Thursday, 12 May 1938
Dáil Éireann Debate
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): It has been customary in past years to take Votes Nos. 10, 11, 27 and 69 together because many of the matters dealt with cross. In addition, there is a Motion on the Order Paper to refer back Vote No. 10. The Deputy who put down that Motion was courteous enough to inform me of the matters that he proposes to raise, and they certainly cross on these Votes. It would certainly give him very much greater freedom in making the case that he wants to make if the whole ambit of these Votes were under discussion and that we were not merely concerned with one of them.
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £87,946 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1939, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig na nOibreacha Poiblídhe. (1 agus 2 Will. 4. c. 33, a. 5 agus 6; 5 agus 6 Vict., c. 89, a. 1  agus 2; 9 agus 10 Vict., c. 86, a. 2, 7 agus 9, etc.)
That a sum not exceeding £87,946 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1939, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Public Works. (1 and 2 Will 4. c. 33, s.s. 5 and 6; 5 and 6 Vict., c. 89, s.s. 1 and 2; 9 and 10 Vict., c. 86, s.s. 2, 7 and 9, etc.)
Mr. Flinn: On Vote 10, there are few, if any, points calling for special mention. The Vote is for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Public Works, and the increase of £14,440 over the Vote for 1937-8 is accounted for by necessary additions to staff, both clerical and professional, to enable the Department to carry through building and employment schemes programmes, the estimate for which amounts approximately to £2,700,000. I may say, in relation to that question of staff, that the Board of Works is practically the martyr of Government establishments. Its business is to carry out operative works, and the amount of work and the quality of the work which the Board of Works can do are directly dependent, apart from the money provision which is made, on the amount and quality of the staff. We have no complaint at all on account of the money because, in many cases, we have not been able to expend the moneys put at our disposal. I am satisfied that, at the present moment, the actual staff of the Board of Works, including the higher administrative staff, which is a technical staff in all its branches, is working as hard and as efficiently as it is possible for the actual personnel to work and is delivering all the goods that it is possible to deliver. I am also satisfied that, in every branch of the Department, there is call for extended staff of the highest possible quality, and that the complaint sometimes made, that this scheme or the other is not going no—sincere complaints made by Deputies interested in these things who are puzzled very often as to their non-completion—is due to the fact that, for a period of  years, there has not been that amount of expansion in the staff of that operative Department which the extended work which it might do would necessitate. I am not in any way, therefore, deprecating or apologising for the increase of moneys spent on staff. I am showing to the House that the very much larger amount of work which I should like to see the Office of Public Works engage in and which, I think, with profit to the State, we could undertake to carry out, depends in the future upon the expansion of staff. It is not an easy place for which to recruit staff. It is a highly technical Department. In every activity of its administration, it is highly technical and its administration controls, operatively, practically only technical officers. The technical officers we use in that Department are engaged in very specialised operations. For instance. I think there is no place in the world in which the engineers who are engaged upon drainage can get the experience required for the purpose save in the Office of Public Works in Ireland. In the same way, in relation to many of the other technical offices which we have, it is not a question of going out into the general world and just recruiting men to fill the number of gaps. It means, in many cases, the keeping of men for a period of years and training them into the specially technical work of the Department. So far as staff is concerned, I am satisfied that, at the present moment, they are delivering all the goods that it is possible for sound, competent and enthusiastic staff to deliver, and that any extension—and a very desirable extension is possible—depends upon the increase of that staff.
On the Vote for Public Works and Buildings, we are budgeting for a net increase in expenditure of £211,293. The demands upon the Department for new works, alterations and additions continue to be very heavy, and it will be seen that the new works programme accounts for practically the whole of this increase. Of the total new works programme, estimated at a gross value of £1,156,075, airports account for £390,000, of which the Dublin airport will take £160,000 and the Shannon  airport £230,000. A very specialised staff had to be recruited for the purpose of those aerodromes. It was not possible to do that work out of our own staff, though, to some extent, the existing technical engineering work of the Department had to be interfered with. At the moment we have on the acrodromes a staff which I think is technically very competent—a staff which, in its knowledge and in the broadness of its outlook on this problem, would compare very favourably with any technical staff which is available outside. I believe that the two aerodromes which we are constructing will, when they are constructed, compare very favourably indeed with any aerodrome in the world in the technical perfection of their work an din the actual position, arrangements, conditions and amenities thereof.
The provision of £200,000 for grants for national schools has been repeated. For various reasons, principally the difficulty of obtaining adequate staff, we have not been able to reach this figure of expenditure in the past few years. Each year, however, shows an increase over the preceding year, and we hope in the present financial year to expend the full amount. Very special arrangements have been made on the architectural side of the administration to deal with the architectural side of the schools problem, and we hope that, in this year, results commensurate with that effort will be given. For the purpose of comparison I shall give the House the provision made in the previous years and the expenditure. All I can say is that the object of the Office of Public Works has been to expend as much of the money given to it for the purpose of schools as possible. In 1932-3, the provision was £80,000 and the expenditure £65,774. In 1933-4, the provision was £90,000, and the expenditure £100,000; in 1934-5, £120,000 and £128,538; in 1935-6, £200,000 and £127,000; in 1936-7, £200,000 and £132,000. In 1937-8, the same provision was made, and the expenditure went up from £132,000 to £159,300. The tendency to increase that expenditure until the full amount provided  by the Dáil is absorbed is definitely and actively the policy of the Department.
The new Preparatory College at Galway is practically completed, and we expect that the last of the projected colleges at Ballyvourney will be practically completed this year. The new offices for the Department of Industry and Commerce in Kildare Street are out to tender, and we expect the work will very shortly commence on this very necessary scheme for concentrating in the new building the widely scattered offices of that Department. The remainder of the building programme calls for no special comment. The strike in the building trade last year naturally held up progress, with the result that for the current year the figures are somewhat inflated. In accordance with the usual practice, an allowance has been made for works which it may not be found possible to carry out, thus reducing the total Estimate for sub-head B— New Works—to £856,075.
The other main increase in the Vote is the sub-head for maintenance and supplies. This increase of £19,569 is due to (1) arrears of maintenance following the building strike; and (2) the rise in building costs. There is a decrease of £10,000 approximately in the provision for arterial drainage, due to the fact that fewer drainage works will be ripe for execution. Experience has shown that the present drainage code will require revision before it can be hoped to proceed with a number of these schemes which have been under examination. The only other item of special interest on this Vote which I think I might mention is that the Barrow drainage works have been completed and the final award issued.
The Haulbowline Vote follows very closely upon last year's Vote. The provision for the renewal of the submarine water main, which we were unable to reach last year, has been repeated. I am happy to say that we recently completed arangements for a lease of portion of the island for the purpose of a steel factory which it is anticipated will give much employment in the district.  With regard to the Vote for employment schemes during the financial year 1937-38, the amount provided by the Dáil was £1,500,000, of which, £672,000 was for the completion of schemes sanctioned before 31st March, 1937. To this should be added approximately £750,000, provided as contributions by local authorities, making a total of £2,250,000. The actual expenditure to 31st March, 1938, will not be available for some time to come but it is estimated at £1,321,628 of State grant plus £497,829 of local contribution, making a total of £1,819,457. In terms of State grant, the estimated expenditure represents 88 per cent. of the provision. The position may be most conveniently reviewed by examining the total allocation under each sub-head of expenditure including both re-vote at 31st March, 1937 and new moneys. The total allocation in respect of public health works is £716,000—I will not give the odd figures because the House cannot remember them and they do not alter the position—of which £288,000 represents State grant. the estimated expenditure to 31st March is £154,000 of State grant only, or 53.6 per cent. of the provision. The total allocation in respect of roads, footpaths and other schemes in urban areas is £335,500 of which the State grant is £233,000. Estimated expenditure to 31st March, 1938, is £225,500, State grant only, or 96.4 per cent. of the provision. The total allocation in respect of road schemes by county councils in rural areas is £547,000, including a State grant of £414,000. Estimated expenditure to 31st March, 1938, is £340,000 of State grant only, or 82.2 per cent. of the provision. The total allocation in respect of minor employment schemes is £355,000—no local contribution—and estimated expenditure to 31st March, 1938, is £344,000, or 96.9 per cent. of the provision. The total allocation in respect of development of housing sites is £153,000, of which £76,000 is State grant and the estimated expenditure to 31st March, 1938, is £56,000, State grant only, or 73.2 per cent. of the total provision.
The total allocation in respect of  land reclamation and distribution of manures and seed oats is £145,000, all by way of State grant, and estimated expenditure to 31st March, 1938, £116,000, or 80 per cent. of the provision. The total allocation in respect of peat development schemes is £60,000, all State grant, and estimated expenditure is 78.4 per cent. The total allocation in respect of marine works is £15,838, the State grant being £12,753, State grant only, or 45 per cent. of the State provision. This was partly due to the fact that we were short of staff on the marine side, due to transference to airports and various other reasons. That difficulty, I hope, will be got over this year. The total allocation in respect of miscellaneous items is £38,500, the State grant being £34,000 and the estimated expenditure £30,000, or 88 per cent.
Of the total estimated expenditure of £1,815,000, including contributions by local authorities during the financial year, approximately £700,000 was expended during the period 1st April to 30th October, and the balance during the winter months. That is significant as showing a larger relative expenditure in the summer months this year compared with previous years. The number of separate works undertaken was approximately 4,500 and the maximum number of workers employed at any one time was 36,924, of whom 29,784 had previously been in receipt of unemployment assistance. The average number of men employed on the schemes over the period November to March was 33,000. During the summer of 1937 approximately 500 small drainage schemes were carried out at a cost of £43,000. A number of the schemes were held up owing to the refusal of one or more land holders to consent, and a few works were suspended owing to labour trouble. The numbers of suspensions of the works in 1937-8 were as follows:—Summer drainage schemes: Number of schemes sanctioned, 562; number for which land holders' consents were refused, 12; labour trouble, 2; Winter schemes: Number of schemes sanctioned, 2,142; number for which land holders' consents were refused, 24; labour trouble  2. From these figures it will be seen that there is not much cause for the complaint, which is very general, of dog in the manger tactics by individual land holders in holding up schemes. While in fact that does occur in some instances, and does involve in such cases a great deal of trouble and ill-feeling, the actual proportion which those cases bear to the total is very small. In the summer drainage schemes there were 12 out of 562. In the winter schemes there were 24 out of 2,142. I think, therefore, that we may regard that as one of the evils to which we are heirs, and that we had better grin and bear it rather than look for possibly larger trouble in an attempt to remedy it.
The financial year 1936-7 marked the expansion of the Relief Vote from the general average of about £500,000, which had obtained for some years previously, to more than £1,500,000. Of this sum only about 50 per cent. was expended in the financial year, largely owing to unavoidable delays in the preparation of the programme, and to the fact that the main part of the work could not be started until November, leaving only five months of the financial year for actual operations. The expenditure in 1937-38 was 88 per cent. of the provision made, and for the coming year it is hoped, by means of sanctioning the initiation of schemes in excess of the actual money voted by the Dáil, to expend the full amount voted. The Dáil may take it as a fact that any sudden expansion in the total provision for employment works cannot be reflected immediately in a corresponding increase in the amount of work. The defect in regard to relief schemes in previous years was the fact that they were hastily got together, and it was, therefore, quite impossible to organise them properly. We have found from experience that any organisation of relief schemes which is not to have obvious evils in the process, evils both of inefficiency and otherwise, is a slow process, and that the more time which is taken on the organisation of schemes of that kind the better will be the results both from the point of view of efficiency and public service.  For this reason any scheme of unemployment assistance based upon the employment of men should be part of a semi-permanent condition. It should be part of the plan of quite a few years, and it should not be artificially and sporadically expanded or contracted except in accordance with some plan of that kind. I think that, with the gradually growing experience which we have had in learning the job of using money of this kind, a gradually increasing standard of efficiency is being attained. As time goes on, and more experience is gained, I think we will find a great deal better return to the State, both in the fairness and efficiency of the administration of any such fund.
Mr. Flinn: I am saying without any hesitation that my ignorance of the job, which is gradually being removed by experience and training in the actual operation of it, is one of the things which needs to be eradicated for the purpose of securing greater efficiency, and that any one who follows in my footsteps will either have to use the accumulated knowledge which we have slowly got, or accumulate knowledge for himself, if he is going to improve the efficiency of the scheme.
Mr. Lawlor: Does the Parliamentary  Secretary want to suggest to the House that it is through want of experience by the Government, of which he is a member, that miscalculations in regard to employment schemes have taken place?
Mr. Flinn: I think if the Deputy will read what I have said and listen to what I am going to say he will understand better. If the primary purposes of the Vote for employment schemes were merely to secure the maximum return in work for the money expended, the ideal method of carrying out the works would be by contract on competitive tenders, or by other systems in which, first, the workmen employed are selected on the sole criterion of their physical fitness and their aptitude for the work; and, secondly, an expert and searching supervision is provided, directed towards economy and efficiency. Any restriction placed on the free employment of the most suitable workmen, and any weakening of the system of supervision, must necessarily lead to a diminished return for the money expended. The primay consideration in employment schemes, however, is the relief of employment and distress, is the this at once renders any selection of the workmen in respect of their age, aptitude and physical fitness out of the question. The extent of this handicap will be realised when it is borne in mind that the pool of unemployed contains a very high percentage of that class of workmen who, whether by reason of their age, their indolent habits or their health, fail over long periods to obtain employment in competition with other workmen. Further, on employment schemes, first perference in employment is given to persons on the highest scales of unemployment assistance, or, in other words, to those who have the most dependents, and who, therefore, have generally passed the prime of their vitality, and are least fitted for arduous physical labour. It has, therefore, come to be recognised that a large number of relief workers, on first joining the work, require a considerable time to become hardened and accustomed to the work; while many others never succeed in reaching  the level of economic output. These defects are principally found in urban areas where large numbers of the unemployed are nearly always quite unsuitable for heavy work. In the rural areas, many of the workmen are kept in training while not engaged on employment schemes by working their own farms, or as agricultural labourers or road workers. In this connection it should be stated that the rotational system of employment has been adopted on employment schemes for the purpose of distributing the benefits over the largest possible number of unemployed persons, and in proportion to their varying degrees of necessitousness. This system has been found on the whole satisfactory in practice, and it has come to stay.
