Wednesday, 19 December 1934
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Cosgrave: The Dáil is now about to adjourn for some seven or eight weeks, during which time an opportunity will be afforded to the Ministry to consider the present economic conditions in the country. They are sufficiently serious to warrant something more than Party consideration. If we are to take representation in this House as anything like approaching a reflection of public opinion throughout the country, the majority in favour of the Government policy is relatively small. When considering the marked change in economic conditions, some advertence to that particular fact would be well worthy of the Government's consideration. Because in these changed economic conditions fortunes may be lost, in a great many cases, while in others fortunes may be gained.
The innovations in Government policy which have been introduced have got to be considered in the light of their reactions upon the general economy of the State. The change over is they say from a policy in which a very large portion of the people of the country were employed, to what they term a self-contained State which has imposed and is imposing very severe hardships upon the majority of people in the country. Perhaps the first and best test that may be applied to the course of events is the number of persons who have registered as unemployed. The figures have grown enormously, and they are published under the direct supervision of the Government. It might be well to ignore, to some extent, the extraordinary expansion that has taken place in the figures as presented; but there are some indications that cannot be ignored. Taking the capital of the country, and the metropolis of the south, we find as between two years, that in the year 1931 there were registered in Cork 4,333 persons as unemployed, while in 1934 the figure was 6,917. Taking the case of Dublin, the figures as published in 1931 amounted to 10,251, and in 1934 the record published amounted to 17,301. These are very remarkable increases, bearing in mind what is being described as the industrial expansion which has taken place over these two or three years. Whatever employment may have been afforded, by reason of the Government's policy, has apparently been unable to keep pace with the unemployment that has resulted also from their policy.
Trade returns for a number of years have been the subject of political controversy in all countries. Taking the two years, 1931 to 1933, for which we have complete returns, it would appear that our trade with Great Britain has diminished by £20,750,000. That particular sum perhaps may point an explanation that may be given for  the rising numbers of the unemployed. It may be argued by some of the Government propagandist economists that if we were in need of that extra £20,750,000 worth of goods we have lost, it is more than likely that we would have imported goods to the same amount. It is quite true that even these economists would have to admit that in making that statement they were making no allowance whatever for the industrial expansion, so repeatedly referred to not alone by members of the Government and members of the Party that supports the Government, but by their friends throughout the country. Nobody believes for a moment that if we had maintained our export trade the whole of that sum would have been spent outside that country, and that the extra money coming in here, increasing the purchasing power of our people, would have unquestionably benefited not alone the normal industrial activity here before ever the Government policy was inaugurated, but that even the newly established industries of which we hear so much would have benefited considerably by them.
We are, according to the Constitution, one of the State members of what is described as the British Commonwealth of Nations. That particular body met in Ottawa in 1932. In the year 1931 the State members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and any other countries that were represented at that Conference sold to Great Britain goods to the amount of £247,420,000. Two years afterwards those same countries sent to Great Britain £249,460,000 worth of goods, an increase of £2,040,000. The State members that were present there made certain bargains, one with another, but mainly with Great Britain. Our trade with Great Britain in those two years was down over £20,000,000 and the whole trade which was secured by the State members present at that Conference was up £22,000,000. They made a profit of over £20,000,000 as a result of that Conference. Their gain was our loss. It is significant that in the year 1931 Great Britain bought from countries other than those in the British  Commonwealth of Nations goods to the value of £614,000,000 and that in the two years following there had been a reduction in that trade of £188,000,000. The Ottawa Conference resulted in this, a gain in respect to the State members of the Commonwealth and a loss to nonmembers.
In one particular the disadvantage to us has been most marked. One particular country made a bargain there which was an extension of the trade already done with Great Britain. New Zealand secured a quota of 414,000 cwts. of frozen beef, but she actually sent to Great Britain over 700,000 cwts. of frozen beef, 300,000 cwts. over and above the quota allotted to her at the Ottawa Conference. Translate that into live cattle, allowing 6 cwts. of dead meat as the equivalent of a beast. We find there that there was a loss to this country in 1933, or rather a gain to New Zealand, of the sale of 50,000 head of cattle. This year, as has already been stated in this House, New Zealand sent to Great Britain 500,000 cwts. of frozen beef for the first six months, and it is expected that in the other six months they will supply an equal quantity, so that this year there will be 600,000 cwts. in excess of the quota allotted at Ottawa, meaning a loss to this country of the sale of 100,000 head of cattle. We have the disadvantage of having a quota restricting our supplies, whereas those who made bargains at Ottawa got extensions of their previous supplies and benefited enormously by having practically no limit placed upon the goods being sent there.
Looking up the returns for importations, we find in respect of coal that we are purchasing from Great Britain little more than half of what was purchased a couple of years ago. It so happens that the sale of our beef in the mining districts was more pronounced than in any other districts and, while we go hunting around Europe for markets, we have a market there capable of absorbing whatever we can supply. It was urged a short time ago, at some meeting addressed by the President of the Executive Council, that he was not disposed to make any  bargains which would restrict our industrial activities here. There is scarcely a more important item in the whole list of the matters with which the Government has to deal than cattle. Coal cannot be produced in this country sufficiently to meet our requirements. It matters little to us from where it comes. It matters very much to us if it comes from a source where we can place our goods, where our goods are saleable and where there is a market for them. One would have imagined that in a case of that sort the Government would have at least endeavoured to get an extension of the quota allotted to us.
As someone said the other night, referring to the Minister for Agriculture, having looked up the facts of the case he was satisfied that the Minister could not have done any better than he did. He certainly could not have done much worse. As regards doing better, he took what had been presented to him, examined the case, found that it was all right, and had no more to say about it. This morning's Press gives the price of Danish butter on the British market at 126/-. The Government organ goes one better and gives the price of Danish butter at 128/- to 131/- a cwt. at Manchester. It was said here the other night that the price of Irish butter on the British market was 69/-; that we could get no more. Irish butter is superior in quality to Danish butter. Selling goods nowadays requires more even than quality. You must have good will, you must pay attention to your market and fulfil other requirements well known to business men. While we listen to Ministers here bemoaning the small price there is for Irish butter, and when we see the Danes securing a price almost twice that of which we are in receipt, one wonders of what use the Minister for Agriculture or the Executive Council is in this country.
Mr. Cosgrave: We succeeded to this extent, that the price of butter increased during our time and the quality increased. On one occasion, I  am reminded here by somebody who had experience of it, we managed to succeed——
Mr. Cosgrave: The Danish prices were slightly above ours at particular times, but no matter what they were there was never a difference of from 69/- to 129/-. I said whatever they were, and I am prepared to take any figure that is now mentioned. I challenge anybody to show that ever in the history of this country until the advent of this Government there was 60/- per cwt. difference between the price of Irish and Danish butter to the advantage of the Danes.
Mr. Cosgrave: That is another question. Laughing and jeering show the interest that is taken in this subject. It is approached, in the first instance, from this standpoint, that there is a big economic change being attempted; that there is not that big support for that change in the country which would warrant or justify the Ministry in practically breaking an enormous section of this country and in making others rich. It may be doubted, I suppose, that people are suffering. An official of this State, speaking as recently as November 19th, commented on how the existence of surplus cattle placed buyers in an advantageous position, and asserted that they had not hesitated to take every advantage of the position. They had not been content with even double  the normal profits. They had been exacting such profit as to place producers of cattle in such a position that they simply could not carry on. That statement is from a paid official of the State. That statement is made after eleven months—from January to November. In November they wake up to the fact that the prices people who are producing cattle are getting in this country are such that they simply could not carry on.
Mr. Cosgrave: If that be the case with regard to cattle, what is the position of the butter producer who is getting 60/- per cwt. under his competitor's price in the British market? The other night here the Minister for Industry and Commerce questioned the statement about cattle smuggling. In the Irish Independent of yesterday, Tuesday, December 18th, there occurs in the third column, page 9, the following statement: “During the past 15 months Sergeant Taylor, Newtown-hamilton, has been responsible for the seizure of 1,500 animals.” The Minister was doubting whether or not 100 had been sent across. What is the meaning of that sort of business? What occasioned it? The people do not do that for sport. It is done for one reason only—that there is a higher price across the Border than there is at this side of it, and that it pays people to take this risk. What does that lead to? It leads to an attempt being made on the North side to get in across the Border here goods that are subject to taxes or tariffs, so we have two Administrations endeavouring to prevent breaches of the law on both sides. During all this time, while we are endeavouring to make this a self-contained and self-sufficient State, we find that exports of cattle from Northern markets are far in excess of what they were in the last two or three years. The Minister for Agriculture, addressing himself to this subject of cattle and the cattle quota the other night, claimed that by reason of Government policy he had succeeded in getting 75,000 acres of extra tillage in the country. Looking at returns  of last week, in answer to a question in which those figures appear, the claim made by the Minister is seen to be substantially correct, comparing the years 1931 and 1934, but he ignores the fact that there are 170,000 acres less under hay. So the Ministry that was to be employed in reducing grazing is actually increasing grazing in this country by over 100,000 acres. There are 100,000 more acres available for grazing under this Ministry, which was so much interested in tillage, than there were before they came into this House and accepted office. They are the real Ministers for Grass——
Mr. Cosgrave: ——because they have extended the area under grass. For what purpose? We are told that we must have less cattle and more tillage. If you have more grazing you will require more cattle if the grazing land is to be used. In connection with the disposal of our surplus agricultural produce, it is worthy of note that apart altogether from the main market to which we send our goods, and from which we buy the major portion of our supplies, we have other customers —non-Commonwealth countries from whom we import approximately £10,000,000 worth of goods annually, and to whom we sell £1,000,000 worth. The Ministry is concerning itself with improving that market. Good luck to them. Let us hope they will succeed in doing it, but there is a much better market than that—one which it would be much more profitable to our people if they employed themselves in looking up. In connection with this intensive development, industrial and otherwise, which is going on through the country, there are two or three matters to which the attention of the Ministry might be directed. In the first place, our external assets are declining. We have now reached the point in connection with the sale of Savings Certificates that we are paying out more this year for the first time than we got in. If there be all the prosperity for which they are so anxious to take credit, where are the savings?
Mr. Cosgrave: The rate of interest went down to a negligible extent, but from what gilt-edged security can you get the return which is available there? It is over 4 per cent. compound interest. It would suit the Minister much better not to be putting in those irrelevant observations, because, apparently, he has not studied the matter. Will the Minister explain where he will get anything in excess of 4 per cent.?
Mr. Cosgrave: And he knows it. The new economy is to take money from where it will earn more interest and place it, as the Minister suggests, in the Savings Bank, where it will earn less. If that be in conformity with the normal policy of the Minister it is no wonder that there is not greater success. During the last few days we have had references made to this year's collection of rates. The rate collection was never so bad as it is at present. There are explanations for that other than the economic situation.
Mr. Cosgrave: There is one to which, perhaps, Deputy Davin has not had his attention drawn. During the year 1933-34 the sum made available in relief of agricultural rates was the lowest for four years. There was voted by this House approximately £1,750,000; there actually materialised  out of this sum only £1,500,000, as £250,000 was deducted in respect of unpaid annuities. That is one explanation which might be added to that of the rather late striking of the rate. The call on the Guarantee Fund in the present year, if there be no alteration in the law, or no attempt to mitigate the very difficult circumstances prevailing, will be far in excess of any deduction yet made in the history of that fund. The figure mentioned in respect of the May and June instalments of annuities was £496,000. Is it likely that in the coming accountancy period to 31st January next there will be any improvement in the collection? It is common knowledge that there had never to be employed such Governmental activity in the collection of annuities as has had to take place during the last 12 months.
Mr. Cosgrave: My administration is not on trial here, but if the Deputy means that with a view to taking the glare off what ought to be and must be exposed, he is welcome to it. Between 4,000 and 5,000 persons per annum were brought to court during my administration, as will be found from the records of this House; and that is about the number of warrants issued to the registrar or sheriff in each county by the present Government.
Mr. Cosgrave: It does. We were told that there was a conspiracy in respect of the non-payment of rates, and nine farmers were tried for it in a court selected by the Minister, and there was no conviction. We are told that there is a conspiracy against the payment of annuities. Where are the prosecutions? Have we courts in the country? Is it possible that there are resources available to bring people to trial who are responsible for that, and they are not brought?
Mr. Cosgrave: The facts are that the bailiff was never as busily employed as at present; and if there is any extension of employment in this country, or likely to be, it is in the employment of bailiffs.
Mr. Cosgrave: It is no credit to anybody that that situation should be in existence. It is a matter for general regret, and any contribution I have made here this evening was not from a Party standpoint, but from the standpoint of the country.
Mr. Cosgrave: The number of letters that I get, although I do not represent an agricultural constituency, and the statements from Ministers, are such as to satisfy me that never in the history of this country were agriculturists so hard hit and hard put to it as they are at present. My own conviction is that the swelling numbers of the unemployed are coming from the agricultural districts, where there is neither the means to employ them nor the money to pay them. It is no credit to this State, or the Ministry responsible, that there are road workers or other people —even if it is only in two counties— who have not been paid for four or five weeks. The present economic situation has given rise to unemployment and it is bound to result in disorder. Picture the position of a man with a wife and children, getting a notice from the registrar or the bailiff that he is coming to collect either annuities or rates, and who has cattle on his land that he cannot sell. I have letters in my office from people saying that they have received demands for rates and annuities and that they have goods and cannot cash them. What is their attitude likely to be to the State which allows a situation such as that to  develop from one end of the country to the other? Let us admit if Ministers wish to plead it, that there is difficulty in the matter; but it is the Minister's job to solve it; and it is there to be solved. If we can buy 1,000,000 tons of coal from a country which will buy 100,000 head of cattle from us, then there is no mortal sin against Irish nationality in doing that; there is no derogation of status in doing that. We have a better right to have our goods sold in Great Britain than countries which are selling there at a better price than we are and which are not buying all the goods that we are buying. I advise the Ministry during the Christmas festivities to get a copy of Studies, volume 23, No. 72, and to peruse a critique on “The Irish Free State, Its Government and Politics.” It is written from a detached standpoint and this occurs in one portion of it:
“If many of our recent bureaucratic devices will tend to maximise corruption, it should be remembered on the other side that the Appointments Commission and the Municipal Managers systems are on the whole working admirably.”
“What will Irishmen a hundred years hence think of it all? Is it possible that they may conclude that, while we were fighting our admittedly important battles in the South, the historic Irish nation, one and undivided, had passed away and was buried somewhere in the Six Counties——”
There is a great deal to be learned from that article, because, if we are interested here in political matters, our main problem is that one and undivided  country; and on the manner in which this portion of the country is administered, on the manner in which that is done, politically and economically, depend the chances for that attraction which we should offer in order to make this country one and undivided.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Lemass): If Deputy Cosgrave had sought information concerning the conditions existing now in the Free State from some more likely source than Studies I do not think that he would have made the very foolish speech which he has just delivered. It is frequently the practice of politicians to make statements which are not altogether accurate. But it is obviously a very injudicious course to follow if the statements can be easily proved to be inaccurate. It is a bad thing to be wrong but it is worse to be found out. Deputy Cosgrave has not merely allowed himself to make statements which are incorrect but he has made statements which are easily proved to be incorrect. I would suggest to him that a member of this House with his experience of politics might have been a little bit more careful before adopting such a course. I suggest to him that if he had not been moved to ecstacy by the rhetoric of the writer in Studies he might have spoken to us with much more accuracy.
The Deputy spoke about the rapidly increasing unemployment. Unemployment cannot be rapidly increasing unless people in employment are losing that employment. I think that will be admitted at once. There cannot be any rapidly increasing unemployment here and there, unless individual men and women are losing their employment and are proceeding to the Labour Exchange for the purpose of registering in the hope of getting alternative work. Deputy Cosgrave will admit that. He has referred to the fact that the unemployment registers have shown a considerable increase since the Act has come into operation, and that the registered figures in respect of Dublin and Cork have shown a considerable increase since 1931. Does he contend that that  increase represents individuals who were in employment, but who are now thrown out of employment?
Mr. Lemass: One Deputy is foolish enough to say “yes.” But Deputy Cosgrave knows well, and everybody on the opposite benches knows that there has not been any such displacement of labour as Deputies Cosgrave and McGuire would pretend has taken place. In fact, there has been a substantial increase in the number of persons employed.
Mr. Lemass: In persons employed in agriculture, in industry, in domestic service, amusements and in politics there has been an increase in numbers. I say that there are available to the Deputies who choose to avail of them statistics which establish that fact beyond doubt. Deputy Cosgrave does not need to go to Studies nor to any other source for information, beyond the official statistics provided for him free of charge. In fact, in the Official Debates last week he can get the information on this matter, because Deputy McGilligan put down a question asking for it, and got it. That information showed the number of persons employed in insurable occupations and the number of stamps purchased in each year since 1929. Let me explain to Deputies how they can read these figures. I say that because whenever Deputy Cosgrave and any of his colleagues get these statistics, they usually indicate a considerable inability to make the simplest mathematical calculation.
Mr. Lemass: I will give the Deputy statistics which will enable him to ascertain the number of employed. I will give him the basis on which the figures can be read. Every person  employed for a week in any insurable occupation must have affixed to his card one stamp. There is an obligation upon that person or his employer to purchase a stamp and put it on his card for every week in which he is employed. Consequently, the number of stamps sold in any particular year give a certain indication as to the number of weeks worked by persons in insurable occupations. I am sure that is understood now. We can, therefore, find on an examination of the revenue of the Unemployment Insurance Fund from the sale of stamps in one year as against another, whether there has been an increase or a decrease in employment. Deputies opposite say that there has been a decrease—that people in work were put out of work and are now registering at the exchanges. If Deputies will look to column 723 of last week's copy of the Official Debates, they will get the complete reference there.
Mr. Lemass: This is Deputy McGilligan's usual allegation. In September, 1933, Deputy McGilligan asked me to estimate the revenue from the sale of stamps in 1933 and I gave him the estimate. In February, 1934, he asked me to state what the sale of stamps was in 1933. He asked me to give the actual sale and he got it. On the basis of the figures I gave him he tried to represent me as cooking figures in order to prove the contention that there were more people employed, because the fact was that the final figure in February, 1934, was higher than the estimate in 1933.
