Wednesday, 8 March 1939
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. McGovern: Last night I was dealing with some points raised by Deputy Corry in connection with beet and wheat and other schemes. According to Deputy Corry, the beet and wheat and light oil schemes were the be-all and the end-all of agricultural prosperity. He was criticising Deputy Dillon because, according to him, these schemes would, but for Deputy Dillon, save agriculturists from the depression from which they are suffering. I do not know how he works that out. Deputy Dillon is not the Minister and, whatever his opinion might be, if the farmers found these schemes a paying business, nobody could prevent them taking advantage of them. But these schemes have proved themselves a costly failure, inasmuch as at the end of seven years of encouragement of these schemes, and with all the expenditure in advertising the virtues of these schemes, the farmers have not taken to them and they do not grow wheat to the extent anticipated; they actually grow wheat to the extent of less than half of what is necessary. That proves that the wheat scheme has been a costly failure. It is costing the consumers from £2,500,000 to £2.750,000 in the extra prices they are paying for the flour, and nobody benefits by that with the exception of a small number of farmers and the flour millers. Farmers with suitable land can grow the wheat successfully, but fully three-quarters of the farmers, and also all the consumers, are losing by the growing of wheat. The wheat scheme may be a benefit to the flour miller and his employees, but it is not a benefit to the farmers in general.
The same applies to the beet scheme. Notwithstanding Deputy Corry's eloquence about the benefit of the beet scheme, and all that it has conferred on the farmers, he is just as eloquent at the farmers' meetings trying to get a living wage for those who are growing beet. If Deputy Corry's word carries at all, it carries at the farmers' meetings, where he is looking for a living wage in a scheme that is not  providing that to the farmer. The cost of the beet and the wheat schemes runs to something approaching £4,000,000. In so far as agriculture is concerned, those schemes are no benefit to the average farmer. All the money that is paid by the consumer and the taxpayer is being expended in a manner that confers no benefit on the farmer. If it was put along with other moneys into some scheme which would provide relief for agriculture, it would be more appreciated, because some relief is very much needed. Now that the economic war is over, and that there is not the excuse for all these foolish schemes that have proved such failures: now that there is not such a case for a continuation of that policy, I hope the Government will try, with the help of the Agricultural Commission, to devise some better schemes so that the taxation paid on the supposition that it is going to benefit agriculture will really benefit that industry.
Deputy Corry also told us that because £2,500,000 have been remitted from the land annuities the farmers are so much better off now than before 1933. That money is wasted in other directions. I do not want to say much about the losses the farmers have sustained during the last six or seven years. Their losses have been very serious and they would not be able to regain them in twice the number of years in normal times. Apart from that, we came out of the economic war with certain impositions placed on our exports that were not there before. Every animal leaving Eire and going into Northern Ireland or Great Britain is going with an earmark which represents a loss of 30/- on each animal. We are exporting 1,000,000 cattle each year, so that we are losing £1,500,000 by the earmark on our cattle.
In the same way we are losing on our eggs. Before the economic war there were none of these things. The Free State produce in those days was treated the same as domestic produce, just like the British and Northern Ireland produce. That is not so now. Our cattle and eggs are marked in such a way that their value is depreciated.  That means a loss to the farmers of more than is saved by the halving of the annuities. Before the economic war we had a market for all we could produce and send to Britain, but we have not got that now. We are tied down now to a quota, and the farmers have lost considerably, even though there is a reduction in the annuities. The rates have increased also by about £750,000 over that period. Between all these items we are losing about twice as much as we have gained.
I do not say that the position of 1931 or even 1929 is an ideal that we should aim at. If agriculture is to be put upon its feet, and the farmers put in a position to carry on their industry, they must be placed in a much better condition than they were in 1929 or 1931. To get at the position of agriculture in this country, as I said last night, it will be necessary to go back to 1913 to find real normal times, and to see how the position of the farmers compares relatively with other classes in the State in 1939 as compared with 1913.