Mr. Flinn: Various periods of rotation have been suggested from time to time in substitution for the system at present in use; one of the principal of these being full-time employment in alternate weeks; but so far as the question of efficiency is concerned, there is no evidence whatever that this method would be an improvement on the system now in use. It is remarkable that the complaints which have been received from time to time of the inefficiency of employment schemes have been made in respect of individual works for which no comparative costings have been produced; and it is true to say that in those cases in which arrangements have been made to compare the actual cost of a completed employment scheme with the cost of normal methods of employment the results have generally been less unsatisfactory than might be expected; while in serveral trial cases the cost of employment schemes has compared favourably with estimates prepared on  the basis of normal employment. The satisfactory results obtained in these cases can be attributed almost wholly to thoroughly efficient supervision.
In connection with the question of the supervision of employment schemes it should be observed that nearly all this work, involving as it does the control of more than 4,000 separate works in the year, falls upon county and town surveyors; and as the majority of these are full-time officials, it is clear that, under existing methods at least, the same detailed attention cannot always be given to the work which would be given in normal circumstances. It is, therefore, obviously imperative that if the present scale of artificial employment works is to be maintained, if they are to be administered by the same organisation which now has to administer them, if a reasonable efficiency is to be obtained on them, and if we are to be in a position to account to the Dáil and say that that efficiency has been obtained, there must be an expansion of staff commensurate with the size of the new obligations put upon those organisations.
Until recent years a traditional laxity and inefficiency has grown up in this and other countries in respect of relief works; and this was due, in part at least, to the hasty manner in which it was always found necessary to organise and carry out, over a period of a few months, a complicated programme of schemes consisting of large numbers of separate and widely scattered works. It was found impossible to recruit at short notice the necessary additional technical staffs and to provide a sufficient number of competent foremen to oversee all the works while they were in progress. Without proper supervision discipline cannot be maintained in the gangs, and a feeling gradually grows up amongst the workmen that their duties are nominal and the wages paid to them are merely the dole in another form.
Mr. Flinn: If you said it in an orderly form in would be all right. In these circumstances it is not surprising that relief works came to acquire a poor reputation in the past for efficiency; and there is no doubt that this bad tradition still persists in one degree or another. It is true, however, that very considerable improvements have taken place in this country in recent years, largely due to the careful preparation of the programme of schemes; the precise instructions given to officials in charge of the works ; to the earlier date at which allocations and sanctions are now notified, and the higher degree of local and headquarters supervision. Much still remains to be done, however, and a detailed examination has already been put in hands as a result of which it is hoped to achieve in employment schemes the highest degree of efficiency which is possible on works subject to the special conditions of recruitment and employment which must be adopted to meet the primary purpose of the Vote, i.e., the relief of unemployment and distress.
Having regard to the large sum which is now spent annually on employment schemes and to the greatly increased volume of work which the staffs of local authorities have to cope with in excess of their normal work, it is clear that these staffs must be considerably strengthened if the employment schemes which they are asked to supervise are to be efficiently and economically carried out. This is a matter for the local authorities, and one which should have their attention, as it is proposed in future that the payment of grants from the Vote shall be made subject to the certificate of the authorities receiving the grants that the work has been carried out in an economical and workmanlike manner.
In the course of the debate on the Estimate for employment schemes in April, 1937, I dealt with the question of the application of the rotation system to employment schemes and on  other occasions I have alluded to it from the point of view of putting at the disposal of the Dáil the information which would be necessary to them to understand, to criticise, and to improve this scheme. In reply to a question by Deputy Norton on the 17th November, 1937, I said:—
“I am extremely glad to have an opportunity of answering that question, and to say that every kind of information which Deputies want for the purpose of making a sound ease against the rotational schemes of employment I will be most happy to supply... Every possible piece of information which is in my possession for the purpose of enabling a case on the facts to be stated, I am prepared to give.”
The same assurance was made in relation to an experimental scheme here in Dublin in which representations were made to a committee of Deputies. They examined the scheme, they were offered every opportunity to improve it, and no suggestion was put forward to me by any one of these Deputies which they regarded as improving the distribution or the organisation of that scheme. The only grievance put forward at that time was that the rotational scheme did not afford a sufficient number of days' work in each week. That is not a criticism of the rotational system but a criticism of the amount of money provided by the Dáil for this purpose.
Now, I am asking Deputies in relation to anything that they have to say in reference to this scheme to regard themselves as in the position of people who desire to improve it, who desire to tell people who want to know how to do better, how to do better. They must not confuse two things—the total amount of money available and the organisation. Within the amount of money available, any suggestion for the better organisation, development or distribution of those works, or the money concerned, will be regarded as a very definite and real, direct service.
During the financial year just completed, some thousands of schemes have been carried out—I think over 3,000— under the rotational system of employment.  The minimum number of days' employment given in each week is three, and workers with several dependents receive four or five days' work according to their scales of unemployment assistance and to the rate of wages paid on the work. It is true to say that very few complaints in respect of the terms of employment have been made by the workers them— selves. The only suggestions which have been put forward for the improvement of the system of rotational employment, now in general use on employment schemes, have been of a general nature, and they have involved one or more of the following features:— (1) An expenditure in excess of the amount provided by the Dáil for employment schemes; (2) a reduction of the number of unemployed persons who benefit by the schemes under the present rotational system; and (3) a departure in one degree or another from the principle of giving workmen a greater or lesser number of days' employment in the week in proportion to their varying degrees of necessitousness. Demands have been made for full-time employment for all the workers, a proposal which, assuming suitable employment schemes could be found, would probably cost the State more than £10,000,000 per annum, if the employment were to be continued over the whole of the year or, on the present time-table, would cost 60 per cent. more than the existing provision. Similarly, any increase in the number of days' employment now given would proportionately increase the present cost.
The suggestion has been made that the workers should receive full time in alternate weeks, but this could be done only by increasing the joint provision made by the Dáil for unemployment assistance and employment schemes or. alternatively, by curtailing the existing provision for employment schemes. In either case, the proposed system has the disadvantage that it departs from the principle of giving the workmen employment in proportion to their individual needs. Further, it would result in a greater proportion of the joint provision for unemployment assistance and employment schemes being expended on the former service. In the majority of cases, of course, the workmen would  gain, but all those workers who now receive four or five days' work per week—and these generally represent the most necessitous cases—would be reduced from eight or ten days per fortnight, as the case might br, to the general level of six days per fortnight. Dublin is a case in point where a large proportion of the workers receive eight days per fortnight at present and under the proposed system they would receive only six. Furthermore, on the assumption that a worker is unemployed over a considerable period of time, and that the employment provided on employment schemes is to be regarded as a means of keeping him fit physically and mentally, it is reasonable to assume that a system which provides a constant number of days' work each week is better than one of alternate weeks of full-time labour and complete idleness.
I now come to a comparison of a system of full-time employment in alternate weeks with the present system. These are figures that I thought the House would have asked for when I offered to give Deputies this information. I am giving it to them now so that they will be in a position to criticise the Vote with a more exact knowledge:
(1) On schemes where the wages are 4/- per day, a worker with wife and two dependants at present receives five days' work or 40/- for two weeks. If working full-time in alternate weeks he would receive 24/- wages for the first week and 12/- unemployment assistance for the second. Total for two weeks, 36/- Loss to workman on proposed system, 4/- in two weeks.
(2) In Dublin, at a wage of 11/- per day, a worker with wife and one other dependant receives four days' employment each week, consequently 88/- for a fortnight. On the system at alternate weeks he would receive 66/- wages plus 16/6 unemployment assistance, or 82/6 altogether, a loss of ? in the fortnight.
(3) At 5/- wages per day, a worker with wife and five other dependants under the present system receives  40/- per fortnight, while under the proposed system he would receive 30/- wages for the first week and 14/- unemployment assistance for the second; total 44/-. Gain for workman, 4/- per fortnight.
(4) Wages 5/- per day, a worker with wife and no other dependants receives 30/- for two weeks. In alternate weeks of full-time employment he would receive 30/- wages plus 10/- unemployment assistance, a total of 40/- In that particular case, the workman would gain 10/-.
On the lower scales there is not much difference between the two systems. The gain in each case is one week's unemployment assistance in the fortnight. Here are typical examples of equation tables: unemployment assistance to days' employment per week. (1) Minor Employment per —rate of wages 24/- per week, unemployment assistance scale not exceeding 8/6, three days' work per week; from 9/- to 11/6 four days' work. from 12/- to 14/-, five days' work. (No. 2).—Road schemes in rural areas —rate of wages say, 35/- per week, unemployment assistance scale not exceeding 12/-, three days' work per week; from 12/6 to 14/-, four days' work. Road schemes in urban areas; rate of wage say, 42/- per week, unemployment assistance scale not exceeding 15/-, three days' work per week; from 15/6 to 17/6, four days' work per week. I may say that we pay over 30 different rates of wages on unemployment schemes. On roads schemes in county boroughs, and in the Borough of Dun Laoghaire, rate of wages say 60/- per week, unemployment assistance scale no exceeding 15/6, three days' work per week; 16/- and upwards, four days' work. The number of days' work per week given to a workman on rotational employment is fixed so that the amount of wages earned per week, less the workman's contribution for stamps, will not he less than 30 per cent. in excess of the scale of unemployment assistance to which he would be entitled if not employed. That means that a man has the whole of his stamps paid for him and, in addition, gets not less, in the worst case, than 30 per cent. over unemployment  assistance. In practice, of course, it averages out very much higher.
Let us take the highest county of all, Mayo, where they employ 8,000 or 9,000 men all the year on the rotational system. The average unemployment assistance provision is 3/11 or 4/-. The minimum provision received by any man under the rotational system is three days' work at 4/-, and as in the Western counties, or the black areas—I think Deputies are familiar with that term now—practically all men on unemployment assistance, whatever their scale, receive employment during the year. During the period in which they are employed, they manifestly gain very considerably more than the minimum standard which I have put down. In fact, it may be taken that the rotational system in its distribution tends to benefit the poorer rather than the richer areas at all times, over and above the nominal proportion of unemployment which may be in these areas. Quite frankly, that is the purpose and the intention —where there is poverty, to bring it more and more to the bare proportions.
In the course of the discussion on the main Estimate last year, I informed the Dáil in some detail of the developments which had taken place in the administration and distribution of relief moneys since 1932. It is not necessary to go over the ground again, except to refer to the fact that, broadly speaking, the whole of the money provided for the relief of unemployment distress is distributed on the basis of the numbers of recipients of unemployment assistance in each area. In certain rural areas where special conditions of pverty are known to exist, the average rateable valuation per head of the population is also taken into account.
For the information of Deputies who may not have taken part in a discussion of this kind on a previous occasion, I may say that there has been put up in the Dáil each year a map which shows the distribution of unemployment over the whole State, calculated separately for each of the 3,000 electoral areas. Beside it is a  map showing these 3,000 electoral areas with an indication on it in relation to every area, showing the exact amount of money spent and the nature of the work. In addition to that there is available a return containing particulars of every work which has been done and its cost, as well as particulars necessary for anyone who knew the district to identify it. I am deliberately inviting the attention of the Dáil to that information, and I am asking Deputies to examine it with their very much closer personal knowledge of their own districts than I or any portion of my staff could possess, and to find any maladministration and bring it to our knowledge for the purpose of getting better results.
It has been suggested that in certain areas there are unemployed persons who, though they are in necessitous circumstances, are not for one reason or another in receipt of unemployment assistance, and it has been urged that people of this class should receive some measure of employment on employment schemes. If it can be shown that the representations are well founded consideration will be given to the possibility of framing schemes on a basis which would permit in certain cases of the inclusion of persons of this class, having due regard to the propriety of this course vis-a-vis the general purpose of the Vote.
A description of the various classes of work generally undertaken as employment schemes is given at another part of this statement, but in addition to these, it should be stated that new types of schemes are sometimes submitted for examination; as for example, a scheme for improvement by drainage and reclamation on individual farms in poor areas, towards the cost of which it is proposed that the landholders concerned should make some contribution. If any new type of scheme which is prima facie suitable from the point of view of providing employment is put forward, it would probably be necessary, in the first place, to have a sufficient number of experiments carried out to enable the value of the schemes for general adoption as standard employment schemes to be estimated.
 In connection with the Employment Schemes Vote, 1938-39, and local contributions, the principal portion of the moneys expended under the employment schemes programme is provided by the State, and is raised by direct or indirect taxation, to which all districts in the country contribute, in proportion to their taxable capacity. This portion is represented for 1938-39 by £1,500,010 included in the Vote.
The amount anticipated by way of local contributions in 1938-39 is £400,000 or 21 per cent. of the total expenditure, and this sum will be raised in the current year, or ultimately, through the medium of rates by the local authorities concerned. With the exception of the allocation for public health works and certain other schemes of superior public utility, the whole of the moneys provided for employment schemes are, broadly speaking, distributed amongst the various areas of the country in proportion to the unemployment needs of each, and countributions from local authorities are expected in proportion to the relative capacity of each area to pay. Grants for public health works are determined on the necessity that exits for these works in particular areas, and the contribution usually required from the local authority is 60 per cent. of the total cost. Housing site development works are undertaken in advance of housing schemes which are anticipated to take place at a later date. The local contribution in these cases is 50 per cent. of the total cost. Schemes of road and footpath construction and other suitable works are undertaken in urban areas, and the average contribution by the local authorities is 23½ per cent. of the cost of the scheme. The actual rate of contribution varies with the known financial position of each urban area.