Mr. Lemass: I see the Deputy's difficulty in understanding this. He is mixing up the register figure with the actual number of unemployed. There is no relation between them. The sale of stamps under the Unemployment Insurance Act increased except in one year. In the financial year 1931-32 there was a decrease as compared with the previous year—the last year in which Deputy Cosgrave was President showed a decrease.
Mr. Lemass: I am giving them at the same rate. The figures given to Deputy McGilligan were estimated at the same rate. It is merely a matter of dividing by four the number of pounds shown there and the result is the number of persons employed on the basis of 50 weeks each in the year. The employment in these occupations in 1932-3 was 11,000 more than in 1931-32. The number employed in 1933-4 was 10,000 more than in 1932-33.
Mr. Lemass: I shall deal with the registered numbers when I have disposed of the Deputy's ridiculous contentions. I am anxious to establish one fact—that if there is an increase in unemployment here, it does not arise from any decrease in employment. Employment is increasing, and increasing not merely in the proportion which the figures I have just given show but in a much greater proportion, because, as I informed the Dáil a couple of weeks ago, the number of stamps sold under the National Health Insurance scheme shows a considerably greater increase than the increase I have indicated. Again, let me explain to the Deputy. Every person employed for wages must, generally speaking, be insured under the National Health Insurance Acts. A large proportion are also insured under the Unemployment Insurance Act; but persons engaged in domestic service, in agriculture and in other occupations who are not insurable under the Unemployment Insurance Act are, nevertheless, insurable under the National Health Insurance Acts. Consequently we get, again, a clear indication of a decrease or increase in employment in such occupations by comparing the number of National Health Insurance stamps sold in any one year with the number sold in any other year. The number of National Health Insurance stamps sold in the period with which we are dealing has shown a proportionately greater increase than the number of Unemployment Insurance stamps sold. The average number of weekly contributions under the National Health Insurance Act in 1931 was 320,000, while the average number of weekly contributions in 1933 was 349,000, showing that, on the average, there were 29,000 people employed each week in 1933 over and above the number employed on the average in each week in 1931.
Mr. Lemass: Yes, the number of stamps bought. The figures in respect of the first six months of this year, which have just become available, show that the increase in employment, which was very noticeable during 1933, has continued for the first half of this year.
Mr. Lemass: It may be an important question, but it is not the question with which I am trying to deal. I am trying to demolish Deputy Cosgrave's argument at the moment. The income from the sale of stamps under the National Health Insurance Acts for the first six months in 1933 was £277,915, representing 321,000 stamps purchased weekly on the average. The figure for the first six months of 1934 is £298,950, representing 345,000 stamps purchased each week on the average— an increase of 24,000 people employed, on the average, in each week over that period. These figures are, again, supported by corresponding figures in respect of the Unemployment Insurance Act. I am not going to give these figures to-night, because a number of qualifications would have to be made in respect of them arising out of the fact that the rate of contribution was changed at the end of the first quarter—1st April—and that there came into the second quarter revenue which became due on the first quarter, but was paid in the second quarter at the rates of contribution which prevailed in the first quarter. In so far  as the figures show an increase, in the first quarter, when the rates were comparable, from 120,636 to 137,242, and a corresponding increase in the second quarter, we can assume that these figures support the conclusions to be drawn from the National Health Insurance figures. I am not giving these figures to show to the nearest thousand or two thousand the number of additional people who are being put into employment in consequence of the policy of the Government I am merely bringing them forward to prove that there has been an increase in employment, and that, if there has been an increase in the registered number of unemployed, it cannot be explained away on the ground that there has been a corresponding increase in unemployment—a corresponding increase in the number of people who were in work and were put out of work—because there are more people in work now than there ever were.
Mr. Lemass: Deputy Cosgrave quoted the figures of Dublin and Cork registrations for 1931 as against 1934. He did not tell us any of the considerations which influenced the figures in one year or the other. In the year 1931 there was a standing instruction to all employment exchange officials that in any scheme of work financed in whole or in part out of State funds, preference should be given to ex-members of the National Army. Had not that instruction a vital bearing upon the registrations at the exchanges? There was, in fact, no use in anybody not entitled to that preference applying to the exchanges for work.
Mr. Lemass: The average for the ten years previous to that was about 20,000. In 1932, the first year of this Government's administration, the number of vacancies filled through the exchanges was 100,000. That explains the added inducement to register which resulted in the rise in the total number registered for that year as compared with the previous year.
Mr. Lemass: The employment exchange machinery was utilised to five times the extent it was previously utilised, and there was five times the inducement to unemployed persons to avail of that machinery in 1932 than there was in 1931. The Deputy could have got these figures from any of the official publications.
Mr. Lemass: Unemployment has not increased. We have now in existence a new situation entirely, inasmuch as the employment exchanges are being used to administer a new Act which had not been conceived in the year 1931— the Unemployment Assistance Act, which provides for the payment of subsistence to every person qualified as to means calculated in accordance with the Act—that is to say, under £39 in a rural area and under £52 in a borough area. The register is a record not merely of those unemployed but of those under-employed and the only basis on which you can effect any comparison with the registered figures with figures for any previous year is by taking the census figures for 1926  Assuming the Unemployment Assistance Act was in operation in 1926 and that the consequences of inducement to register operated in that year as they do now there would be going on to that register, not only those who described themselves as out-of-work, but, in addition to them, small landholders and the sons of small land-holders the valuation of whose farms would have entitled them to qualification under the terms of the existing Act. There would be registered on such basis, on a conservative estimate, a number which I gave in an earlier debate of 155,000 persons. The 1926 census was taken in that period of the year when unemployment is less for small-holders and sons of small-holders in the country than during the winter season. At that period they are usually employed upon farm operations or other works undertaken to a greater extent in that period than during the winter season. Nevertheless, comparing the census figure of 1926 with the present figure of the middle of December, 1934, a very considerable reduction in unemployment is revealed in that way. When we take the reduction in unemployment revealed in that way, and associate it with the increase in employment revealed by the figures I have quoted we are forced to the conclusion that an improvement in the employment situation, both in relation to the number in work, and out of work, has taken place, and that, despite the fact that the population of the country has increased by some 44,000 people in the interval.
It would be possible in any country for employment and unemployment to increase at the same time though that can arise only if the increase in employment was not sufficient to offset the increase in population. But despite the increase in population here there has been an increase in employment recorded and a decrease in unemployment. So that the efforts taken by the Government to promote employment have resulted, not merely in offsetting the increase in the population, in the past few years, but, also, of eating into the unemployment problem which we inherited from our predecessors. I know that some Deputies think  that the increase in employment should be representative of an increase in babies. It is a fact that the birth-rate figure has declined. The increase in the population resulting from the stopping of emigration meant the retaining of a number of young people here who otherwise would have emigrated and who to-day are the most active in seek ing employment.
Let me take the other argument of the Deputy's. I do not want to be taken here as saying that the unemployment situation is one that we need not be concerned about. We must be concerned about it. Whatever explanation there be of the 120,000 unemployed or under-employed, whether it represents a decrease of the employment position in previous years or not, it is a serious position which we would be justified in taking drastic measures to remedy. It does not help us, in dealing with the position, to hear it represented as hopeless, as Deputies opposite are constantly doing. We can only tackle the problem when we have a clear picture of it, and can be quite certain that that picture is an accurate one, and that we know the number of persons for whom work must be found, and what they are capable of doing. Of course we must recognise the fact that a large proportion, over 50 per cent. of those who are registered, are not people seeking employment in the ordinary sense. The industrial worker in Cork or Dublin will take work wherever it offers. The majority of those who are registered will only take work if it offers in the immediate vicinity of their holdings, or of their business place, however far the livelihood they obtain from such is from being adequate. The solution of the problem which these people constitute is largely a land problem solution, and can be settled as much through the Department of Lands as any other Department. Half of those on the register represents people of that kind. I may mention for the information of Deputies in that regard that as a result of a recent examination I had made I established one fact, and that was that the duration of unemployment in average cases has decreased considerably in recent years. Whether we speak of 50,000 or  70,000 unemployed, we must not think of them as of a number permanently out of work. That is not the position. There is always a continuous changeover. Twenty-six per cent. of those registered, on any one day, have been unemployed for less than a fortnight. Comparing the average duration of unemployment with the position in 1926, there is a substantial reduction, and the average period here is also considerably less than in Great Britain, as shown by British statistics. One other case. We have heard frequently talk about industrial development taking the form of additional child labour. The proportion of the contributions received under Unemployment Insurance Acts in respect of juvenile labour was in 1931 3.48 as compared with 3.45 in 1934, so that proportionately the number of juveniles employed in 1933-34 was less than in 1931.
Mr. Lemass: The next point that Deputy Cosgrave dealt with was foreign trade. Again he based his argument on the old fallacy that the total value of foreign trade was an index of the prosperity of the country. He took the imports and exports and added them together and compared that with the figure of previous years.
Mr. Lemass: In any event, I would like the Deputy to get this into his head, that foreign trade is no index of a country's prosperity. A country's foreign trade might be booming, and its population might be dying of  starvation. In fact, if the Deputy will look at statistics, whatever statistics are available, showing the value of our exports in the famine year, in the year 1848, when a million people died of starvation in this country, he will find that they probably represented a considerable increase on previous years. Common sense teaches us—
Mr. Lemass: If the Deputy wants to know what were the figures in the famine year, perhaps he will make a bet? I am prepared to state my opinion, without having looked them up at all, that we had a volume of exports in that year considerably greater than in years when there was no famine.
Mr. Lemass: So far as the dispute with Great Britain is concerned, whatever restrictions there are they originated on the British side. Apart from the other matters that have arisen in dispute between us, we have been always ready to consider measures which might be adopted on one side or the other which would increase for our mutual benefit the trade between us and, in so far as we can, we are prepared to use our purchasing power in order to secure better marketing conditions for our produce in any part of the world where a market may offer. Deputy Cosgrave got tied up with a lot of statistics about the exports of the British Dominions to Great Britain and the exports of non-Dominion  countries to Great Britain since the Ottawa Conference. He proved conclusively that the value of the exports from the British Dominions to Great Britain increased by .3 of 1 per cent., including diamonds and gold and other things that comprised that trade. The figures given by the Deputy show that the value of the exports from the British Dominions to Great Britain increased since 1932 by .3 of 1 per cent.
Mr. Lemass: I do not know that it is of any interest to us to know that the value of gold and diamonds from South Africa was so much. There are just two other matters with which  I am going to deal. Deputy Cosgrave said there was some conclusion to be drawn from the decrease in the purchase of Savings Certificates since the rate of interest was reduced——
Mr. Lemass: In any event I will invite the Deputy to read again the report of the Banking Commission, which sat in 1926, upon the possibility of any Irish industrial concern getting money subscribed by the public in Ireland, and compare it with the results actually achieved in this year, and then perhaps he will appreciate whether, in fact, there is not more of our national income available for investment than ever there was.
Mr. Cosgrave: They are entirely different things. In the case of the Savings Certificates, there is a maximum amount which may be invested. It is really meant for the small investors, and it is intended to promote thrift. So far as other investments are concerned, in one transaction a couple of years ago, the amount in a conversion loan amounted to £70,000,000
Mr. Lemass: What I am drawing the Deputy's attention to is something which everybody interested in our financial conditions has been remarking upon—the ready availability of funds to support industrial projects undertaken here.
Mr. Cosgrave: The Minister is apparently contrasting two things, one of which is the money in the country. He will probably recollect that he, as well as his leader, referred a couple of years ago to the bankruptcy of this country. It was not then bankrupt, and the money is there still. It is available for industry or for transfer, but there is a difference between that and ordinary savings.
Mr. Lemass: The Deputy well knows that it is a complete answer to his statement. He also knows that the money that would ordinarily go into Savings Certificates is now going into the Post Office Savings Bank.
Mr. Lemass: Those associated with him politically tried to organise a campaign throughout the country to prevent farmers paying their annuities. They gave the encouragement of their example in different parts of the country. In spite of that campaign, they failed completely. Not 10 per cent. of the farmers responded, and it is noteworthy to observe that despite that campaign, despite the efforts of the Party opposite to create the impression that the agricultural community was bankrupt and could not meet liabilities, despite the efforts of important daily newspapers to create the same impression, 90 per cent. of the farmers paid their annuities without question, and of the 10 per cent. who did not pay them then the majority  very quickly paid when the notice of the intention to collect arrears was received.
Mr. Cosgrave: In the first place, last January £250,000 was deducted from the Agricultural Grant, and the Minister for Lands did not claim to have collected 90 per cent. of the annuities. When we speak of those annuities we must remember there were two gales—November and December. When the Minister talks about 90 per cent. it is the gale of November and December of last year. A month ago only £700,000 was paid for the May and June instalment out of £1,200,000.
Mr. Lemass: The balance will come in in the ordinary way. There will be a few people who, as a political stunt, will decline to pay, just as Deputy Bennett declined to pay, as Deputy Houlihan declined to pay, and as Deputy Curran declined to pay, until the brutal bailiff comes along and pounces upon the property of those poverty-stricken farmers—Deputy Curran's motor-car and Deputy Bennett's Rolls-Royce. I do not know if Deputy Cosgrave felt as foolish as he sounded when trying to represent the spasmodic opposition which developed in different parts of the country against the payment of annuities or rates, as evidence of the bankruptcy of the farmers. It represented the maximum efforts which all the Blue-shirts of the country, no matter what section they belonged to, could develop behind such a campaign for a period of 12 months, and it was a very poor effort indeed. It is no wonder General O'Duffy has gone to Switzerland to try and benefit by the experience of fellow-Fascists in other lands.
Mr. Lemass: A most interesting man? Reading the speeches of the Deputies opposite about him during the past twelve months, I thought he was a super-man. I was particularly anxious to get him in here, because I thought it was essential to this nation that a man possessing all the qualities assigned to him by Deputies opposite should be in here where the nation's laws are made, so that the benefit of his magnificent intelligence would be available to the country. It is not for me to cast any aspersions upon the accuracy of the statements which Deputies made then in their first blush of youthful enthusiasm, but if they have now discovered that the idol had feet of clay they should have the decency to admit that it was they who first made him an idol, and turned the poor man's head. The economic position in this country is sufficiently grave to cause concern, but to thinking people it is sufficiently sound to give us every confidence in the future, and every hope that we will succeed in doing what we are endeavouring to do—to change from an outworn and unsuitable economic system to one which will result in the conservation of our wealth and our people, and give to all Irish men who desire to secure it an opportunity of getting a livelihood in their own country by working for it; an opportunity which was denied during the past decade to many thousands of our countrymen.
Mr. Davin: The only redeeming feature of the speech delivered this evening by Deputy Cosgrave was his invitation to the House, and presumably to the country, to discuss the problems that call for solution along non-Party lines. If that is to be taken as a  sincere desire on the part of the Deputy we can all welcome certain things that have happened in the Deputy's Party on recent occasions, and we can have greater hope for the future if Deputy Cosgrave and his own colleagues sitting behind him will approach the solution of those urgent problems along the lines he suggests. I think every Deputy of every Party sitting on all sides of this House can go to his home at Christmas and say that nothing of an excitable nature happened during this short Session of the Dáil, and that no measure which would call for the excitement of the people or would excite the imagination of politically-minded people was passed—except the one which passed through the final stages here this evening.
There are people not so politically-minded as those who are only concerned about the measure which was passed this evening, the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Bill, who may be concerned with other measures repeatedly promised by the Government Party but which have neither been introduced nor passed during this session. We have had promises before the Government Party came into office that the town tenants' grievances would be redressed as soon as was reasonably possible, and that a measure intended to deal with the grievances of town tenants and those who were affected by ground rents and matters of that kind would be passed by this Government. In answer to a recent question addressed to the Minister from this side of the House no definite information was given as to when this long-promised Town Tenants Bill would be introduced or passed. Not alone is there a popular demand through the country for the introduction and passage of this measure but there is a very pressing need for the early introduction of a measure of that kind, so that slum landlords, the people who are piling up increased revenue by ground rents, and those who are at the moment engaged in creating new ground rents, will be dealt with in the interests of the plain people of the country who are affected to a very great extent by the present activities of slum landlords. I hope some Minister will speak before  this debate concludes, and give some indication as to when this measure is likely to be introduced and passed.
I think on the 24th or 25th of September, 1933, President de Valera, speaking in Cork, publicly pledged himself and his Government to make provision in the subsequent year's Budget for a pension scheme for widows and orphans. In accordance with the pledge given by President de Valera on that occasion the Minister made provision for a sum of £250,000 to be allocated for that purpose for deserving and qualified applicants during the present financial year. Up to the present no Bill has been introduced for the purpose of giving effect to that pledge and promise. If such a Bill does not come into operation before the beginning of the next financial year, the £250,000 provided in this year's Budget will go back into the Treasury, and be taken from the people for whom it was intended. I want to know what steps are to be taken to implement that promise, and make it possible for deserving and qualified widows and orphans to receive the money which has been provided, or was intended to be provided, for them in this year's Budget. There is no use in getting up and saying— and this is not the first time it was done by this Government—“We will make provision for such and such a section of the community” without passing the necessary legislation to make it possible for those deserving people to get what is supposed to be there for them.
Another measure in which members of this Party are particularly interested, for which they have have been pressing for a considerable time, and which the Government promised to deal with immediately they came into office, is a Bill making provision for the purchase of labourers' cottages by the occupiers of those small holdings. I understand there was a certain amount of doubt in the minds of. I suppose, a section of the Fianna Fáil Party, as to whether it was desirable to proceed any further with that measure.
