitled to 41 licences over the whole period from the time we commenced up to the present, but he got 60 instead, and the preferential treatment amounted to 19.
Dr. Ryan: No. I have explained already that I must have a certain number of licences over. I cannot distribute the licences on an equitable basis. If I did I would have to take, say, half-a-stone of a beast away in addition to the full beast.
Dr. Ryan: The Deputy sadly requires a lesson in good manners. In the other case to which I have referred —I do not know who supported it— it was submitted to me by the Department and I said it was a case for preferential treatment and they gave it. I find now it was supported by a Deputy from the opposite benches, not Deputy McMenamin, because evidently he is not looking after his constituency. That proves that there could be no favouritism. If Deputy McMenamin wishes he can look at the files.
Dr. Ryan: Deputy Belton claims it was his plan I adopted, just like the rhubarb tariff. Deputy Holohan, in a maiden speech, talked about the condition of the farmers. He started off by saying that he has been asking the Government over and over again to reduce overhead charges for the farmers and he says we have done nothing. It is an extraordinary thing for a man with Deputy Holohan's  record to make a statement like that. He has been ten years in the House and he has not yet heard that we have reduced the annuities by half.
Dr. Ryan: I apologise if I accused Deputy Holohan of making a maiden speech. At any rate, he asked us what we had done to reduce the overhead charges of the farmer. Does he not know we reduced the annuities by half?
Dr. Ryan: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I ask Deputies to recollect how the Party opposite imitated us at the last election. They were going to reduce the annuities also, but they were a bit late.
Dr. Ryan: Paying the annuities three times over—that is Deputy Belton's teaching. Deputy Holohan gave us the same old arguments and they might deceive a person who did not know much about farming. He told us we cannot have wheat and all these things  without farmyard manure. One would imagine from all that has been said that we have been cut out of the markets. Why have Deputies not taken the home consumption into consideration? Deputy Holohan should endeavour to find out what the figures are in relation to home consumption.
Dr. Ryan: That is true. I would rather not have to instruct the Deputy. It is no pleasure to me to have to do it. Let us take the case of pigs. First of all, we find that two-thirds of the pigs we produce are consumed at home. It is only the farmyard manure in the case of the remaining one-third that we would not have if we lost the British market. Hence, we need not bother very much about what the Deputy said on that. The big export item in this country is store cattle. There is no farmyard manure in the case of store cattle.
Dr. Ryan: The position is that Deputies will not admit what they know to be true. As regards the stores that Deputy Holohan said were selling at £3, surely Deputy Keating does not claim they were fed inside in the house this winter and sold for that. If they were it would be a different matter. What does all this talk that we are interfering with the live-stock trade amount to? I propose to leave it for the moment and come back to it later. What about other things? I am a farmer myself engaged in the breeding of pigs. Under the Cumann na nGaedheal Government I had to give it up—broken. Now I am back breeding pigs again because I am making good money at it. Can any Deputy contradict me when I say this: that during the last three months the price of pigs has been higher than ever it has been since 1931?
Dr. Ryan: Whatever the cause is they are dearer. I am sure the Deputy will admit that. Therefore, if a farmer has pigs he ought to be able to pay his rates as well as ever he paid them; that is if the organisation will let him pay. At any rate, if farmers have pigs they are better off now than they were under the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. I know that personally.
Dr. Ryan: The Deputy is quite wrong in saying that. If he looks up the official market reports he will see that the price for sheep is higher now than it has been at any time since the autumn of 1931. Possibly, of course, that is why the Cumann na nGaedheal Party lost the election in 1932. The sheep farmers turned against them. Anyway the prices were very bad at that time, but now they are much better and they are still going up. Therefore, if a farmer has pigs or sheep he ought be able to pay his annuities and rates as well as ever he paid them. There was some talk about butter. We had a lot of quotations from the Appropriation Accounts. Of course, this morning in the leading organ of the Opposition we had a sub-leading article about butter going to Germany. The facts were not presented altogether as they should have been presented, but I could hardly expect that from the Opposition. The butter question was discussed here yesterday. I pointed out that New Zealand butter is selling in England at the present time at 68/-. I told Deputy Curran that if Cumann na nGaedheal were still in office the creamery he is connected with would be getting 68/- a cwt. for its butter landed in Great Britain. I presume the Party opposite would be on good terms with the British Government. If they were there would be no such thing as a big tariff on the butter going in, but there would be restrictions, the same as in the case of New Zealand butter. At any rate I reminded the Deputy that the creamery he is connected with would be getting 68/- a cwt. for its butter. It would have spent about 20/- in the manufacture of the butter, so that it would be left with 48/- per cwt. to distribute amongst the farmer-suppliers. That works out at about 2¼d. or two and one-third of a penny per gallon for milk. That is what the farmers would be getting. Instead of that Deputy Curran told us they are getting 4d. a gallon. He complained that at that price they find it hard to make ends meet. Well, their position would be much worse if they were only getting 2¼d.
Dr. Ryan: Last year New Zealand butter was selling on the British market at prices varying from 66/- to 88/-, the price in September, and coming down to 68/- per cwt. now. During all that time our Irish creameries were getting 102/-, from 1st April to 1st December, and during the four winter months the price was 136/-. So far as the economic war is concerned or the economic policy of Fianna Fáil no Deputy can complain so far as dairy products are concerned. With regard to the butter sent to Germany, as is pointed out in the Appropriation Accounts, we bought butter at so much and exported it to Germany. We got so much for it there. There was a huge loss, but I want to point out that we would have lost more if we had sent it to Great Britain and got the full price of 66/- which was ruling in Great Britain in March, 1933. Without paying any tariff we would have lost more by sending it to Great Britain than we did by sending it to Germany. There is a loss on butter at the present time because of the subsidies and bounties that have to be paid in order to give the creameries the price that they are getting. Whether that price is economical or not is a different question. The fact, however, that bounties and subsidies had to be paid to a lesser extent to export the butter to Germany ought, in all fairness, to be recognised by the Deputies opposite in gratitude to Germany if not in gratitude to this Party. Of course it is hard to expect them not to try and make Party capital out of these matters, especially when their leading organ instructs them so well in its sub-leaders.
We are creating a market here, and to a certain extent a foreign market which is a growing one, for cheese manufactured at home. Before we took up office here, the manufacture of cheese in this country had practically disappeared. In fact, it had altogether disappeared, but with protection of the market here for cheese, we got cheese manufactured in our own creameries  and, in that way, we saved something like £100,000 or £120,000 a year on imports. That cheese is now selling here as cheaply as the cheese which came in from other countries. We have come to the point of not only supplying our own home market here but we have also commenced exporting to at least two or three countries and we are getting a better price in most cases than countries which have been in the cheese exporting business for many years.
Deputy Holohan talked about the hard times the farmers were undergoing and said that we were doing nothing to compensate them by way of reducing their overhead charges. I should like to remind him, as I have already reminded him, that the annuities have been cut down by half.
Dr. Ryan: With regard to the question of rates, some members of the Opposition try to gull the people into believing that we have put up the  rates. Again, of course, they are supported by the official organ of the Party opposite in that campaign, designed to show that rates are higher now than they were under the Cumann na nGaedheal Administration. In the first year in which we took office, the Agricultural Grant was raised by £250,000; in the second year, it was reduced by £450,000, that is to say, it was £200,000; lower than it was under the Cumann na nGaedheal Administration. Therefore, in our first two years, we have given £50,000 more than Cumann na nGaedheal gave and in this coming year it will be larger than it was under Cumann na nGaedheal. At the same time, we have brought in the Unemployment Assistance Bill which is going to relieve the councils of probably a considerable amount of rate, so that the rates are at any rate a bit lower than they were under Cumann na nGaedheal.
Take another matter—the growing of wheat. Deputy Belton agrees with me that wheat can be grown in this country. It is a pity he was not in that Party in 1929. However, I suppose there is a good future before him now.
Dr. Ryan: There is an opportunity for the farmers of this country, whether they avail of it or not, to grow up to 850,000 acres. If that amount of wheat were grown in order to supply our full requirements here, it would mean over £5,000,000 in cash to the farmers and I think that is more than they have lost on the cattle business, even in present circumstances.
Dr. Ryan: As Deputy Belton has asked me a question in a polite way, I should like to answer him. He asks me what rotation would I suggest. Any Deputy here who looks up the statistics with regard to tillage in this country will find that there were, roughly, 750,000 acres under roots, including potatoes—manured crops—and 750,000 acres of cereals last year or the year before. I think every Deputy will admit that there could be grown two years' cereals to one year root crop. Even if we adopt the very shortest rotation of cereals—root crops—cereals and then go back to meadow and grass, it would be a ration of two to one, so that there is actually room, at the present time, for an expansion of 750,000 acres of wheat and, in addition to that, we are now going to grow  somewhere about an additional 40,000 acres of beet, not to speak of 1,000 acres of tobacco.
Dr. Ryan: It will be 10,000 acres before Fianna Fáil goes out of office, say, in six or seven years time. I say that there is an opening for the farmers to grow wheat which will bring them in cash to the extent of something over £5,000,000. With regard to barley, where you raise the price of barley and oats as feeding stuffs to animals it is a matter as between farmer and farmer and, therefore, if we increase the price of barley and oats and if that increase is passed on to the feeder, the farmers as a whole do not benefit by it. It might be possible, however—and it will be possible if this House and the other House will agree—to ensure that the same thing does not occur again as occurred this year—the buying by merchants of barley and oats for feeding at 7/- a barrel, or less, and when it comes to this time of year, the selling of that barley and oats by them at 12/- a barrel to other farmers who feed to stock. That should not be allowed and proposals will be brought before this House after Easter to deal with that matter and to ensure that it is not allowed to occur again. Leaving out oats and barley used for feeding to stock, we will come to barley for malting, where the product is eventually used for human consumption. We find that there were about 600,000 barrels used for brewing and distilleries. By protecting the barley market here, we succeeded in keeping the price at an average of 13/9—it ran from 13/6 to 14/- last year—whereas the average price would have been about 10/6 if the market had not been protected, so that we can claim that in respect of that 600,000 barrels of barley, the farmer was benefited by an increase in price to the extent of 3/6 per barrel, by reason of the protective measures we took.