In road schemes in rural areas the county councils also contribute according to their ability to pay. The average rate of contribution is about 16½ per cent. of the total cost, while the charge on poorer districts like Donegal, Mayo and Kerry is considerably less. In the class of schemes known as minor marine works, which  consist largely of small piers and boat slips for the benefit of the fishing and agricultural industries, the county council is generally required to contribute one-quarter of the cost. The minor employment schemes administered by the Office of Public Works, comprise the construction and repair of accommodation roads to turbary and agricultural lands, and works of minor drainage, and generally minor works in the rural areas for which no provision is ordinarily available from other sources. The great bulk of these schemes is carried out in the poorest areas of the country and the entire cost is provided by way of State grant. Peat development schemes are carried out for the Turf Development Board and are, with some negligible exceptions, for the commercial development of turbary. No local contributions are required. Miscellaneous schemes include the construction and improvement of public parks and sports grounds, and contributions are generally required in proportion to the ability of the local authority or committee of management to pay. An important reason for requiring a local contribution towards the execution of an employment scheme is that it secures the definite interest of the local authority, and of the individual ratepayer in the selection of schemes having the highest public utility, and in their proper execution from the point of view of efficiency and economy, besides guarding against exorbitant demands being made by individual local authorities.
A useful type of scheme for the employment of relief moneys is the opening up of fine scenery by removing walls and fences which obstruct the view from the public highways in various parts of the country. Work of this kind has been carried out on the Cork-Macroom and Bantry-Glengariffe roads, in County Cork, and on the Killarney-Kenmare road, in County Kerry, and in these cases the result has been to disclose to tourists and to the general public very beautiful scenery previously hidden. The amount of money which has been expended upon this work is relatively small. The results which have been obtained for that expenditure have  been amazing. I know of no possible expenditure of money which I have seen in the country up to the present which has given a bigger direct return It is possible in many districts in Ireland for a person, who had not access to the lands hidden by the hrfhrd, to go through those districts and see none of its beautiful scenery, and I am anxious for the co-operation of all concerned in that, matter to develop this part of the work. I am appealing now to local authorities, to county and district surveyors, to members of the House and to other people who may know beautiful vistas of this kind which are hidden and which very little expenditure would enable to be made available. There are certain technical, legal and other difficulties in the matter. One has not got the right to cut down hedges which obscure views merely because they are hiding beauty. There are certain reasons and grounds upon which one can do it legally but I am not suggesting that they are the grounds upon which we should work. Our experience has been that a little bit of tact, and a little appeal to the ideas of beauty itself have enabled these difficulties to be got over and windows into beauty to be opened at very little expense with amazingly good results. For the present at any rate the moneys which will be provided for that purpose will not carry a local contribution and every possible consideration will be given in dealing with the local difficulties of those who may try to put the scheme into operation.
The rate paid on minor employment schemes and peat development schemes, administered by the Office of Public Works, is four shillings per day. Minor employment schemes are designed for the benefit of agricultural lands and of the agricultural community, generally, in poor areas. The rate of wages is accordingly related to the rates paid to agricultural labourers, from amongst which class and the owners of uneconomic holdings  and their relatives working on the lands, the workers are recruited.
The distance which workmen may reasonably be required to travel has proved to be one of the most difficult questions connected with the recruitment of labour for employment schemes and the problem of finding a definition of “reasonable distance” capable of universal application appears to be insoluble. To avoid requisitioning men who live at a greater distance from the work than might be considered reasonable, it would be first necessary to examine the particular case of each individual unemployment assistance recipient to ascertain the precise distance of his home from the work and whether he has a bicycle or other means of transport. The first task is manifestly an impossible one to undertake in respect of some 4,000 separate works per annum. As to the second, the Department of Industry and Commerce have no record as to whether or not an unemployment assistance recipient uses a bicycle. Even if such records were kept, the singling out of cyclists in any particular area for employment on schemes would probably result in a greater volume of complaint from non-cyclists than arises now, on the ground that workmen are required to travel too far. It appears, therefore, that in disposing of this particular complaint—of which, by the way. I have had very little this year—reliance must be placed altogether on the county surveyors and other local officials in charge of the works. Where there are ample numbers of unemployment assistance workmen available the county surveyors can do much by drawing the recruitment area for any particular scheme in such a way that at no point will the boundary of the area be more than a reasonable distance from the site of the work. In other cases the gangers or other recruiting officials, through their local knowledge and in the light of their experience in the recruitment of labour for previous schemes in the same area, can do still more to prevent any complaints arising on the score of distance. It is only right to say that there is much evidence that  the officials in charge of the recruiting arrangements for employment schemes are utilising this previous experience. There have been very few complaints of late, and even in respect of these, quite a number have been found on investigation to have been without foundation.
The volume of complaints in regard to delays in payment of wages to workmen engaged on employment schemes has also declined considerably in the past 12 months and, in fact, less than half-a-dozen complaints were actually received in the office during the employment year just elapsed. No opportunity is lost of impressing upon the officials in charge of the works the necessity for doing all that is possible to expedite the payment of wages, and the position has been attained whereby, in the majority of the counties, payments of wages are made not later than the Wednesday following the period in which the wages are earned.
The Department of Local Government and Public Health are at present exploring the possibility of instituting a system of weekly payment in respect of the first few weeks of a man's employment and a report from the Department in this matter is expected at an early date.
The system of changes of panels or gangs of workmen on employment schemes in urban areas and in certain rural areas is designed to afford a spell of employment to as many as possible of the suitable unemployment assistance workmen residing in these areas. Workmen on the highest scales of unemployment assistance in urban areas receive four weeks' rotational employment before being replaced by a fresh panel of workmen drawn from the next highest scale, and this process continues until a spell of work on the scheme, so far as the limitations of the scheme permit, has been given to all suitable workmen on the upper two-thirds of the unemployment assistance register.
Reports received regarding the actual working of the system show that, generally speaking, the scheme  has been favourably received by the local authorities and by the workmen themselves, and that it has gone a long way towards meeting the demand that unemployment assistance workmen on the middle scales should receive their due share of the work made available through grants from the Employment Schemes Vote.
In rural areas changes of pancls are effected every five weeks on schemes costing £1,000 and upwards and here also the system appears to have worked in a satisfactory manner. A sum of £1,500,000 is provided for the provision of employment and the relief of distress for 1938-39. This is the provision for financial assistance by way of grant or loan for miscellaneous schemes on terms and conditions approved by the Minister for Finance. This money is made up as follows:— £306,000 for completion of schemes sanctioned prior to 31st March, 1938, and, new money, £1,200,000 for miscellaneous employment schemes.
|Public Health Works||£133,800|
|Housing Sites development||20,525|
|Peat development works||13,000|
|Minor employment schemes||11,000|
The local contributions amounting approximately to £251,556, will be forthcoming in respect of this re-vote provision making a total of £551,556. The balance of the Vote, namely £1,200,010, will be available for expenditure on new employment schemes during the financial year 1938-39 and an additional sum, estimated at £400,000, is expected by way of contribution from local authorities. That makes the total new money, for expenditure in 1938-39,—£1,600,010.
Mr. Flinn: I said the total new  money for expenditure in 1938-39 is £1,600,010. The total estimated expenditure during 1938-39 will be: revote at 3lst March, 1938, £300,000; new money, £1,200,010 making a total of £1,500,010. The local contributions of £251,556 added to the £3000,000 revote makes a total of £551,556 and the money, £1,200,010, with the local contribution of £400,000, makes £1,600,010. These items together amount to £2,151,566 which will be the total amount for expenditure in the year.
It will be noted that the expenditure (State Grant) on new schemes to be sanctioned during the financial year 1938-39 is £1,200,010 and in this regard attention is drawn to the statement I made in the Dáil during the course of the discussion on the Supplementary Estimate for employment schemes introduced last February in which I pointed out that in order actually to complete the expenditure of any given sum on employment schemes within the financial year for which it is provided, it is necessary to sanction schemes considerably in excess of the specified amount. the principal reason for this is (1) in order that employment schemes may coincide with the period of maximum unemployment. The main programme is not begun until the month of November when the Employment Periods Order comes to an end; and the period between this date and the end of the same financial year is too short to permit of the expenditure on major schemes being completed in all cases; (2) unavoidable delays take place in (a) the acceptance of allocations by local authorities, with the result that works in many cases are not started until near the end of the financial year and (b) in submitting, examining and sanctioning of schemes when they have been lodged. On the same occasion I indicated to the Dáil that to prevent the anomaly of carrying over a large portion of the Vote for employment schemes to the next financial year, the Government propose to authorise in advance the sanctioning of schemes in excess of the sum provided by the Dáil of such additional amount that might be considered necessary to secure the expenditure within the financial year  of an amount approximating to the whole of the moneys actually voted by the Dáil for that year. In pursuance of this policy, it is proposed to authorise the sanction during the year 1938-39 of employment schemes estimated to cost £1,570,010 of which it is expected that £1,200,010, the new money which the Dáil is now asked to provide will be actually expended in addition to the revote of £300,000 for schemes sanctioned but not completed before the 31st March, 1938. Put briefly that means that we propose to deal with £1,500,010 on approved schemes so that the total of £1,200,000 may be expended and over £370,000 worth of schemes would then be in an active state ready for use in the following year.
In this regard, however, it must be pointed out that inasmuch as a large proportion of the Vote is allocated to local authorities, subject to contributions by them, the fulfilment of this expenditure is dependent to a large extent on conditions which are not entirely under the control of the Government and any failure on the part of the local authorities to accept the allocations or any delay in accepting them on the terms offered or any delay in the submission of schemes or their commencement will materially affect the estimated expenditure. Subject to the foregoing remarks the following indicates the proposed allocations for employment schemes in the year 1938-39 :—
|Public Health Works (State Grants)||£180,000|
|Housing Sites Development||123,000|
|Department of Agriculture. Land reclamation, Supply of Seed Oats, etc.||110,000|
|Office of Public Works, Minor Employment Schemes, including Minor Marine Works. etc., and Peat Development Schemes.||424,000|
making a total of £1,570,010. To this should be added £552,000 for contributions expected from local authorities, making a total of £2,122,010 available for the sanction and initiation of new schemes during the year 1938-39.  The types of schemes covered by the foregoing allocations have been frequently described to the Dáil and it is not now considered necessary to go over the ground again. Until the year 1936-37 when a very greatly increased provision for employment schemes was made by the Dáil, it was the practice to confine the execution of the works almost entirely to the winter; but the larger sum of money now available makes it possible to give a considerable measure of employment during the spring and summer months. The amount expended in this part of the year 1937 was £550,000 (State grant only). This expenditure arose naturally out of the large sum needed by way of revote to complete schemes begun in the previous financial year; but while the revoted portion of the money for the current financial year is less than one-half of the money required for a similar purpose in the previous financial year, arrangements have been made to carry on additional employment schemes in urban and rural areas during the spring and summer months.
As the House is aware last year was the first year in which we did any considerable amount of employment schemes during the summer, but they were practically confined to a lot of very minor drainage works.
I am satisfied, and I think everyone who has an experience of them is satisfied, with the outstanding success of the minor drainage schemes that were done last year. We are, to some extent, in everything in relation to the relief grant, between the devil and the deep sea. The time of the year at which the most efficient works could be carried out is not the time of the year in which the unemployment distress is most. I would very much like to find some system by which we would agree that all the works were done in the summer. The people who were entitled to them in the winter were credited with them and the work could be done in the summer, but unfortunately at that particular period men are employed; that is the better period of employment. Many of the works done in the winter  period are done under conditions of hardship which would not exist in summer. They are done under conditions which prevent the best efficiency, which could be got in the summer, but we, unfortunately, have to do the works which are best efficiency, which could be got in the summer, but and in the place in which distress is most evident. We have to use for those periods not the men whom a contractor or anyone else, even a public authority, would choose for the purpose; we have to use for those works the men who are in distress, because they are in distress.
It is often suggested that in using men of that kind, men who had become in many cases semi-unemployable, that we were not getting the best results. We recognise it. That is one of our difficulties. But the biggest purpose of the Unemployment Vote, the main and outstanding purpose, is not to do works for the sake of doing works. Efficiency or performance is not, unfortunately, to be judged by the correctness of the works, to be judged purely and simply from the material standpoint; it has to be judged from the point of view that this money belongs to the poor and is to go to them in the place and at the times of their necessities. Within those limitations, we try to get, and are bound to get for the State, the highest possible efficiency that we can get.
I believe the highest obligation I owe to all those who work on schemes of this character is one to enable them to believe that within the amount of money at our disposal each of them is receiving relatively to every other man a fair deal and, secondly, so to ensure by the organisation and the supervision of those works that every man, when he draws his pay, knows he has earned it, has a complete right to it, with no inferiority complex in relation to that money compared to any other money that he can earn from any other source. When I have discharged that obligation, I feel that I have discharged to the House and to the people who provide the money all the moral and the material obligations that are involved.
Mr. Hogan: I have been asked by Deputy Norton to move the reference back :—“That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.” As I listened to the Parliamentary secretary, I could not help recalling the answer given by the mad Dane in that inimitable play of Shakespeare, when Hamlet was asked what he read. He said “Words, words, words.” We have been treated to a feast of them this evening, a feast of words, and then all this is over, those of us who are in intimate contact with the situation will have to go back and face the grim reality of the position. When all cant and hypocrisy are finished we will have to face the grim reality of the underpaid, the underfed, the unemployed and those in absolute want at the moment. There is something rancid in the whole administration of the Department over which the Parliamentary Secretary is the political head, something so rancid that the vapours that arise from his indiscretions threaten to choke and pollute the entire activity of the Government.
On any of the activities in which the Board of Works are concerned, I would be quite satisfied in moving the reference back of this Vote. I could take any of them, and any Deputy who has experience of the Office of Public Works, because of the policy of that office and the policy of the Government as indicated by the activities of the Parliamentary Secretary, could with justice move the reference back of this Vote. The entire social policy of the Government is on trial in the administration of this Estimate, and I want to emphasise that, because they have entrusted to a man who is eminently unsuited for the position, the obligation of finding suitable work and giving suitable pay to those whom he employs.