Mr. Davin: I have reason to believe  that, and if that is not the reason I should like to know from Deputy Donnelly what is the reason for the failure to introduce and pass that measure before now. I suppose we will have to live in hopes, but I think an indication as to when that Bill is likely to be introduced would come with some force behind it from some Minister sitting on the Front Bench. I hope some answer will be given to the people who are pressing for definite information as to when that measure is going to be introduced and passed. There has been a great deal of talk about the increase in the number of the unemployed, that the figures which are officially published by the Department of Industry and Commerce clearly show that the number of registered unemployed has increased. Any Deputy who represents a rural area knows very well that a number of people are registering to-day for certain definite reasons who, normally, would not register as unemployed. I can quote a case in my own constituency for Deputy MacDermot—a pretty bad case; and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance has the particulars in his office—to show where on a minor relief scheme, started and partially carried out as a result of the last Vote, a person, who calls himself and is locally known as a cattle dealer, and who has two farms, went into the local labour exchange, and not the right one either, and registered himself under false pretences as an unemployed person. I am sorry to say that, as the result of the failure of certain people, he got work on a particular minor relief scheme. Another gentleman, who is a fairly well-to-do farmer—these people are known to me personally—also registered as unemployed and got work as a carter at 8/- per day. His brother from the same big farm, was employed at 24/- per week—£3 12s. per week going into the comfortable home of a well-to-do farmer because he went to the local labour exchange and registered as unemployed and did not state the circumstances of his position. Every person working on that minor relief scheme was a pretty well-to-do  farmer and not one who got work on that scheme was a person intended to get work under the regulation laid down by the Parliamentary Secretary.
Mr. Davin: Yes, and I was very glad you did. I do not want to see money going into the pockets of people for whom it was not intended. There was plenty of evidence to show that there was reason for shutting it down. Almost in the immediate vicinity of the place where that work was being carried out, the manager of the labour exchange reported to a certain official that 40 persons were in receipt of unemployment assistance. One person in receipt of unemployment assistance, who buried his mother and sister recently, was out of work for about 12 months, and was in arrears with the rent of his cottage. That man made two appeals for work and was refused, whereas a cattle dealer, the owner of two farms, was given work in preference to that applicant, who was deserving under the regulations, as the Parliamentary Secretary knows, because he has the full facts in his office. That is not an exceptional case even in my constituency, and I am sure that Deputy Donnelly can confirm that. These are the kind of people who, at this particular period of the year, for a definite reason, go and register themselves to help to build up the figures which Deputy Cosgrave has made so much fun about in the House this evening.
There is one aspect of the unemployment problem with which my colleagues and myself are very seriously concerned—that attempts made, by the establishment of new industries and in other ways, to find employment are, unfortunately, finding employment for people who are not the most deserving section of the community. Take the records of the Civil Service, which, year by year, for the past three, four or five years, show that there is a large increase in the number of women employed in each Department as the years go by, thus depriving much more deserving male and qualified applicants,  who have people depending upon them, of that particular class of employment. Take the semi-State employment provided in the National Health Insurance Society. If Deputies look at the photograph in to-day's Irish Press of a social function held by the employees of that society, they will see about 12 male persons figuring amongst 300 or 400 girls and grown-up women.
Mr. Davin: I should like to hear what the Parliamentary Secretary has to say in answer to all this when he is replying. If employment is going to be found in the State service, the semi-State services, or the industries established by State assistance, that employment should be provided for the most deserving section of the community, namely, the qualified male persons who, naturally, have more people depending on them than many of the women who are working for pin money in some of these concerns. It is a serious problem, and if you are going to tackle the solution of the unemployment problem you will have to pay close attention to this matter.
Ministers, particularly the Minister for Industry and Commerce, have taken exception to Deputy Norton's statement in regard to the nature of the employment provided in some of our industries, particularly the clothing industry. So far as I can find out from the figures, the biggest section of the people employed in the clothing industry is composed of young women. That follows, I suppose, the bad example set by the State, which is apparently giving preferential treatment to a largely increasing number of women instead of male persons who are more deserving. If the State, or if those who are advising the Ministry, think it is good policy to employ a largely increased number of women, I suppose they cannot take strong exception to the leaders of the new industries which are being set up doing the same  thing. They should show the good example, and then there will be more force behind the argument—if they do use the argument—that these new industrialists should give employment to the more deserving section of the community.
We passed a measure in this House which came into operation at the end of 1932 and which was properly described as the best Housing Act passed in Europe. I had high hopes that the proper use of that Act by local authorities would provide a considerable amount of employment for registered unemployed for a period of between five and ten years. Personally, I have been sadly disappointed at the small amount of employment that has so far been found in the rural areas of my constituency in connection with housing schemes carried out up to the present. It is correct to state that a pretty large number of people have found employment in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford and some of the larger provincial towns. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary has some figures to show the extent to which employment has been found in the rural areas for registered unemployed by the boards of health on housing schemes. There are too many of these one-horse building contractors allowed to operate in the rural areas and, so long as you have these contractors, there will be no employment to any great extent given in building houses in the rural areas. In parts of my constituency they have contractors who never had any experience in the skilled side of the building trade and who, in most cases, could be described as nothing more than handy men who also work on their own farms. They get out the beet and the wheat and do the other farming work when the weather suits; and on wet days they and their sons engage periodically in the building operations which they are carrying out for the board of health.
Mr. Davin: There is; but I am sorry to say that it has not been adhered to. I have been doing my best with the  Minister for Local Government to force these contractors to carry out their contracts within the stipulated time. I would make a suggestion to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance that he should endeavour to convince the Minister for Local Government and Public Health and the local authorities that the contractors engaged in this class of work should be obliged to tender for the erection of not less than ten or 15 houses. In that way you would get building contractors of the type who would do the work well, the type of contractors who would be obliged to give employment to those on the registers of the unemployed. In that way the public would get better work than they are getting at present when tenders are given to men with no previous experience, men who are not giving good results for the money expended.
I know that these contractors are supposed to pay a certain rate of wages. But in my constituency these one-horse contractors are paying much below that scale. The tenders stipulate that they should pay the regular trade union rate of wages. Now I have evidence that where the wage for unskilled workmen on these contracts is 38/- a week, there are certain contractors who pay as low as 15/- a week. In some cases the wage is 24/- a week. That is the rate which the Parliamentary Secretary knows is being paid in minor relief schemes. What is the position there? The contractor submits his tender price in accordance with the local rate of wages. He undertakes to pay that rate, and he makes provision for it. Naturally, he will have some profit for himself out of these contracts. If the gentleman gets a contract for the building of a house where the standard rate of wages for this work is 38/- a week for unskilled men, and he pays as low as 15/- or 24/- a week, he is getting additional profits out of the work which should not be allowed to him. These one-horse and one-armed contractors are getting away with that, and making a profit for themselves.
Mr. Davin: I am sure that the Deputy who has deported his leader to Montreux will have an opportunity of making his contribution to this debate, and when his time comes to speak I will not deny him a hearing.
Mr. Davin: There is a considerable amount of genuine cause for complaint. I refer now to what is generally recognised in the rural areas and in some of the cities and towns—the recent unjustifiable increase in the cost of living. I believe that the price paid for vegetables in the City of Dublin and throughout the country is out of all proportion to the prices paid to the farmers, small and large, for fruit and vegetables. Deputy Belton knows that. If there is any case for the existence of the Food Prices Commission, or whatever it is called, there surely is a case for the Minister referring this matter to that Commission. This would give the Commission more useful and pressing cases than they have been hearing up to the present. I will take the most glaring case of all. The Minister for Agriculture has already put into operation an Act known as the Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Act. He has already attempted to exercise power under that Act, but he has not put into operation the fixing of the minimum price to be paid by butchers and exporters. There are a number of these wise butchers throughout the country who have fore stalled. They bought in very large numbers of cattle at small prices——
Mr. Davin: Deputy Finlay could tell us about some of the people who have done these things in my constituency. A farmer cattle dealer in my constituency, a man who does not live very far away from Deputy Finlay, bought 100 fat cattle before the Act came into operation——
Mr. Davin: In this particular case this farmer butcher bought about 100 cattle at 14/-, 15/-, and in a few cases 16/- per cwt., before the Act came into operation. He killed some of them before the Act was in operation so as to save the levy of £1 per head. We are told that this gentleman—and he will be a gentleman before long if he is allowed to carry on in this way, that is, a gentleman as we understand the term—has put up the price of fresh meat by 2d. a lb. That gentleman says he is not a profiteer. What in the name of goodness are the members of the Food Prices Commission doing when that sort of thing is allowed to go on all over the country? Here is a man who buys a 9 cwt. beast at 10/- a cwt. below the minimum price and then he comes along in the name of Christianity and Catholicity and raises the price by 2d. a lb. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to see that whoever is responsible for the existence of this Prices Tribunal should ask them to spend some time looking into this matter. I would say that there would be something to be said for the butchers putting up the price—I will not say by how much—if they paid the farmer the minimum price for the cattle. They are not doing that and here we are looking on. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will invite Deputies Finlay and Belton to give some information on that matter. Some of these Deputies are always shouting about the farmers' grievances. These are the facts.
Mr. Davin: I ask the Minister to strike off the register butchers who use the power of this State to rob the people. The butchers are robbing the people. At the same time, others are given licences to export cattle and they will not pay the minimum prices. What is the use of passing an Act and closing our eyes to the fact that that Act is not put into operation? We have some people here who remain silent when they are in a position to give information to the Minister.
Mr. Finlay: On a point of order, I want to say that Deputy Davin is ignorant. He comes in as a representative of the farmers. I know the people he is representing. He tells the House that a certain man bought cattle two months ago. What happened was——
Mr. Finlay: What I mean is that you are ignorant of the prices paid. If you want to know you can go up to the Dublin market in the morning and buy every beast in the market at 16/- a cwt. I have an amount of cattle and I will give them to you at 16/- a cwt.
Mr. Davin: I want Deputy Finlay to say that the people, regardless of the section to which they belong, will be given their rights and will be given the protection to which they are entitled. That is a simple appeal I  am making to the Deputy who knows the position in his own constituency better, perhaps, than I do.
Mr. Davin: I did not refer to the Deputy in any disrespectful way. I merely appealed to him to support certain proposals which he knows to be right. We have had an appeal from Deputy Cosgrave this evening, for the first time for a long time, to discuss matters of this sort on non-Party lines. I am sure that the Deputy will respond to the appeal made by his Leader. I should rather see these big sums, which are being paid out as bounties to live-stock exporters who are not complying with the terms of the Act, set aside for some other purpose—for instance, to increase the rate of wages paid to those engaged on minor relief works. The amount being paid to those who are exporting live stock is very great. Without it, we should have cheap meat here. If the money were used in increasing the wages of those employed on minor relief works, these people would spend it at home and all classes of the community would benefit. I notice that the Ministry is engaged in endeavouring to make some kind of trade agreement with Germany and other Continental countries. I am not over-enthusiastic about the likely results of this type of trade agreement. I strongly object to having very much to do with the Government of a country like Germany, where the workers are ground down and where they have been even shot down. I am not going to give any encouragement to our Government to make so-called trade agreements, from which we shall get very little return, in my opinion, with Governments of a country like that. I would prefer the Government to have a trade agreement with Great Britain, where many of our citizens are working and obtaining a livelihood and where many of our people must continue to go, whether they be doctors, dockers or harvesters. I should much prefer to have a trade agreement with a country like Great Britain, where  agriculture and industry are carried on on up-to-date and Christian lines, to having a trade agreement with Germany and Continental countries where gentlemen like General O'Duffy are in control. I suggest that the Government should not waste time in trying to get results from agreements entered into with countries like Germany. Well and good, if we can get a good return for what we give with any country, but I have no hesitation in urging trade agreements with the country from which we are likely to get the most and which is giving employment to people who could not get a living here. I merely express the views of an ordinary Deputy and I would be interested to hear what the leaderless Deputy who sits close by has to say in regard to the matters I have just mentioned.
Mr. MacDermot: I always think that when discussions on unemployment take the form of a dispute as to whether unemployment has increased or not under the present Government, they are on a plane altogether too favourable to the present Government. I admit that from statistics—in view of all that has occurred in regard to the unemployment register—it is extremely difficult to make accurate comparisons. Consequently, I have a certain distrust of the calculations that have been offered to us for consumption from both sides with regard to this question of increase or decrease in unemployment. What we have got to remember is that the present Government, before they came into office, told us that they had a certain cure for unemployment. They have now been quite long enough in office to apply that cure. But, whatever can be said about unemployment, it cannot be said that it has been cured. By admission of all, it is still there, a very grave problem—and that in spite of the fact that tariffs have been raised to an extraordinary height so as to afford protection to industries and that public money has been spent in unprecedented quantities for the express purpose of providing employment. The amazing thing, therefore, is not that unemployment has slightly decreased, if it has  slightly decreased—which I very much doubt—but that unemployment continues to be such a menacing problem as it is to-day by admission of everybody. The Minister went so far as to say that employment had increased in every branch of industry, including agriculture. Frankly, as regards agriculture, I find myself unable to believe that. Aside from the question of the quantity of employment, it is perfectly certain that the rate of agricultural wages has sadly diminished as a consequence of the policy of the present Government.
Mr. MacDermot: It is also true that an enormous number of persons who used to be profitably employed in agriculture are now unprofitably employed in it. They work from dawn to dark. They are not unemployed, but they are working at a loss instead of at a profit. The Minister for Industry and Commerce referred to another matter to which I wish to allude. He said that the figures of foreign trade—the total of exports and imports—throw no light whatever upon the prosperity of a country. That statement is absurd. I quite agree that they are not the sole index to a country's prosperity, or lack of prosperity, but they are an important index and must be taken into consideration with other things. They cannot be lightly swept aside in the spirit in which the Minister sought to sweep them aside.
At the beginning of this debate, Deputy Cosgrave spoke of a desire that we should deal with fundamental problems in a non-Party spirit. I wish to echo that desire. On a recent visit to Trinity College, the Minister for Industry and Commerce appealed to his impressionable young hearers to set about a revisioning and a revaluation of all their traditional ideas. I feel inclined to make a somewhat similar appeal in a perfectly friendly spirit to the Deputies sitting on the opposite benches. Of course, I realise that it is a much less hopeful enterprise to obtain such a revaluation and revision from any of us, hard-boiled politicians, who  sit here day after day barking at one another across the floor of the House, than it was in the case of the college audience. Nevertheless, I shall be ingenuous enough to make the attempt. I want to deal with what seems to me to be the really fundamental things both on the economic side and on the constitutional side of our present embarrassments.
The fundamental assumption of the economic philosophy of Deputies opposite is, I think, that our export trade in cattle is a bad thing, that it has been in the past a bad thing, that it has been associated with the depopulation of this country, and that it has meant the substitution of a cattle population for a human population. Now if these charges were well founded they would be exceedingly serious. I happen to disagree with them. I think that in the first place we should get out of our heads the idea which many Deputies seem to have that this export trade to England in cattle is something that has sprung up since the Act of Union, that it is some modern imperialistic innovation. That view is quite false. Our cattle trade with Britain is of immense antiquity. How far back it goes I do not know. But we know that as early as the reign of Charles the Second, when a British law imposed restrictions on our exports of cattle, there was such turmoil in the country over it as to be reflected in the pages of Pepys's Diary. There is nothing surprising in this. We are the best cattle breeding country in Europe. Our climate and our soil fit us for that. With the discovery of coal in England and the enormous growth of British population it was quite natural that our export trade to that country in cattle should assume the large proportions it did. Even apart from the export trade of cattle we hear contemptuous allusions by Deputies opposite to what they call the “cattle mentality.” If I recollect aright, the heroes from whom Deputies opposite took the title of their party—the Fianna—were accomplished cattle raiders. The cattle mentality in Ireland goes back to the beginning of Irish history. Go through the Annals of the Four Masters or any other historical record and you will find  that cattle were always regarded as the main source and symbol of wealth. In the early Gaelic legends cattle got pride of place.
Mr. MacDermot: People who imagine that depopulation is a necessary result of our export trade in cattle are committing the well-known fallacy of post hoc propter hoc. That is, that because one thing happened after another it was necessarily a consequence of it. Suppose I argued that because the Irish population enormously increased during the first half of the century, after the Act of Union therefore the Act of Union was a fine thing for this country, I am sure Deputies opposite would find I was committing a logical fallacy. Again, if I argue that because the great famine followed upon a period of increase in population therefore an increase of population was a bad thing, Deputies opposite would say I was perpetrating a logical fallacy. But the logical fallacy committed in these cases is no worse than the ones that Deputies commit when they argue that the decrease in population was a result of the prosperity of the cattle trade. There is no logical connection between the two things at all.
I am in favour of the stimulation of other forms of agriculture as well as live stock breeding, and I am in favour of the stimulation of industries other than the agricultural industry. But I deny that the destruction of our live-stock trade is a logical and necessary first step to be taken, in order to bring about prosperity in other industries. Quite the contrary. I consider the destruction of the agricultural industry must enormously diminish the prosperity and success of our other industries in this country. I suggest, remembering what our national advantages are, that it is the height of folly to discard these advantages and to live in the hope of developing hot-house products alone. I quite agree with the experiment of  having hot-house products, but we ought not to deprive ourselves of advantages that are natural advantages in order to concentrate on these hot-house products. Sometimes those speaking for the Government forsaking the line of argument about the inherent undesirability of the cattle trade, defend themselves by saying that their hands are forced and that, no matter what they had done or left undone, the British would have imposed restriction on our agricultural exports for the benefit of their own people. In the days before the War if the British had pursued agricultural protection it would have been welcomed by all Irishmen of every political creed. None of us would have thought that such a policy would be an obstacle in the way of Home Rule or that under a Home Rule régime our farmers would be deprived of the benefit of such protection in the British market. Even three years ago I doubt if any responsible person in this country thought that British agricultural protection was going to hurt this country. Deputies opposite were then prophesying that because of our importance as a market for industrial products and because of the importance of our food supplies in times of war that even under the extreme provocation which they were proposing to offer, the British would refrain from putting restrictions upon our products. Now they ask us to believe that even without such provocation these restrictions would have been imposed. The point they make is that British Ministers have declared that these agricultural quotas as distinct from tariffs are not forms of attack or retaliation upon us but something required in the interests of their own agriculture. That declaration by British Ministers does not prove what Deputies opposite seek to make it prove. In the events that have happened I agree that the British have acted in the interests of their own farmers, but my contention is that these events would not have happened but for the fault of the present Government. The interests of British farmers would not, I submit, have overruled other considerations if we had not recklessly swept these considerations away. Nay more, but for our failure to play  our cards intelligently at Ottawa the interests of the British farmers ought to have been identical with those of our farmers.