The tobacco, of course, is only a small matter, but Deputies may ask why it is a small matter and why we do not proceed to grow the 10,000 acres which  are required for our own use at home. Again, I am compelled to quote the official organ of the Party opposite on that matter. They said that I made the statement to the Ard-Fheis that we were going to grow 10,000 acres of tobacco this year. That was a deliberate falsehood. I never said anything about this year. I said that we would grow our own tobacco which would amount to 10,000 acres, but actually, in that statement, if that organ were fair enough to give the facts, I was arguing against the 10,000 acres being grown this year. I went on to argue that it must be blended a great deal with imported tobacco in order that our people may become accustomed to Irish tobacco for, say, four or five years. Then we shall have people smoking Irish tobacco without knowing it after five or six years.
Dr. Ryan: Yes. That was the reason we started with 1,000 acres. We mean to increase that each year by whatever amount we think is best. We can go on increasing the blend each year until Irish tobacco is used entirely in this country. I promised to go back to the cattle question and I shall do so now. The big difficulty with the farmers is cattle and, of course, the cause of the difficulty is that we have too many cattle in the country. Deputy MacDermot said that we would not have too many cattle if we dealt with Great Britain in the proper way. I quoted here yesterday from the London Times a statement made in Wellington, New Zealand, in which it was reported that the Prime Minister of New Zealand had asked the British Government to allow the free import of agricultural produce from New Zealand into Great Britain, if the authorities in New Zealand opened their door for every export in Great Britain to New Zealand so that there would be absolute free trade between the two countries. The reply from the British Government was that they could not discuss the matter on those terms, that they were committed to restrict imports into Great Britain, whatever country they might come from. So that  Deputy MacDermot and others who feel like him who think that we could get a bigger volume of our agricultural produce into Great Britain by adopting a friendly attitude—and God knows we have been as friendly as we could and we have said that on every occasion we could—are absolutely wrong according to the facts. The British Government have stated that they are not prepared to allow unrestricted imports into Great Britain from any other country.
Dr. Ryan: I absolutely state we could not. There is no doubt about it. The British Minister for Agriculture, Major Elliott, has stated over and over again that it has nothing to do with the economic dispute between the two countries, that it is a matter of protecting his own farmers. The tariffs would not be there, I admit, were it not for that dispute. The tariffs were put on as a result of the economic dispute, but the restrictions were not put on as a result of that dispute. The restrictions were applied to every country. There were no restrictions in force so far as New Zealand, Australia, Canada and these other countries were concerned, because there was a pact called the Ottawa Pact, but they were asked to agree to voluntary restrictions for the duration of the pact. We have too many cattle in this country and that is a matter with which we propose to deal. If we had less cattle possibly we might be getting a better price. There are at the present time, at any rate, too many cattle offered for consumption on the home market. We cannot consume them at the rate which they are offered, so we must try to cut down the numbers.
Dr. Ryan: That is one thing we have to deal with. The one thing we want to make sure is that we shall not be in this position again. We have to try to prevent it at the source, so we have decided, as far as we can accomplish it, to have calves slaughtered for veal. The way in which we intend  bringing that about is by offering a certain attractive price for the skins of these cattle.
Dr. Ryan: It may be a calamity. Perhaps it is a calamity as the Deputy says to see calves slaughtered, but if there is no other way out of it, if we cannot consume the beef ourselves, if no other country is prepared to take it from us, the only solution is to cut down the numbers of our cattle and the only way we can accomplish that is by slaughtering up to 200,000 calves in the year. We shall still have a sufficient number of cattle to supply the export quota. That scheme has already been announced and will come into operation from the 3rd April. A bounty on calf skins will be paid as from that date. We hope, as I say, to have 200,000 calves destroyed under that scheme. There were various resolutions passed all over the country by farming organisations and those interested in the cattle industry requesting that we should take this opportunity of dealing with the diseased cattle in the country. We mean to do that, too. There are a good many such cattle, not as large a number perhaps as there are in other countries. We have carried out investigations during the last nine months amongst different herds to ascertain what is incidence of tuberculosis amongst cattle. In some areas it is very high and in other areas extremely low, but, on the whole, the incidence of tuberculosis amongst our cattle would compare favourably with that in any other country in the world. In order, however, to deal on a more extensive scale with the elimination of tuberculosis in cattle, we find that we must come to the Oireachtas for extended powers and we are preparing a Bill on that matter which will appear after Easter.
Dr. Ryan: To kill all the diseased cattle. That however is not going far enough. We want to go further than that. There are many old cows which are not diseased and which would not come under the Tuberculosis Act. We shall have to deal with them in another way. These cows are not saleable at the present time. They are very likely not worth much more than the skin on them. On the other hand we are importing into this country at the present moment some small amount of meat meal, a good amount of fish meal and other nitrogeneous foods. By an increased production of meat meal, we could replace quite a lot of these imports. That scheme will take some little time to prepare but we hope to make provision for the installation of plant to convert what I might call these old, uneconomic cows into meat meal, to buy them at a certain price from the farmers and convert them into meat meal for consumption by our animals.
Dr. Ryan: They would be worth nothing but we will give more than that for them. There is one other matter. That disposes of the old cow question and the diseased cow question. By getting rid of the calves we are saved in this country from any sort of embarrassment over the cattle position from two years hence onwards. There is however the present position that there are too many cattle in the country and we have got to deal with that. The obvious way to deal with that, as will appear to every Deputy, is to get hungry people to eat more meat. There are people in the country who would eat more meat if they could get it and we mean to have some scheme drawn up to bring the consumption of meat within the reach of people who are not consuming meat at present and, in that way, to deal with the surplus cattle in the country at the present time. Some of these measures are going to be very slow because it is going to take some time to prepare the schemes. It is going to take time to bring in legislation  and to prepare the necessary organisation for dealing with tubercular cattle on a big scale. It is a very praiseworthy scheme to get rid of the tubercular cattle in the country. No Deputy could find fault with that even though he might like to.
Dr. Ryan: That is just the purpose of the Bill. The present compensation is not tempting farmers to report and we want to offer bigger compensation to tempt them. As I say, legislation is necessary in that case, and also to build up an organisation to deal with these diseased cattle. In dealing with old cows for the manufacture of meatmeal, there is also the question of erecting the necessary plant to convert them into meatmeal. All that, however, will take time, but if the farmers will only have patience——
Dr. Ryan: ——and God knows they must have great patience to have listened to the Farmers' Party so long, but if they will only have the patience to wait for about five months, we will be able to take all these uneconomic cattle off their hands, and at a good price too. If those schemes which I have outlined, are put through, it is possible that we will be able to get the number of cattle in the country down to what would be an economic level, and what I mean by that is a fair demand, between both the home and the foreign market, for all cattle that are offered for sale.
Dr. Ryan: There is one point that I want to make in conclusion. Deputy Holohan raised the point that we were advocating more tillage and less cattle. That is quite true. Deputy Holohan said that that policy will not work. It will work, of course. For instance, 850,000 acres of wheat are required. It  must be remembered that that is for human food. We do not want the cattle to consume that. So, the consumption is there for it anyhow. We are also embarking, as the Deputy knows, on a policy of sowing about 150,000 acres of beet this year. That is also going to be consumed, whether the cattle are there or not. Pigs are also a very good proposition, and I hardly think they will decrease in numbers. I am sure that farmers will keep the present number of pigs in the country. Even last year there was an import of 600,000 cwts. of maize. That can be replaced by home-grown oats and barley. As against that, I suppose Deputies will tell me that we are feeding some of our own home-grown oats and barley to cattle. Perhaps we can cut down our cattle by 25 per cent. We are led to believe that there is somewhere about 125,000 acres of corn for cattle. That is nothing to the 850,000 acres of wheat, and the land that would be required to grow the barley or oats to replace the 600,000 cwts. of maize coming in. So, there is nothing incongruous or incompatible in the policy of more tillage and less cattle under present circumstances.
The Deputy may have in mind the rotation difficulty. That is, that if we grow wheat we must grow another corn crop before that land should be put into wheat again, or let it go into grass for a period and so on; that wheat should be grown on the same land only once in three years, or whatever is the proper period. Certainly, if our cattle are cut down by 25 per cent. and if our pigs remain as they are, or perhaps even if we cut them down a little more, there will be required in this country at least as much acreage for barley and oats as will replace the 600,000 cwts. of imported maize. The only question is, do we want the present quantity of root crops? A large amount of that would be potatoes. We are increasing the acreage under wheat. So, if we decrease the acreage under, say, mangolds and turnips we have made up for that by beet, and I do not see that it is impossible, from the point of view of rotation to increase tillage and, at the same time, cut down the number of cattle.
Mr. Bennett: One would imagine, from the contribution of the Minister for Agriculture, that the position of the farmer during the régime of the Fianna Fáil Party as a Government was not at all a bad one; and in fact, that it was a passingly good one, and that he might look forward within the next five or six months to his position being, relatively, a very good one. The Minister made rather a lame attempt to illustrate the prosperity of the farmer. He went into the question of pigs and proved to his own satisfaction, and probably to the satisfaction of one or two Deputies, that pigs for the last three months were a good proposition. He did not say, however, what profit there was on pigs during the other 21 months during which Fianna Fáil has been in office. He dealt lightly with the butter question and attempted to prove that the dairy farmer was better off now than he could possibly have been if Cumann na nGaedheal were in office. I have tried at various times to get the Minister and others of his Party to get down to brass tacks as regards the dairy question and to get away from this thing of trying to prove what might or what might not be possible in other circumstances; that we are getting 4d. for milk now and that if Cumann na nGaedheal were in office it would be only 2d. or 3d.
I admit that butter prices were lower this year and last year, possibly than for many years before, and that even if Fianna Fáil were not in office and some other Government, such as Cumann na nGaedheal Government were in office, butter prices and, incidentally, the price per gallon for milk, would have been somewhat less than in the previous years. I admit that if the position of the dairy farmer were to be maintained at anything like a fair level, it would have been necessary for any Government, whether a Fianna Fáil Government, a Cumann na nGaedheal Government, a Farmers' Government or a Labour Government, to make some attempt to keep milk prices at a fair level. I am not speaking from the point of view of Party advantage. When the last two general elections were taking place, those of us who had any responsibility  as representing the dairy industry put the position fairly before the dairy people, when we might have been making election speeches. I, for one, did so, and perhaps I represent the largest dairy company in this State, and what I said is there for anyone to see. On every platform that I stood on, when our Party were leaving office, I definitely said, that the milk prices in those days of 4d. or 4¼d. were not good prices for dairy farmers and that there was no profit for them. I said that, if the prices fell any lower than they were then, whatever Government was in office— I did not care whether it was Fianna Fáil or Cumann na nGaedheal—would have to take some steps to maintain milk at that level. I give Fianna Fáil the credit that they did try to keep milk at that level, as any other decent Government which came into office would have tried to do.