Take the major drainage schemes alone connected with his administration. In my county, there are half a dozen of these. The county council was asked to take them over, but our chief executive engineer would not allow the county council to take them over because they are not completed.  with one exception, by the Parliamentary Secretary's Department. There is only one scheme which is in a proper condition to be taken over by the Clare County Council. Our engineer will not allow us to take over the others. What was the condition of employment on these major schemes for which the Parliamentary Secretary is responsible? We were told six years ago, flippantly, that is was agricultural work. We were told that the workers on these schemes were not entitled to unemployment insurance stamps because it was agricultural work. When it was being circulated amongst the workers of the Fergus drainage scheme that I was responsible for withholding the unemployment insurance stamps from them, I had an opportunity of seeing wading waist-deep in water. The Parliamentary Secretary smiles. He went to the bridge; he did not go on the bank; he went to the bridge crossing the river.
Mr. Hogan: I saw the work being carried out and I want to indicate in regard to what the Parliamentary Secretary said six years ago was agricultural work that a High Court judge some four or six weeks ago said he was surprised that it should ever be contended that work on these major schemes was ever to be considered as agricultural work.
I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary what arrangement he is making to see that unemployment insurance stamps—stamps that are due to these men—are being put on for these men; what arrangements he is making to see that these stamps are being provided for them so that they may get what the State owes them in the matter of unemployment insurance.
Mr. Hogan: I did expect that the Parliamentary Secretary would think that he should not obey the order of the court because it was retrospective. In other words, because the Parliamentary Secretary and his Department were so stupid at the time that they could not discriminate between agricultural work and navvy work, these men have to be done out of what they are legally entitled to on the word of a High Court judge. Take the minor relief schemes. They are still treated as agricultural work, and the rotational system is the employment on them. The Parliamentary Secretary told us that there was no complaint from those people employed on the rotational schemes— very little complaint. What is the good of complaining? What is the use of writing to the Department? What is the use of asking the Parliamentary Secretary to give consideration to these matters when he has already made up his mind, as he said a few moments ago, that the rotational system has come to stay. It has come to stay, perhaps longer than the Parliamentary Secretary himself will stay. There is only one way, then, to get rid of the rotational system, if the existence of the rotational system is going to be coterminous with the existence of the Parliamentary Secretary as a Parliamentary Secretary, and that is to shift the Parliamentary Secretary, and the sooner the Government does that the better it will be for the country and the Government.
Mr. Hogan: With regard to the rotational scheme, the Parliamentary Secretary cooed like a dove here a few moments ago. Has he ever thought of the injustice he is doing these men with reference to the number of hours they work? He knows that his colleague,  the Minister for Industry and Commerce, brought in a Conditions of Employment Bill which is now on the Statute Book. He knows that the Conditions of Employment Bill set out that men are only to work a 48-hour week, and he knows that, under the scheme he has initiated and is carrying through, these men on the rotational scheme are working a 54-hour week up a six-day basis. On the basis of six days' employment they are working a 54-hour week, and they are deprived of the short day that those people who are in weekly employment get. Of course, the Parliamentary Secretary is not concerned about that. His whole outlook, his whole economic outlook, is so twisted and turned that he can never see the point of view of the man who is seeking employment and is getting it under his Department.
I said that I could make a case for the reference back of this Vote on any of the activities of the Parliamentary Secretary's Department, but there is one glaring example of the ineptitude and gross injustice of his Department on which anybody could make a case for the reference back of this Vote, and that is his gross mismanagement of the labour trouble at the Rhynana airport. We know that this Dáil authorised the Minister for Industry and Commerce to initiate this project. We were told by the Minister for Education, who was Acting Minister for Industry and Commerce on that occasion—his statement will be found in column 2360 of Volume 63 of the Parliamentary Debates—that:
“The capital of the joint company will be subscribed and held as to 51 per cent. by the United Kingdom company, 24½ per cent. by the Canadian company, and 24½ per cent. by the Saorstát company. The control of commercial, technical and operating matters will be secured to the United Kingdom company through its majority stockholding and through the medium of the articles of association of the joint company, subject to the superior jurisdiction of the board of directors on question of major policy.”
I do not know what was operating in the mind of the Minister for Education when he said that it was not in the same category as the setting up of a new industry. I would take it as meaning that it was not to be based on the starvation wages on which some of the industries of this country are set up at the moment; that it was an international facility and that, if we in this State are to provide international facilities, we ought at least to pay those who do the major portion of the work in providing these international facilities something like decent wages. It has been denied that there is any international money or international finance involved in this adventure. We have been told by experts in high finance involved in this adventure. We finance concerned. Well, I am not going to argue the matter here, but I believe there is, and I believe that the very statement of the Minister for Education, who was Acting Minister for Industry and Commerce on the occasion, is positive proof that there is international finance concerned in the erection of the Rhynana airport. Be that as it may, however, and whether there is international finance concerned or not, national finance, in providing such major facilities, should be able to pay a decent wage to those whom it employs. At first, the men who were put on this scheme were paid 27/- a week. On that occasion I visited the place and found some of these men wading thigh-deep and waist-deep in water. The Parliamentary Secretary can very well be assured that, on the one occasion on which he visited it, the officials took particular care that these men were not doing the wading when he was about.
Mr. Hogan: I know perfectly well that the Parliamentary Secretary would not be concerned even if he were there when the waist-deep and thigh-deep wading had to be done, but arrangements were made with regard to the particular work that was being done when the Parliamentary Secretary was on the spot.
Mr. Hogan: I am not prepared to accept the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary. I will be just as well prepared to accept the statement of the officials themselves. As a protest against their degradation by giving them this wage, the men went  on strike, and after some time an increased wage of 5/- was given by the Board of Public Works. As a result of the public attention focussed upon this starvation wage by the strike of the workers, the Board of Public Works were forced to advance the wages by 5/- per week. Since that date we have had two other strikes, and now I want to emphasise it for those people who think they can lecture the workers as to what they should do and should not do. Nobody visited the workers at Rhynana and asked them to strike. Nobody visited them and suggested to them to strike. They were not deluded, deceived or cajoled by anybody. Their action was apure supontaneous one in reply to the degradation that was being imposed upon them by the Parliamentary Secretary in the wages they were getting.
I want to deal in some detail with the strike that has just closed so that the House will get a true picture of what happened, and so that the country will get a true picture of the social policy of the Government. We have indicated for us in Article 45 of the Constitution, this wonderful document which we were told was going to mean not alone the political but the social emancipation of the country, what are termed the directive principles of social policy. No court, of course, can enforce them. There is no power resident in any court or tribunal in the land to enforce them. In Article 45, which we are told is to be one of the guiding principles of the Government in dealing with social matters, we find it says:—
“That the citizens (all of whom, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate mens of livelihood) may through their occupations find the means of making reasonable provision for their domestic needs.”
Keeping that in mind, let us see what happened at the air base in Rhynana. As a directive principle, let us see how that pointed the way for the Parliamentary Secretary, and for those in higher positions than the Parliamentary Secretary, in dealing with the  matter of Rhynana. Last February the men employed at Rhynana, through their organisation, asked for an improvement in the wages they were getting. The reply from the Parliamentary Secretary, of from the Department of which he is the political head, was that no improvement would be made in the rate of wages paid to the workers at that air base. I want to emphasise that the letter was written on behalf of the men by the organisation, and that a direct refusal was given by the Board of Public Works that no improvement would be made in the wages.
Strike notice was served on the Board of Public Works, and between the serving of the strike notice and the coming out of the men on strike, no action of any kind was taken by the Board of Public Works. That also is entitled to underlining in this discussion. It is entitled to underlining when people assert that it is not by striking that anything is got from the Board of Public Works, that it is by negotiation that things are got; but when an application was made to the Board of Public Works for an increase that application was turned down, and when strike notice was served no notice was taken of it by the Board of Public Works. During the 11 weeks of the strike not one action was taken by the Board of Public Works to initiate negotiations of any kind. The workers themselves wrote a letter to the Board of Public Works, and they wrote a letter to An Taoiseach. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance replied to the letter that was addressed to An Taoiseach, and so that the generosity and the munificence and all the rest of it of this Government of Ireland would be known the world over, the Parliamentary Secretary's letter was handed to the Press Bureau so that it might be broadcast. It was broadcast. Even the English Press had it, and I wonder was he proud of it if he read it in the English Press. That was the reply sent by the Parliamentary Secretary to the letter addressed to An Taoiseach. The workers wrote to An Taoiseach asking that a deputation would be received. They were  told by An Taoiseach that no deputation would be received; that he had seen the Parliamentary Secretary's letter and that he was satisfied with the terms of it.
Now, I am emphasising all this in face of the fact that an effort is being made to put the men in the wrong and to say that they were not in favour of negotiation and that an attempt was made to cajole and deceive them. All that time the Board of Works, or any of those who are endeavouring to speak for them now, had an opportunity of intervening, but never did. A meeting was called in Ennis by Father Hamilton, one of the curates in the town. It was attended by public men of all political shades, and a deputation was appointed to call upon the Parliamentary Secretary and upon the Taoiseach with reference to this dispute. These men made investigations, and they were told that no deputation would be received and that no action would be taken until the men went back to work. Now, I want to stress that point because it indicates very clearly the attitude of the Government and the attitude of the parliamentary Secretary towards men who feel that they have a right and a necessity to go on strike. Strike action is a moral action. It is action against which neither the moral low nor State law has an power. It has the sanction of the highest moral authority in the land, and it has authority in the statute books of various countries.
I want to say that the action of the Parliamentary Secretary in endeavouring to force these men back, in endeavouring to say, in effect, that we are out to smash the one powerful weapon of trades unionism in this country, was clearly the motive force behind his action and behind the action of the Government—to force these men back to work so that their decision to take strike action would be rendered ineffective and that, therefore, it could hit at trades unionism. They dare not do it in the cities. They dare not do it in Dublin. Cork, Limerick or Waterford, where scientific trade unionism is in operation. They knew that, in Clare, trade unionism had not reached that  standard of scientific co-ordination and combination that is desirable. They knew that it was only the spirit of trade unionism that maintained these men for 11 weeks. It is very creditable that the high principles for which trade unionism stands held them together for 11 weeks and kept them united to resist the autocracy of the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government he represents. It is no harm to stress that because of dome trade unionists who swallow slogans at election times and may one day realise that a dictator has got into the saddle and that trade unionism has got to take its place behind him.
Mr. Hogan: My metaphors are understandable. My figures of speech are few, and, if I were to create a figure of speech to describe the Parliamentary Secretary, it would not be at all mixed. He would think it very clear. While an attempt was being made to open negotiations, and while an attempt was being made to get these workers something like a decent wage, this Republican Parliamentary Secretary of a Republican Fianna Fáil Government allowed about half a dozen English blacklegs to come in to work at the Rhynana air base. He allowed half a dozen London blacklegs to come into this pure republic and to work in the places vacated by the workers of the County clare. The Parliamentary Secretary may be able to deal with that when he is making his next Republican pronouncement. These men worked under police protection. I do not know whether or not there will be an extra charge on the local authority for them, but, if there is, the fault will be with the Parliamentary Secretary.
What were the conditions against which these men revolted? Three strikes do not occur for nothing. Three spontaneous strikes on the part of the  men, with no influence used of any kind, do not occur without reason. I challenge anybody to prove, either at a public meeting or at a public meeting of the men concerned, that any attempt was made to cajole, delude or deceive the men into going on strike, or that any promise of negotiation was held out to them by anybody in authority in the county or elsewhere. That challenge goes to anybody who endeavours to send that whisper into the minds of the men concerned. What were the conditions against which the men revolted? Thirty-two shillings a week, with broken time operating. There are two ways of regarding a workman. One way is to regard him as a mere machine, a commodity on the market, obeying the usual law of supply and demand, and giving him sufficient energy to keep him going as long as you want him. That is the attitude of the Parliamentary Secretary towards the human workers employed at Rhynana. It is the attitude of the Government he represents. Even regarding the men as a commodity, the Parliamentary Secretary failed in his duty towards these men. He failed to give them sufficient to provide them with energy to carry on.
Let us see what was the condition of affairs so far as the supply of food was concerned and so far as the energising of this commodity on the market was concerned. I am leaving out of account altogether the other way of dealing with the workman. I am leaving out of account the consideration of him as a human being which would put him on a higher plane. Of course, that was not considered. Let us take the figures given by the Irish Trade Journal for March, 1938. In mid-February, 1938, the figures for food were: beef (sirloin), 1/2½; shoulder, 10d.; mutton (leg), 1/3; neck, 9d.; bacon (Irish streaky), 1/7½; shoulder, ½; pig's head, 5½d.; creamery butter, 1/3¾; farmer's 1/2¾; milk, 5¼d. quart bread, 5¾d. per two lb. loaf; flour, 2/8 a stone; potatoes, 9d. a stone; tea, 2/8 a stone; sugar, 3¼d. lb.; jam, 10¾d. I have not included any commodity that a working-class family might not need some of at some time or other. If the  machines were to be energised to carry on the work which was to be done at Rhynana, the workman would need some of the food items I have read out. I have prepared a household budget which may show what it would be necessary for a workman with a few dependents to receive in order to carry on even as a machine doing the work that the Board of Works requires him to do. The budget is as follows; bread, per week, 7/-; potatoes, three stones, ?; tea, half lb., ¼; sugar, half stone, 2/-; dinner of meat for the week, 10/-; butter, three lbs., 3/7; milk, 3/-; flour, half stone, ¼; coal, 2/8; light, 1/-; soap, 1/-; rent, 4/-; incidentals, 1/-; soap, a total of 40/-. How could a workman working at Rhyana at 32/-, with broken time, keep a household even at that starvation level? That is a starvation level. I have purposely mapped it out to show what was the nearest to starvation a workman could go to even as a mere commodity on the market.
The Parliamentary Secretary gave very interesting figures to show what he considered was capable of maintaining a workman. He said that, at the air base at Rhynana, they had hutments erected and, at these hutments, food and lodging would be provided, the total amount for a man per week being 15/3. I gave a description in this House before of the food the man was to get, but I think it is no harm to repeat it—for breaklast and tea, a pint of tea and a slice of bread and one sausage; dinner, half lb. of beef, seven ounces of cabbage, two lbs. of potatoes and eight ounces of bread; that, with a cubicle, to cost the workman 15/3. That man had to cycle, perhaps, from Ennis, Sixmilebridge or Killeshin and he may have left a wife and three children at home. After paying 15/3 for the cubicle and the food at Rhynana and 1/9 for his national health and unemployment insurance, he is left with about 15/3 to send home for the maintenance of his wife and family.