I venture to suggest again that if no quarrel had arisen between the two countries a British statesman would have argued thus. He would have said: “Ireland is a valuable source of food supply to us in time of war; therefore, we must beware of injuring her agriculture. Ireland is one of our most valuable overseas markets; therefore, we must not injure her purchasing power. Ireland is the only part of the Commonwealth which has an adverse balance in her trade with us; therefore, she has a definite claim to special treatment—a material and not a sentimental claim. Ireland pays us £5,250,000 a year in interest on borrowed money and for other purposes; therefore, we must not make it impossible for her to pay over those moneys.” Then he would think of the political arguments and he would say: “Here is a country at the heart of the Commonwealth, with which we have had difficulties for many years. Is it wise to do something to antagonise that country?” Finally, if he were Minister for Agriculture, I think he would say: “Irish delegates at a Commonwealth economic conference would have the strongest motives for defending home agriculture against the competition of chilled and frozen meat and, in general, for espousing the cause of the agricultural interest as against the industrial interest so long as Irish farmers have free entrance to the British markets; therefore, we must leave Irish farmers that free entrance.” That was an enormously strong position that we held, and what I urge is that that enormously strong position has been thrown away by the ineptitude of the present Government and that ineptitude has been largely the result of a false economic philosophy and a false political philosophy.
Before I pass from the economic side of our difficulties, there are one or two comments which I would like to make on the characteristics of the new economic era. The Minister for Industry and Commerce talks of having discarded an outworn economic system.  What exactly the outworn economic system that we have discarded is I do not quite know, but I do know that the system we have adopted of high protection is something that has no novelty about it. It is not something fresh, untried or hopeful; it is something which has broken down and proved terribly unsuccessful in many other parts of the world. You could not, perhaps, get a better country than Australia as an example. An examination of the history of high protection in Australia would raise some doubts in the minds of Deputies opposite with regard to the economic system about which they profess to be so enthusiastic. The distinguishing feature of our case is that of all the countries that have adopted high protection we are the only one, without any exchange or currency difficulties intervening, to have thrown away a gigantic market that existed at our very door. A storm-proof mentality, to use one of the favourite expressions of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, is not peculiar to the Irish Government. But, perhaps, we have gone a little further than any other Government in seeking to provide that there will be nothing left for any storms to destroy.
Leaving aside for a moment the question whether storm-proof economics make a country richer or poorer, whether they represent a flash of genius or a reversion to economic barbarism, I would ask Deputies opposite do they really never feel any uneasiness over some of the social and moral consequences of their present policy? Does it not worry them at all that almost every citizen earning his living is being taught to feel dependent upon the Government? I suggest that we are approaching a real danger of extinguishing such qualities as initiative, thrift and individual independence in this country. I am not arguing against social services at all, but I am arguing against the tendency to make everyone who has to earn his living dependent on the good graces of the Government. If that is the inevitable result of Fianna Fáil economic policy, I think it is in itself a reason  for revaluing that policy. It may be good electioneering to turn the Government into a sort of universal provider, but, as I said before in this House, a Government which is too good at electioneering can be good at nothing else.
The experience of the world as to whether economics of this character make a country richer or poorer is so far against the Government, and so I think is our own experience already. The shrinkage of overseas trade may be treated by the Minister for Industry and Commerce as of no account, but there remains the fact that in spite of all this immense public expenditure the figures of unemployment are very unsatisfactory and that the adverse balance in our international trade, which used to cause the members of the present Government so much concern when in opposition, is very decidedly worse under their own régime.
I turn from economic to political philosophy. The root defect of Irish Republicanism, as I see it, is that it refuses to face the Northern question or the racial question, whichever you like to call it. In the whole of our island there is roughly a quarter of the population who are sentimentally attached, perhaps materially attached too, to the British connection. Now, where we of the Gaelic stock and tradition are in the majority, there is no difficulty about overriding the feelings of the minority, but I defy anybody to tell me how it is ever going to be possible to trample on the sentiments of the majority in Northern Ireland. I do not know whether the hope of Deputies opposite is that there will be another European war and that the British civilisation, and most other civilisations too, will go crashing in ruins. If that is what their hopes are based on, I would say that so horrible an ambition is in itself a condemnation of their policy. But even if the might of Great Britain were not behind the Orange North in its claim to self-determination, I believe that the four counties of Antrim, Derry, Down and Armagh could make it just as impossible for us to govern them as we made it for Great  Britain to govern us by adopting the same ruthless methods. Human beings are not cattle to be handed over from one proprietor to another without their feelings being consulted, and I would go so far as to say that the entity known as Northern Ireland, while it has no right to hold Fermanagh and Tyrone, is entitled in equity to keep the other four counties out of our political system so long as the gulf is allowed to remain as wide as it is between their sentiments and our own. No doubt they were originally invaders and intruders, as the President is fond of saying, but we have to consider facts as they now are and not as they used to be. These people have been here a good many centuries now, and if we assume that their wishes and ideals should count for nothing at all, we shall be making exactly the same mistake, committing exactly the same sin, as the Protestant Ascendancy did throughout Anglo-Irish history.
As we cannot kill these people or drive them out we have got to choose between partition and reconciliation. Until that fact is faced I consider that we have not made a beginning in dealing with our constitutional issue in this country. Is such reconciliation possible? Deputies opposite will say that representatives of Northern Ireland have said very little to encourage any hope of it. They will say that even during the period when Deputy Cosgrave was in office no visible progress was made in that direction. They will ask what reasonable expectation there is of such progress being made if Deputy Cosgrave were in office again. I do not believe in underrating difficulties. There has been very little in the utterances of Northern politicians to encourage our hopes, but we must not forget that the exploitation of popular prejudices is, after all, the besetting sin of politicians, and that consequently politicians are the last class that are likely to give any indication of a change of sentiment. From information which I have had, I am satisfied that the sentiments of business men in the North often differed to a very considerable degree—and indeed still do—on this question from the utterances of politicians.
 The real answer, however, to the objections which I am supposing Deputies opposite to make is that the mere tenure of office, by a modest majority, of a non-republican Government is not near enough to change the atmosphere as it has got to be changed if this question is going to be settled. So long as there is a large enough body of republican or quasi-republican opinion in this country to be formidable, I confess that in my view partition must continue. That is why the mere defeat of the present Ministry is something which has never really interested me. It is essential that Ministers or the more influential among them should be persuaded to open their eyes to the real all-Ireland situation, and to set their feet upon the path of statesmanship if we are to make any progress with this question. So far as Irish reunion is concerned, the defeat of the present Government would only be of value in so far as it brought about a chastened mood favourable to their conversion.
We Celts are said to be of an imaginative race. Can we not exercise a little sympathetic imagination in dealing with a problem which is, of all problems, the most vital to us? It is hard enough to wipe out past bitterness even without present provocation, but can we not think of dozens of incidents and, indeed, of measures which must make our conduct and character appear in an odious light to the majority in the North? The one Unionist argument which we have exploded is that Home Rule means Rome Rule. Our record in the matter of religious toleration is far better than that of the people in Northern Ireland. In other respects we have often acted exactly as we would have done if we had set out to hurt their tenderest feelings. It is fully time we realised that a cold and grudging acceptance of the Commonwealth principle, even if such acceptance existed, is not enough, and that from the unity point of view, it is not worth while forming a part of the Commonwealth at all unless we can do so on a basis of manly self-respect and cordiality, and unless we frankly acknowledge the Crown not as symbol of an alien power but as part of  our own Constitution; unless we regard the Crown as an Irish institution so far as we are concerned, which is exactly what the South Africans have done. It might come about in the course of time that a united Ireland would decide to leave the Commonwealth, but if so, it ought to be done not to justify anyone's past career, not out of spite and hatred or the memory of injustice, but in the light of the actualities of the present day, and because, in the view of a nation which had then become homogeneous, something had occurred which made some such separation advisable for our material interests or for our honour.
The issue, Sir, is not between complete and incomplete freedom. The issue is between a complete and an incomplete Ireland. The people who would set bounds to the march of this nation are those who condemn it to perpetual division; are those who set the dogma of the Republic not alone before our material interests, our international influence, the guarantee of our liberties by sister nations, the political bond between ourselves and the great Irish communities in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but who also put it before the unity of Ireland. The most respectable motive that I know of for fanatical adherence to this dogma of the Republic is the supposed betrayal of dead comrades that would be involved in its abandonment. Exactly the same argument was used at the time the Treaty of Versailles was being prepared and it was used with disastrous effect. It was, I suppose, natural enough to believe that it was a duty to the allied dead to squeeze Germany until the pips squeaked—as I believe the phrase went—to humiliate her, to impoverish her, and to enslave her. It was natural, but was it right? Was it wise? Was it true? It is not the immediate aims, I submit, or passions or antipathies, or perhaps illusions of those who have made the great sacrifice that we are under a duty to bring to fulfilment. It is the underlying motive that matters, and that motive is the welfare of one's country, not as seen by the imperfect vision of an individual living in a particular epoch or educated in a particular school  of ideas, but as successive generations hammer it out in the light of actual facts. That is why the memory of all those who died for Ireland should be dear to us, no matter what uniform they died in. That is why the glory of those men's sacrifice is not put in peril if we have the honesty and courage to live up to our responsibilities, and to think out our problems in the light of the facts of the present day.
Am I preaching Imperialism? The President implied this afternoon that I was, and that my contacts, as he described them, had unfitted me to speak with any authority about what ought to be the sentiments of the Irish nation. I am getting a little bit tired of that sort of insinuation, which I have had to bear a great many times from Deputies on the opposite benches, although I think it was the first time I had to bear with it from the President. I have been soaked in Irish history and tradition all my life. I have supported the cause of Irish self-government not in places where it was popular to do so, but in places where it was unpopular to do so. Several of my ancestors sleep in Clonmacnoise, others fought at Clontarf, at Kinsale, at the Curleys, and at the battle of Aughrim. My great-grandfather was an ardent supporter of Wolfe Tone. My grandfather was an ardent supporter of O'Connell. My father was a law officer in the first Home Rule Government. All my life I have cared intensely about Irish traditions, and about the demand for Irish independence. I do resent the implication that anyone sitting on those benches is qualified to speak to me as a schoolmaster to a child about what should be my conception of Irish nationality. For Heaven's sake let us give each other credit for being genuinely Irish in outlook and answer each other's arguments on their merits and not be dragging prejudice of that sort into the discussion.
Then, again, I ask—am I preaching Imperialism? I often wonder what meaning is attached to that word Imperialism by those opposite and  those round the country who are fondest of using it. It seems to have been borrowed from the jargon of Russian Communism. I have seen it applied, for instance, to President de Valera's receptions at Dublin Castle. I have seen it applied to that rather foolish word “Esquire” which some people put on envelopes in addressing letters. We had it applied the other day by the gallant raiders of the Savoy Cinema to the scenes depicting the ceremonial connected with the Royal wedding. I have not seen the word used in connection with the ceremonial celebrating the anniversary of the foundation of the Soviet Republic, but why not, I do not know; because it seems to be as applicable to the one as to the other. I interpret Imperialism, in the unfavourable sense of the word, as meaning the forceful exploitation of a weaker country by a stronger. There is no question of anything of the sort in our case to-day—no question whatever of it.
Deputy Ben Maguire made a speech about a week ago down in Leitrim in which he told his hearers that for us to belong to the Commonwealth would leave us open to conscription in the event of another war. I wonder did Deputy Ben Maguire believe that? Was he so incredibly ignorant as to believe that; or was he deliberately deceiving the people listening to him? Surely we all know that sort of matter is left to the decision of every member of the Commonwealth to decide for itself; and that in the last war so loyal a member of the Commonwealth as Australia deliberately rejected the application of conscription in that country. I submit that that is typical of the sort of false ideas that are being propagated. So far is it from being true, I submit, that on the contrary the community of interest between the self-governing Dominions is so great as to make the exploitation of any one of them by Great Britain quite impossible; whereas if we are a republic the day may come when Irish jingoes or British jingoes bring about another quarrel that might lead to our reconquest, to our spoliation, and to the  repetition of the whole dreary record of Anglo-Irish relations in the past.
It is time, and more than time, that we ceased to be deceived by catchwords. We are about to separate for the Christmas recess, and there is a season before us that tends to open our minds to the sort of recollections and sentiments that draw struggling humanity nearer together. I beg Deputies opposite to give some attention to the arguments which I have tried to set before them. I do not pretend that they are striking or novel. Indeed, the greater part of them seem to me to be almost truisms. However, they are completely ignored by Fianna Fáil propagandists. The case which I am making has never been met and I think that at least it deserves to be met. I think it deserves more than that; and I hope Deputies opposite will believe me when I say that I make my appeal to them in no Party spirit, but in complete good faith and complete goodwill.
I have only one word to add. The President said this afternoon that the men who declared the Republic in 1918 had considered all the consequences of their act and he implied that it exhibited a lack of proper Irish spirit on my part, and on the part of those like me, not to be prepared now to give up the advantages associated with the British Commonwealth. It appears to me that that argument comes very badly from him. It is a mystery to me at this moment on what respectable ground he refrains from asking the people for authority to declare a republic in this country, if he believes some of the things that he wishes us to think he believes. I am not a bit afraid of a republic. I am by no means one of the people who shiver and shake every time a republic is mentioned. Sometimes I think—and I have said so in this House—that possibly the declaration of the only sort of a republic we can have—a Twenty-Six County republic—might be the best thing for this country. It might be a necessary preliminary to getting rid of the inferiority complex, or whatever you like to call it, that poisons relations between ourselves and Great Britain. I do not believe it would last. I am quite convinced  that the ultimate destiny of this country is to be united. I believe partition to be artificial. I believe that separation from the Commonwealth of Nations would also be artificial. In any case, I am not a person who is fanatically opposed to the immediate declaration of a Twenty-Six County republic. What I am passionately opposed to is the kind of Commonwealth association that we have at present—an association which is accompanied by the idea that we are somehow or other in a state of slavery, and which is maintained in such a spirit by the majority Party in this country as to exclude all hope of reunion between ourselves and the North of Ireland. The unity of Ireland in one nation is the real constitutional issue that matters; and I venture once more to suggest to Deputies opposite that they should reflect upon that issue in the light of the considerations that I have set before them.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): A certain British official the other day, in speaking to a friend and explaining the conditions of life and government in another country, said that everybody was quite free. Speaking, for instance, of the princes of that particular country, he said that they were perfectly free to do as they liked. All they had was an adviser appointed by the British Crown and, so long as they did what he advised, they were perfectly free. That is the sentiment behind the speech, in so far as it is a sincere and straightforward speech, of Deputy MacDermot. If we take his advice, so long as we do what he tells us, so long as we accept as the fundamental proposition of Irish life the thing which we will not accept, then we are perfectly free. The difference between marriage and forced concubinage is consent and nothing else. It is consent that matters.
Mr. Flinn: I might. Forced concubinage and marriage have this difference—consent. The Deputy opposite is always assuming that because many physical and social conditions are concerned, those two states are the same, that they are identical in the matter of consent. A man may, by permission of authority, do everything that a free man does, yet be a slave. A man may, by the exercise of authority under the direct orders of somebody else, be put in the position in which he would have every appearance of human liberty; yet, because he is exercising those rights by authority and not by right, he has not liberty of any kind or description. In exactly the same way you have the precise opposite in the condition with which this country is very familiar, and that is the absolute liberty before God and himself which is possessed by every member of a religious order who deliberately tears away from himself every civil right and every natural right by his own consent.
It is not what you do; it is not what you can do; it is not what you appear to be in a position to do, which decides whether you are a free man or a slave. It is whether you can do that of right or not of right. Now, here is the position that is put up to us in relation to the Commonwealth of Nations—stay in, and you are a free man. But you have no right to go out. As long as you stay within that door, which someone who chooses can lock, you are a free man. But you have no right to cross that door, the right to lock which is given to someone else, a right which you recognise. Is there any question of that? Is not that the fundamental assumption that is behind every single word that has been said by Deputy MacDermot? He says, take the Twenty-six Counties alone. It is free. It is free to exercise all physical, open and formal functions of a free State. He says even it can go out of the  Empire if it chooses. At least he does not say so, but he says that we might easily make an attempt to go out and he is not going to prevent that on tactical grounds. On tactical grounds and no other! I am perfectly free to go out of a house. But my arm is chained to the floor. I can tear my arm out from the armpit. I can tear any other portion of my body which is fastened down. I am free, if I am prepared to destroy myself in the process. In this House we hold the Government of the Twenty-Six Counties of Ireland in trust for the 32 counties of Ireland, and in no other way. We cannot go anywhere, free or bound, that we do not leave behind an essential part of our own body and soul and heart.
That is the issue. How on earth can any man of honesty pretend not to know it? Is there any man of any politics in this House, any man who will appeal to the ordinary Irish elector for a vote, who pretends for one single minute to regard the Twenty-Six Counties as his nation? Is there any man here who says that the Twenty-Six Counties of Ireland is his country? There is not one, I do not care what his politics are. There is not a man in this House who does not know that when he speaks of the Twenty-Six Counties he speaks of some artificial entity which has no reality in relation to the fundamental matters of his own soul. Yet people who know that have the effrontery—there is no other word for it—to suggest that we can take in our hands the Twenty-Six Counties of Ireland and tear them away from the rest of the component body of Ireland. We have no right to do that. We have no power; we have no will and we have no intention of doing anything of the kind.