Mr. Bennett: The stabilisation of prices would not have resulted perhaps as the Minister for Industry and Commerce wished, without subsequent development. I myself voted for the Bill-not that I was assured that that Bill would have done what it was intended to do, namely, kept the price of milk at 4d. or over. I was not at all satisfied that that measure would do it; nor am I yet satisfied that it would have done it if it had not been interrupted by the economic war. I believe the Ministers themselves would have found that it would not do it. However, that is something which we cannot prove.
The economic war arose, and the Minister for Agriculture and other Ministers were put into an unfortunate position by the way in which that particular fight was carried on. I do not intend to allude very much to that question to-night on this particular Vote. The price was still maintained at 4d. by a system of using the Stabilisation Bill, and by  direct subsidy from the Government here of 31/- per cwt. They say that we could not have done, at an equivalent price, anything like what they have done for the farmer. I maintain, and I can prove, that for a much lesser sum than 31/- a cwt. we could not only have maintained the price of butter at the level at which Fianna Fáil maintained it—granted of course that we would not be foolish enough to step into this unfortunate war— but provided for the farmer's butter and milk a better price on a smaller subsidy without inflicting on the consumers 4d., 5d. or 6d. per lb. more than they should pay.
This is what I want the Minister to face up to, and I have never been able to get him to face up to it, that the profit on the dairy farmers' industry did not depend on the butter. Butter supplied a subsidiary portion of his profits. The main portion of the profit of the farmer was derived from the rearing of calves. Relatively the greater portion of what he got for his milk was paid out to people for milking the cows, and to defray overhead expenses. There was nothing left. His profit was derived from the six or eight calves he reared, and for which he got anything from £6 to £9 each. That price has fallen by at least £4 per head. I have pointed out ten times to the Minister, but he has faced away from it, that that £4 reduction in the price of a calf is equivalent—if the Minister cares to calculate it—to 2d. per gallon for milk; the farmer has lost that equivalent. He has lost another thing. The farmer engaged in dairying knows that if he has ten cows he is lucky enough if for some reason or another —through abortion or ill-luck or some other cause—he does not lose two out of the ten each year. One might die; I am not counting deaths, but that is a loss also. In the old days of British landlordism, when they made up this dairying question and put a figure on the loss of the farmer in the replacement of a cow, it used to be calculated at £3 a head—I think it was less sometimes. What did it cost the farmer to replace a cow within the  last 22 months? It cost him anything from £8 to £12. There was a difference of £5 or £6 per head under the administration of Fianna Fáil and the administration of Cumann na nGaedheal; so there was more than another 2d. or the equivalent of another 2d. per gallon lost to the small farmer in the replacement of a dairy cow under the policy of Fianna Fáil. Yet they prate about maintaining 4d. a gallon, with a 31/- subsidy, levy, and bounty, and 5d. on the consumer. They get away from the question of the loss on the calf, and the loss on the replacement of the cow, and the Minister tries to bamboozle the House that the dairying industry in this country today is in a sounder position than Cumann na nGaedheal would have put it in.
I have repeated them so often that I am sick of it, but never yet have I got the Minister to face up to the facts of the dairying industry as they ought to be faced up to by a Minister for Agriculture in this House. The farmer has lost on cattle and live stock. That does not need proof from me. It has been proved a hundred times. There has been relatively no great profit on tillage, even with the bounties. No Minister or set of Ministers has yet got up here, with facts and figures which they could stand behind, to prove anything but a loss for farmers within the last 22 months. Everybody knows that in the farming industry of this country profits have declined. The farmers are not in a position to make ends meet, and their plight is beginning to react on the rest of the community. Industry has been affected by the inability of the farmers, owing to loss of income, to purchase in the quantity in which they used to purchase, and because they are not in a position to pay their shop debts. The workers suffer by the inability of the farmer to employ the number of labourers he hitherto employed. On account of the diminishing business of the retail shopkeepers in this country they are being compelled to cut down the number of their employees. The farmers' position reacts upon all sections of the community. The position in this State, at the approach of Easter, is that practically  seven-eighths of the people are living on State assistance. The Minister for Agriculture spoke about wheat and oats. They could not be grown except with State aid and bounties. Our live stock could not be sold in England except for bounties. The dairying end of the farming industry could not be maintained except by a series of subsidies and bounties. No end of the farming industry could be maintained without bounties and subsidies.
We now come to another section of the community—the manufacturers. The manufacturers are aided by bounties and subsidies at the expense of the rest of the country. The unfortunate labourers have had to be kept alive by increased unemployment assistance. Every day there is a bigger addition to the bill for relief to the unfortunate unemployed, for whom everybody has sympathy. We have, therefore, the farmers subsidised in every part of their industry; we have the manufacturers subsidised; we unfortunately have the labourer, through the downfall of the farmer, needing ten times the assistance he ought to need, in lieu of the honest and decent work which everyone knows he ought to get. What section of the community is not dependent on relief and doles? It would be hard to find it, except perhaps the civil servants and kindred people in public employment, clerks and others, who have a steady salary; or perhaps workmen in a steady job, and they are few. With the exception of those two sections, and perhaps the retail shopkeepers, who are a small section of the community, everybody else is bolstered up by doles and subsidies and tariffs. We have the great majority existing on the diminishing number of people who have to bear the whole burden of those bounties and those tariffs.
Mr. Bennett: I know of no country which has subsidies and bounties to the extent that we have them here; no country that had a good market and closed it. Then they subsidise the people and tax the people to get  into that market. There is no analogy in history for that position.
Mr. Bennett: There are many labouring men looking for bread to-day because of the policy of the Government which Deputy Norton supports. They are on their knees at the doors of the labour exchanges to get a beggarly 6/- a week instead of the 24/- or 25/- that they ought to be getting.
Mr. Bennett: We are faced with a bill of £36,000,000 and I expect the Minister for Finance will have a sleepless fortnight during the recess in endeavouring to find out how he is going to raise this money—whether by tax or borrowing. There is a limit to the extent one can tax and borrow, as the Ministry will find out if they are a little longer in office. The extent to which you can tax a rapidly diminishing minority to carry what one might call an equally increasing majority is fairly restricted, as anybody can see. We have arrived at a position when seven-eighths of our people are existing on doles and bounties, for which we are to be taxed to the extent of £36,000,000, which has to be found by the other one-eighth somehow or other. Whether that is got by tax or by borrowing, payment has to be made. Unless this Ministry intend to raise a loan at an inflated rate of interest and leave a bad debt to posterity, I can see no way out of the morass into which they have plunged themselves. The only way in which the situation can be saved is by putting agriculture in a fairly prosperous position, putting it back into a position similar to that in which it was when Cumann na nGaedhel were in office. There would be a fair opportunity then for the industrialist and the business man, who are depending on agriculture, and the workers would have an opportunity of earning a decent living.
As I said, this burden will have to  be shared by the retail shopkeeper, the clerk and the workman who is fortunate enough to have constant work. The retail shopkeeper will possibly pass some of the burden back to the clerk and the workman, who cannot pass the burden on to anybody else. They are the real sufferers from Governmental extravagance— they and their families. The sooner the Labour Party begin to realise that the better for themselves and for the people of this State. The only way the present position can be dealt with is by restoring the market which agriculturists had for their produce. The Minister tried to argue that the market was lost and could not be recovered. We utterly deny that. We say that if they are of that opinion, if they think that they would suffer any loss of dignity by approaching the people on the other side to settle this dispute, then let them step out decently and allow people who think they can settle the question without any loss of dignity have a try, so that agriculture can be restored to some sort of prosperity.
Mr. Haslett: No adjournment of this House has ever been such a godsend as this one will be. As one who is not concerned with the big Parties, I should like to make an appeal. I would appeal to the members on both sides of the House to get away from this hysterical and frenzied attitude and get down to real work for the country. I suppose I was included a few moments ago by Deputy MacDermot in the description of ex-Unionist. I do not take that at all as a disgrace because, speaking as an ex-Unionist, I can say that since the change of Government came about we have endeavoured to be good citizens and to help along the elected Government of the country.
Mr. Haslett: I deplore what has been going on for the past session. A prominent member of this House said on one occasion that the virtues were not all on one side and the vices all on the other. Perhaps that is so.  I would appeal to the Executive Council and to the Opposition, in the interval which we will now have, to get rid of their frayed tempers, get away from the petty points and attend to the salvation of the country. I come from the soil. I know no other business than that which has to do with the soil and I say to the President of the Executive Council that a very grave responsibility rests on the Government. I am a tillage farmer. I cannot be described in any way as a rancher. I believe in mixed farming, tillage, mixed crops and cattle—what this country is eminently suited for. Speaking as a practical farmer, I say that there is no other future for the country and that these two things go hand in hand.
I am sorry the Minister for Agriculture is not in the House because a few moments ago he spoke about an increased acreage of wheat and an increased acreage of beet. I do not want to be taken as being in any way opposed either to wheat or beet. I grow wheat practically every year for our own use and for use on the farm. I believe in that, but my experience is that, of all the crops I grow, it is the heaviest feeder. We must restore to the soil what we take from it. The proper way to do that is by means of farmyard manure, which must be got by the keeping of cattle. There is no reason in the world why the cattle population must decrease even if tillage increases. We have only been discovering during the last 15 years, or thereabouts, that the land has not been kept up to the highest point of production, that, with increased facilities, increased capital and increased working, the land could carry far more stock than it does at present. I do not like to visualise a situation in which we would denude the country of cattle because they are the natural way of restoring to the land what we take from it. They are the best food our people can use and they fit into the agricultural economy of this country.