The wife and family at home had to deal out in four parts what the man got at Rhynana. She had 15/3 to deal  with, the sum the man at Rhynana was paying for his food and lodging. She had to make four divisions of the sausage, four divisions of the cut of bread, four divisions of the pint of tea, four divisions of the half pound of beef, four divisions of the cabbage, and four divisions of the potatoes. Night, noon and morning she had to be squaring and cutting up the food for her children and herself. That was the condition on which the Parliamentary Secretary wanted to erect this international air facility at Rhynana. The Parliamentary Secretary, of course, would not allow any such amenities as tobacco, papers, or a visit to the pictures.
I said that there was a higher conception of the working man than the conception of him as a commodity. There is the conception of him as a human being, with rights, privileges and responsibilities, and if that is to be conceded to him, what are the wages he should receive? We are told by the highest Catholic authority that he should get a wage that would keep him in decent frugal comfort. That may be something which the Parliamentary Secretary could not put into figures, something that he could not calculate, but let me give him an extract from a statement made by a leading divine of another Church. “I suggest,” this leading Protestant divine said, “£3 10s. weekly is a living wage for a man and a wife and four children, and £4 for a man and a wife and six children.” We have there the two greatest moral authorities in this country. We have the moral authority of the Pope in respect of the Catholics, and the statement of a leading Protestant divine, in respect of wages, and they make their statements on the basis of the conception of a working man, not as a commodity, but as a human being. Let me take one who is probably nearer to the Parliamentary Secretary's heart—an employer. Let me take what Mr. Rowntree said. “Employers,” he said, “should pay every worker a reasonable living wage. My human-needs figure to-day is 53/6, and the minimum wage for a single woman should be 30/-. Regardless of what other firms in the same industry are paying, the minimum  should be paid, if possible, and capital should take no surplus profits until that is done.”
We were told that this work approximated to agricultural or drainage work. I have pointed out that the Parliamentary Secretary told us before that drainage on the Fergus was agricultural work, until a High Court judge decided against him, and possibly, we will have to wait now until somebody of equal authority decides against him in reference to the work being carried on at Rhynana. He says that the wages approximate to the drainage rate, and who fixes the drainage rate in the reference to the major drainage schemes in the country? The Parliamentary Secretary himself; so that in telling us that it more than approximates to or is better than the drainage rate he is simply telling us that Mr. Hugo Flinn is better than the Parliamentary Secretary. If he takes it in relation to other works of a somewhat similar nature, he will find that it falls far below what they are paying. He knows himself that the contractor who was making the concrete road up to the very air base was paying more than he was paying; he knows that the Electricity Supply Board in the area pays more; he knows that the local contractors erecting houses in the various districts pay more; and he knows that the county council pays more in the districts. Knowing all that, the Parliamentary Secretary refused to negotiate until the men went back to work, refused to negotiate until he made his attempt to break trade unionsim where he thought it was weakest.
 The Parliamentary Secretary has won for the present. He has driven the men back to work. For the time being they have been forced to abandon the strike, and the wonder is that they were capable of holding out so long. I should like to remind him that this attempt of his to break trade unionism, and to break the spirit of the men, was tried before. It was tried by probably a stronger combination than he can command, but it failed, and it drew an invective from one of Ireland's noblest poets and philosophers which will live long beyond the time any action or words of the Parliamentary Secretary will live in this country. With reference to the attempt that was made to break trade unionism in this country in 1913, Mr. George Russell says:
“You determined deliberately, in cold anger, to starve out one-third of the population of this city, to break the manhood of the men by the sight of the suffering of their children. We read in the Dark Ages of the rack and thumb-screw. But these iniquities were hidden and concealed from the knowledge of men in dungeons and torture-chambers. Even in the Dark Ages humanity could not endure the sight of such suffering, and it learnt of such misuses of power by slow degrees, through rumour, and when it was certain it razed its bastilles to their foundations... Your insolence and ignorance of the rights conceded to workers universally in the modern world were incredible, and as great as your inhumanity. If you had between you collectively a portion of human soul as large as a three-penny bit, you would have sat night and day with the representatives of Labour, trying this or that solution of the trouble, mindful of the women and children, who at least were innocent of wrong against you. But no! You reminded Labour”—
—“you could always have your three square meals a day while it went  hungry... You may succeed in your policy and ensure your own damnation by your victory. The men whose manhood you have broken will loathe you, and will always be brooding and scheming to strike a fresh blow. The children will be taught to curse you. The infant being moulded in the womb will have breathed into Its starved body the vitality of hate. It is not they— it is you who are blind Samsons pulling down the pillars of the social order.”
That applied very effectively to the men who tried to do that damage to the social order in 1913. It applies with greater force to the Parliamentary Secretary and to the Government which he represents in this House to-day.
Colonel Ryan: If I were satisfied that the Parliamentary Secretary was serious in those pious words and phrases of his, if I thought he was serious in his ideas about the social welfare of the people about whom be was speaking, I would hardly have a word to say on this matter this evening, but knowing the work of the Board of Works even before I came into this House and since I came in here I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary was serious. I think they were empty words, empty phrases, with the idea of gulling the public in regard to the great work which the Board of Works, like many other Departments, were doing here. This year the Estimate for this Department is about £1,500,000. Last year it was about £1,000,000. It is due to the taxpayers that this money should be spent in a proper and well-meaning way. Was it spent in that way? I have in mind one scheme which was carried out in may county at a place called Liscoveen, near the Horse and Jockey. A bog was drained there, and a road was made. If somebody had been brought from China or Peru to carry out that scheme I am sure it would have been better done. The extraordinary thing was that there were a couple of miles of bog, and the one portion of it which did not badly need draining was the portion which  was drained. A canal about a mile long was sunk. We are told by the Parliamentary Secretary that he is out for the physical and mental welfare of the workers. Whatever may be the amount of unemployment in November, or December or January, I say that it is not for the physical or mental welfare of a man to put him at work in a bog in the depth of winter at a wage of 24/- a week. In many cases, they would not earn two-thirds of that amount, but even if they were to earn £2 a week it is no place to send men to work if you have their physical or mental welfare at heart. I know what work in a bog is like; it is quite enough to put any man off his head. Unless a man was very hungry and destitute he would not go to work in a bog in the depths of winter. I say that the matter is more serious because the work was of no value to the taxpayers, and of hardly any value to the people who cut turf in that bog. What was even worse, the scheme was promulgated by the Fianna Fáil club; the part of the bog which was in a much worse state was left untouched, and in order to satisfy political influences this particular portion of the work was carried out. Most of the people dealing with it had very little idea of bog work. I do not know who was responsible; I do not know whether it was the local engineers or the Board of Works engineers, but I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to send some special engineer to that bog to see the work that has been done.
Now, with regard to bogs in general, I suppose most of that work comes under the Turf Development Board. I think about £30,000 is voted annually for turf development. I do not know if I am right in that figure, but I think it is frightful waste of money. Before this Turf Development Board came into existence, we produced much more turf. We have tried to open up new bogs under the Parliamentary Secretary's guidance, but the old bogs where men made a good living out of cutting and selling turf have become derelict. Nothing has been done for them. The idea is to try to provide employment in certain places here and there. In regard to the work of the Turf  Development Board. I hold that the areas which were producing turf previously should be the first to be helped. They should be helped to produce more turf. There would then be a much greater chance of development. What has happened since the Turf Development Board, under the Parliamentary Secretary, came into existence is that bogs which were producing a lot of turf have now almost stopped producing it. Why? I cannot, of course, attribute it to the Parliamentary Secretary; I can attribute it to economic conditions, but because of those economic conditions the people who were making their livings out of those bogs for generations should have been assisted by the Turf Development Board. They were not so assisted. I want to refer to the case of a bog which supplies a large area of Tipperary on the borders of Leix and Offaly. There is an old lane there, along which horses and carts might go if it was repaired. Several inspectors went there from the Turf Development Board. A report was made some years ago. The last inspector went there from Maryboro' about 12 months ago . He told the people there that he was reporting favourably on the matter. I wonder what kept that inspector from doing so? One reason was that the people interested in that road were not members of the Fianna Fáil club. After all we have heard from the Parliamentary Secretary here, I should like him to inquire into that matter. If he wishes, any day on which he is passing on the main road from Dublin to Cork I will show him the bog I speak of. I certainly hold that there was political pulling in regard to that matter.
Mr. Flinn: I shall be very happy to visit the bog with the Deputy. But that is not the question. The question is whether he can produce any evidence to support the allegation which he has now made that there was political pressure in regard to that matter. I should be very glad to have that evidence.
Colonel Ryan: Very well. Some three months ago I asked a question in this House; I asked the Parliamentary Secretary if he would let me know the relief schemes which had  been approved of in my own constituency. He told me he could not do so, that it would entail too much trouble. Some time ago, I was notified that I could have from the Board of Works a list of the relief works intended to be done in my county if I applied for it. I did apply, and I got a letter back giving me all the electoral districts and the number of relief works in each case. After talking to my constituents and going through it for a couple of weeks I sent that back with an inquiry as to the special areas I wanted to know about. I got an acknowledgment of that, but it has not been returned to me.
I think it is unfair to Deputies that they cannot get all the information they want. I hold it is very unfair that some committee at a cross-roads should know all about a relief scheme before we do. I think the Parliamentary Secretary or his officials might let us know about relief schemes in our constituencies, as I think we might be of great help to him in connection with them. That is one thing about which I would press the Parliamentary Secretary. As I said, he refused to give me information as to the number of approved works when I asked a question in this House. As representing a constituency, I think I am entitled to know what is taking place in that constituency. I am entitled to know if someone applies to have something done in any part of the country. I am as much entitled to that as any Deputy on the other side. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to let Deputies have more information in future as to the works that he intends to carry out. I think that we on this side of the House, as well as Deputies on the other side, could be of great help so far as any work that is necessary to be done in any county is concerned.
With reference to the bog I was talking about, I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will come to see it with me, as I with many others could be of great help in that matter. The money would not be wasted as it is at present, with the exception of a very small sum, if somebody locally was acquainted about it other  than a few people who had an interest in that bog and who were of his way of thinking in politics. Dealing with the matter of giving men employment in the Winter months, I say that where a job has to be done in a bog it is not good for the men either mentally or physically to have to work there in the Winter. Why not give them this employment in the Summer time? In my district we have enough of unemployed in the Summer time to give them this work and then give them unemployment assistance in the Winter.
I also suggest that there should be more co-operation between the local authorities and the Board of Works. These men whom I referred to, and who were up to their knees in mud for three months during the Winter in this bog near the Horse and Jockey, were in the month of April taken away from that by the county council engineers and put at raising stones in a quarry and doing other work which could be done in the Winter. As I say, there ought to be some co-operation in regard to matters like that.
There is another matter which calls for immediate attention and that is that when the unemployed get two or three days work on relief schemes, it is two or three weeks and sometimes four weeks before they get unemployment assistance again. They cannot go back the following week and draw the unemployment assistance benefit. These men are living from hand to mouth trying to keep body and soul together. For the last couple of years they have been practically hungry most of the time. There ought to be some arrangement made between the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who has charge of the Labour Exchanges, so that that matter will be remedied. When these men stop work they ought to receive unemployment assistance the following week. It is a more serious thing even than the weekly wage. These people, who have not got any credit in shops, and who have no money,  when they work in a quarry or bog and draw 24/-, ought to be able to get the unemployment assistance benefit the next week. I understand that the explanation for the delay is that it is a protection against fraud. So far as I know, the amount involved in cases of fraud would not amount to £5 altogether so far as the Exchequer is concerned. It would be better that that £5 should be lost than that dozens of men should go hungry for weeks.
This whole rotational system of three or four days' work per week is demoralising. I agree with Deputy Hogan that the wages given are not sufficient because of the price of commodities at present. The whole system, as I say, is causing demoralisation amongst the workers who work on these schemes. It is a most degrading system, because the men have become cunning. Decent workers who were in the habit of doing a full day's work for a full day's pay have become cunning. They hate doing the job, because they are not paid enough. They are sometimes half hungry, and they are wet and cold, and all this has made them cunning, so that a terrible system of demoralisation has set in amongst the workers. I say that the Parliamentary Secretary, with the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Local Government, is to a certain extent responsible. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into that, and try to remedy that state of affairs, and see that men do a full day's work and get a decent day's pay. It would be cheaper for the State to give better wages and get a decent day's work out of these men. For a long time these people were given unemployment assistance. It was not enough to keep body and soul together. It was not enough to keep starvation away. Eventually, they had to find some means of implementing that. They caught a couple of rabbits with a snare, or killed them with dogs, and in that way supplemented the 12/- or 13/- they were receiving. In any event, they found some means of supplementing it, and they just lived.
Now, the rotational system has practically killed all that. Poor men, who had pawned or sold their bicycles,  have to go three or four miles to work, and in many cases they go to work hungry. I was glad to hear that, at any rate, these men will be paid weekly in future. Formerly, they went hungry for two or three or four weeks. That was another cause of demoralisation. Every move you made, although I believe you did it with the best intentions, helped to demoralise a great number of poor people in this country —those people whom you told that when you got into office they would always be in receipt of a good day's pay, and would be well off in future. I ask you to try and get back to what was in your mind in those times, and try to do something better for these people through your relief schemes. I also say that no political pressure of any kind ought to be able to get a scheme carried out in any place. It should be above board. As I stated earlier, we, as representatives of the people, are entitled to know about schemes in our own constituencies. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary again not to allow some hole-and-corner crowd, at the dictation of somebody else, to fix any particular scheme in any constituency. We have had enough of that, in my county at least. We have had enough of trouble, in connection with one particular committee, about land. The Parliamentary Secretary should not allow the same thing to go on in connection with his Department. It is going on to his knowledge, and to the knowledge of his Party. It is being done for political purposes, and I would appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to stop it in future. We are all prepared to co-operate and assist him in stopping it.