Ireland is an entity and a unit. It is indivisible. It is one. It is not two separate nations. The outrage which has been committed upon the history and upon the dignity and integrity of this country, and the insult given it in two separate Governments was an insult imposed upon us from outside. The continued existence in this country of two Governments separate and distinct,  which technically could declare war upon one another, which technically could be at war with one another, reveals a condition which has been produced in this country by an outside authority and we are asked to ignore it completely. I wish they would come down to an understanding of that thing. Ireland is every sod and every man, woman and child within her four seas. Two artificial entities have been created for the disturbance of her peace by her traditional enemy, whose object was to divide and conquer her. But the unity of Ireland remains and the only nationality which we have is Irish nationality.
The only country to which we belong is Ireland, one and indivisible. The sooner that is recognised the sooner all those false sophistries about being nice good boys and accepting the Empire as a complete expression of the will of the Irish people in relation to its future, will disappear. That fundamental having been dealt with, let us move on to the essential portions of Deputy MacDermot's speech. He says that Irish jingoes and English jingoes may some day produce a condition in which there would be war and trouble between this country and England. Even on his own assumption, with the authority and the power of self-government of a member of the Commonwealth, that could be produced.
The position exists at the present moment—that if South Africa in a war were to refuse to join England in that way she would get away with it. She could carry it a stage further of declaring herself on the side of England's opponent. Could we? If we could, what would be the consequence? I mean what would be the consequence to Deputy MacDermot, who envisages the horrible position in which English and Irish jingoes, between them, might make trouble. If we are equal members of the Commonwealth, then we have the same power, the same rights, the same status as South Africa. South Africa could do precisely the thing which would produce the condition which Deputy MacDermot thinks can only be produced by making a republic of this  country. There is, however, this other radical difference—that South Africa, before she decided anything of the kind, would have the opportunity of choice. This country would not have the opportunity of choice. The Swilly, Cobh and Berehaven in the possession of the British; every telegraph wire under her control; the right to enter in and take possession of all the ports and all transit facilities not merely in time of war but in time of disturbed relations with anybody. Is that freedom? Is that the same freedom that is possessed and exercised by South Africa? Does Britain occupy the ports of Canada? Has she the right to take over the transport system of South Africa? I told you that merely being in the Empire and possessing the status of Canada and of Australia, so long as that status is possessed by us without our consent, does not constitute liberty. But assuming that we had it, what would be our position relative to our present position? Have we got, in fact, the status of Canada or of Australia? Deputies know perfectly well that we have not. Again, they are simply building on a foundation which they know does not exist. They say: Let us assume a certain series of conditions which everybody knows do not exist and then let us reason from them. There is no liberty in an association which is a forced association. There is no liberty in any association which has not the liberty of consent. Then, the Deputy turns on to the story of the North. He says that unless you are prepared to do something which you are not prepared to do of your own free will, then there is a power in this country which will keep this country divided and partitioned. He says that that represents a liberty condition. He says: Let us assume, on the contrary, that it does not. He simply asks you to assume that that condition, which you know is imposed upon you, was a condition imposed with your consent. Having done that, he says: Let us see how we can get rid of the difficulty of the North. He has been one of the triumvir—one of the three leaders of the Opposition over a period of a year or more. All that time we have had this prating about what this Government was doing  to keep the North apart and what his Government was prepared to do to bring it together. We were the obstructionists; he had a policy to bring the North together. The whole Party had that policy and they were actively engaged in bringing it together. There was another leader who was not a sub-leader. He was the real leading article himself. He had full knowledge of what was going on in this interesting association. He knew exactly what was happening for the purpose of bringing in the North. He was present at the councils which included Deputy MacDermot, Deputy Cosgrave, Deputy Dillon and the other gods. They did not keep from him this executive secret as they did the eccentricities of General O'Duffy himself. He knew. This is what he says:
Mr. Flinn: The President of the big win, the President of the blow hards, generally called “Fine Gale”— Cumann na nGaedheal—had a policy for the North—a policy of complete abandonment which threw the nationalists into the hands of Fianna Fáil. It may be suggested that, after all, in this great merger of all the talents, Cumann na nGaedheal, which General O'Duffy said had gone—“It is not coming back; let us forget it”— had ceased to be an important element, that there were more important elements. There may have been somebody else in the merger who had a policy for the North which was not one of complete abandonment that threw the nationalists into the arms of Fianna Fáil. Now, they sacked that great leader and they put in possession of his boots another viceregent—a Director-General Cronin. Director-General Cronin was not ignorant of what was  going on inside the merger for the whole of that period. Why they do not bring in their bosses here instead of the schoolboys, I do not know. The only wise thing they do is to keep them out. Looking back, is there any man in this House who doubts that I meant what I said when I said that I wanted O'Duffy here.
Well, at any rate, there was unanimity on that question. They were agreed. O'Duffy had a policy; Cumann na nGaedhead had a policy for abandonment. General O'Duffy had a policy of telling lies and the rest had a policy of doing nothing. These are the people who for years have been telling us that we have been neglecting our duty to the North, and that if they only had been in power what magnificent things they would have done. I understand that they say they have no difference in policy and that General O'Duffy departed in a fit of pique. At any rate, there is no difference of policy, no difference of practice, no difference of intention, no difference of spirit in relation to the North. The policy of the whole Party opposite was to use the North as a stalking-horse and vote-catcher without any intention of doing them any service whatever. Some of us have been fairly familiar with these motions on the adjournment. In fact, it may humiliate Deputies opposite to think that in probably 100 Parliaments at the present moment the same thing is being done. They are separating for the equivalent of Christmas and the end of the year celebrations they are separating by the Opposition telling the Government that they are the rottenest Government God ever created or conceived for creation in that particular  country. Our friends opposite having got their five hours given them have to come in here to do their stuff.
Let us see what the policy of the Opposition is; what it has been; what is the alternative to this Government Again, I believe in calling into the witness box thoroughly authoritative witnesses whom the Opposition will not question. The first witness I call in relation to this fundamental matter is General O'Duffy, who has given evidence stating that he is in favour of an independent republic for 32 counties.
Mr. Flinn: There is no difference in policy remember. I call into the witness box then, Triumvir Deputy MacDermot, who says that the talk of a 32-county republic for Ireland was to say nothing at all because the thing was impossible. Yet though General O'Duffy said he went out on a fundamental difference of policy, Deputy MacDermot says he went out in a fit of pique.
Let us try them on the economic war. The Opposition says Fianna Fáil was responsible for the economic war because they refuse, and unreasonably refuse, to submit to the finding of a Commonwealth Tribunal the question whether the annuities are due or not. That has been the fundamental basis of their argument in relation to the economic war. We were embezzlers, thieves, Communists—everything that was possible, because we refused to agree to submit to another Feetham Commission the question whether or not the annuities were due to England. As a result of that we are told this country has been brought to the edge of destruction. It must be nearly two years since we were told we were on the brink of bankruptcy. I heard a Farmer-Deputy here in the House about 18 months ago saying that in three months 400,000 head of cattle would be lying dead in the fields of Ireland. Because of this refusal of ours to accept a Commonwealth Tribunal the bailiff is serving writs in thousands of cases, and starving farmers have their Rolls Royce cars taken away from them. On  account of this refusal of ours the reafforestation scheme of the Minister for Lands has been set at nought. The country is strewn with broken trees and telegraph wires because of this refusal of ours to accept a Commonwealth Tribunal. Because of this demand of ours that this question should be tried before a court of international justice this country has been brought to the verge of civil war.
Let me call into the witness box a Deputy whose business to-day deprives us of the pleasure of his presence. I am sure we all feel great regret, not untinged with humiliation, that he should have deserted us on a great occasion of this kind. I call into the witness-box Triumvir Plenipotentiary Deputy Dillon. He says he will go over to England. He says if I were in the President's shoes—he would look like a split pea in a cathedral—I would go over and I would say to them squarely—and this is what he is going to say to them squarely—surely the question of the annuities can be argued before a court of international justice. After two years Deputy CrossCut Dillon has suddenly recognised that he has been cutting down trees unnecessarily. I quite understand and quite appreciate the spirit and mind of people who dare to pull up railway tracks and endanger the lives of every passenger passing over them. He says, after all that time of standing behind this campaign of repudiation of law, or organisation of violence: “Surely, Mr. Thomas, you will recognise that President de Valera was right all the time and that this question should have been argued before a court of international justice?” They have come here to protest bitterly against a Government which two years ago discovered what Deputy Dillon has only discovered now. What they want is everything to be discussed in this country on the basis of “love your neighbour,” have the fullest possible appreciation of everybody's good qualities and what you might call a sound, well-organised and unified policy. So they start out in this way. There is a Professor Hogan and he is a brother of the greatest Minister for Agriculture in Europe.
said Deputy MacDermot. I expect General O'Duffy says: “Flirting nothing. I am a Switzerland caveman, speaking for the Free State in Ireland.” By what authority has he gone to tell Europe the lies he has been telling as to the conditions prevailing here?
“General O'Duffy has ceased to be the leader, but the aims of Fine Gael are still the same; they are both a 32-county republic and the unequivocal acceptance of the Commonwealth as the full realisation of Irish nationality.”
There is no change. O'Duffy has gone, but the policy of the 32-county republic and the unequivocal acceptance of the Commonwealth as the full realisation of Irish nationality still remain the policy of the Party opposite. As you know, before the question of whether there would be a tribunal for dealing with the annuities, a question arose as to whether they would or would not be paid. On that subject, I want to call your attention to the amazing and unbelievable unity of policy of the Deputies opposite. So far as we were concerned, you will remember it was breaking the Seventh Commandment, it was robbery, embezzlement, repudiation and theft when we said we would keep in this country the annuities that we did not owe. That was all right until there was a general election in 1933. Deputy Cosgrave went to Naas and then he told the country that Cumann na nGaedheal, if returned, would remit half the annuities. “I can arrange it in three days,” he said. This was the man who was telling us we were breaking the Seventh Commandment, that we were Communists, robbers, looters and repudiators. General O'Duffy was then leader of that Party, the unrepudiated leader of that Party. We are told that there is no difference in policy. He said:—
 All the trees have been cut down, all the bailiffs have been sent out, all the cattle trade has been destroyed, because we agreed with General O'Duffy. No Government in this country, he said, would again, at any time, collect those annuities. At any rate, in that matter there is complete unity between the two sides.
There is the question of the degree in which a party and its leaders treat the country with frankness in relation to their proceedings. If, for instance, there was complete lack of accord between this party and the policy of its leader it would be made very evident. One of the bitter complaints made against Fianna Fáil is that they are a wretched lot who do agree with their leader. We were led to believe that there was an alternative policy to the policy of Fianna Fáil in the possession of our opponents.
“came as a surprise, if not a shock, to our supporters. During the week before his resignation conferences had taken place between General O'Duffy and the available Vice-President, Commandant Cronin, Mr. Dillon and myself. General O'Duffy gave us no hint of his intention of resigning, nor was there any reason disclosed to us why he should adopt such a course.”
Now, right up to the end it is suggested that Deputy Cosgrave did not know, that Deputy Dillon and Commandant Cronin did not know, any reason why Director-General O'Duffy should withdraw from that party. I am dealing now with the credit of all those witnesses. Are they telling the truth? Let us hear again Professor Hogan—a member of the executive. He said
Now I am perfectly willing to believe that if that statement were true there was no reason why General O'Duffy should resign, or Deputy Belton. Let us go on. This is after we were told about his acrobatics. Deputy Mulcahy paid a graceful tribute to the work of General O'Duffy——
Mr. Flinn: What is being proposed to us here to-night is that this Government shall disappear; it is inefficient; it is faithless; it lacks the capacity to tell the truth; it has no sane or solid policy; and that there is on the opposite benches a Party which has all those qualities, and which during the last year has shown its possession of those qualities. I am trying to show the House, and I am trying to show the country, what exactly was the kind of alternative Government which they were knowingly offering us. They were knowingly offering us a Government, the head of which was to be a man whose acrobatics were covered up and whose hysteria behind the scenes was a carefully guarded executive secret. Surely that is a fairly sound reason why we should not change the Government. Deputy Mulcahy, keeping that carefully guarded executive secret, paid a graceful tribute to General O'Duffy.
Mr. Flinn: He said that they were that night under the dark cloud of his resignation from the Party. Was he sincere? Did he know what had been going on for a year? Did he know the kind of alternative Government that he was offering to this country?
An Ceann Comhairle: The introduction of such a phrase does not bring into order a discussion of the policy of persons outside this House, of men who are not members of the Dáil. The Parliamentary Secretary has dealt quite sufficiently for his purpose with the resignation of General O'Duffy.
Mr. Flinn: All I can tell you, Sir, is that the best had still to come. We are dealing now with what I might call the refinements of government—the spirit in which government should be carried on. Deputy Cosgrave appealed to us; Deputy MacDermot nearly wept over us in his appeal that those things should all be considered in the nicest possible way. He said, for instance, that he hated scurrility. I do not know whether it has anything to do with it or not, but now that someone has gone scurrility has disappeared, and left behind Deputy Mulcahy. This is a quotation from Deputy Mulcahy, which I think he will regard as very definitely on the economic plane. In a Party in which scurrility is deplored Deputy Mulcahy says: “Industrial Ireland is being built up by every fleabitten bankrupt that can get to this country after his industrial rathole in White-chapel has been stopped by the sanitary authorities; by people who leave nothing behind them but the smell.” I hate scurrility!
Mr. Flinn: “I never did and I am not going to begin now,” said the  Director-General. One thing is universal throughout this Party—a delicate refinement and a perfect little gentlemanliness in controversy. Now let us take this interesting Party from the point of view of the soundness of their economic reasoning, and above all the unity of their thought, which prevented any possibility of there being any schism inside it. I do not think there was room for another schism. Here is one of the leaders of the Party—Deputy Dillon: “The fundamental wealth of this country is its agricultural surplus. I will go into the only market in which it can be realised and I will go without any inferiority complex.” That is Deputy Dillon's statement in seconding a motion in this House in relation to quotas. Here is what Deputy Curran, who proposed that motion in this House, has to say upon precisely the same subject. This statement is a model of clearness: “The difficulty is that there is a surplus amount of cattle to be dealt with. Human nature being what it is, we all know that when a person goes into a market to buy any commodity of which there is a surplus he will avail himself of that surplus in order to buy the commodity at as cheap a rate as possible.” Nothing could divide that Party! However, I personally think, Sir, that it is a pity to waste this late hour of the night even with the jewels which are still here—the scintillating jewels of agreement, statesmanship, patriotism, love of country, and love of everything but themselves. I do commend to the country the spectacle of our opponents. I do ask them to contemplate what is going on before their faces and behind their backs for a year. I do ask them to see that what has occurred for the last year will never be allowed to occur in this country again; that is, that an Opposition should deliberately set up for themselves and before the people an idol—a man whom Deputy Belton says they treated as a royal person—and to carry that man about the country pretending that there was behind him that statesmanship, that organisation, that knowledge of affairs, that love of country, and that knowledge of government  which would enable him to be in opposition, when they knew that they were carrying about with them a mad circus and carrying about something which was hysterical, something whose actual existence, in truth, was so painful and horrible that they had to regard it as an Executive secret.
There is no alternative Government in this country at the present moment, nor is there any sign of any emergence of anything approaching an alternative Government in this country, and the sooner the children opposite just go to school again, just start in learning the elementary facts of life, just try to bring themselves up and to grow up— the sooner they attempt to do the elementary things which ought to have been done to them when they were very little children by somebody else, the sooner is there a hope that they will emerge from that state of second childhood and hopeless futility in which they are now, and, if they cannot present, as they never will be able to present, an alternative Government, they might at least offer the House a prospect of a moderately intelligent Opposition.
Mr. Brennan: The amazing thing about this discussion is how well all the members of the Government Party that have spoken so far have kept away from the matters that are of real importance. As for the last speaker, the amazing thing about his speech is that the President or the responsible Ministers are prepared to have such tripe as that delivered as statesmanship in this House. Of course, there are very few people, indeed, who take Deputy Hugo Flinn, the Parliamentary Secretary, seriously. He is a cheap jack and his burlesque in this House, his playing the clown in the kind of circus which he invents himself and which is a kind of creature of his own egotistical nature is a travesty of Irish nature.
Mr. Brennan: No, Sir. Deputy Hugo Flinn worked himself up into hysterics about the position in the North. Peculiarly enough, he thought that he  was taking to task Deputy MacDermot on the matter of the North and the relationship between our people here and the people in the North. I do not know whether Deputy Hugo Flinn himself realised or whether the House realised, although I am sure that the House did, that he was in agreement with Deputy MacDermot all the time. Deputy MacDermot's argument was that there ought not to be any republic unless Partition can be removed first, and that the great barrier to Irish progress and to Irish nationality was the Border. Deputy Flinn was of one mind with Deputy MacDermot on the matter. There was one thing, however, that Deputy Flinn avoided. He did not tell us, he did not attempt to suggest, any means whatever by which he and his Party expect to overcome the Border. He told us a lot of things in relation to this country and in relation to Britain which would lead one to believe that what was fundamentally wrong with us was our geographical position. Now, it is very peculiar that whatever we may disagree upon, as far as my recollection takes me, there is one matter upon which there has been general agreement in this House, as expressed by the late Kevin O'Higgins in 1927 and by President de Valera last year in regard to the North, and that was that there was no way of overcoming that boundary except by creating such a situation on this side of the Border as would lead the people on the other side of it to think it worth their while to come in. President de Valera expressed that in this House, and it was not the first time that it was expressed in this House. Deputy Hugo Flinn avoided all that.
What I should like to hear somebody deal with—preferably not Deputy Flinn —is the economic situation that we have in this country to-day, cutting out all those hysterical burlesques which we have from Deputy Flinn. But that is the thing that everybody on the far side of the House wants to avoid. What is the position in this country to-day? We are on the eve of the Christmas recess and it is customary at this time, whenever there is an Adjournment moved in the House, to review the situation; to take stock; to see how  far we have made progress or how far we have decayed since the last time. Let us judge the situation by any standard that the President will offer or by any standard that Deputy Hugo Flinn or any member on the Government Benches will offer, and let us judge whether we are progressing or decaying since we last took stock in an Adjournment debate. Let us compare prices for live stock or other farm produce. Let us compare the purchasing power of the people in any way you like to take it. Let us compare the rates position in this country and the ability of the people to pay them. Let us compare the annuities position and the ability of the people to pay them, notwithstanding the fact that their obligation to meet the annuities is only half what it was. Let us examine the whole situation and I think that the Government Party would be well advised to take stock of that situation and leave out any other high-falutin' nonsense that we may have about citizenship or anything else of that kind. These questions can well afford to wait, but the situation with regard to the economic position of the country to-day cannot wait.