I cannot follow the reasoning at all that with increased tillage we must have decreased cattle. I was very much interested with regard to the  operations of beet growing in this country. We have no opportunity in our part of the country for growing beet, because the want of transport facilities would far outweigh what we would gain from growing the crop. But I was very interested in the operations of beet growing in Carlow, and I found that the residue of the beet crop is a very useful animal crop. We will need all the cattle we can rear in this country to restore the land by natural manure to its productivity. Natural manure is far better for use on the land than any kind of artificial manure.
Something has been said about the dairy industry and about the necessity for subsidising that industry. I agree with that. When the last Government was in power I said some very hard things to the then Minister for Agriculture because he was not going as far as I thought he ought to go in the matter of subsidising the dairy industry. The main object of subsidising the dairy industry is to keep the cattle in the country. If we were to let the dairy industry go down we would have a very bad outlook in the years to come in this country. We could not go on in the rearing of cattle if there was not something to induce us in the way of side issues such as the butter industry.
I want to deal with a point that was raised here in the form of a question by the Minister for Industry and Commerce when Deputy Belton was speaking some weeks go. There is one thing I would like to clear up in regard to that question as to tariffs. The question was, I think, in this form: If it is so, as is held, that the consumers in this country pay the tariffs that we impose upon imports, then it follows that the British people pay the tariffs they impose upon our cattle. This point should be cleared up. The answer is so obvious that I think we owe it to the House to clear it up. When we put a tariff on an article in order to protect industry I think we stop short there. In a short time we find that the article we protect sells at the old price, plus the amount of duty we impose, so that the  consumer is paying what he would pay for what was imported, plus the duty. Then turn to the other side. Do we pay the special import taxes on cattle sent to Great Britain? I want to give my own experience. On the 27th February I exported five fat cattle. They were not all my own property. I could only get one licence, but I was responsible for exporting the five animals. I paid £30 on these cattle. They were sold in Belfast in competition with cattle belonging to people on the other side of the Border on which no duty had to be paid. The point I am making is that we sold at the market price on the other side of the Border and I had also to pay £30. To-day I got £8 15s. as a bounty on the five cattle. I do not know who paid the difference between the £8 15s. and £30 except myself. I had no way of compelling people on the other side to pay me any more than they would pay for their own cattle. It is obvious to everyone that we are bearing the tax.
Deputy Myles raised a question this afternoon about licences. I am very slow to make any charge that I cannot substantiate. The loss we are at in regard to this quota business is more than £6. I had cattle ready in the middle of January and I have them on hands still. I cannot sell them. No man in the Free State wants my cattle, because so many are held over since they were ready for market that, to use a farmer's expression, “they are eating the heads off one another.” I am informed by a number of people that licences can be got. I cannot prove it. I am not making any charge. It is rumoured that certain people can get licences, and that people who, as long as I remember, have been exporters of cattle cannot get as many as some new exporters. That gives rise to great discontent. In the cattle market to-day I was besieged by constituents, who asked, “Can you do nothing for your constituents? Can you not, at least, get some of our cattle exported?” That is the position we are faced with. I want to say, as far as my constituents are concerned, that their record will stand against any people for the payment of  rates, and that even in the troubled times and in the old days my constituency was in the forefront and was an example to the rest of the Free State in meeting demands for the purposes of local government and rent. We have no desire to evade such responsibilities. I ask any fair-minded Deputy: can we face our responsibilities on the 31st of this month or in June, seeing that all the crops we produced last year did not yield a profit, and that we cannot sell the produce of our land? I am sorry the Minister for Agriculture is not present. I am not one who seeks a quarrel with anybody, but I feel it my duty to put these facts before the House.
I appeal to every Deputy to get away from recrimination. Let us get away from talk about who won the last election, and let us join to save our country. I love my country and the land of my birth as much as any man in this House. I am sorry to see the main industry of our country suffering, when I am assured that there is no need for the amount of suffering we are enduring at present. We are told that agriculture in other countries is not flourishing. There is no reason why we should inflict such hardship on ourselves. Let us drop this frenzy of hysterical comment, and as Deputies responsible to our constituents, let us get down to the saving of our country at this time.
Mr. Belton: I join with the last Deputy in deploring the fact that the Minister for Agriculture, after speaking for nearly one hour, has left the House. In a way, I am not surprised, after the manner in which he tried to brazen out the situation by making a statement that no one could substantiate. This debate is a sad commentary on those of us who 18 years ago had higher ideals and hopes for this country than we see to be capable of realisation now. During the Easter Recess our minds will naturally go back to the Easter of 1916, when we had no control in this country. We have had control for the last 12 years, and, of course, the cream of the population, and the cream of the politicians, have had undisputed control  for the last two years. Let us see the mess they have made of it. The Minister for Agriculture has performed another somersault. He said some time ago, when forced into it by solid argument, that increased tillage would mean increased live stock. We all agree with that. He declared to-night that we have too many cattle. I agree that we have too many cattle, if we are to be condemned to the agricultural economy that the present Government has condemned us to. We would have not only too many cattle but too much tillage.
The Minister said that he anticipated having 800,000 acres of wheat grown this year. If we get 800,000 acres of wheat in one year we will have 800,000 acres of stubble in the autumn. The Minister did not tell us what we were going to do with the 800,000 acres of stubble. Before we part from the wheat question, let us see what is to be done with it. It will be manufactured into flour. Before it becomes flour, no matter how good the year, we will have a good deal of second-rate wheat that cannot be made into flour—tailings. After it becomes flour it will have a good deal of pollard and bran. What are we to do with these products? I leave that to the agricultural experts on the opposite benches. Even if the Press does not mention the names of other speakers in this debate to-morrow, I hope they will publish some other day a verbatim report of the speech the Minister for Agriculture made until the country sees what it has elected to administer agriculture. There was a time when we were supposed to be rack-rented. What was the position during the rack-rent days? The highest rack-rents ever demanded in this country amounted to £16,000,000 yearly for 32 counties, not more than £13,000,000 being for the Free State area. These were the rack-rents that produced the Land War, the Land League, White-boyism and other isms. A man who dared to interfere with the farmers, or who sought to seize for rack-rents, was boycotted.
Let us examine the position to-day, and compare it with the rack-rent days. I challenge contradiction when I say  that the rack-rents amounted to £16,000,000, of which £13,000,000 were for the Free State area. Putting it at a liberal estimate, the local taxation which had to be paid at that time by the tenants was £1,000,000, and about £4,000,000 for Imperial taxation, making £18,000,000. What have we to-day for the Free State under a Republican Government? We have a Budget of £36,000,000—£30,000,000, with £6,000,000 that the Minister for Finance told us the Estimates would amount to. We are paying £5,000,000 yearly to England in tariffs that the Fianna Fáil Party told the country would not be paid when they came into power. That is £5,000,000 that the Minister for Agriculture had the audacity to say to-night we are not paying. Beyond contradiction we are paying that amount, and about £7,000,000 more for local taxation, making a total of £48,000,000, so that the Free State is now paying £30,000,000 more every year than was paid during the rack-renting days.
Mr. Belton: The Minister for Agriculture, the President, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and the Minister for Education all waxed eloquent here on many occasions and accused the farmers of organising against the payment of rates. I was accused in the Seanad yesterday by a Tipperary Senator of advocating the non-payment of rates. I never did anything of the kind. I did say that at the present time farmers are paying more than their rates, because they are paying rates and annuities to Great Britain through the  British tariffs. If any speakers on the Government Benches will attempt to question that, after the Minister for Agriculture has unburdened himself, I challenge them to deny it. The Minister for Agriculture stated that the land annuities had been reduced. They have not been reduced, but the present Government has put a tax on agricultural land in this country, which is equivalent to half the land annuities. That is what has been done. As I referred to the rack-renting days, what would be done then with an emergency man or a grabber who came to interfere with or to seize farmers' cattle?
Now, what have we? We have the new patriots, the members of the Fianna Fáil branches, playing the part of emergency men, spotters and grabbers in this country. I have more direct evidence than that. I have here a letter from Cornabany, Cloonfad, Ballyhaunis, dated 20th February, 1934, published in the Roscommon Herald, of 3rd March, over the signature of Liam Standúin, secretary, Cloonfad Cumann. It goes on to talk about a no rates campaign which does not exist and never existed, because we have paid our rates through tariffs. That position can be misrepresented. We can be brought before the Military Tribunal for stating the truth, but the truth will out in spite of any tyranny that is endeavoured to be imposed upon the people of this country.
“We in Cloonfad, however, are determined to do our little bit to help the Government against those Imperialistic-Fascist factions that are trying to bring about an anti-national upheaval in this State. We are offering the authorities a substantial sum for six of the seized cattle.”
Will any member on the Government Benches deny the statement made by Mr. Thomas a couple of months ago in the British House of Commons that the total money withheld by our Government from Britain was £7,063,000, or would be by 31st of  this month, and that on 13th January last Mr. Thomas's Government had collected from produce exported from this country to Britain £6,243,000? Mr. Thomas, or Mr. Runciman, presumably after consultation with Mr. Thomas as to the state of the collection of those annuities and other payments, came to the conclusion that for the month of January they would allow into Britain 7,120 fat cattle, 30,450 stores and 1,445 bulls and dry cows; in February, 6,160 fat cattle 27,500 stores and 1,305 bulls and dry cows; and in March, 6,920 fat cattle, 30,450 stores and 1,445 bulls and dry cows. The Minister for Agriculture, whose only authority is the British Farmer and Stockbreeders' Journal, said it was to build up British agriculture that these quotas were instituted. It was nothing of the kind. Mr. Thomas, in conjunction with Mr. Runciman, could calculate to a mathematical nicety that by 31st March on the basis of these quotas and other stuff the British would have collected precisely £7,063,000. Who are paying that? The agricultural producers.
Did the present Administration reduce by one penny the taxation producing the £2,000,000 for R.I.C. pensions and local loans? They did not. Did not this Government collect the money from the taxpayers and what did they do with it? That £2,000,000 would be more than the entire rates on agricultural land in the Free State. On the authority of Mr. Thomas, we paid Britain in the goods we sent over £3,000,000 on foot of the land annuities. This Government has the audacity to collect the annuities from the farmers and the further audacity to tell the people that they have reduced the land annuities by half. The Minister for Agriculture had the brass cheek to say here this evening they have reduced the land annuities by half. What have they done? They increased the charge on agricultural land to the amount of half the annuities and they are now about to send out an Easter gift of 100,000 decrees to the sheriffs for execution. And they complain of  not getting in rates and annuities. Can they deny that we have not paid them to England? What right have they to collect a debt which they were at best only custodians of if it is not due? If it is alleged not to be due to those men, what right have they to collect it at all? If in Great Britain they were able to take from our goods the total of their claim, why did not our Government endeavour to protect us and why are they now anxious to rob us?