I would like to congratulate the Minister upon the introduction to this House of one word which means very much. I would like to keep it before him. That is the word “relativity.” What we want is to get the farmer into a relative position, relative to other classes and relative to pre-war times. I hope the Minister will not lose sight of that when he is dealing with the position of the farmers. That exactly is what is wrong. Everybody has got everything they have looked for, and the Government has taken a great deal of credit to themselves for giving everybody everything without costing anybody anything. That is, of course, what they claim credit for. But money is not given around and scattered in all directions without somebody paying. Who paid? Of course, the farmer paid. If you stir up a lake or a pool you will find that there will be a lot of ingredients through the water, but eventually it will all settle at the bottom. In the same way, in the process of shifting the burden of taxation, wherever taxation is imposed from the top  downwards, it is shifted until it goes to the bottom, and it settles on the basic industry and the people engaged in that industry. That is what has happened to agriculture.
Some 25 years ago we based our claim for the management of our own affairs on the ground that the 40 British boards that were ruling this country were too extravagant for this country to be able to bear the burden of taxation, which was something like £11,000,000 for 32 counties. Now, for 26 counties we are paying practically three times that amount and yet it is not too heavy. This cannot be done without somebody paying the piper. Everybody is better off, we are told. There are more motor cars; there is more being spent on drink and cigarettes, on pictures and everything else. How can everybody be better off if all this money is coming from nowhere? Is it not obvious that this heavy taxation must come from somewhere? It is coming from the farmers and that will continue so long as they are able to carry on. Of course, they are not able to carry on any longer and something must be done. I know that the Minister is desirous now to do something. He has set up a commission. I am very glad and I hope that everybody will co-operate to make the findings of that commission successful and beneficial for the agricultural community.
The matter is not so easily dealt with as some people seem to think. Taxation is too high. I agree with Deputy Corry that the burden must be lightened at the top. Otherwise it will be very difficult to see how agriculture can be made prosperous. The burden must be reduced. We have too many inspectors and officials. They have been increased enormously. There has been an enormous increase to the number we had six or seven years ago. This country cannot afford to carry that burden. We were already paying too much in overhead charges and this is a dead weight because they produce nothing only trouble for the people that they honour with their calls. The farmers, businessmen and all classes are held  up by these inspectors and these officials. I hope when the Government and the Agricultural Commission come to deal with these problems that they will consider these things.
There is another matter to which I want to call attention. It is very serious and it shows the trend of Government policy. At this time, when there is no excuse for increased taxation, when one would naturally expect that the time had really come for the reduction of taxation by the £2,000,000 that was promised when there was not the excuse of an economic war or anything, something else had to be trumped up. There had to be a threat of world war, and this poor country, that is unable to carry on economically, is asked now to face up to the payment of £3,250,000 or £3,500,000 towards defence. It is a most ridiculous thing for this country to propose to spend £3,000,000 or the half of £3,000,000 on defence because it will matter nothing one way or the other in a great European war what part this country takes. All that this country would be able to do would not be worth while, and I believe that we would be safer by not spending one penny. This country cannot afford to spend money on war or on defence. Therefore, I think the Government will be ill-advised to go on with this defence scheme that is to be such a burden.
If this £3,250,000 that it is proposed to spend upon defence and the £4,000,000 or £4,500,000 that is spent upon the wheat and beet schemes and also the £1,000,000 or £500,000 that is spent upon the light oil schemes were turned to some good account for the benefit of agriculture, much could be done to improve the position of agriculture. The farmers could be derated. They could get money at 2½ or 3 per cent., or even less. Before money is lent to farmers they want to be made credit-worthy, to be first in a position to be able to repay it. There have been various schemes mentioned in this House as to how they could be helped. I have mentioned a couple of them. Another scheme is to reduce the price of agricultural machinery and manures and everything  that goes into production, raw materials of every description. Cut them down to the very lowest and cut down the cost of production. That is the only way that any progress can be made.