The Government, sensing the situation that was arising, some time ago endeavoured to put into operation several regulations and Acts which were passed by this House in order to relieve agriculture. Have they been successful? Has the Government taken stock of whether they have been successful or not? Practically every Act that the Government passed has led to one thing, and that is to the demoralisation of the people. There is an inducement to fraud even in the rates position. If you have a certain number of men working and your children are of a certain age you are entitled to a greater measure of relief. Then you have the licence scandal— and it is nothing else but a scandal— where people who never exported stock have got licences and have sold them. The people over there know that. We have now the Slaughter of Animals Act. How is that working? I do not think there is any need for me  to point out these things to members on the Government Benches. They know them quite as well as I do. If the Minister for Agriculture thinks that he is serving Irish agriculture and serving our main industry in the manner in which he is endeavouring to do it, I must say that he is a man of constantly shifting values. I came across a speech made in this House on the 22nd March, 1928, by the present Minister for Agriculture. He was then dealing with the Central Fund Bill and, peculiarly enough, the Opposition at that time were concentrating upon the over-taxation of this country. Our taxation at that time was £21,000,000. On that same occasion my colleague for the County Roscommon, Deputy Dr. O'Dowd said:—
“If the Deputies on the opposite benches cannot bring down taxation to a level commensurate with the people's ability to pay, then their obvious duty is to get out and let others do so. We will show them how.” (Dáil Debates, Vol. 22, col. 1746).
“The course that is being pursued at present is every day driving farmers all over the country not alone out of their houses, not alone out amongst the unemployed, but out amongst the starving in what are now called county homes, and which used to be called workhouses.”
That was in 1928 when our taxation was £21,000,000, and when the amount that we received for our exports of agricultural products and live animals was £24,188,352, as against £11,000,000 to-day. Deputy Ryan went on to say:
“It is all very well to talk about giving grants and subsidies. What is the use of putting one hand into the farmer's pocket and extracting money, and then going around and putting back portion of it in the other pocket by way of subsidy.”
Of course, that was in 1928. That was before Fianna Fáil saw fit to destroy the only market that we had, the British market, which the President thanked God was gone; that it was a blessing in disguise. It has been very well disguised, certainly.
“In answer to a question yesterday, the Minister for Justice informed me that there were 1,845 decrees in Westmeath in the period of 1924 to 1927, and that in Longford there were 1,059 decrees for the same three years.”
I would like some member of the Fianna Fáil Party to compare those terrible figures with the figures for last October, when there were in the hands of the sheriffs of this country, with only half the obligation on the farmers, no fewer than 120,000 warrants from the Land Commission. With all this staring us in the face we have the greatest hilarity on the Government Benches when a Deputy like Deputy Hugo  Flinn gets up to give us a piece of comic opera—the clown at the wake of Irish agriculture. That is what he is. Speaking in 1928 of the terrible times that the farmers had with these civil bills and warrants for execution, Deputy O'Reilly, a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, said:
“Talk in the newspapers and from this Assembly that we are prosperous is false. It is deception and it is morally wrong. We are not a prosperous nation and we cannot be. You have the industry that puts up 80 per cent. of the wealth of this nation—you have that industry to-day in misery. It is completely dislocated. There are farms of land in the richest part of this island idle. They are idle by reason of the seizures for rates, land annuities and other things.” (Dáil Debates, Vol. 21, col. 1976.)
Was not that a terrible state of affairs in 1928? At that time we had 12,000 decrees for three years all over the country, and to-day we have 120,000 warrants in the sheriffs' hands in October. We take it all smilingly and we put up a cheap-jack like Deputy Hugo Flinn to make a humbug of the situation. The Fianna Fáil Party had those great aspirations which Deputy Dr. Ryan spoke of in 1928 when he told the House that there was no use in endeavouring to help agriculture by subsidies and that the one thing that was against the farmers was the taxation of this country. Was it not a pity that the Fianna Fáil Party did not remember that when they came in as a Government? Deputy Dr. Ryan, speaking on the 22nd March, 1928, said:—
“How can we expect to compete in the British market with the British farmer or with any other producer as long as our taxation is as it is at present? The Minister for Finance in his speech here in this House on the 9th December, 1925, when they were discussing this financial agreement, said that it was estimated that Ireland's taxable capacity compared with Great Britain and Northern Ireland was 1.5. Great Britain, I presume, agreed to  that, and probably they did not put the figure too low at 1.5 ... Suppose we take the figure as a means in order to try to find out whether we are overtaxed or not. The tax revenue of Great Britain in 1926-27 was £663,000,000. If we take what our tax revenue should be, according to that, it would be £10,000,000, and we actually paid in 1926-27 in tax revenue £21,000,000.”
“There is a sum of £11,000,000 too much. That is what the farmer here had to pay, £11,000,000 in taxation, or £2 for every £1 the British farmer had to pay, and we are supposed to be able to produce cattle”—
—“and everything else here and pay the same expenses with regard to food and so on and pay freight on cattle going to England and a taxation of £2 for every £1 the British farmer pays. And then we are expected to compete on the British market and be well off.”
Now we are expected to compete on the British market with a £6 tax on every beast of a certain age going over there and we are supposed to be well off. Every time the Minister for Industry and Commerce looks around he sees evidence of prosperity. So he told us; he had evidence of prosperity on every side. The economic war is over and we have won! I wonder what have we won? I wonder has it ever struck him seriously, when this war is over and if we win the war, what will we have won, considering that the British market is gone—thank God—and that we do not want it? What will the spoils of war be as far as we are concerned if there is no British market and if these quotas are as rigid as Fianna Fáil tell us? What are we fighting about? What is our share of the spoils going to be when  it is all over? There obviously seems to be nothing for us and we are fighting a losing game apparently.
I would seriously ask the Government, outside Party entirely, to consider the situation that is confronting them and us. We are living in the country and we have got to live in it. The situation is very serious in the country. I do not want to repeat further what the Minister for Agriculture said in 1928. I could read columns of the same stuff, but considering the many statements which the Minister made which he has swallowed, and which, I suppose, he is prepared to swallow again, it is hardly fair to take him any more seriously than I am taking Deputy Hugo Flinn. The Government should look at the manner in which their policy is working in this country. I am genuinely and honestly afraid that demoralisation has set in in this country and set in at a very rapid rate. There is too much of looking for something for nothing. If it is not the Government dole, free meat, or free milk, it is something else. And then the remainder of the population, who are prepared to work and have always been prepared to work, are put in leading strings. There will be no more individual initiative, and that is a very serious thing. The Government says that we must sow beet, we must sow wheat, we must sow tobacco or something else. We must do all these things and we must not do other things such as cattle raising, because the Government thinks that the British market has gone, and should be gone, and they thank God for it!
Once you establish the principle that the people should look to the Government for everything, then you destroy, not alone initiative, but character. You cannot expect much after that and you will not get it. I do not think there is very much use in my repeating the tale of woe which the Government knows as well as I do. The Minister for Local Government here the other day was in charge of a Bill with regard to rates on agricultural land. The discussion which ensued on that Bill was very alarming and disheartening. We never had the rates  position before in this country which we have now. We never had anything at all like that. That is very serious, and whether the Government try to keep away from the issue or not, the issue will come to them. It is not a bit of use in getting away from it in this House; it is coming to them. Consequently I would say that during the recess the Government ought seriously to take stock of the situation and see where the country is drifting.
There is just one word that I should like to say about unemployment. We had a lecture here to-night from the Minister for Industry and Commerce on unemployment figures. We are all interested in the unemployment problem. It is a huge problem and a serious problem, but mind you, I do not hold that a discussion on unemployment figures is getting at the root of the situation in this country. Quite possibly, we might have a diminution of those figures, through Government relief grants or anything else, which did not disclose the actual position in the country at all. Such schemes might for the time being relieve unemployment. They might take the unemployed off the register, but that would not show you what was the actual position in the country at all. The real position in this country and the position you have got to consider is that agriculture is the main industry of the country, that production is the basis of progress, and the basis of our wealth. We must have for that production a market, and there is no use in Deputy Hugo Flinn or the Minister for Agriculture or anybody else telling us that agriculture can exist on a continuation of subsidies and bounties, that is, while it is the main industry. You cannot afford to subsidise the greater out of the lesser. It is impossible.
If we are to continue bounties and subsidies—and I am afraid as far as your administration up to the present is concerned, they were not any great help to the actual farmers, they were not any great help to the people on the land, whomsoever they helped—for any length of time, there must be somebody somewhere  producing wealth that will afford us a means of carrying on. If agriculture does not produce that wealth, nothing else will. Consequently, I say that the Government must look to agriculture. They must remember the situation in the country at the present time with regard to unpaid rates and annuities, and cut out all the talk about campaigns. That is all nonsense. They must look to the situation in the country, and if they do not look to the situation in the country, and look at it pretty sharply, things will go from bad to worse. I do not want to be a pessimist. I have never been a pessimist, but the situation that exists at the present time cannot go on much longer. If the Government thinks seriously of the people of the country, they will take stock of the situation and will endeavour to mend their hand in the only way in which it can be mended—by providing a market for the agricultural produce of the country.
Mr. Norton: This discussion has now ranged over some hours and it has been distinguished more for the irrelevancies and trivialities which have been introduced than for any reference to the actualities of life to-day or to the problems which concern the people of the nation to-day. I want, therefore, in what I propose to say, to endeavour to focus the attention of the Government on the one really serious problem in the country and that is, the problem of providing work and maintenance for approximately 100,000 unemployed men and women. In my view, that is the real issue and that is the real problem in the country to-day—the problem of rescuing that mass of people, that State within a State, from the devastating misery and poverty which these people are condemned to endure.
Some weeks ago, in response to a question in this House, the Minister for Industry and Commerce informed the Dáil that there were 71,000 persons in receipt of unemployment assistance and approximately 20,000 persons in receipt of unemployment insurance benefit. It will be seen from that, that, according to the Minister's own figures, there were  91,000 persons who satisfied the rigid test of being unemployed, either under the Unemployment Insurance Act or the Unemployment Assistance Act and, in addition, we were told, in response to that question, that there were about 90,000 claims under the Unemployment Assistance Act, at a time when 71,000 people were receiving benefit, so that approximately 20,000 cases were still undecided or were the subject of appeals against previous decisions. We might take it from that, therefore, that there are to-day approximately 100,000 unemployed men and women, and to me, and to this Party, at all events, it matters very little, in face of that problem, whether a certain person resigned from a party or whether he was removed from a party. A much more important problem and a much more important task for the Government is to apply its energies, its abilities and the natural and considerable resources of the nation to helping to solve the problem of unemployment which is disclosed in those very serious figures.
I do not want to discuss this problem of unemployment in any party spirit and, with Deputy MacDermot, I would wish that the problem of relieving the unemployed could be dealt with quite outside the realms of party politics, if it were possible to do that in Ireland to-day. But no matter what party to which a person may belong, there is no gainsaying the fact that the existence of 100,000 unemployed men and women in the country to-day is a problem which demands the immediate attention, not only of the Government, but of every responsible political party in the State. We, on these benches, recognise that industry, agriculture and the consequential commerce which flows from both industry and agriculture are the normal sources of employment for the great bulk of our people. It is in these spheres that we may hope to absorb them into production, into employment, into rendering service to the nation as a whole; but there are times, and this and every other country has experience of the times, when  industry, agriculture and commerce will fail to absorb into productive employment, or into the rendering of social services, all those who are offering their labour as a means of obtaining the necessary sustenance.
We have here in this country, as I said, a very grave problem in which industry, agriculture and commerce are quite unable to offer a livelihood to 100,000 persons who are able and willing and anxious to work. I want to know from the Government what their proposals are for dealing with that problem. On a motion in this House quite recently the Labour Party suggested that, pending the time when industry, agriculture and commerce might, with radical measures of social reform included, absorb the unemployed, there were certain other remedies which the State could adopt. We suggested to the Government that it ought forthwith to make available large sums of money for the purpose of carrying out large scale schemes of public works, an experiment and an expedient which has been resorted to in many countries as a means of relieving unemployment during a period when unemployment is extremely acute. We have suggested to the Minister for Industry and Commerce that his Government might set an example to private employers by introducing legislation to provide for the introduction of a legal maximum working week of 40 hours, without any reduction in wages. We have suggested to the Government that in order to eliminate child labour from industry, the school leaving age should be raised to 16 years, so as to give the child a greater opportunity of acquiring the ordinary technical education which is an essential for the battle in modern life. We have suggested to the Minister for Industry and Commerce that there ought to be a drastic overhaul of the whole industrial position, so as to eliminate excessive female labour from industry, to eliminate child labour from industry, and to put our industrial position on a healthy basis.
We had the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Finance telling us, about a week ago, that it  was necessary to be cautious and careful about a reduction in working hours. We had the Minister for Finance, on his own, telling us that it was not possible to accept a motion to provide large scale schemes of public works and that, after all, it was unreasonable if the unemployed wanted to be absorbed into industry altogether. The problem of the school leaving age and the elimination of child and excessive female labour from industry are still problems to which the Government has applied no effective remedy. We have suggested to the Government, at all events, that, by raising the school leaving age, by reducing working hours in industry, by eliminating child and excessive female labour from industry and by the introduction of large scale schemes of public works, there will be brought about a substantial reduction in the number of unemployed and that, if adopted, these proposals would make a substantial contribution to the relief of the problem of the unemployed.
For one reason or another, we have been told by the Government that it is not practicable to deal with the problem along those lines. If it is not practicable to deal with the problem along the lines suggested by the Labour Party, we are entitled to ask the Government what are their proposals for dealing with 100,000 unemployed men and women. If these proposals of ours are not considered to be practicable, if there is any danger that the problem will not be diminished by the adoption of our proposals, but rather might be aggravated, will the Government or some spokesman for the Government, instead of telling us about the dissensions in other political Parties, tell us what their proposals are for absorbing into industry the 100,000 unemployed men and women who are craving for an opportunity to work to-day? These, at all events, are our proposals. If they are not acceptable to the Government, we are entitled to see the Government's proposals side by side with them, and let us then have an opportunity of judging whether the Government's proposals or those which we have submitted are the better calculated to help in the solution of the unemployed problem. Some few  years ago the Government Party indicated that they had a definite plan for absorbing 84,000 people into industry.
Mr. Norton: I want to say definitely that I never believed in the plan, and I never could develop any enthusiasm for a plan worked out with such speed. I never had any faith in the plan. It seemed to me to be rather a conjuring trick; the attempt to solve unemployment by any scientific formula. I agree that from the Fianna Fáil point of view it mesmerised the audience with ballot papers in their hands or in their pockets. It did the trick from that point of view, but it was never a scientific plan, and could never have been a scientific plan, and we have never been able to get the real basis of the plan. If I regarded it as anything, I regarded it as a kind of industrial marking post, something one would attempt to aim at, something one might well say was to be striven for. I never regarded the plan of putting 84,000 people into employment as anything which would be likely to yield the optimistic results which the authors of the scheme claimed for it, and, in my wildest dreams of Utopia, I never imagined, as the Minister for Industry and Commerce did, that there would not be enough hands in the country to do all the work that would be available. At all events, we were told that there was a plan to absorb 84,000 people, and presumably the absorption of these people into industry was going to bring to an end the whole problem of unemployment, as we knew it in the past.
We have now an opportunity of judging the operation of the plan and, personally, I am not satisfied—and I do not believe that even the Government Party can be satisfied—that it has produced the results which the authors claimed for it. We have still 91,000 unemployed people satisfying the rigid requirements to prove that they are unemployed, which are imposed by the Unemployment Insurance Acts and by the Unemployment Assistance Act. So  long as that problem remains unsolved —and it is far from solution to-day—I have even less enthusiasm for the plan to absorb 84,000 people than I had previously. Bearing the plan in mind we are entitled to ask: what are the proposals of the Government for absorbing these 91,000 people? Twenty thousand people are receiving unemployment insurance benefit on an utterly inadequate basis, which bears no relation to material or citizen needs; and 71,000 are receiving benefit under the Unemployment Assistance Act. Not only are the scales of benefit under that Act utterly inadequate to provide sustenance for as many animals, much less human beings, but the whole manner of administering the Act, and the rigid application of tests to applicants for benefit, are such as to make the condition of these people an extremely unenviable one indeed.
For instance, take the Unemployment Assistance Act, of the operation of which we have now nearly nine months' experience. Under that Act a person in a town with a population of 6,000— and that is a decent sized town in this country—is expected to be able to provide for a wife and five children on an income of 12/6 a week. It may be assumed that that person has very likely in a town with a population of 6,000 to pay 4/- or 5/- weekly for any kind of habitation that would accommodate seven persons. He has then only 7/6 or 8/6 left to provide three meals a day, seven days of the week, for seven persons, as well as providing them with boots and clothing, to buy school books, to buy food and to replace worn-out household furniture. He has to discharge his responsibilities to his family and to the community on an income of 7/6 or 8/6 a week. That scale is grossly inadequate. The method of administering the Act is grossly unfair. I should like to hear some of the spokesmen on behalf of the Government saying whether it is proposed to amend the Act in order to raise the rate of benefit to persons receiving unemployment assistance.