The Military Tribunal set up here for a political purpose has been abused, but neither the President nor any Minister would dare go to a civil court where the whole matter could be tried out. He and his colleagues allege that there is a conspiracy not to pay rates and annuities. There is no need for a conspiracy. I am not one who will say the farmer is down and out and wants assistance. I will say that only when there is such a situation, but that is not the situation now. The farmer has paid his obligations, both local and national, in the matter of rates and annuities. I defy any Minister to contradict that statement. Anything I have said on a public platform I will stand by. I meant the challenge I threw out to the Minister for Justice in Golden last Sunday and he can bring me before the Military Tribunal if he likes and he will find that I will not squeal when I go there. I want the Senator from Tipperary to go there and disprove what I said.
I will not follow the Minister for Agriculture over his rambling statement about pigs, sheep and cattle, winding up with the slaughter of innocent calves. That is all their policy is coming to now—kill the calves, till the land. That sort of dope will go down with people who probably do not understand. He may be able to get away with that at a Cabinet meeting, but he will not get away with it here. To till the land you want more cattle than you have now. He talked about food production and beet. Are we not all aware that the highest yield of beet is 17½ per cent. of a sugar content? You have the tops on beet which would be equivalent to one-third  of the area under swede turnips. You have the pulp from beet. Who is going to eat that? Is the President going to put it in his black bread? What are you going to do with barley and oats? What percentage of the best potato crop that you can grow is fit for human food? Has not 80 or 85 per cent. of the entire yield of any rotation that you can devise for agriculture to be fed to animals before it can be turned into human food? There is no use in trying to educate people who will not be educated. We have Ministers getting up here and making statements that any schoolboy in the country must know are absolutely untrue. We had the President waxing eloquent about a conspiracy not to pay rates after those rates had been paid, after he had handled the money and spent it on wild unemployment schemes in order to get elected at the last election. The President collected £5,000,000, but he did not pay it to Britain. I hold that that money should have gone back to the agricultural community. He told his poor dupes down the country: “I promised you before the last election that I would not pay one penny of this to Britain,” but I hold that it has been paid to Britain.
Mr. Belton: Under the present emigration restrictions the population is going up, but if the policy of the Government is continued you will inevitably produce the conditions that were here for 20 years before the famine of '47 and '48, so that when you have the people reduced, as they were then, to a diet of potatoes and buttermilk three times a day you will  have the famine over again if there is even a partial failure in the potato crop. I hope that no Deputy will apologise or say that the farmer is not able to pay his way. He has paid it. The Government have searched his pockets and made him pay. The Government have collected the money to pay the annuities to Britain. They have collected £3,000,000 from the farmers and £2,000,000 from the taxpayers. Out of all that money the local services should be kept up. If they go down the President and his Minister alone will be responsible. It is all due to the wild, insane policy which they have adopted since they came into office.
Mr. Fagan: I want to utter a word of warning to the Government as to the condition of the farmers in the constituency that I represent. It comprises two counties, and you have in it both large and small farmers. They are all badly affected by the policy of the Government, which has reduced them to absolute ruin. They passed through some bad years and had to live mostly on credit, but since the advent of the present Government their credit is long since gone. Most of them are heavily sunk in debt. They are not able to pay. I know many farmers who were well off a few years ago and they are now unable to provide themselves with the ordinary necessities of life, except what they can produce themselves. This state of affairs cannot last, and the Government would be well advised to look into the position of the farmer.
Ministers make statements from time to time that the British farmer is as badly off as the Irish farmer. Let us see what the facts are. The average price for beef on the Dublin market is £1 per cwt. In Manchester it is double that. Take it that the cost of conveying a beast weighing 10 cwts. to the British market is 30/-. That leaves the British farmer £8 better off than the Irish farmer. The same holds good in the case of store cattle. At the last fair at Longford some store cattle were sold by a great supporter of the present Government at £9 each. They made £17 in York. One may take it that it costs about 30/- to take a beast there.  The small farmers principally who are engaged in the raising of store cattle are, as the example I have given shows, being severely hit. They are suffering as much as those who are engaged in the production of fat cattle. We hear a lot of talk from the Government about all the new industries that have been started. I do not know a single person in my constituency who has got a day's work in one of them. There may be some people getting employment in them in Dublin and Cork.
Mr. Fagan: I hold that the people are paying more in tariffs and in other charges than would keep the people who are said to have got employment in these new industries in first-class hotels for the remainder of their lives. It would be better for the country if we were given back our markets and freedom to do our business in the ordinary way. Ministers are simply deceiving the people by saying that the British farmer is as badly off as the Irish farmer. The figures I have given prove the contrary. I maintain that there is nothing but sheer disaster staring the greatest of our industries in the face. The agricultural industry is our greatest industry and the oldest industry in this country and it is sheer madness to try to build up new industries on the ruins of our greatest industry. I will ask the Government—during this recess they will have time to examine the situation—to find out the conditions of the farmers of the country and before it is too late to endeavour to save some part of the industry from the utter ruin that is staring it in the face.
Mr. Dockrell: We have heard a lot to-night about the state of farming in this country, but I should like to say a few words on the position of  industry. It is commonly supposed that everyone in industry at present is making huge profits. There may be a very few people in industry at the moment who are making substantial profits, but they have faced considerable capital outlay and it is very doubtful if their industries are economic and whether they will survive. That leaves a very large class of industry, represented by the distributors and the shopkeepers, who are faced with the ever-increasing cost of running their business and a decreased purchasing power amongst their consumers, which leaves the net position of industry very precarious. The outlook for them is very obscure, and they are faced with a situation in which it is very difficult for them to forecast the future. We are faced with quota Bills, restriction of imports, etc. The Government have assured us that those are going to be used in a most benevolent manner and for the benefit of the country as a whole, but, while some of those restrictions may be imposed for the benefit of the country as a whole, they say that justice is blind and I do not think that the Government are ahead of justice. At times they are inclined to place restrictions on the people that are unnecessary and to leave them more or less guessing as to the direction in which their future lies.
We are told by economists that agricultural output will have to be introduced by 33? per cent. in view of the existing depressed state of agriculture and it becomes a question for the people engaged in industry as to whether the purchasing power of the community is not going to fall enormously and leave them in the position of having produced something which they are unable to market. I would like to point out just one instance and to examine it closely, in order to illustrate the fears the industrial community have at the present time. Take the proposed production of industrial alcohol. We have been told, by, I think, the Minister for Agriculture, that the first factory is to be set going this autumn and that it is to be erected in the black scab potato area. I hope it is  not because there will be no market for those black scab potatoes that the factory is being erected there. The Minister for Industry and Commerce told us that, with a starch content of 18 per cent. to 21 per cent., they would produce industrial alcohol for 1/9 per gallon. I think it was Deputy McGilligan who suggested the price of 3/- a gallon, but taking even that price of 1/9, what is the position? At the present time, petrol is costing the ordinary person 1/8 per gallon. That is made up of 8d. Excise duty, 5d. cost of the petrol and 7d. which the petrol companies and merchants divide in certain proportions for the services they have rendered. The Minister for Agriculture is going to offer us industrial alcohol at the factory at 1/9. I suggest that that is the same as petrol on the quay at 1/1. Who is going to distribute that and who is going to market it?
Nothing has been told to us as to whether the existing channels are to be utilised and either the existing channels are going to be utilised or the Government are going to set up entirely fresh machinery for the marketing of this industrial alcohol. I would suggest to the Government that they are not going to market it any cheaper than petrol is marketed under the present system and to the price of 1/9d. per gallon at the factory, will have to be added 7d., bringing the cost of the industrial alcohol to 2/4d. Who is going to use this commodity? Is it going to be mixed with petrol? If it is mixed with petrol— and it can be done—a spirit will be produced for the consumption of which new motor cars will be required. There is going to be only a very small quantity produced. Is that going to be mixed with petrol and sold all over the country? I admit that the person who endeavours to run a motor car on this spirit—petrol or industrial alcohol or whatever you like to call the two when you mix them together— need not start with a new motor car. He can use his existing motor car if adjustments are made to the carburettor and certain other parts but what will be the position then? Having made those adjustments, he  cannot change them again at a moment's notice.
That is only one instance of the class of fears that are at present pressing on the minds of the industrial community. I give it to the Government as one instance of the uncertainty that appears to exist over everything at the present moment. Are we going to be faced with industrial alcohol at 2/4 a gallon, and are we going to be faced with buying new motor cars in order to carry on our business? That is only a sample of the fears that are at present obsessing the minds of the industrial section of the community. I hope that whoever is going to reply on this debate will try to give us some enlightenment on those points, because I do not know how the Government expect people to carry on industry and to progress in an ordinary regular manner when the future is obscured by a whole lot of schemes involving capital commitments. Where they will land them nobody knows.
Mr. McGilligan: It is rather a fitting thing that on the night on which we adjourn for Eastertide, marking almost two years of Fianna Fáil administration, we get the startling announcement that the Government are so bankrupt of any idea of progress, of any idea of real economic effort, of any chance of fulfilling the promises they made with regard to agricultural extension, that when the Dáil resumes the Minister for Agriculture is going to see that 200,000 calves are slaughtered and that the herds of the community are going to be searched for tuberculosis in order still further to deplete the cattle stocks of the country. It used to be said in the old days that when the British Government wanted to do this country an injury they discovered foot and mouth disease. The Minister for Agriculture is going to discover tuberculosis, but he is not going to stop short at even a chance of discovering tuberculosis; he is going to slaughter cattle. The Minister are misreading the Gospels. The fatted calf long ago used only to be killed when the Prodigal had returned. They are going to kill 200,000 calves in the  country and they are still wasting the substance of their patrimony. They are still destroying this country.