I think that in the relations between the Local Government Department, the Board of Works and the Department of Industry and Commerce, there should be closer co-ordination. There is overlapping of all kinds between these three Departments at present. There would be much more employment, and employment of a better type, provided at the right time, if that co-ordination took place. While we have the Local Government Department sometimes working in conjunction with the Board of Works, we also have them working  independently, and then the Department of Industry and Commerce governs the employment exchanges. The activities of these three Departments should be co-ordinated, especially so far as relief works and schemes of that kind are concerned. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into the matter so as to avoid having an officer of the county council doing one thing for the county council and another thing for the Board of Works. Whoever is in charge of the labour exchange sometimes cuts across even what that officer does. In one case, to my own knowledge, there were about five gangers in charge of 30 or 40 men. That came about in this way. A grant was given for relief works by the Parliamentary Secretary and the county council engineer employed the ordinary cycling ganger. There was another ganger in charge of another set of men. A further ganger got in from the labour exchange, and in the end there were five gangers in charge of about 40 men, with the result that there was continual controversy amongst the gangers. They were all up against the new man brought in and there was continual argument. I know what I am speaking about as I have been an eye-witness of it.
Colonel Ryan: I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to take steps to prevent the thing happening again. I would also impress upon him that, in the matter of drainage of rivers, there should be a little more cohesion between the engineer he sends down from the Board of Works and the engineer who inspects the river on behalf of the local authority. I have one case in mind, the case of the Ballybeg drainage scheme, where the engineer from the Board of Works made an estimate of £4,000 odd. The officer acting on behalf of the local body estimated that the scheme would cost £1,000. In fact there was a difference of a mile in the length of the river between them. I think that should not be the case. If the engineer of the public body has anything to do with it, the Parliamentary Secretary should be as concerned with his report in the matter as he is with the report of his own engineer. where there is such a wide discrepancy in the estimates on a small scheme such as I have mentioned, there should be some investigation to know who is wrong.
I should also like to call attention to the drainage scheme carried out on the Black River. Before such a scheme is carried out again, I believe that the Board of Works should see that no terrible injury will be inflicted on a large number of people. In the case of the Black River, a certain amount of good was done, but a large amount of that good was nullified by the amount of damage done from the point where the drainage was stopped to the mouth of the Suir. A considerable amount of damage will be caused in that area, and although the cost of the scheme will be heavy before the job is finished, you will be faced in the course of a few years with a much greater job, a job that whatever Government is in office will have to carry out. Something will have to be done unless you are going to allow a considerable acreage to be destroyed and considerable damage to be inflicted on certain people.
I hope the Parliamentary Secretary above all things will see that there is fair dealing for all sections. I am firmly convinced that at the moment  there is not that fiar dealing. I want him to see that working people especially are fairly dealt with. It is dangerous for a working man at present to shout “Up this or that.” If he does not shout “Up Fianna Fáil” there is a great danger that he will be victimised.
Mr. Flinn: Would allow me, Sir, to intervene for just one moment, lest something the Deputy has said might cause misapprehension. He made a certain statement in relation to men who, having worked, go back to the labour exchange. The law is that if a man is six weeks in continuous employment he does not automatically return. There is a waiting week. If he works less than six weeks he automatically goes back to the labour exchange. In certain cases last year works were allowed to go on under conditions in which men did work more than six weeks. In that case they ran up against up waiting week, but this year provision has been made to avoid, as far as it is humanly possible, that waiting week. If the Deputy or anybody else knows of any case in which a man has been improperly deprived of anything due to him in that way, we shall be glad to hear of it.
Mr. T. Murphy: I think there was a special note of jubilation in the voice of the Parliamentary Secretary when introducing this Estimate. After some reflection I concluded that that was because of the very notable victory he secured recently. The Parliamentary Secretary came to the House  this evening with the voice of a con quering hero. One could almost see on his brow the laurels that have accrued to him from the very notable victory secured in Clare. Of course we had his notable statement that the men had returned to work, that all was well, and that there was no untoward incident. That was solemnly re-echoed in the evening from the broadcasting station, in order to assure the public there was peace in Clare, and that the Parliamentary Secretary had secured the victory he set out to secure. Hard on that we had his fellow Parliamentary Secretary lamenting the very wayward line taken by workers in Clare, because of the wicked mischievous agitators that led them along the wrong road. These wicked labour agitators, who were alleged to be responsible for the strike that took place there, came in for a very severe castigation. One's mind goes back to the time when the British Government used to allege that all would be well with the farmers and the working people if the agitators left them alone. It is a rather peculiar and ironical repetition of that line of argument, that it should be used in the present connection. I venture to say that behind the story of this victory, and behind the outward jubilation and exultation over the workers in Clare, lies a very sad story, the story of men who, after a number of weeks, were forced back by the brutal methods of economic starvation, or by impending starvation, to accept wages and conditions against which they were in revolt. Unfortunately, it is not a new story in this country, but that we should have it lauded and enthusiastically advocated, represents, in my opinion, a cruel want of consideration for the needs and feelings of such people.
In that connection let us for a moment leave out of the picture altogether labour agitation or jubilation in a situation of the kind. Let us put into the box a witness who might universally be considered to be impartial in this matter. The evidence of that witness is provided by a priest who lives in the district. As  far as I know Father Hamilton has had no connection with the Labour Party, or with trade union activity, but his scathing condemnation of the conditions that obtained in Rhynana, and his unmeasured denunciation of the treatment to which people were subjected there, provides the most striking indictment of the real facts in connection with this case. I think Father Hamilton has done very wide public service in denouncing in ringing terms the pretence that fair play is accorded to workers under big schemes of this kind, by a continuation of the conditions to which they are subjected. I remember reading a statement by the Parliamentary Secretary in support of the Constitution that is now the law, and with a flippancy that bordered on irreverence, he said that the Constitution had in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end, God. It seems to me that the Parliamentary Secretary is ignoring the Constitution, and has little regard for the terms in which he advocated its principles, in view of that has been advanced by a prominent and responsible churchman with regard to the conditions imposed on the workers at Rhynana. I hope that people who believe in low wages and bad working conditions, as well as the international interests that pay for that policy, will on some suitable occasion permanently commemorate the association of the Parliamentary Secretary of an Irish Government for that viewpoint. It is a commemoration that he richly deserves. I hope that aspect will not be overlooked.
The Parliamentary Secretary stated this evening that in order properly to continue to execute the policy associated with special works and relief works, it would be necessary to eradicate a great deal of the ignorance that prevails. I heartily re-echo that statement. I think there is certainly a very urgent necessity for doing so. If I might make a suggestion in addition, it is that there is still a more urgent necessity, and that is entirely to eradicate the presence of the Parliamentary Secretary from any association with works of this kind. It seems to me his  view is to have these works carried out purely on a business-like basis. He spoke of the alternative, to put up works of this kind for competition, and of the possibility, in certain cases, of putting them up for competitive tenders by contract. He talked of a situation where the determining factor would be the physical fitness of persons selected to carry out such works. I grant that he said that that was not possible in certain circumstances, but it seemed to me that was the idea he had in mind. Surely it does not need any emphasis to know what a fallacy that viewpoint is, having regard to the position of people who are unfortunate enough to be called upon to offer themselves for work of the kind, and to accept whatever terms are flung to them for doing it. It was suggested here on one occasion that if any people urged the working people to believe that they were not being fairly treated in regard to the wages standard provided by the Office of Public Works, they would be torn limb from limb. Well, 600 people in Clare, over a pretty long period, provided a striking refutation of that argument. The fact that hunger, accommodating strike breakers, a disregard of their needs by the senior representative for the constituency, and a number of other factors, failed to get them over a certain period to realise how grateful they ought to be to the Parliamentary Secretary, in permitting them to work, seems to me to prove quite clearly, that he is living in a fool's paradise, if he does not think that there are feelings of revolt and bitterness amongst a vast volume of workers who had to submit to conditions of the kind. I do not propose here this evening, Sir, to discuss this Vote in its details. There are objections to aspects of the policy of the Office of Public Works that I could enumerate, but I propose to address my remarks to the general policy associated with the carrying through of the Vote, to the coldly cynical manner in which problems where human sympathy is needed more than anything else were ignored and forgotten by the Parliamentary Secretary.
Now, if there is one thing the Parliamentary Secretary would like us to  believe more than any other, it is that, in connection with the execution of schemes under this Vote, there is a definite plan of operation. I wonder. I wonder how and in what way the ultimate selection of suitable works very often arises. I would have thought that works advocated by a local authority, works that a local authority would agree to subsidise to a certain extent, and towards which the Parliamentary Secretary had indicated his willingness to make contributions, would get a specially favourable place. I know more than one work of that kind for which the approval of the local authority was sought and in respect of which money was promised by the local authority very many months ago, 12 months ago in one case, and which have not yet been started. I am just wondering how it is that, in the coldly business-like atmosphere of the Office of Public Works, works of that kind are not being considered.
Mr. Murphy: One work is a work for the construction of a sand quay near Leap, County Cork. The other is a minor scheme in the district of Ballygurteen, rural district of Dunmanway, Country Cork. They are two I remember at the moment. There are probably some others, and if there are, particulars of them can be given afterwards.
Mr. Murphy: The Parliamentary Secretary told us this evening that this scheme of rotation of labour has come to stay. Well, I hope not, Sir, because I hope to be yet in my place here having seen the last of this scheme and having seen the last of the policy associated with the maintenance of a scheme of this kind. I consider a scheme of this kind a cruel injustice to the working people. The Parliamentary Secretary cannot evade his responsibility in the matter by saying that he is working within the limits of  the money provided by the Dáil. The Parliamentary Secretary knows as well as any of us here now that it is not within the competence of a member of this House, other than a member of the Executive Council, to enlarge financial provisions for this or any other service. There is no good in suggesting that there is a responsibility on us. The vast majority of the members of this House are precluded quite definitely from taking any effective steps towards securing that increase. We may advocate it. We may advocate the necessity for it, but, whether we advocate it or not, we know the necessity for it exists because any scheme of public works under which two or three days' work a week is all that is permitted is only some degree removed from a system of public works that used to be associated with that hideous word “pauperism” in this country—a word that I would be glad to see entirely eliminated from our vocabulary. The very stamp of the beggarly nature of relief work is carried on the face of this system. I say it is a system that must earn, and will earn, the protests of any people in this country who believe in the dignity and in the rights of the working people of the country, no matter how humble their lot is, and no matter how poor their circumstances are. No case need be made against it. I doubt if it is necessary to make any case against it. The system stands condemned on the face of it and no amount of bluster or no amount of honey intermingled with that bluster is going to make the ordinary person feel that he is getting anything like fair play under a system where that method of employment is continued. The Parliamentary Secretary suggested that the attitude of certain people to that system is that it provides little more than the payment of their unemployment assistance, and in that connection, he used a word that I regret to hear used—I do not make this case alone against the Parliamentary Secretary, because it is a word commonly used—and that is the word “dole.” I think it is detestable to use words of that kind.
Mr. Murphy: We hear very little of that from that section of the people who get a good deal for nothing, but the first moment that any money goes to the poor people, the working people, in the country, we have all these righteous people getting up and talking about the dole, and continuing to lecture us on the demoralising effect of the payment of money of that kind. I may be wronging the Parliamentary Secretary in assuming he shares that view. I hope I am.
Mr. Murphy: I think it is a word that ought not be used, and I think, in this House at least, we ought to know the term to apply to that is “unemployment assistance,” and that we ought generally share a regret that it becomes necessary in this country, 15 years after an Irish Government was established, to continue paying assistance of that kind, having failed completely to give the people the opportunities for work that would rid them of the need of having anything to do with a system of that kind.
The Parliamentary Secretary said this evening that is is not possible to provide any more. I may be forgiven if my mind goes back to a picture of the situation that would be brought about in this country whereby everybody could get plenty of work. If the Parliamentary Secretary's statement this evening tends to prove anything, it tends to prove what a hollow sham that was, and how gulled and misled the people were who believed that a system of that kind could be evolved by him and his colleagues.
We have here this evening as usual a repetition of statistics. It is all very well, addressing a number of comfortable business men after partaking of a good dinner, to talk about statistics. I submit, however, that they are very poor fare for those poor people down in West Cork and other parts of the country, whose statistics are necessarily of a very limited kind. The only statistics that matter to them are the figures they are working out as to how much can be done with 12/- after having done three days' work in a week.  They have 12/- or a little more. Certainly, it will not take very long to compute that. Somebody who handles it takes it to a shop to buy food, goes to the rent collector with a portion of it, or with portion of it provides boots for the little children who need them. Their mathematics is of a very simple kind. We have had figures about labour content, the number of persons employed in various schemes, the economic value of the schemes, and their permanent utility. These will not bring much comfort to lowly-paid workers in their unhappy position.
These people are not making very much protest, for they have realised long ago that protests in matters of this kind are futile. The workers in Rhynana realise that not alone did the Parliamentary Secretary's office refuse to intervene in this matter, but that the Department of State charged with the responsibility of settling disputes also declined to intervene. There was a conspiracy of silence on all sides and protests tended to become futile. Not much good in protesting where there is very little expectation of sympathy. That does not make the wrong less, and that will not make the retribution lighter whether that retribution be made here or elsewhere. The Parliamentary Secretary tells them they are comfortable at 4/- a day. In somewhat the same way the Minister for Finance referred to the matter—the demand in this country is more for everybody.
Surely in a State like this, functioning under a Christian Constitution from beginning to end, that is not heartily endorsed by the Parliamentary Secretary. The injustice of the present position associated with public works in this country must be manifest to all who want to examine the facts. The Parliamentary Secretary and his colleagues found some time ago that it was in the public interest to accept higher salaries. Their needs found it necessary to make heavier demands on the State. The position of the relief workers and the State employed workers whether in Rhynana or West Cork remain the same. The working man in this country is a very patient person. He has endured hard knocks  and kicks from many quarters during his lifetime. A great many of the working people are getting so many kicks that they expect nothing else. In a situation where the economic war is being talked about they know that their economic war begins in the cradle and lasts to the grave. They have the knowledge that they have no more hope to give to their children than to take their place and struggle in that economic position during their lifetime also.