There is an anomalous position in this country with regard to unemployment at present. In rural Ireland to-day there are not only thousands of people registered as unemployed, but there is at the same time a shortage of labour, simply because the people are being paid for being unemployed, instead of being paid for being employed. I suggest the time has come to examine this question and that people should be paid for being employed instead of for being unemployed. I suggest that every able-bodied man should be encouraged to find employment in these rural districts, because there is plenty of work to be done. Instead of spending the money on unemployment assistance the Government should pay employment assistance, that is, pay the difference between the economic wage and the living wage. If that were done, men would be encouraged to seek employment and every man could find his job at the value of his labour, i.e., at whatever the farmers were able to give him. Every farmer wants more workmen if he can get them, at what the work is worth. But he has to get them at what the work is worth. Otherwise he will not employ them. It is a question of £ s.d. The farmer is not such a bad business man as some people on the Government Benches think. They will employ men if they find that their work is worth a certain wage and they would be prepared to pay that. But, certainly they are not able to pay nearly the minimum wage, especially at certain seasons of the year. I suggest, and I think this should meet with the approval of all Parties in this House, that, so far as it is possible to devise a scheme, the money that is being wasted on unemployment assistance and encouraging idleness should be paid towards encouraging employment, paying the difference between the economic wage, as I said, and the living wage. If that were done, it would go a long way to solve the problem of unemployment, in rural districts at any rate. It will increase  production, which is what we want. It will encourage the young people who are growing up to take an interest in the land and they will not be flying from it. Everybody can see from the trend of things that the country is going down. The land is overflowing with water, growing rushes and heather, everything is neglected and in a dissipated condition and people are walking about idle, and being paid for doing so. I think the Government should make a start and try to solve the unemployment problem by paying employment assistance instead of unemployment assistance.
I hope that these points will receive due consideration and that all Parties in the House will co-operate with any body, whether the Agricultural Commission or any other body, which tries to find a solution of these difficulties, because, as every thinking man has pointed out again and again, the matter is too urgent to leave over, and too urgent even to await the report of the Agricultural Commission. The people are flying from the land and the position has become so serious that something ought to be done at once, if the country is to be saved, because, in the long run, the nation depends upon its principal industry.
Mr. Cogan: We are called upon to consider two questions here, unemployment and its relation to agriculture. I think these issues are the most important that could be submitted for consideration by the House because the two biggest problems that face the Government and the people of this country at present are, firstly, the large number of our people who are unemployed and cannot find work, and, secondly, the still larger number of our people who can find plenty of work, and are finding it, but who cannot get any decent remuneration for that work. These are the people engaged in the agricultural industry. Again and again, it has been said that the farming community cannot be so badly off, but let us consider plain facts as submitted to us by Governmental statistics. The farmer's income depends mainly on the price he secures for his produce. Let us compare present  agricultural prices with what they were in pre-war times. They are 10 to 12 per cent. higher to-day than they were in pre-war times. Now, compare the farmer's present costs with his pre-war costs. We find that they have increased by at least 150 per cent.
What is the principal item of agricultural cost? It is labour. How does the price of labour at the present compare with 1912, 1913 or 1914? The agricultural labourer at that time received an average wage of 9/- or 10/- a week; to-day, agricultural wages are 27/- a week. In other words, the cost of labour has increased to three times the 1912 figure, notwithstanding the fact the farm labourers are no better off to-day than they were in pre-war days. It may be said that there is a large percentage of farmers who do not employ labour, but these people are affected by the higher cost of living and the higher cost of maintaining their families and dependents. Every item required for the support of a farmer's family and dependents, clothing and everything else he has to buy, has increased by at least 200 per cent. Is it not absolutely impossible for farming to be a paying proposition when we consider that the farmer's price has increased by only 12 per cent. whereas his costs have increased by at least 200 per cent.? Not only the cost of labour and the cost of living, but the cost of agricultural machinery, implements and other articles which the farmer has to buy, has been at least doubled.