Mr. McGilligan: Only for the cattle. They are going to be launched into eternity. But, really, that is what we have got to at the end of two years of Fianna Fáil administration—200,000 calves have got to be slaughtered for the upkeep of that particular lot in power. What about the promises? You remember what a Fianna Fáil Government was going to do for you. I searched their advertisements to find anything about the slaughter of cattle. I did not see it. I did see, as a matter of fact, in one manifesto that “we are going to engage in a tremendous trade with England. We are going to extend that trade.” There is no mention there of 200,000 calves, no mention of the mass slaughter, no mention of this throwing up of hands in despair, simply saying: “We cannot get alternative markets; we cannot replace the British market; all we have got to do is to get rid of these surplus animals” and I presume the surplus animals, when slaughtered, will not be distributed as cheap food amongst the community. We used to laugh in this House at the thought of the coffee burning that went on in Brazil and the wheat burning that went on in the United States of America, when these countries were held up for the purposes of the most odious comparison and to show the sad and the sickening situation economically that they had got into. The Fianna Fáil Administration was going to preserve us from anything like that. There was going to be an extension of agriculture and industry, the building of factories, the placing of 86,000 people in employment and there was to be no necessity for any man to look for poor relief. The minds that thought of these things in 1931, 1932 and 1933 never thought they would have to face up to the slaughter of the live-stock products of this country, the burning of them and the destruction of their flesh because that will have to be done.
 I have spoken of America. It is probably not a very proper comparison, not a very proper atmosphere into which to introduce what I am going to say, having spoken of these Prodigals of ours and of slaughter, but mention of America does remind me that this session closed with the commission of probably the biggest diplomatic blunder, the biggest piece of small-man impertinence, that has ever proceeded from this country. Supposing a new Administration were in office in this country and the President of the United States of America thought fit to send over to the new President here a message saying: “This crowd who preceded you left behind them a corpse economically in your country; you have got that job to face; you have got to bring about a complete resurrection; we have got an easier task; we are merely revivifying a somewhat depressed State”—would not the welkin ring here at the intrusion of a politician of another country in our domestic politics? How many epithets would be used if somebody from Britain attempted to draw such a comparison as our President, in a Patrick's Day speech, thought fit in insulting fashion to address to the people of the United States? Our President believes that the present American Administration got handed over to them what amounted to a corpse. The ordinary American will wonder what he means. When did he become an anti-Hooverite? What business has he to talk to the democracy of the United States? They showered very heavily their degrees and honours on him when he was over there and, as our Attorney-General begged on one occasion, he might have shown them the mercy of his silence and the restraint of his impudence in addressing that country. That is what happens when a small man puts himself on a pedestal.
Mr. McGilligan: I am open to correction and if I am shown the text of such agreement, even in rough outline, I shall speak to it. Is there any such agreement? To-day we have got an indication of what Fianna Fáil policy is tending towards. It is interesting to notice that this is the climax of a lot of other unsuccessful efforts tending in the same direction. Let us cast back our minds a little bit. I take the Bill introduced by the President to-day to mean that the President, who thinks himself big enough to talk to the President of the United States and to lecture him on the state of his country, feels that nobody ought to stand against him, and if anybody does stand against him, that person is going to be labelled with the term “Britisher” or “spy”; he is going to be told that he is thwarting the national effort; or maybe the Glasgow tail will be fastened on to somebody else and there will be more imaginary conversations with British Ministers and the President will manage to find some easy dupe and will not answer any question about it until he is challenged in the House about it.
Let us go back and see how the growth of this, our Caesar, has come about. Do you remember? First, there was the attempt—the hysterical attempt—made in the courts to get people convicted of offences against the Official Secrets Act. The courts were going to be called in to try anybody who was giving away official secrets. All this was during the aftermath  of the election, when everybody who was against the President was called a traitor and an Englishman. And this was the Official Secrets Act case that ended in such indignity for the Government's legal adviser. Very few people know of the second Official Secrets Act case, which was threatened and never came off. What about the one about unemployment figures, when a detective officer was sent around to a newspaper in the City of Dublin to tell them that if they published certain facts they would be brought up in the courts, or, if they did not, that they would also be brought up? Of course, they were not brought before the courts because the Government could not tolerate another rebuff under that Act like the first rebuff they got. Then we drifted along and we read these wild speeches down the country by Ministers about certain people who were going to be spat upon and about the whole rising tide against Imperialism. We read:
“We certainly are not going to tax the people to pay salaries and pensions to British henchmen in this country. Not merely that, but further manifestations of treason in the face of the enemy will be dealt with speedily and promptly.”
“While we have the support of every thinking Irishman, there are, unfortunately, reactionary and imperialist elements in the country with the help of a reactionary and imperialist Press spreading the spirit of faction among us.”
“Ireland's cause has often been betrayed before, but never, except when public life in Ireland has been as degraded as in the days of Castlereagh has Irish treachery flaunted itself in the public eye. In the past we have had Sham Squires, Leonard MacNallys and Captain O'Sheas, and a host of other furtive, secret hypocrites posing as patriots,  but until Cumann na nGaedheal gave the lead such men did not dare to come out into the open.”
Then we had, from a follower of the President—the President who so much despises and disdains anything in the way of hostile, bitter or scurrilous language—people referred to as “old Whig ‘Castle Catholics,’” and as “puppy dogs” and they are mentioned as being:
Mr. McGilligan: These quotations, Sir, are from a variety of speeches delivered through the country. Mr. Cosgrave was described as being “unclean and a leper among politicians” and that “the only man willing to take his hand was Alderman Byrne.”
Mr. McGilligan: There are jackeens in the country outside the pages of Dublin Opinion, Deputy. That is the kind of thing that was talked all over the country. Their opponents were described as the Pitts and the Castlereaghs and the people to be spat upon in the pages of Irish history. They were described as lepers among politicians and people who were unclean. This same scurrilous tongue could ask:
There was a purpose behind all that scurrility and the President knew and approved of it and I believe he inspired it. By his actions he inspired it. Let us take his own attitude to all this. What was that working up to? Do we not know well? The President had to create this idea that everybody standing against him was an enemy of the country. There was no opinion possible in this country that was opposed to his opinion. Every man opposed to him was marked out as being dishonest and a friend of the enemy. Even after that, the dead had got to be attacked. It was rather notable that the occasion taken for the reintroduction of the Constitution (Amendment) Act and for the reestablishment of the Military Tribunal, described by this same scurrilous tongue as “the seven bloodhounds of the Administration,” was the occasion when certain people, who revered the memory of certain great men who had died for this country, were going to pay honour to the memory of these men at the Cenotaph. The President does not like honour to be paid to his enemies, even when they are dead.
Accordingly, we have this launched out on the whole movement and the definite purpose was there. We had the Military Tribunal re-established and we had these fatuous attempts made by the President and his Government to get every trial that had the slightest taint of a political element brought before the Military Tribunal. Then we had the famous “No rates” cases, and we had the President's speech which, we were told, referred generally to cases and not to cases before the Military Tribunal. The “No rates” campaign was shouted through the Press, through the medium of the trial that went on before the Military Tribunal, and counsel, on behalf of the Attorney-General, did say that
 and that men hardly dared to look at one another and certainly did not dare to be seen in association with certain people because their property would be destroyed and they would be boycotted, and that possibly their lives would be in danger. I use the last phrase as a hint, because I can, in no other way, understand the phrase of the Attorney-General to the effect that he did not know whether he was in Russia or in Waterford. After all that scare was worked up, what was the verdict? “Not guilty.” They were rebuffed twice by the courts.
A variety of others followed. Then we leave the dead and come back to the living. We thought we would make a dead man of a living Irishman —a man very much alive in his nationalism and in his good work for this country. Then we have the foulest of all foul statements that ever disgraced any page of Irish history—the President's statement with regard to the meetings between Deputy Mulcahy and Lord Hailsham. That would have been useful if it had been true. It is sad that it proved a lie. There was still the policy of placing everybody who was against him as being in the camp, not of honest Irishmen opposing him because they believed that opposing him is for the good of the country, but placing them in the camp of the English. Deputy Mulcahy was alleged to have gone across to Glasgow to see a Minister of the British Cabinet, and that Minister the Minister for War. Like every man who spreads slimy, slanderous tales of that kind the President was delighted when Deputy Mulcahy saw fit to deny it! The President could not explain how the story came to his hands. Once he had promulgated the tale the President could not get the evidence from the informer. Did he ask for evidence before he accepted the story? Again it gave him a chance to develop his policy—“Somebody tells me that Deputy Mulcahy was in Glasgow with Lord Hailsham. We will spread the lie and then we will apologise.” It is easy to apologise when you have done the damage, and you can in your secret heart gloat over the damage that has been done.
 You can also present yourself before the people as being a fairminded man who withdrew—after giving currency to it—a very foul and loathsome tale. That was the policy as regards Deputy Mulcahy.
Then there came along an “outsider”; General O'Duffy appeared on the scene. If people cast their minds back over the last three or four months they will see the hysterical, futile and nonsensical attempts which have been made to get General O'Duffy waylaid and put into gaol. Look at all that the Attorney-General was forced to do in the furtherance of this absurd plan of the President to lay this “outsider” by the heels. He had to make claims in the courts. Before he made claims in the courts he went before that Tribunal and said that when they considered the powers that were given to them under a certain Article of the Constitution they must have wondered. About what? About how a conditional order of prohibition had been obtained from a judge of the High Court in this country. The Military Tribunal, inspired no doubt by what the Attorney-General had said in front of them, appeared also to say that they believed, with the Attorney-General, that they were not inferior to any tribunal or any court in this country; that they could hear those charges and try men upon them.
We have heard that claim phrased in the last couple of days as indicating the development of a suggestion which could only be described as having raised a potent and odious auxiliary to a tyrannous administration. Is there not a plan behind the whole thing? Is there not obviously a plan? A man does not naturally talk the sort of scurrility which the Minister for Finance talked through the country. A man does not naturally talk like that; at least, I hope we have not amongst us people who naturally talk in that way. This thing about spitting on people and making people unclean and lepers—that was hireling scurrility, aiding the decent man who sat at the top of the table. The decent man did not care what was the odium or what was the filth of the weapon used to down his opponents, if they could be  downed. Then there was the scare; everybody who stood against the President is an enemy not of his, but of the country. The man could not think of anybody else as representing a good idea in the country except himself.