I think after all the time will come when they will realise how they have been treated. I would not like to have the responsibility of certain people when that realisation becomes general all over this country. It would be regrettable that this Vote would be passed in an atmosphere where the dominating factors would be statistics and business, labour content, physical fitness and scientific knowledge in the planning of relief schemes. It would be regrettable that it should be passed in an atmosphere where little thought has been given and no remarks have been made about the human needs of the unfortunate people of the country who have to content themselves with any employment they get on relief schemes. The labourers of the country under the Amended Agricultural Labourers' Wages will be getting 27/- a week from the 23rd of this month. But there is no indication that the iniquitous wage standard associated with relief schemes has been or will be changed. It must continue to be the responsibility of those who represent workers of that kind to speak for them. They are going to speak for them in this House in the future in very much greater numbers; they are going to protest against that system; they are going to protest against that cruel viewpoint that would represent that whole business as a matter of pounds, shillings and pence, with its cost to the Revenue but with no regard to human considerations or the degradation of human beings associated with it. I certainly hope that we may see the time in this House when public works will be carried out under more humane and  generous auspices. It seems to me to be one of the needs of the working people of this country. But there will be no possibility of that until the presence of the present Parliamentary Secretary is eradicated from that Department.
Mr. Brasier: I am very much impressed by one side of the activities of this Department. That is the question of arterial drainage. Having regard to the fact that almost every work carried out under the Arterial Drainage Act of 1925 has been a suecess, I am rather concerned with the fact that the Department has curtailed seriously its activities in that direction. We may acknowledge that arterial drainage from the economic view is not perfect and that based on its actual cost it would not give an immediate return. But with the fact that you bring new lands into production, land that perhaps never before was productive, and that doing that gives an amount of employment, this is a matter that should concern the Parliamentary Secretary in rectifying any difficulties that may arise or that may come in the way of carrying it out.
I had one scheme in my own area, the Wonanagh drainage scheme. That was initiated by myself in the Cork County Council. I must say that in that place we had land that was never yet known to carry a beast. That land is now tilled and is growing crops. The success of that scheme ought to be sufficient proof to all of the value of drainage works. Several drainage schemes have been passed by the Cork County Council and have been turned down by the Board of Works because of some technical difficulty. Another reason given is because of the limitation of staff. The Parliamentary Secretary said this was a factor in his not being able to carry out schemes. It does seem an extraordinary thing that a Department that was inherited by this Government, a Department that was efficient before this State existed should now be so short of officials as not to be able to carry out schemes of public utility. I can say that any of the schemes carried out by the Department  have been thoroughly well carried out, and I know very well that we have a thoroughly efficient staff there. Why should it not be possible for the Parliamentary Secretary to bring into that Department men with sufficient technical knowledge to carry out the schemes which are awaiting sanction? It is the only Department of State that carries out public works. Any improvements that we may be able to bring about depend on their activities, and I say it is a retrograde step not to push, by every means in our power, the various schemes that would be sanctioned by their technical officials.
There is one scheme that I might draw to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary, the Minane Bridge drainage scheme, towards which he was asked to give an unemployment grant. While I am in agreement with him that it would not be possible to give an unemployment grant where there is not a sufficient labour or unemployment content in the area, still I would urge him to give serious consideration to the petition connected with the arterial drainage scheme put up by the Cork County Council. There is another scheme at Blarney which has not been dealt with, the Maglin River drainage scheme. There was a private drainage board there, but they have no money to carry out drainage, and the surrounding country is inundated with water. Then there is another scheme which was put up by the Cork County Council at Blarney. I would direct the special attention of the Department to it and I would ask them to deal with it as soon as possible. Of course some technical difficulties may crop up, but, at any rate, the place can be inspected, and I think we should get a definite answer from the Board of Works as to whether these schemes are feasible. Where the local authority puts up such schemes at least the courtesy of attention to them should be accorded by the Department.
There is one scheme to which I would like to draw attention. It is in my county council area and it concerns  the place known as the Mudlands, outside Youghal. There is a huge amount of unemployment there owing to the failure of the salmon fishing. These men are not in a position to draw unemployment assistance, and the drainage of these lands would afford a ready means of giving employment in an area where there is an overwhelming amount of it. The distress existing in that area is really tremendous, and it must have exercised the minds of the particular local authority concerned as to how to relieve it. That is one scheme that should be given immediate attention. The county surveyor has sent in his reports and the project is certainly deserving of assistance in view of the relief it will give in the matter of unemployment. Possibly a deficiency of staff may be pleaded, but that is not an excuse that should be entertained by this House. The position should not be that one Department, whose work is particularly urgent, should be able to plead that over a number of years they have not been able sufficiently to staff their various offices in order to carry out the activities connected with them. It is a reflection upon our administration that experts are not available. Where they are necessary they should be acquired.
I am interested in the question of airports. The Parliamentary Secretary is aware of the proposal to start an airport for Cobh and Cork in the neighbourhood of Midleton. There is a very excellent site there which has been approved out of nine or ten sites. I believe it can be made a tremendous success. Having regard to modern systems of travel, any portion of the country that is without airport facilities must necessarily recede into the background. You are opening airports in various parts of this country and I would respectfully suggest that the particular site in question is certainly entitled to the Parliamentary Secretary's consideration. I can venture to say that the local authorities will not be behind in making the necessary contributions, provided the Parliamentary Secretary is willing to sanction a substantial amount.
 One thing that I regret is that the drainage schemes under the 1928 Act have been abolished. I would urge the revival of those schemes. They are small drainage schemes that will bring about a considerable improvement in the quality of the land and I believe they would help very considerably the production of this country. They would bring land now unproductive into active production. It is a system that I believe would certainly do a great deal of good.
The road schemes that have been subsidised by the unemployment relief grants are doing a certain amount of good, but I would like to suggest that the amount paid under the rotational system compares unfavourably with the 35/- a week paid by the Cork County Council to their road workers. I think sympathetic consideration of the position of those men under the rotational system is necessary and is deserving of the whole-hearted support of this House. If the Borad of Works would only get more active I believe that we can deal very effectively with the unemployment position. I suggest that where experts are necessary they should be immediately provided.
Mr. Corry: There are a few matters that I wish to allude to on this Vote. Last year, when this Estimate came forward, I called the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to the position of the airport in Cork. At that time he assured me that there were difficulties in regard to the airport, and some of them were in Cork itself. He also assured me that any assistance that could be given would be given. In reply to further questions, he told me that 50 per cent. of the money was being contributed for the Dublin aerodrome and the whole lot for the one in Clare. I would like him to let us know definitely what particular branch of industry and commerce are the aerodromes supposed to serve. If it is a matter of quick transport for passengers or goods, I suggest that the premier harbour in this country is entitled to first consideration. When this House has before it an Estimate of £994,000 to provide aerodromes, I think the premier harbour  in this country is entitled to first consideration. It is now close on two years since this matter was first introduced and at that time there seemed to be enormous haste about it. Those who were evidently in the confidence of the Parliamentary Secretary and others were able to tell us about the urgeney that was required in the matter. It appeared that if Cork was not to get going quickly they would miss the tide. Sums of money were spent in bringing over experts to Cork and in examining sites and so on with a view to the picking out of a proper site for the aerodrome. Matters were ahead a certain distance, and since then we have heard nothing. I hope that when the Parliamentary Secretary is replying he will give us: No. 1, the definite uses to which these aerodromes are to be put; No. 2, the reasons, if any, why £1,000,000 of public money should be expended in putting aerodromes everywhere else except in the vicinity of the harbour where they would be of use. We are entitled at least to that information, and I hope we will get it.
One other item that I see here is a vote of £200,000, Grants for Building, Enlarging and Enclosing National Schools, etc. The same Vote was passed last year, but evidently the Parliamentary Secretary went asleep on it for 12 months, even though it was passed last year. I would certainly suggest to him that there is nothing more needed at the present day than decent schools and decent facilities in the schools, particularly in rural districts, where country children come in there in the mornings, in many instances after walking two and three and four miles in the rain and are perished all day, in many cases in leaky schools that were built a couple of hundred years ago. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary, and I sincerely hope, that before this Estimate comes before the House next year we will find that, at any rate, the greater portion of that £200,000 will have been spent. I notice that it is down here for this year, but I also noticed that it was voted last year, and it would seem that nothing was spent for 12 months.
Mr. Corry: Well, if so, it might leave the Deputy with less briefs. However, those are the two particular matters to which I wish to allude under this Vote. I understand that Vote 27 is being taken separately.
Mr. Corry: Before I leave Vote 11, I should like to make one passing remark. The Parliamentary Secretary referred to the manner in which this money is being spent and the areas in which it was being spent. I should like to call his attention to the fact that there are areas where there is a very large number of unemployed, who, unfortunately, owing to some regulation in connection with unemployment assistance, are deprived of unemployment assistance and who, owing to the unfortunate fact that fishing in the districts has proved to be a thing of the past, both for this season and last season, constitute a very severe burden on the local ratepayers. As well as that, of course, it means that these unfortunate people are in a state of semi starvation. and I urge upon the Parliamentary Secretary that, when considering relief works, he should give particular attention to those districts. They are bordering on the sea coast and the River Lee, where a considerable amount of fishing was done formerl and where a considerable number of people depend on fishing for their livelihood. Those people are in a state of starvation—I cannot describe it in any other way. They are unable to get unemployment  assistance, owing to some regulation in connection with unemployment assistance, and I suggested that the Parliamentary Secretary should pay particular attention to those areas when considering relief work. I consider that that is only fair. He has frequently pointed out to me that my constituency does not want any relief work whatsoever, but I should like to call his attention to those areas, particularly the district of Knockadoon, right on to Bally-cotton. These areas want watching over at present. There is also the area around Blackrock, in the Parliamentary Secretary's own constituency, but I am sure he will look after that himself.
I am glad, certainly, that the white elephant with which we were faced here for a considerable number of years—I refer to Haulbowline—is removed from being what the Parliamentary Secretary described last year as a nightmare. I had hoped that we would see him in better form as a result of that nightmare having been removed from his dreams. However, I an glad to see that a decent industry has been started there now that will relieve unemployment in that district. At the same time, however, I should like to call his attention to one particular items in his Vote here, and that is the renewal of the water-main. I do not think I need stress it very much. I notice it is down here as a re-Vote, and apparently £200 was spent on it last year out of £6,000 odd.
Mr. Corry: I am very glad of that, because I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will realise the necessity of having that particular matter looked after in view of the factory there. I do not think there is anything further that I wish to allude to in the Vote as it stands, but I hope that I shall hear from the Parliamentary Secretary now some definite statement as to whether we are going to get an aerodrome in Cork or not, and as to the particular reasons why this sum of £1,000,000 is being spent in other districts. There is to be an airport in Dublin, where they have to shovel the sand out of  the way for a fishing boat, not to talk of a liner to come in, but Cork, which has a first-class harbour, the importance of which is recognised the world over, is not to have one. I want to have a definite statement from the Parliamentary Secretary on that matter. If there are reasons why an aerodrome should be established in Dublin and not in Cork, let us hear them. We are entitled to hear them.
Mr. Corry: Nothing, except this, that I consider we should take into consideration that out of the taxes that are collected from the unfortunate people all over the country the biggest portion of them goes to pay the salaries of all the civil servants that you have concentrated here in Dublin. In addition, the Deputies when they come up from the country are obliged to spend their money here.
Mr. Corry: I beg his pardon. If the King of Dalkey did not enjoy the hospitality of Spike in previous years, I hope he will be enjoying it very soon. I do not propose to detain the House further, but I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will give his attention to the matters that I have mentioned.
Mr. Linehan: In view of the eloquent appeals that have been made from both sides of the House in favour of an airport at Cork, I do  not think there is any necessity for me to dwell further on that matter. I entirely agree with what has been said by Deputy Brasier and Deputy Corry. Both Deputies were in agreement for once, and that, to say the least of it, is remarkable. It is a rather amazing thing that, when we come up here, we should find it is proposed to spend over £1,000,000 in Dublin and the rest of the country on airports, while at the same time, as Deputy Corry has pointed out, the premier harbour in the country is being totally ignored. I am not sufficient of an expert on harbour facilities or airports to enter into an argument with the Parliamentary Secretary on that matter, but I do hope that he will provide another £1,000,000 to equalise the wrong that is being done to the County of Cork.
There are a few items on this Estimate that I wish to deal with. By making a few small calculations, we discover some extraordinary things in connection with this Department. We have heard from the Parliamentary Secretary his defence of the conditions in Rhynana and of his policy with regard to the wages paid there. We have heard the case made by the Labour Party on the motion to refer back the Vote. I think it is rather significant, in view of the wages paid on relief schemes—the figure I think is 24/—and the 32/- paid at Rhynana, that the sum asked for the administration of this Department should be £146,440. It is more amazing still to find that that sum is paid to, roughly, 450 people, and that 16 of them account for £13,000 of it. That is what they get. A small calculation will show a very good average there, certainly a very good average when compared with the wages paid at Rhynana. The balance of the 450 people average out a salary of £320 per annum. That is pretty nice too, when compared with the Rhynana rates.
Mr. Linehan: I do not think so. In fact, an examination of the Estimate  shows that the provision made for legal assistance is very small indeed. Possibly that is one of the reasons why there has ben so much criticism of this Department from all sides of the House. If there was a bigger provision for expert legal opinion it is quite possible that, instead of being criticised, it would be receiving compliments from all sides of the House.
There are some items on Vote No. 11 on which I should like to have some information. There is token Vote of £10 for an official residence for the President of Éire. Is it intended to build a new residence for the President or to utilise one of the large existing buildings available? I want to know that in view of the fact that the unkeep of the building described as the ex-Viceregal Lodge is estimated to cost £2,900 a year. I assume that a residence of that nature could be used as an official residence for the President instead of incurring the large expenditure that would be necessary to provide a new building. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us something about that. There is also a token Vote, for which an Estimate has not yet been made, to provide anti-gas equipment. It is quite possible that the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us something about that when replying. I wonder if that is intended to provide equipment against air raids or against political poison gas. Seriously, I am glad to see this token Vote for anti-gas precautions.