That is the whole secret of the agricultural depression at present. The increase in the farmers' prices bears no relation whatever to the enormous increase in agricultural costs as compared with pre-war. That is the problem which has to be solved, and it is a problem which the Government must face up to. The solution of that problem will to a great extent solve the problem of unemployment, because there is no doubt whatever that the agricultural industry, if placed in a sound economic position, is capable of absorbing almost all the unemployed. There is no doubt whatever,  as Deputy Childers pointed out, that agricultural production can be increased by at least 40 per cent. I believe it is possible to increase the productivity of the soil and the output of the agricultural industry by at least 50 per cent., and if that is so, it should be possible to increase the number of people employed on the land, and to increase the remuneration obtained by the people so employed.
That is the problem the Government has to face. How does the Minister for Agriculture propose to deal with it? He tackled it in a very lighthearted manner. He compared prices in 1931 with prices in the present year, and he told us that the index figure of agricultural prices in 1931 was 110, and at the present time, is in or about 112. Therefore, he said, the farmers are no worse off than they were in 1931, but everybody must know that, in 1931, agriculture was not a paying proposition, and no one knows that better than the Ministers themselves. In 1931, and in the general election of 1932, from 1,000 platforms all over the country, they proclaimed that the agricultural industry was in a desperate condition, that it was down and out, but now they say that we are no worse off than we were in 1931. But here is the position. Assuming that the farmer was losing money in 1931 and has been losing the same amount every year since then, surely, at the end of seven years, he will have lost a considerable amount of money. We know that, in 1931, prices had declined very much. In 1929, the price index figure was 139 and by 1931, it had declined to 110. Thus, the average small farmer lost about £30, and assuming that he was losing £30 in 1931, as compared with 1929, and that he continued to lose £30 each year since then, surely his position would be infinitely worse to-day than it was in 1931.
That, however, is not the whole position. The Minister very lightly slipped over the years that have elapsed since 1931. He did not refer to the fact that the index figure for agricultural prices in 1933, 1934 and 1935 was as low as 83. If a farmer was losing £30 in 1931, he was losing £60 in 1933, 1934 and 1935. How can the  Minister claim that farmers are as well off to-day as in 1931, having regard to such enormous losses?
Again, we are told that the farmers' costs are not greater, or, as a matter of fact, are less to-day than they were in 1931. The Minister stated that while rates have increased by over £500,000, land annuities have been reduced by £2,000,000. Apparently, he overlooked the fact that the farmer not only pays rates and land annuities, but also contributes to general taxation; and general taxation in the last seven years has increased by £9,000,000. Assuming that farmers only pay half the general taxes, then their contribution to the general taxes has increased by £4,500,000. Does not that show that the overhead charges on the agricultural industry are at least £3,000,000 more than they were in 1931? Of course, that is not all, because there are many forms of taxation which do not appear in the Estimates, and which must be taken into account when considering the farmers' overhead charges.
It may be asked what is the remedy for agricultural conditions? The Minister for Agriculture has not attempted to outline any remedy. He has, apparently, come to the end of his tether and cannot think out any new schemes. He has devised so many schemes which have proved to be so wild that they failed, that he has completely lost confidence in himself and is not inclined to think out anything else. He is inclined to hand over the whole business of agriculture to the Agricultural Commission and to depend on them to provide a solution for agricultural difficulties. I have no objection to the Minister consulting a commission, receiving their report, and considering it. But the Minister and the Government have a responsibility to the people. They have a responsibility to maintain this country in a sound, economic position, and they have no right to hand over their responsibility to any commission. They have no right to dawdle and wait for years while that commission is receiving evidence and preparing its report, and while the agricultural industry at the same time is steadily declining.
What is the position at present?  Throughout the world there is a growing uneasiness and fear of war. There is a growing uneasiness in regard to food supplies. Surely now is a glorious opportunity for the Government to tackle the agricultural problem on far-reaching lines. Surely this is the time for a bold and constructive agricultural policy, a policy calculated to increase the output of the agricultural industry by at least 40 per cent, as Deputy Childers suggested. If there is to be any improvement in our agricultural position, the first essential is that there must be a spirit of co-operation and of confidence between the farmers and the Government. Farmers must be made to feel that the Government is not their enemy. If that state of affairs is to be brought about, the first step towards restoring confidence amongst the farming community is to provide immediate relief from the crushing overhead burdens on the industry.