I may be told that it is possible for these people to supplement their incomes  by home assistance. I would like those who believe that to remember what has been the experience of the operation of home assistance in the case of those in receipt of unemployment assistance. It is quite impossible for these people to supplement their unemployment assistance by means of home assistance, except in very rare cases. If that Act, of which we have had nine months' experience, represents the most that the Government can do in the way of providing adequate benefits for those who are unemployed and in genuine need, then I think the contribution from the State towards the relief of unemployment is not nearly as adequate as it ought to be. Not only are the rates of benefit inadequate, but the method of administering the Act is bad. There are means tests imposed with undue rigidity and, so far as applicants for benefit are concerned, they have not experienced any ease whatever in obtaining the benefits which this House endeavoured to provide for them when it passed the Unemployment Assistance Act in 1933. At all events, the rates of benefit are inadequate, not merely in Dublin, and not merely in towns with a population of 7,000 or over, but in towns with less populations in the rural areas. The rates of benefits are utterly inadequate to provide for the people to whom they are applicable. I want to know from the Government if they propose, after nine months' experience of the Act, to introduce an amending Act to increase the rates of benefit in favour of people obtaining benefit under it, if they cannot obtain employment, without the irksome impositions which take place to-day, in the case of people who are applicants for benefit.
There are 91,000 people able and willing to work; anxious to obtain the opportunity of working. That is the problem that this House is compelled to deal with. That is the biggest problem confronting this country to-day. Many trivialities and irrelevancies have been raised in the debate, but the most important thing, so far as this country and its people are concerned, is to put those 100,000 unemployed people into  productive employment, to enable the nation, by operating on its resources, to take them off the backs of those who are producing, and to enable them to produce and to assist to sustain themselves. It was at one time thought by the Fianna Fáil Party that their plan would absorb all the unemployed. Even the Minister for Industry and Commerce speculated on the possibility of there not being enough idle hands in the country to do all the work. A person who believed in such possibilities, in the present state of society, was either a child or an optimist. It has been found impossible to cure unemployment in this or in any other country in the world, where the capitalist system runs as riot as it is here, where the whole basis of industry is profit and not production, to be used for the benefit of the people. You cannot cure unemployment under the capitalist system of society. Everyone with experience of other countries knows that unemployment, and the evils which flow from it, can neither be avoided nor ameliorated under any system of society where the capitalist system obtains.
Mr. Norton: I will tell the Deputy that in any country where a Socialist government has held office with a majority, the measures which have been adopted for the relief of unemployment have been very much better than have been adopted in any country where the capitalist philosophy has been the guiding line of government.
Mr. Norton: That is because the  Deputy's Liberal friends would not allow them to do any more. The President, however, showed considerable caution when adverting to the possibility of absorbing the unemployed under the Government's plan. Speaking in this House on 29th April, 1932 (Official Debates, Volume 41, Columns 917 and 918), the President said:—
“I do not say that any situation ought to be allowed to stand in the way of meeting the needs of the unemployed. I say that we are a solvent community. We have a potential capacity to produce wealth. We have the capacity to meet all our needs. All we want is to begin properly. We do not want to go off without a general idea of the direction in which we are going. We want to examine the situation, and I promise, just as I am firm when I think we are right in dealing with England or anyone else, I am going, as long as I occupy this position, to be firm that the people who are entitled to get a living in this country will get it.”
“I am going to say this, that if I try within the system as it stands and fail, then I will try to go outside the system, and I will go to the country and ask them to support me to go outside the system.”
That is two and a half years ago. They have had evidence in the meantime whether the system is sufficiently flexible to absorb the unemployed, even with the aid of the Government plan. After two and a half years' experimenting with the plan and of experience of the system we still have 91,000 people satisfying a rigid test that they are unemployed. I would be interested to know from the President whether, after these two and a half years he is now sufficiently convinced that you cannot absorb the unemployed under the existing system; and whether he proposes to ask the people for a mandate to go outside the existing system in order to deal with the unemployed in a much more Christian way than it is possible to deal with them under the existing system.
Mr. Norton: The President told us on that occasion that he was prepared to go outside the present system if he could not possibly deal with unemployment within the system. I should like to know from the President whether he is satisfied with his efforts under the present system. Does he believe that these 91,000 unemployed can yet be absorbed under the present system? Does he believe it is possible within two, three, four or five years, not merely to provide for the 91,000 at present unemployed, but also for the growing population within the ambit of the present system? Is he going to do, as any courageous President would do, ask the people for a mandate to go outside the existing system in order to solve, or help to solve, the unemployment problem?
Mr. Norton: During the past two and a half years the Government have had many opportunities confronting them for breaking with the hoary conservatism of the past; many opportunities for breaking away completely from the conservative outlook on both industry and agriculture which was such a characteristic of the last  Government. They have embraced some of these opportunities; but they have neglected many opportunities which were waiting to be grasped. I give the Government credit for having been responsive to a considerable extent to the demand of the people for a better and higher standard of social legislation. I give them credit for useful work in the sphere of housing and in endeavouring to relieve some of the problems of unemployment. I give them credit for sympathetic administration in many directions. At the same time, I feel bound to impute to the Government the responsibility for allowing many valuable opportunities to pass. During the past two and a half years many opportunities for breaking with the conservatism and poverty of the past were presented to the Government, and not availed of by the Government, because of an unnecessary fear that breaking with the past would necessarily mean an upset and disorder here.
This Government, at all events, have got to ask themselves in which direction are they going to go in future. Are they going to continue to travel the road which has given the country 91,000 unemployed, or are they going to break away from that tradition and try to find some means by which the energies of the people will be harnessed to the needs and resources of the nation? If the Government take that road they will have the support of all those in this country who stand for a system of society where economic security and economic happiness will be guaranteed to all who render service to the nation. The more the Government continue along the road which gluts the country with unemployed men and women, the more they will have the support in this country of the capitalist, the banker and the reactionary classes.
I ask the Government, entering upon a new year, to realise the possibilities that are opened up before them; to realise the problem that confronts them; to realise that there are about 100,000 unemployed men and women waiting for an opportunity to work but yet denied it, under the system which the President thinks he can yet  make a Christian social system. There is only one problem in this country, a problem that goes to the root of our very existence, and that is the poverty and the devastating misery of the working classes who are thrown into involuntary idleness. The test of the Government's success will be the courageous manner in which they face up to the responsibilities of that problem. I urge on the President, no matter what traditions are broken, no matter what system must be uprooted, that there is no greater responsibility on the Government to-day than to uproot every system and tradition, if it is necessary to do so, in order to give these people an opportunity of earning their own living and enriching the nation by operating upon its resources.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The practice has been to leave the adjournment debate largely to the Opposition Deputies. More time is always given to the Opposition Deputies in such debate. Are we clear that the debate is to go on until 11 o'clock?
Mr. McGilligan: Deputy Norton has wound up his speech and the theme of it was that 91,000 able-bodied men anxious for work are unable to get it. He says they can get work but throws the responsibility on the Government. I echo his phrase about that, except that it is not 91,000 able-bodied men who are looking for work. As far as the register goes it is 125,000. As far as the knowledge of the community goes, looking at it from the angle of relief, it is not 125,000, but 175,000 people.
Mr. McGilligan: If the President's mathematics and plan were followed we could make it 1,000,000. We could in the same way show how to get employment for 1,000,000 by getting a blackboard and doing a lot of sums and putting down a lot of figures. We have the President's plan.
Mr. McGilligan: This is not the secret document. But let Deputy Norton not begin to talk like a Bolshevist. He is not a Bolshevist. He tells us now that he wants the Government to change the existing  system. In saying that, he is only repeating the President's own folly, for the President has told us that if his policy does not work he is prepared to go outside it and upset all the existing systems. Will Deputy Norton take thought to himself and say what his plan is when he goes outside the present system? Let the Deputy remember that he is not a Bolshevist but a mild-mannered little man who will one day be ridden over by the Bolshevists and left in the background. Those people are only now lying in wait for the situation to develop. The support that he is getting now from the so-called Bolshevists and the so-called intelligentsia is understandable. The whole Labour Party should remember why they are supported by the Bolshevists and the so-called intelligentsia. Deputy Norton says that there are 91,000 unemployed. That is not the figure of unemployed. Let us remember that the Government Party promised to find work for 84,000 unemployed and that in a few industries. The mind reels at the thought of all that the Government had promised in their plan. The present Government was to increase the productive capacity of this State by £11,000,000 per annum, and to that was to be added the agricultural productivity of the community. We were to have 84,000 additional people employed in the few industries that were mentioned. It is putting this matter in a far too favourable light to say that the Government promised to find additional employment for 84,000. The promise really was that in a few industries 84,000 additional people were to be employed. The whole economic fabric of the State was to be torn apart and built up on better foundations. The 84,000 additional employed mentioned by them was only a fraction of those who were promised employment. But everything was promised. What the country has got are tariffs, subsidies, quotas and loans. I think the Government might very well stand up and ask Deputy Norton what it is that he wants done that they have not done. They could ask him what it is he thinks they should do to give employment. One  would imagine that they would have broken the back of unemployment by what they have done in the way of tariffs, leaving out of consideration altogether, of course, the price to the consumer—leaving that aside as something that we should not consider.
But what have they done with regard to employment? The Minister for Industry and Commerce to-night tells us that he has every reason for confidence. He said that they have carried out their plans and they have put people into employment. They have started factories. I remember the Minister for Industry and Commerce making a statement in this House and boasting that in one year there would be a fall in revenue from Customs of £1,000,000. That would mean that there would be an increase in employment to that extent, as that amount would go into industry and employment here. He said that was the way to reduce taxation in the best possible way because that meant that goods represented by taxation of £1,000,000 which had previously been imported would be produced here and that would increase our productive capacity. But what were the actual facts? The subsequent figures showed an increase of £1,560,000 in Customs from these imports. Recently in the House when we were discussing the matter of British tariffs on cattle I asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce why was it that people were driving cattle across the Border if prices were as low across the Border as here—the Minister told us they were. What was his answer to that? He told the House that there was no smuggling going on. That statement is recorded in the Official Debates. I stood aghast and he put the question to me: “If there was smuggling would not the returns from Northern Ireland show an increase?” And I replied: “Do they not?” The Minister told the House they did not. Two days later we got statistics from the Minister's own Department showing that the exports of cattle from the Six Counties had gone up by 6,000 in one month and by 40,000 in eleven months. These are the figures in the statement issued by the Minister's Department, compiled from statements issued by the British  Government. Take the Minister's statement for what it is worth and to what does it amount? It amounts to this, that he will on the spur of the moment make any statement in order to get out of any difficulty with which he is faced. Take his statement to-night on the question of unemployment. He told us the position with regard to unemployment is better. I recently put questions to the Minister. I put every variety of question to him to find out the actual facts about unemployment and employment. I asked for the figures in connection with the Unemployment Fund. I asked for the number of stamps sold—and for the amount realised by the sale. I did that because one night when I was absent here he claimed that there was an increase in employment. He gave a series of figures as to the position of unemployment. He claimed that there was an increase of over £60,000 in the sale of stamps. If that claim is correct, if that £60,000 is correct, that would mean 15,000 additional people employed.
When we got the real figures, we found that £45,000 of the increase was for my year and that he was responsible for the other £15,000, or for 4,000 people. He put that up as the test, though he tried to trick by simply giving out statements here that he must have known to be false in the context in which he made them. However, we got the figures. We got a statement, in answer to a question put down by me, that the increase in the fund between 1930 and 1931, for which the Minister had no responsibility whatever, was £45,000. I take his division. At 1/7 per week stamp duty, 50 weeks' employment means £4. Divide that sum by four and you get the number of men occupied for 50 weeks in the year. My last year showed 11,000 persons extra going into employment. The Minister jumps at the figure now. Between that year and the end of this year—this is an estimate—he gives himself credit for £75,000. That is adjusted to the old basis of 1/7. Divide that by four and you get 18,750. That is worth chuckling over. The Fianna Fáil Government, which promised that 84,605 additional  persons would be brought into employment, have put 18,000 persons into employment in three years. If the figures really meant that, one could go away somewhat satisfied. But I asked the Minister further questions about housing. I asked him about relief works. I got no information regarding relief works. I was told that it was not worth while preparing statistics. I put a question about housing to the Minister who had called the Press into conference on the 27th October of this year to relieve the public mind about the question of unemployment. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, who had called the Press into that conference, told me that he had no information, that the question was one for the Minister for Local Government. I put the question to the Minister for Local Government and I got certain answers. What did the Minister for Industry and Commerce tell the Press on the 27th October of this year? Deputy Donnelly should listen to this, because, if I thought he fell into an error the other night, he was only copying the Minister. Deputy Donnelly talked about employment and he said: “Of course, we have faith in our promise about employment.” He went on to speak about beet, wheat, land division, housing and drainage. When I interjected “factories,” he said “of course, the factories.” They were forgotten until that moment.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy is to be excused because the Minister almost forgot them when he was speaking to the Press on the 27th October. The Deputy should not be ashamed. After denying that unemployment was increasing, the Minister proceeds to give figures. Then we come to the test. He talks about persons “gainfully occupied,” and he says: “There are figures.” He talks about the Census of Production, and he says: “There are figures”—which we have not got. He goes on to deal with house-construction. He says:
I put questions to the Vice-President during the week in an endeavour to find out whether or not house building was a seasonal occupation. The answer was “no”—though the Minister did not say so in so many words. For three-quarters of this year, he gave me a series of figures which are roughly the same. If they are the same for three-quarters of the year, and if, as the Minister told the Press on the 27th October, direct employment was given to 21,500 persons in house-construction in May, is that not open to the inference that that measure of direct employment was given throughout the year? If that be so, what is the increase over, not 1926-'27, which is mentioned in this conference report, but the year with which I want to make comparison—1930 or 1931? I take the figures given me by the Vice-President. They roughly amount to this—that there were one-quarter the number of houses being built in 1931 that are being built to-day. Let us take it that the rate of direct employment was the same. Of the 21,000 the Minister claimed to be directly employed in house-construction in May of this year, 16,000 are new people. The total amount of employment given in three years, including all the schemes— relief works, housing, drainage and everything else—was 18,750. That does not end the tale. Take the question of relief works. The Minister says:
The difference between, let us say, 4,000 and 8,572 is, roughly, 4,500. The difference in the case of house-construction is 16,000. The man, who was Deputy Flinn, and who is now Parliamentary  Secretary to the Minister for Finance told me on one occasion that at least 50 per cent. of the money expended on relief works was spent in insurable occupations. Let us take 2,000 from this figure and we have the full tot of the increased employment shown by the Minister's figures. Those are the best figures—the figures on which he has relied.
Mr. McGilligan: The President laughs. It is “mathematics gone crazy.” The President knows what that phrase means. I do not say that there is nobody new in industrial occupations in the country. We have signs all round us of people going into industrial occupation but there are more people being put out by the present policy of the Government and it is the net figure we want, not the gross. These are the Minister's own figures—the figures he relied upon tonight, the figures he gave me. I am taking the best presentation of this question, the presentation as for May of last year. Supposing the employment caused by the schemes under the Cosgrave administration stopped dead at the end of 1931. There was an increase year by year. Suppose the full force of that had been exhausted and that not another man was going into industrial occupation because of the activity we had created, the best those who succeeded us, with a promise of 84,000 to be employed, can claim is 18,000 in three years. The Minister's own boast is that 16,000 of those are directly employed in house building and 2,000 on relief works—2,000 in insurable occupations on relief works. Where is the industrial development shown by those figures? Not a single man—and that is on the Minister's best presentation, on the test he himself chose.
I put the Minister other questions. There is more in this than simply the amount in the fund and the number of people the increased moneys represent. I asked him with regard to the payments out of the fund. These show, more or less, whether employment is intermittent. Since the Minister took  over the fund, the outpayments without any increase in the rate of the moneys paid, have gone up by more than £100,000 per annum. Even if we do get people into employment through house-building, which is certainly not being carried on economically at the moment and is not going to last—and if we get a couple of thousand into employment in connection with relief works, remember that more of the employment given is of the intermittent type than used to be the case as shown by the fact that the fund bleeds £100,000 per annum more. Deputy Norton had better revise that figure of 91,000.
What are the unemployment figures like? What is the good of concentrating on employment? Let us think for a moment of the unemployed. What are the figures? At the moment the figure is 125,000, and the figures have been going up week by week for the last seven or eight weeks. The poor Parliamentary Secretary was sent in here as the “fall guy” to a debate about two weeks ago to explain the increased registration. Pivotal in his explanation was this item—that, in the old days, these people had to walk 10 or 15 miles before they could register as unemployed. I put down a question during the week inquiring whether there was any statutory order, regulation of this House or departmental regulation which imposed upon anybody the necessity of walking one mile to get registered as unemployed. I was told by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, about whose Department that statement had been made, that it was wrong, that there was no such statutory order or regulation. There are 125,000 persons registered. We are told that that is because—to use one of these make-believe phrases of the Parliamentary Secretary—they are re-acting better now-a-days to the inducements held out to them to register.
I have said this a dozen times; let me say it once again. What inducement is required to make a man, who is really out of work and who wants work to do this: to write his name and address, and his previous occupation on a sheet of paper, to fold that up and, without a stamp, post it in the nearest pillar box or hand it to the  nearest peripatetic rural postman and get it presented at headquarters without any cost whatever to himself? He would not even have to leave his house, but merely give it to the postman. That was what a man had to do in the old days to get registered as unemployed.
Mr. McGilligan: Yes, he did, and if it was to agricultural work a man was put he got 4/- a week, at least, more than he would get now. There are the unemployment figures and there is just one other test. The trouble about the present Ministers is that they cannot speak to plan. Their usual attitude is: Let us get over the week-end and then we will face up to it next week. Let us get away from the Dáil and get it over. The Minister for Agriculture, the other night, dealt with the cattle bounty and what did he tell us? He told us this very boastfully: that the abattoir killings revealed that there were a certain number of people who bought beef, and who ate the beef they paid for, and that when the Government's beef scheme is properly going the new relationship will show that there will be two and a half lbs. of beef consumed in Dublin where there was one before and that one and a half lbs. of that will be consumed by the poor who get free beef. The unemployed and destitute people and the people getting unemployment assistance, as far as the units of meat are concerned, and as far as the consumption of beef in Dublin goes, will bear a relationship to the beef-eating people who buy their beef of one and a half to one. Deputy Norton will have to revise his figures of 91,000 unemployed.