The question of our own defence, as a national entity, was dealt with in his Budget speech by the Minister for Finance to-day, as well as by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance in the recent discussions on the London Agreement. They spoke not about immediate perils I grand, but about the possible perils for this country arising out of a world conflagration, and of the possibility of this country being involved in a European war. If that situation is faced seriously, then of course, expenditure on air raid precautions will have to be undertaken in this country. Our neighbours across  the water are spending very large sums on such precautions. I find that provision is made in the British Estimates to provide every citizen in that country with a gas mask. Some people may feel that this country is not in as great danger as England from air raids, but in the event of a European war it is more than likely that cities like Dublin and Limerick, where you have the Shannon scheme, and with air ports in both, would very likely suffer heavily from aerial bombings. The Government, therefore ought to take steps to meet such a situation. Possibly, this is a matter that would arise more properly on the Vote for the Department of Defence. At the same time, I was led into speaking on it by seeing the item on this page. I seriously feel that, even though it is strictly within the ambit of the Department of Defence, the Parliamentary Secretary should convey to that Department that it is a matter will worth their attention. To another item on the same page, I must take every possible exception. Perhaps I shall be told that the item comes within the ambit of the Department of External Affairs——
Mr. Linehan: In the list of works, there is an item—No. 157—“Madrid Legation: Adaptions and Furnishing (revote).” There is a token Vote down for £10. What exactly is the position this year with regard to Madrid Legation?
Mr. Linehan: What is the present position in regard to the legation. Is there any person connected with Éire in occupation of the building in Madrid? Has the Parliamentary Secretary any information as to whether the building in Madrid is standing or not? Is it the intention of the Éire Government to preserve the building in Madrid for the use of a legation from Éire to the present Spanish Government? Rather than meet with your displeasure by going further into that matter, I want to say that, whatever aout the other items in this Vote, and whatever about my views on the motion to refer back, if only a single penny were to be spend for this particular purpose—to keep a building standing as a legation to the Red Government of Spain, whether we happen to have any offices there or not—I would go into the Lobby against the Vote.
Mr. Linehan: As regards minor relief schemes, I am inclined to think that on occasion there is a certain amount of wastage by the type of riad that is built. It is very hard to blame the Department for that. Possibly, the people who make application on the first occasion are to blame. One finds that new roads are being made under employment schemes which are not by any means a valuable asset. They do start from somewhere, but very often they end nowhere. One would be inclined to think that if a little more care were exercised in that particular respect, more value would be obtained. I understand that some difficulty arises about these employment schemes, because everybody in the House wants as many schemes as possible for his own area. If everybody were given all the schemes he wants, the whole Supply Vote would be eaten up. However, I think that the system of rotational work  is not satisfactory. I agree with what has been said from the Labour Benches on that point. It is a hardship on people that they should only be allowed to work three or four days a week, and earn 12/- or 14/-. I admit that that is better than nothing, and it may be the best that can be done, but I should like to see men getting a full six-day week at work and to see them kept on continuously for as long as possible without broken days. It is very hard for a man with a wife and family to exist on the proceeds of three or four days' work in the week.
Beyond that, I may be permitted to express the hope that the wishes of Deputy Corry and Deputy Brasier will be gratified and that, if the wishes of the Labout Party are not satisfied and the Parliamentary Secretary has not departed, we shall be congratulating him next year on proposing an expenditure of £1,000,000 on an airport in Cork. It might relieve the minds of a lot of Deputies opposite if the Government chose to spend some extra money in Cork, because then Cork people could earn it there instead of being forced to come up to Dublin and take the better jobs from people in that city.
Mr. Allen: I desire to refer to the question of improvement works in areas other than those where unemployment is rife. The Parliamentary Secretary and the Office of Public Works are well aware of many areas where useful public works are badly needed and nothing is being done. The Parliamentary Secretary will tell me that he must devote all this money to the relief of unemployment in areas where there is a great deal of unemployment. I think it is about time the Parliamentary Secretary slightly changed his policy in that respect. There is no reason why he should not devote all the money at his disposal— and much more if he can get hold of it —to the relief of unemployment by bringing the unemployed men into areas where a special need exists for works of public utility.
I may refer to one area in County Wexford, near New Ross, where the banks of the Barrow have been  broken, as the result, most people think, of the action of the Office of Public Works in respect of the upper reaches of the river. Whatever the cause, very serious damage has been done to the embankments of the River Barrow near New Ross. A few years ago this matter was brought to the attention of the Office of Public Wroks, but up to the present nothing has been done. Of course, the Office of Public Works will repudiate all responsibility for this matter. The Land Commission also repudiated responsibility. I should like to know, however, from somebody who is responsible for the maintenance of these embankments. Hundreds of thousands of public money were spent in making them at one time—whether at the time of the famine or not I do not know. I am sure they would cost millions of pounds to construct to-day. These embankments have been broken for three years, and, notwithstanding that representations have been made by Wexford County Council and Deputies for the constituency to the Office of Public Works, no effort has been made to have the embankments put into repair.
Mr. Allen: Nobody has any responsibility—neither the Land Commission nor the Office of Public Works, which, I understand, constructed these embankments in the first instance. I gathered that from old residents of the district. I do not know whether it is true or not. Whether they were constructed 50 years ago or 70 years ago I cannot say. The Office took all responsibility for cleaning, widening, and draining the upper reaches of the Barrow, and people in the locality are of the opinion that it was as a result of that drainage of the upper reaches that the floods broke the embankments. Whether that is true or not I cannot say. For the information of the people whose lands are flooded continually in that area, and who are still required to pay rates and annuities, and for the information of  the people of County Wexford, I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to ascertain what public Department is responsible for the maintenance of these embankments.
I want to refer to the question of delays in the repair and building of national schools. It is felt, and I think justly felt, that from the time repairs or the building of a new school is placed by the Department of Education in the hands of the Borad of Works, undue delay takes place. Great bodies, it is said, move slowly, and the Board of Works, being a great body, moves extra slowly. I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary should speed up things in that respect and should get a little acceleration into the activities of the Board of Works and their engineers, because many schools in the country are crying out for repairs. The money is available for the purpose, but it is a question of engineering difficulty and delay all the time. From my experience, all the engineers of this country must spend years of their training in studying how to delay such schemes and projects. They certainly are first-class people for delaying projects. Whether they sleep over them for many months and many years I do not know, but delays are taking place. I wonder would the Parliamentary Secretary have any responsibility in respect of coast erosion?
Mr. Allen: This State is in existence now for about 16 years, and no Department seems prepared to take any responsibility in this respect. It does not matter what damage is done to the property of residents in the affected localities, or what damage is likely to be done in the future. It is time some Department—and I am sure it is a matter for the Office of Public Works—took responsibility in this matter. I feel sure that it is on the shoulders of the Office of Public Works that responsibility will fall when a decision is taken. I think it is up to the Parliamentary Secretary to bring to the notice of the Executive Council that there is an urgent and crying need for action in  certain areas around the coast, to protect valuable public property against coast erosion. I am sure the money involved would be regarded as colossal but, for the expenditure of small sums in the early stages of coast erosion in particular areas, hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of property would be saved.
I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to look into the matter of embankments which were built by public moneys in the past. It is time somebody assumed responsibility for these. The matter must be attended to by some public Department out of public moneys, and the longer they are left unattended to, the more they will cost. In respect of the Barrow, less than £1,000 would have made a good job of it two years ago, and now it is estimated that £5,000 or £6,000 would not put the embankments there in proper repair. It is a responsibility which somebody must assume in the very near future. There are very few public works carried out from public funds for which somebody does not take responsibility, and surely the unfortunate tenants whose lands are completely under water cannot be expected to put them in repair? It is time, too, that somebody took responsibility in this matter of coast erosin. I do not see how you can stop it in all areas. I think it is a human impossibility, but something should be done to prevent valuable property being destroyed in many areas.
Mr. Nally: ——his Department has done in respect of the drainage of the River Robe and to appeal to him to have that work carried on from Castlemagarrett to Brickins on one side of the river, with a view to relieving the flooding that takes place every year in the upper reaches of the river. I also appeal to him to expedite the drainage of the Gweston, Pollock and Yellow Rivers. Petitions have been received for the last five or  six years, but unfortunately nothing has been done. Drainage work on the Claredalgan River from Ballyhaunis to Shrule is also necessary, as thousands of acres are flooded every year and considerable damage caused.
There are also some small works in regard to roads which I wish to draw to his attention. I wish he would look into the matter of the repair of about two miles of road through the townland of Sessuagh from the Carramore-Claremorris contract road. About £100 would carry out that work.
Mr. Nally: Very well. There is also the question of the repair of the road through Mossbrook Bog, which will cost about £200. The people there have to carry out the turf on their backs at present. I do not know why that work has not been attended to. There are a few minor drainage schemes which the Parliamentary Secretary might also look into. One, expecially, runs from Eskerlavallay Lake through various townlands, and about £300 would be sufficient to carry it out. I hope he will have something done about it. Drainage work is also required in Cloonconnor Bog. Several petitions have been sent to the Parliamentary Secretary and to the Commissioners through the Mayo County Council, by special resolution, as a matter of fact, requesting that these works be carried out, but nothing has been done. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will have them looked into.
Mr. J. Flynn: The question of rotation has been referred to. I should like to point out that it has, in the main, been satisfactory with the one exception, and I think I have already  mentioned it to the Parliamentary Secretary, that closer co-operation between the local authorities and the Board of Works, from the point of view of supervision, is necessary. We had complaints last year that by reason of the system arranged between the Board of Works and the county council, certain unemployed men in particular areas were not absorbed. They neither obtained work under the schemes submitted by the county council nor on the minor relief works inaugurated by the Board of Works in those areas. I take this opportunity of thanking the Parliamentary Secretary, who took steps immediately to review the whole position and to allocate grants in those areas which, in the first instance, had been left over, areas which were not catered for by the county council or the Board of Works. I understand that members of the staff engaged on this work in the Board of Works visited the county council officials and arranged that this scheme should be worked out in some way. Theoretically, it might work out all right, but in practice we found that those areas were neglected, and that large numbers of men were left unemployed.
There is another important point to be considered, and that is in regard to the census. I understand that in order to qualify for a grant during the summer period an area must have a minimum of 12 unemployed men on the register, and that that is based on a census taken in 1936. Surely to goodness the position has changed since 1936. I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that there should be some alteration in that basis of calculation. We should adopt some basis more relevant to the existing conditions, so that a proper conception of the position will be arrived at. Take any electoral district in which in the summer period of 1936 there was a minimum number of 12 on the register. I understand that those are the figures on which the Department of Public Works will allocate the moneys for this coming year, that is in so far as drainage works are concerned. I submit to the Parliamentary  Secretary that the position has changed. It has either worsened or improved since 1936. In other words, the minimum number might have increased to 20 or 25, or it might have decreased. I should like to say that for the purpose of a fair distribution of those schemes a different census should be taken, and a different basis adopted in connection with that type of administration. I should like to stress the necessity for examination of that point.
I was very glad to hear the Parliamentary Secretary refer to the question of grants for removing rocks, boulders and other obstructions in tourist centres. Certainly his Department has done great work in that regard in our county. I should like to say that we hope the matter will be still further gone into. There is another phase of development about which I have been asked time and again to remind the Parliamentary Secretary, and that is the matter of roads and other approaches to historical abbeys and other places of historical interest. In our county we have Kilcoleman Abbey in Milltown; we have Ballinaskelligs Abbey, and we have a historic mound in Castlecove. We have made repeated applications for the improvement of roads and approaches to those places. I think if the Board of Works were to allocate grants for that type of development it would be money well spent. That development could be carried on in conjunction with the other improvements in tourist centres to which I have just referred; it would really be an extension of that kind of work.
I should like to refer also to the question of reclamation work. I have to complain, just like Deputy Allen, that the responsibility for reclamation schemes seemed to be shifted from one Department to another. We submitted a detailed scheme to the Land Commission. The Land Commission said that the Department of Agriculture really has the machinery to deal with it, and that it is a matter for them. I am very glad, and the people concerned throughout the country will also be very glad, that the Parliamentary Secretary has held out some hope that,  through his administration, some type of reclamation can be carried through in the Gaeltacht districts as a minor relief scheme. I realise that there are difficulties in the way, but, with co-operation between the Departments, it should be possible to carry through some big development. The Labour Deputies here referred to the wage question. No one in the country would be against a fair wage, but the limited resources of the country make it difficult for our Government or for any Government to meet the full requirements in that regard. What I should like to see would be a huge loan floated in this country, whereby there would be sufficient money for development and sufficient to pay a standard rate of wage to every person concerned. Certainly, the time would come when money raised in that way would recoup itself; it would be money well spent. I think it is only in that way that those problems can be adequately tackled.
We in the rural districts realise that it is difficult to give full employment. The same difficulties would arise under any type of administration at the moment, because there are many anomalies in the different districts. In one area a small farmer who is getting a three-day week under a rotational scheme is quite content. He has another few days to devote to his little home and holding, and he is quite content that great work has been done by  the Government on his behalf. In another area, quite the opposite is the case; the two-day week or the three-day week cuts the other way. It breaks that man's claim to unemployment assistance. He is left derelict; and he has to wait practically a week or two before anyone can come to his assistance. A good deal can be said for and against full time. I realise the snags, and I realise that in the circumstances the Parliamentary Secretary has done his utmost. Taking into consideration the problems in the different counties and the varying local conditions, I think it is only fair to say that, with the machinery at his disposal, he has done his very best. When we realise that each area has problems peculiar to itself and will require a different type of scheme, it will be seen that a colossal amount of work is involved. In conclusion, I hope that any remarks I have made by way of being constructive will be appreciated by the Parliamentary Secretary.
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