Then when it was apparent that even this plan of hauling people before the Military Tribunal was beginning to look less feasible than it had looked at one time, we got the introduction of the Blue Shirt Bill. The Military Tribunal is not strong enough. There are not enough charges on which to bring people before that Tribunal. We had to manufacture a new lot of crimes, and so we got that Bill. When it is discussed we find that there is still a bigger Napoleon than the President—the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who knows more about factories than anybody else in this country, who knows more about finance than his Minister for Finance, because he has criticised him for trying to float a 3½ per cent. Loan; who knows, as we saw yesterday, more about local government than the Minister for Local Government and more about the principles upon which constituency representation should be decided. He also knows more about sedition than his Attorney-General. Probably the most dramatic and revealing gesture that any politician ever used in this House was that magnificent sweep of the Minister's hand, with which he put his unfortunate Attorney-General aside when he discovered things which he thought were sedition had not been banned as seditious by the Attorney-General. The Minister for Industry and Commerce gave us his idea of what seditious language was. The speech which I made at Lucan was, according to him, proper material to crush and suppress. That is what the Minister would really do if he had the power. I suppose if the Blue Shirt Bill does not give sufficient power there is something still concealed in store, Finally, we come to it, that because the Seanad has had the temerity to say that they believed, on revelations here in the Dáil, that the Wearing of  Uniforms Bill was directed against a political Party, and that they would not stand over it, exit the Seanad.
Mr. McGilligan: I am sorry. I thought you said ex-Unionists, and it was a welcome interruption. There is the march of tyranny. What the Official Secrets Act case could not do, what the no rates campaign, declared a myth by the Military Tribunal, could not do, what the hireling, scurrilous tongue of the Minister for Finance could not do, what the suppressing of processions to the Cenotaph last August could not do, what the attempt made before the courts in relation to the Military Tribunal could not do, is now going to be done if only we can get the Seanad out of the way. If we could get the Seanad out of the way the Opposition in the Dáil—in fact why have a Dáil—will soon be squashed.
Mr. McGilligan: Let us talk of the future. The President was full of courage last night. He was also, incidentally, less full of delicacy than he had been. That smooth-tongued leader of ours nevertheless still thinks fit to tell a gentleman in the Seanad that if he shuts his mouth the air in his neighbourhood will be purer.
Mr. McGilligan: Not at all! That is a gentleman, but not a gentleman of this country. We do not know that  class here. Is there any doubt at all that what I have outlined here has happened in the last two years? It has represented a very definite plan, with a very definite climax, and we are told that all this is in aid of democracy. This is all to prevent elements, particularly elements in alliance with the British and elements of a more or less British type, from obstructing the democratic will of this country, as represented there. May I get back to the beginning? We shall probably have it claimed that there is a mandate for the slaughter of 200,000 calves. Is that the march towards democratic freedom, or is it a march towards a tyranny? If the Seanad were out of the way, the Blue Shirt Bill would be law. If the Blue Shirt Bill were law and if we were not successful in putting down the youth of the country, who do not want Fianna Fáil, there would be some other method got of stopping their combination, their organising, stopping even the free utterance of their thoughts in opposition to the Government.
The independent judiciary within the last couple of days used words flattering to themselves, no doubt, but also full of hope to the people of this country—that they do represent an independent body. Will their independence last long? Would it last long if the Blue Shirt Bill went through easily and if the Ministry saw that it only required the introduction of a measure of a particular type to get anything they liked passed in a week? Why should we have respect for an independent judiciary if we have not respect for the right of public meeting or for the freedom of people to associate in organisations not unlawful? What is the mind that thought of that Bill going to stop at? What is the mind that thought fit to defame Deputy Mulcahy, as he was slanderously and foully treated here last Autumn, going to stop at? What is the tongue that wagged about a far better man than ever he will be, that declared him as “unclean and a leper amongst men” going to stop at in the way of vilification and vituperation if it is  thought that criticism here can be silenced and that there is going to be no chance to reply? The march to freedom! This is it. Has there not been for two years past the development, so far as the President could manage it, of a carefully thought-out plan to rid him of his constitutional opponents while he can gather around him all his unconstitutional friends and use them quietly, while openly professing to repudiate them—to do darkly what he and the other people are afraid to do openly. I gave my version of what has happened. It fits in with the facts. Is there any other version that will fit in with the facts? Why was the Military Tribunal re-created? Do you remember what used to be said about it and about the measure that established it? The President, speaking at New Ross, said that “he did not believe that in this country they were so vicious-minded that a large section of the people had to be governed by coercive Acts. That was the British attitude to this country.” That is now President de Valera's attitude. Will he be annoyed if I say that he is now adopting what he once described as the British attitude? In an interview with the News Chronicle, printed in the Derry Journal of February, 1932, the President said:—
“During the ten years since the Treaty was forced upon us, there have been put upon the Statute Book of the Free State no less than six Public Safety Acts, three Firearms Acts, three Infringement of Law Acts, four Jury Acts, one Treasonable Offences Act, one Protection of the Community Act and the Perpetual Coercion Act, recently passed, entitled the Constitution Amendment Act (No. 17).”
How many of these has the President removed from the statute book? What freedom has the President given from these coercion Acts since he came into office? He did say, in another interview, that the Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Act was going to be repealed—not that the proclamation under it was going to be withdrawn. Has he repealed it? This was the record  that he threw up against his political opponents then as being their efforts in coercion. What has the President done? Has he taken the initiative in removing any one of those from the statute book? No, but he has since attempted to add another. The man who hated coercion, the man who believes that the opinion that the people of this country could only be kept down by coercion was a British view has fallen a victim to that propaganda. Not only are we to have these Firearms Acts, Treasonable Offences Acts and Protection of the Community Acts, but the people are not to be allowed to choose the colour they will wear, whether a shirt, badge or any sort of device.
I know that the President must be annoyed. He has lost his Uniforms Bill for the time being. There cannot be the mass of prisoners before the Military Tribunal that there would be if that Bill, regarding the wearing of uniforms, had been passed. The “outsider” has got another chance. He stands as an example of the lengths to which the President will go to defeat a person who, he believes, is growing in importance relative to himself. The removal of this man from the service of this country was a scandal. His treatment since has certainly not added honour or credit to the President, although it has added popularity to General O'Duffy. He tried to have him arrested. He got him illegally detained. He got certain charges preferred against him before the Military Tribunal. He sent his Attorney-General to argue in the most fantastic way about the powers of that Tribunal in an effort to hold him. What is this man's crime? He described him as an “outsider” one night here. What does that phrase, dropping from President de Valera, mean? An intruder, a man who was not in politics before? Has it that meaning? A man who did not play any part in Irish national life before? Has it that meaning? He cannot mean a man who has kept outside gaol. That would be too ironical. Weigh General O'Duffy against President de  Valera, set them up against any criterion you choose, sound their names together, take any standard you like and how is General O'Duffy an “outsider” and President de Valera not one?
Deputy Cosgrave, when speaking on the Second Reading of the Restriction on the Wearing of Uniforms Bill, referred to the ancient by-laws of Galway, which stated definitely that the city was to be cleared, “that no man of this towne shall host or receive into his house”—and then we have this fine, resounding phrase—“any of the Macs or O's and that they shall not strut or swagger through the streets of this our towne.” That is the President's idea, that the Macs and O's are dangerous because they represent the native Irish. Get the Lemasses, the Briscoes and the Johnsons.
An Ceann Comhairle: I was rung up on the telephone to-day by an Opposition Whip in response to a request that some subject or subjects should be selected for the debate on the adjournment, as is customary for the guidance of the Chair. The Whip informed me that the subject for the debate was “Agricultural conditions, with the reaction on employment in towns.”
An Ceann Comhairle: I have been asked what time will be given to the mover of the motion to conclude the debate. So far ten Deputies on the Opposition side have spoken, and one member of the Government Party. It is usual to allow the mover of the motion half an hour for concluding. The Chair has no power to enforce observance of the practice of the House in this matter.
Mr. McGilligan: I want to bring the President back in relation to economics, because after all, it is economics that count. When all attempts to crush out the Opposition have failed, and when the turmoil associated with the time has died away, there are still going to be hard economic facts to face, the fall in prices, the rise in the numbers unemployed, the swelling of the total getting home assistance, and one other swelling total, that of expenditure in this country. This year, as far as the Estimates go, we are faced with an estimated expenditure of £29,000,000. As far as the figures on the front of the Estimates go, they have got to be compared—although it is not a fair comparison—with £22,000,000 for 1930-31, and with £22,000,000—although it is not a fair comparison—for 1931-32. The President is fond of mathematical formulae. We have had the 66 to 1 ratio used here ad nauseam. I want to add a bit of variety. We have a better ratio now. In the Seanad recently, a Senator drew the attention of that House to a calculation which should be brought before this House. It was made by President de Valera, when he spoke in the Dáil on the Vote on Account on 18th March, 1931. The Estimates for that year showed what the President called an actual increase of £138,000 over the previous year, and he complained that it was not a fair picture of the situation. He gave a method of judging the exact position. I will quote from the Dáil Debates, Volume 37, column 1652:
“With reference to all these indices we find that the actual increase is very much greater, and the burden on the community is very much greater than is indicated by that increase. So that instead of coming down, the fact is that the cost  of all these services has gone up, and, with increased cost in other directions, one would have expected that the Minister for Finance would not ignore directions in which substantial savings could be made.”
“—take the fall in the price of fat cattle in the Dublin market between March, 1930, and March, 1931—we find that it represents to him—(the farmer and the cattle dealer)—the person who has to sell cattle in order to provide for taxation—an increase of £3,362,000 odd.”
So that an apparent increase of £138,000 in the Estimates of these two years was turned by the President into an actual increase of £3,362,000, taking the test of what the farmer, the man who pays the bulk of taxation, got for cattle in the Dublin market.
So that the apparent increase of £138,000, in fact, represents an actual increase of £6,000,000. Let us take that test in order to get a true idea of what the present Estimates really mean. We have the various publications of the Department of Agriculture, which are issued monthly, and from these can be made a comparison of the prices of different types of cattle in a particular month in 1931 and in the same month in 1934. Let us take the test of the prices of certain types of cattle. What is the decrease? Prices to-day represent about 50 per cent. of what they were in 1931. That is an easy figure to deal with, being just half.
 The President's argument was that if the main producers only get half what they used to get, with an apparently equal burden, but one that represents twice the burden, the £29,000,000 is not to be compared with nearly £22,000,000 in 1930-31. The proper comparison of the Estimates for 1930-31, almost £22,000,000, is not with £29,700,000, almost £30,000,000, but with £60,000,000.