Mr. Norton: I did not say that that was the extent of the unemployment problem. What I said was that 91,000 represented the number under the rigid test imposed as to unemployment under our Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Assistance Acts.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy gave the figures of 91,000. Let us take the test of the Minister for Agriculture. Is it nothing to be boastful of? We are told that the City of Dublin is doing better out of the tariffs than any other part of the country. Here we arrive at a situation that the total number of people receiving benefactions at the expense of the taxpayer—the man who can buy beef—is numerically so strong that the amount of beef they consume will be in the ratio of one-and-a-half to one of the total of people who are still able, or were able last December, to buy beef for their own consumption.
Mr. McGilligan: I never told anybody that. Keep that for Grangegorman. The next time the Deputy makes such a statement let him make it with the book in his hand. Let him read it with the Official Report in his hand. Otherwise he will be compelled to withdraw, as other Deputies were compelled to withdraw, when that same slander was uttered.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy has not been able to find it yet; let him produce it if he can. We have now the situation of 125,000 people on the list of the unemployed. Their beef consumption is measured by the figure of two and a half to one of the people who are able to buy their beef. The figure here, as far as the Unemployment Insurance Fund is a test, was 18,000 and the Minister shows that 16,000 of these were engaged in the building trade and 2,000 in insurable occupation amongst those on relief works. Suppose I was to agree for a moment with Deputy Norton that 91,000 is the tot of the maximum number. It is a severe test. That is not the end of it.
In my time I was told that my unemployment figures were kept low because I was emigrating 30,000 people a year. Those were people who came to the age of looking for gainful occupation and were unable to get anything to do and had to fly the country. We find from the Minister for Industry and Commerce  that that is not a good calculation. We have been told that the population has increased in the last three years not by 91,000 but by 44,000, 44,000 people who, the Minister will tell you, should have emigrated if I had been in office as Minister for Industry and Commerce. To-day we are told that they are kept here for the purposes of industry and that they are provided with unemployment assistance, and that a new system is inaugurated. Let us say that industrial occupation has been provided for 18,000. Suppose those 18,000 who had never been in a factory before, have only gone in in the last three years. That would be 6,000 people a year. How long will it take to break in upon Deputy Norton's tot of unemployment? We cannot get all these people to reach industrial occupations. Now it cannot be said that the plan did not look at the question of emigration. That question was shouted from off every platform in the country. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, as Deputy Norton stated, told us that instead of emigrating people there would not be enough idle hands found in the country to supply the demands of industry, and that he would have to send to America to bring the people back. The President envisaged a situation in which we would have 17,000,000 people in this country. He went to Limerick in November this year in a more subdued mood. He said that even though this country were industrially developed there would still always be a fringe of unemployment. It was statements like the former that got the President his present position. That is how he and his Government got here. It was by telling the people that immediately the Fianna Fáil Government came into power 84,000 persons would be put into industrial occupations; that there would be £11,000,000 increase yearly in the agricultural yield; that there would be a better home market and better export markets everywhere; that there would be less taxation and less rates, expansion of credit at home and more security for everybody.
 I asked a question this week with regard not merely to housing, but to Savings Certificates. What is the situation revealed by the answers that came? In one year, and it was not when the President was in office, the people were thrifty enough to be able to put in £1,933,000 into Savings Certificates. Then the purchases of Savings Certificates began to go down and in 1933-34 there were £735,000 put in and this year, up to 30th November, there was a sum of £334,000 put in, a drop from £1,933,000 to something in the region of £350,000. During those years people not merely put this money into the Savings Certificates but they withdrew quite a lot. During the year in which the £1,933,000 was put in there was less than £400,000 withdrawn. In the year 1933-34, in which £735,000 were put in, £561,000 were withdrawn and this year, up to the 30th November, while £334,000 were put in £378,000 were taken out. Is there any lesson to be learned from that? Is that an indication that there are 18,000 more people in industrial occupations getting wages and putting some money by? Is it not an indication that there are some people who have come to the end of the process of tightening their belts and that they are withdrawing their small savings—their capital—and living on them?
As regards the situation here at home, it is too long a story for me to go into now why that situation has been brought about. It is clearly due to the fact that our main industry has been destroyed. We listened with amazement for two nights in the last four nights of debate to certain remarks made by the Minister for Agriculture. Fianna Fáil Deputies who preach so many things through the country should listen well and endeavour to memorise this. The Minister for Agriculture told us that the British market is not gone. He says there is one great thing about the British market, protected as it is by quotas and subsidies, and that is that if and when you get inside it you get not merely the world price but something better than the world price for your produce. The Minister for Defence, the new Cincinattus who leaves the panoply of war in order to keep his hand on his plough, comes here  with his magnificent knowledge of agriculture and tells us that the quota system against our cattle exports to Britain is really no attempt to destroy our trade but is purely an example of British Sinn Féin. When I put it to him that there might be a policy of a purely British type to keep a certain amount of goods out of their market, and that the fraction of what they allowed in, allotted to us, was a test, he said, and perhaps Fianna Fáil orators will remember this when they bleat about the cruel wrongs inflicted upon this country by England, that the Minister for Agriculture has examined the quota allotted to us and he is definitely convinced that it is fair.
Now, perhaps, Fianna Fáil Deputies will parade that to the farmers in their constituencies. Perhaps they will tell them, when they talk of British oppression, what the man who is so hot with temper against them, like our Minister for Defence, that he could not allow a good word to be said about the British, now tells us when he says that his colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, has considered the quota system and he believes that the quota allotted to us is fair. We are going to send in this fair quota. We are going to have replacing what was formerly a very good trade with that country, a completely subsidised trade. I got the figures of what all these subsidies amount to and they are really staggering. The Minister tells us that he has great confidence in regard to industry. He produced his figures here and they show that it was estimated there were 18,000 employed this year. A previous statement of his shows that 16,000 of these are engaged in house building. That is the productivity we are asked to applaud at this moment. We are told we may rest confident this Christmas time feeling that the situation is right and that the unemployed are now employed in industry, but in contrast with that we have that small fraction of the unemployed mentioned by Deputy Norton, 91,000 people.
The President: The last speaker suggested that our message to the people was that everything is well. We never at any time, either before we came into office or since we came into office, pretended  that in the present condition of the world, in which we were bound to have our share, everything was well. I was listening with very great interest to the speeches made here, and wondering whether any of the speakers had a single constructive proposal to put forward as to how things might be bettered. There was not one. We have here a Deputy who was Minister for Industry and Commerce, who for several years was in charge of that Department and got excellent opportunities if he were able to avail of them, if he had any constructive ideas at all, to put them into practice.
The President: I will deal with that; I will deal with our position. We came into office at a time when it was apparent to every thinking person in the country that if the preceding Government had continued in office nothing but disaster was facing the people.
The President: Ten years' experience of the preceding Government convinced them of the fact. They had seen during the ten years of that administration some 300,000 acres of land going out of cultivation; they had seen a quarter of a million of the best of our people forced to leave this country. I suppose some people would say that that was because our people wanted to roam the world, because we were a roving race and were not satisfied with living at home. They saw our cattle population diminishing, and in every direction they saw evidence of an impending collapse with no policy presented to them for meeting that collapse. They saw that prices were diminishing, and in the last year they saw our export trade had gone down £10,000,000. That was a tidy sum compared with the sum Deputy Cosgrave mentioned a few minutes ago. It was because the people saw no hope from an administration in which there were such people in charge of key positions as the Minister for Industry and Commerce  of that time that they wanted a change. We did say to them there was one line in which there was certain hope offered, anyhow.
The President: Wait a while until I finish and perhaps you may find I am making a statement I did not make before, not the statement I am represented by the Deputy as making when he wants to say that I envisaged—a very nice word; he is very accurate and very anxious that there should not be any misunderstanding—17,000,000 people. I said that it would be possible, with the resources of this country, for 17,000,000 people to live here in a higher standard of comfort than that in which the present people were living. I stand up to that. I believe it is a fact that the resources of this country, with proper organisation, are sufficient to give to 17,000,000 people a higher standard of living than the present people are getting.
The President: Our policy is that we are going to produce for ourselves the things which we were unnecessarily paying others to produce for us. What is wrong with that? It is suggested that we have not taken into employment everybody who might have been taken, but I should like to know what would be the conditions if the extra work that has been given by the industries which have been established was not given, and the whole situation was allowed to develop. You would have had immense additions to unemployment to-day, particularly when the one safety valve there was at the time —the safety valve of emigration—was stopped. It is not taken into account at all what would have been likely to be the position if certain steps had not  been taken. We started industries. What were they started for? To produce for ourselves the things which, before that, others were producing for us. There is some £6,000,000 worth of agricultural produce produced by our own people for our own needs here that formerly was brought into this country unnecessarily. Other things being equal, does anybody suggest that that was not a movement in the proper direction? Take the list of imported manufactured articles. Is anybody going to say that the making of those things ourselves is not giving employment which would not otherwise have been given? What is the only answer that is presented to us from the opposite benches in regard to all this? The people of the country understand the position, and know it just as well as we do. They know perfectly well that, whatever may be the present situation, it would be infinitely worse if it were not for the constructive work we are giving our people in providing for ourselves articles which we were formerly getting from outside.
It is suggested that we pretended we could put 84,000 people into employment overnight. We have been two and a half years in office. Our predecessors were ten. We did not suggest that we would give employment to 84,000 people overnight. I was probably the member of the Party who spoke of that more than anybody else, and I was most careful to point out that the building up of our industries was a process that could not be completed overnight; that it would take a long period of time; and that, over and above constructive work in that direction, if we were going to give employment at all it would be necessary to put our people who were unemployed at work on what I might call generally enriching or developing the national domain. We did not suggest that we would put 84,000 people in employment overnight. We showed by calculation on a certain basis that if we were to produce the things which it was reasonable to expect we could produce here at home there would be employment given at the rate at which that employment was given even in England, where you have high organisation. We  said that when the policy was worked out completely it would mean increased employment in industry of 84,000 people. We have been working in that direction. There is a good deal of bandying, and there always has been, about the accuracy of those insurance figures. I remember how the Deputy when he was here completely shut down on giving those figures; he would not give them to us at all. Why? He said because the wrong conclusions might be drawn from them. If the present Minister for Industry and Commerce chose to do the same thing, he would have a very much better reason for it to-day than the Minister had then, because to-day there is every inducement to register. There was very little inducement to do it in the days of the last Ministry. We claim then that we have gone along the line which nobody can blind himself to as being the best line.
It may be said, of course, and we cannot help it, that new processes of industry, new methods of machinery, and so on, may make it possible with half the present number of people to produce the goods. That is a problem that we have to face, and a difficulty which is common to all countries. We are not exceptional in that. It may very well happen that when you have a larger market and larger production it will be possible to introduce machinery, and that that machinery may, in fact, produce a larger quantity of goods with a smaller number of hands employed. What is the lesson to be drawn from that? There is this point at any rate about it—that you have production at home, and that even if you are not able to get a foreign market for the things you can produce it is the best you can do. We can claim at any rate that, whatever measure of success or otherwise may have attended our efforts, they are along the only line which anybody has been able to point out as promising any hope. Before I leave this 84,000, I want to say very definitely that we held out no promise with regard to them, further than that, so far as calculation could show it, there was employment for that number of people in the production of those things which we unnecessarily imported from  abroad. We have not by any means reached the end of our industrial development at the moment, nor will we have completed it for some years to come. It is not possible to build up in the space of a few years the ruin of a century or half a century. We have got to take time about it. I remember the Deputy when over here saying in a helpless manner “We have no people who are trained in the conduct of industry or the management of industry.” When I spoke to him from those benches about the boot industry, he said “We have no operatives who have been trained. We cannot do it.” He put up his hands in despair—this man who is blaming us for not carrying out our promises. He held out no hope or no promise, and it was easy for him not to disappoint anybody. Nobody expected anything.
The President: The people can decide that. The people see at the present time definite and decided efforts in a certain direction, which are going to help in the only way in which help can be given. There is a problem that will face us even when we have developed our manufacturing arm here to the extent that it is able to supply us with all our goods. It is a problem which everybody knows. It is the result of improvement in mechanical equipment, the use of machinery and the power to produce with a relatively small number of hands large quantities of goods. That is a problem which is there as a social and economic problem, and it remains for solution. Nobody has yet got an absolutely satisfactory solution for it. I claim to-day what I claimed before the election, that we have a better opportunity for the present of dealing with that than most countries have, because we have at least the opportunity of putting people into work in producing the things which were formerly supplied from outside. I am  not going to suggest for one moment that we might not be able to do better by producing the things which we could best produce if we got a foreign market for them, but that foreign market does not exist.
The President: That is the kind of statement that is constantly being made. A word or a phrase is taken out of its context. Let anybody take up the context. That is just the same as Deputy McGilligan's remark about the 17,000,000 people that were “envisaged.” Take any statement of mine in the context in which it was made, and I will stand over it, but if somebody takes a word or a phrase of mine, quite irrespective of the context, I cannot stand over it because it is misleading and misrepresents what I said.
Now, with regard to this foreign market for cattle, our attitude is the sensible attitude towards it. We are anxious to have it, provided that it is not purchased at too great a cost, and I claim that the development of the cattle industry here in this country in the past, as a corollary of the English free trade system, was purchased at an immense cost to our people, and that it was not worth it in that direction. Does that mean that the present Government would not try to get it at any reasonable cost?
The President: Whatever the Minister said, if it were taken out of its context it would be just as much misrepresented in a word or a phrase— just the same as my words have been misrepresented, just the same as Deputy MacDermot spoke some time to-day about something I said in Trinity College—again apart from its context.
The President: What is the use of anybody trying to pretend that anybody is going to suggest to our farmers that anything that could be got for them in the ordinary way without sacrifice should not be got for them? No sensible Government, or no sensible Minister or sensible person, would suggest it, of course; but the question was that here was Deputy MacDermot——
The President: As far as we are concerned, we came back here on Tuesday prepared to sit all night and all week if necessary. As I was saying, our attitude towards the British market has been simply this: There were £5,000,000 odd being paid out of this country which we believed were not due from this country. Deputy MacDermot tells us that one of the reasons why the British would be kind to us would be to enable us to pay that £5,000,000; in other words, that they would take it in kind. We would pay over our cattle, and the value of that meant that on  1931 we would be getting 8d. a head net when we paid over that £5,000,000. I quite agree that the British would be very anxious to give us that opportunity. Of course, they would, and they would be right and wise in doing so. Our attitude, however, was that this money is not due. We are prepared to sit down and talk about it and put it to arbitration, if necessary, but we are not going to pay it.
The President: I have pointed out that there are people who think they are being well treated when they are given an opportunity of sending over all their fat cattle to pay a debt which is not due. Well, it does not matter either way, as far as the actual result is concerned, to anyone, because it is taken from us against our will, and, I believe, wrongfully. We have got to resist, as best we can, that wrongful taking away; but our attitude has been at no time an attitude of not using any market we could get. We were brought into a certain position by the British policy here in which our whole economy was lop-sided. We were left in that position, and then we were struck heavily and hardly, and most unfairly, in my opinion. But if we wanted to stand by our right, we had to face that opposition. Again, the attitude of the Opposition, in nine cases out of ten, or perhaps 99 cases out of 100, when we are speaking about our relations with Great Britain, puts us in a position in which our whole attitude is misrepresented. Deputy MacDermot never gets up, practically, without suggesting that we are engaged in some policy of pin-pricking, insult or provocation, or something of that sort. Our attitude, not merely since we came into office, but at all times, has been to live on friendly terms with our neighbours. We realise that the only basis on which friendly terms for living with them can be based is that of equality of right——
The President: ——and to have our right to live our own life in our own way and to have whatever governmental institutions we want properly recognised. Once that is recognised, there is the fact that Britain is our nearest neighbour and that there are many things in which we have common interests. We have never failed to recognise that. We recognised it in 1921. When the Republican Cabinet of that day was seeking a basis, they recognised that. What has been the cause of all the ill-feeling since then? Has it not been because the people of the other nation wanted to force on our people something that the majority of our people did not want? We pointed out that on a basis of equality we are quite prepared and ready to sit down and consider what common interests we have, on the one understanding that our people must be the judge on our side, just as they can be the judge on their side, of what terms of association there must be. We are going to be the judges on our side. They have the right to be the judges on their side. But we have resisted, and will continue to resist, any desire on the part of the other people to force us into an association that we do not want.
The President: I say there is. Why this whole struggle from 1921 onwards? Is it not obvious to the Deputy that there has been? Surely he is not so blind to the facts as to deny that? Will he educate himself by reading up the debates in the Dáil at the time?
The President: Let him read them up if he wants to see what was in the minds of the people who accepted the Treaty. The Treaty was accepted because a threat of immediate and terrible war was held over our people.
The President: Of course the country was not enriched at that particular  time by the Deputy's presence as a Deputy. At any rate, I have had a longer experience with the Irish people than the Deputy has.
The President: The great point with regard to our relations with Great Britain is that we are not the aggressors, and never have been the aggressors, in this fight with Britain. There is no pin-pricking. We have got to defend our rights or let them go by the board. Of course, in the eyes of Deputies opposite it is an inferiority complex that is keeping us defending our rights. We should, of course, have accepted immediately the things that these people say that we must have: that they think are good for us, and we are not to be the judges of these things for ourselves. If Deputy McGilligan desires something quite different from what the majority of the people think would be best for us he is quite at liberty to preach that, but let him not talk with an air of superiority, telling us things as if they were quite new when they are not. They are mere truisms that everyone understands.
The President: If the Deputy wishes to turn on to that, I am quite prepared to deal with it. I am quite ready to admit at once that the biggest problem in this country—it is going to be the same problem here as it is in every other country—is the putting into productive employment of a large number of people who are at present unemployed. I admit straight off that it is the biggest problem here, as it is in every other country, and that if we solve it, then we will have done something which no other country has so far been able to do. I move the adjournment of the House to Wednesday, 13th February, 1935.
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