That was the President's statement. That was his idea then of how the burden of taxation has to be judged. The prices, so far as this main product of ours is concerned, have gone down just to half of what they were. So we find it is not a comparison between £22,000,000 and £29,000,000 or £30,000,000, but between £22,000,000 and £60,000,000, adding in a few other things with that. The unemployed have risen well above the 100,000 mark; those in receipt of home assistance are round about the 140,000 mark; we are preparing to give the dole to an extra 60,000 or 70,000. We have so little hope, after the futile attempts to sell butter and other things in markets other than the English market, about a market for our products, that we have now wound up with this, that when we resume after Easter the Minister for Agriculture is going to save the country by bringing in a measure for the slaughter of 200,000 calves and search where he can to find T.B. in the cattle so that a bigger number still of the herds can be wiped out. It is not a bad record for two years, but it is not what you promised to give the country.
The President: It is an honour to be abused by such tongues as that of the Deputy. I have gone round this country and spoken to the people, and they know whether my tongue is a foul one or not. The Deputy has spoken in this House many a time, and I think the records of the House will determine very quickly who keeps to the rules of decency and good conduct. It is, I admit, very hard sometimes to be in this House and to listen to some of the language that is used in it without falling into the bad example. Last night, knowing the history and the  record as a public speaker of a certain Senator, who even that very evening had shown his form when he interrupted me, I said that the air would be purer if he kept his mouth shut. Having said that I am honoured by being attacked by such as the Deputy, I will try to get down to something that is much more important to the country than that I should answer the charges which the Deputy has levelled against me. I will refer only to one other matter—bad taste in talking to our friends in America, to people amongst whom I had lived for one and a half years, and whom I knew, people to whom I was speaking as I have often spoken before, and to whom I wanted to give an idea as to the difference between the problems with which we were confronted and the problems that confronted them. I gave them the example, and it was not regarded by them as impertinence. No doubt this paragon of good taste will lecture us on how we ought to deport ourselves.
As I have said, I do not want to take up the time of the House in replying to the Deputy. I know perfectly well the tactics and the general technique of the Opposition in cases like this, and I think it is better, therefore, that I should turn to the speech that was delivered by the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition. I would like to think that the Deputy is as innocent as he professes to be. He wants us all to believe that this whole situation could be changed if only we had the will to change it. What are the facts? Even the very extracts which the last Deputy was quoting showed the position two or three years ago, and the whole history of our country for the last eighty or ninety years indicates quite clearly what was the position even under the laissez faire and the free trade policy. What happened this country? Our population was cut by half, and, whatever the standard of living, the wealth of the country was not able to maintain our population. They had under that system to emigrate, and that was the position which we desired to stop and would have tried to stop in any case, even if the outlet of emigration was not closed, whether we willed it or not.
 There is not a country in the whole world at the present time that has not serious economic problems to meet, and if Deputies opposite would only settle themselves seriously to consider these problems, and to suggest solutions for them, instead of trying to make it appear that this whole position here is the result of action by the Government, it would be far more desirable. We went to the country with a definite policy. The country approved of that policy, approved of the policy of trying to make the country as self-sustained as possible, as the only alternative. We did not believe that this money was due to England, and we said we would not pay the money to England. England is forcing payment, we are reminded. A robber can take our money from us. Is that the same thing as giving it freely? It is not. We told the country what our position was. The Opposition took good care, at any rate, to tell them what the consequences might be and, if there was any doubt whatever about it, the country had the opportunity clearly of seeing what the attitude of the British was going to be. After a year we again went to the country and the country again decided. After these two decisions, and with the economic situation as it was, one would naturally expect that the Opposition would cease the tactics it had been using. Naturally, I say. We have Deputy MacDermot telling us here to-night that everything would be all right except for the two R's, and he suggests that we should put this question of the Republic to the people and, if they decide, then everything was going to be settled. Does he think that it would be settled? It would be settled in one direction if we had a vote for the Republic, and if in the contest that might possibly follow we were bound to be successful. But suppose a situation was arrived at such as we had in 1921, and that we were going to have another division of opinion here, was it going to be settled? On the other hand, suppose the vote was against the Republic, did the Deputy think it was going to be settled, and that there was not going to be opposition  when he and the Deputies with him have set a very good example? Twice in succession within a year the nation decided on a certain policy. Why will they not accept that decision now? If they do not accept a decision with regard to a matter that is vital to this country, with the whole economic life of the country depending on it, and on the measures that we are taking to meet it: if they are not going to be satisfied with that decision and claim the right to do their utmost to try and break the morale of the people in dealing with that situation, does the Deputy not know full well that, if you were to put that question to the people to-morrow and if the decision was to be that we were to remain within the British Commonwealth, there would be people who would say that they had the right to prevent that decision from being made effective?
What is the use of all this nonsense, this refusal to face realities? The Deputies on the opposite benches suggest that we are the people who will not face realities when they themselves are the people who will not face realities, even in a case like this, where there has been a clear decision by the people. Then they say that we are attempting to paint them as unpatriotic. I know very well that there is always this difficulty in democracy: there is always this difficulty with regard to the free expression of opinion in every country when there is a critical situation. Everyone knows, for instance, what happens during a war period. There is, unfortunately, that tendency to try and trample upon anybody who attempts to express an opinion which deprives the people of the right and the power to win. That is the spirit. We may deplore it and do everything in our power to stop it. The suggestion is that we are deliberately inciting that. We are not, and we have not been deliberately inciting it. I deplore it for one, but I would ask Deputies to watch what is done in other countries. Take this question between Britain and ourselves. What do the Opposition in the British House of Commons do? Do  they go and say, as Deputies here say, that we are pilfering this money from Britain, as the Deputy who spoke a few moments ago said in Lucan? What right has he to go and pronounce a judgment against our people? He may think that if he wishes, but there have been two sets of opinions. We stand by one, and if this matter has to go to a court, the Deputy who talked about the mercy of silence might give this country the mercy of his silence in a case like that. We are to keep quiet and to say nothing when, obviously, the policy that is being followed by the Deputies on the other side, knowing that this nation has a difficult position to face, is to stand by in the hope that this nation will crumble. They are not helping us to do anything.
Deputy MacDermot talked as if it was only a question of saying, “Mr. Thomas, we have the best of goodwill towards your country, and we are anxious to settle with you.” I have said it a thousand times, and it is true. Mr. Thomas talks blandly of the open door. We went over several times to Britain, and at the conferences there there was no indication of these great concessions that we are supposed to believe England is prepared to make to us. In the first place, we do not regard them as concessions at all. To acknowledge a right, we do not regard as a concession. But what was suggested? On the occasion in which we were dealing with this financial settlement the suggestion was: “Oh, if you acknowledge the debt there might be, possibly, some mitigation.” In other words, the shillings and the pence would be knocked off the account if we go and admit the account is owing. We will not admit it because we do not believe it is owing. We have said that we were prepared to let this go to arbitration, and the British said: “Oh, yes, but you will arbitrate in the restricted manner we choose for you.” We say we are not going to admit any such principle. People who wish to face this situation will have realised that it cannot be solved in that way: that everything that could be done in the way of showing goodwill has been done,  and that the one thing for us to do as quickly as we can is to reorganise our economic life so as to meet the situation that faces us.
The Deputies on the other side tried to pretend to the people of the country that if they got into office everything would be all right. At the last election they tried to pretend that if they got into office the thing would be settled within two or three days. We were accused of suggesting intrigue, but the thought naturally came to people's minds “How can they say that unless there has been some promise?” Well, were they fooling the people then? At any rate the people did not believe them, and the people do not believe them to-day. The people are perfectly satisfied that, if the Fine Gael Party came into office to-morrow, the position would not be materially altered unless, indeed, they were prepared to give away things that the majority of the Irish people do not want to give away.
That is the position. Now we have a serious economic situation, and it will require all the best thought of all the people in this country to solve it without involving considerable hardships. We have been told by different Deputies of the various reactions of the present economic situation on different sections of the community. We know that these reactions exist, and we have got to do what the Minister for Agriculture has suggested as the only way in which this situation can be permanently set right. Naturally, Deputy McGilligan cries out, as we cried out, at the destruction of wheat and at the destruction of other natural wealth, but does anybody think that the people in those countries did not feel exactly about the destruction of wheat and so on as we feel about the destruction of our cattle? Why are these things happening? Because, in present conditions, there is unfortunately a maladjustment, and it is not possible so to organise things that the wealth that can be produced by human beings is properly distributed. What we are trying to do here, as fast as we can, is to adjust our own economic life so that individuals in it may be enabled to give and to exchange services. Those  on the opposite side say that we are destroying the British market, but the British market is going to be destroyed and is being destroyed, not merely against us, but so far as Canada and Australia are concerned. The Minister for Agriculture pointed out what was the situation: how even articles of agreement made at Ottawa had to be modified in regard to some products. And why? Because in Britain they have a similar situation. British agriculture is being hit.
The Minister for Agriculture in Britain wants to try to save his own people. Charity begins at home, quite naturally, and they are going to look after their own agriculturists. They pointed out the other day that there was a thousand million pounds invested in British Agriculture while there is only a third of that in the Indian Empire, and they are going to save it. It is vain for us to think that we are going to be regarded by them as a home market. We never were, except, as has been suggested, in the sense of exploitation during the free trade period. We cannot have it both ways. We are either going to be within the British fiscal system, and then we shall have to give up the idea of having our own industries developed, or we are going to be outside it and we will then have to deal with Britain in this regard as we would deal with other countries.
We are quite prepared and we have indicated our preparedness to enter into trade agreements, so that if Britain gives us preferences for our agricultural produce, we will similarly give her preferences for her manufactured goods and for the equipment we may require for the setting up of our industries. We are prepared to give that preference on the same basis. They do not choose to respond to that. We cannot make them and neither can the Deputies on the other side, unless, again, they are prepared to sacrifice things which the Irish people do not want sacrificed. All this personal and political abuse does not help in the slightest. One good suggestion would do more to bring the Party on the other side into power than all their abuse. The Irish people are not fools  and though Deputy MacDermot may talk very nicely about what he would do and about how easily this and that thing could be done, they know, from  hard experience in the past, that these things cannot be done.
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