Farmers have asked for a suspension of the collection of annuities for at least two years. What would be the effect of such a moratorium? It would put new life into the agricultural industry, give farmers increased confidence to go on with production, and put the money, which they are forced to pay to the Land Commission at present, into production. It would also be a clear indication to the farmers that the Government is sympathetic, that it realises that the farmers have made tremendous sacrifices, and that it is prepared to come to the rescue of the agricultural industry so far as lies in its power. What do we find throughout the country? We find the most extreme pressure being exerted to extract the last shilling from the unfortunate farmers.
An Ceann Comhairle: That is obviously a matter that might, and I fear will inevitably, be raised on the Estimate for Agriculture. Matters relevant to the Estimates should not be raised on this Vote—on which general policy should be discussed.
Mr. Cogan: I do not intend to develop it any further. I am simply suggesting that, as an opening towards adopting a sound, constructive policy  for agriculture, the Government should win the confidence of the farming community by giving immediate and far-reaching relief not only in regard to annuities but in regard to rates. Having reached a position in which farmers are assured that the Government is not out to wipe them completely out of existence, then the question will arise: what constitutes a sound, constructive agricultural policy for the future? The first object of the Government, if it wants the farmers to increase production, should be to guarantee them, so far as lies in its power, an economic price for every essential commodity produced on the farms. Prices must be stabilised at an economic level. At present we find that most of the products of agriculture are produced at prices which do not cover the cost of production, which do not enable the farmers to pay a living wage. When wages are fixed by the State we find a tendency on the part of farmers to reduce the number of people employed and to depend mainly upon the unpaid labour of their own families and dependents. That state of affairs will continue until the Government decides that agricultural prices must be raised to a remunerative level.
Of course, on this question I am not in complete agreement with Deputy Dillon, who suggests that prices must be based upon world market prices, and that all hope of relief for agriculture must be found in the reduction of the farmers' overhead charges and costs. I believe that we could not build a sound economy and sound agricultural policy on that basis. We must face the fact that no matter what changes may take place in the world, that no matter what changes may take place in external markets, that no matter what changes may take place in world conditions, the farmer must be assured for a long term ahead of remunerative prices. How can that policy be financed? How can such a policy be achieved? The answer is that it must be financed.
At the present time we find that the Government have decided to embark on a policy of defence, a policy of  defence presumably costing over £5,500,000. How is that policy going to be financed? There is no question of anybody asking such a question. We are simply told that the country must be defended and that it does not matter where the money is to come from. It is the same with regard to housing. We are told that housing is an important national social service. How is housing financed? In the matter of housing nobody will ask where is the money to be found. We are simply told that the people are living in slums, in houses unfit for human habitation, that these people are entitled to decent housing conditions and that these decent housing conditions must be provided no matter at what cost and no matter where the money is to be found. Why cannot we adopt the same attitude in regard to agriculture? Why, in face of the fact that the agricultural industry is the most important industry in the country; in face of the fact that it is declining and that if it is allowed to continue to decline housing conditions and national defence will mean nothing; why, in face of these facts, is the question being asked: “Where is the money to be found?” I want to point out that there is no use in building houses if you have no population to occupy them. There is no use in defending the country if the population of the country is dying out. That is the position as I see it.
If the Government refuses to face up to the needs of the agricultural community and provide the necessary finance for its development, then beyond doubt the present population of the country must decline and decay. When the whole future of this nation is in jeopardy there should be no question whatever as to the financing of the agricultural industry and its proper development. The question of agricultural development should be the first item on the Government's programme. Housing and national defence and every other question are of less importance, comparatively, than the agricultural industry. This is simply a question of enabling the population of this country to increase production to such an extent that the population can  be maintained at a higher level. Therefore, is it not quite clear that the whole future of the country depends upon a proper agricultural policy being adopted? Is it not quite clear that it is the immediate duty of the State to grapple with this problem and to secure for the farming community decent prices for their produce?
It may be asked on what lines should there be agricultural development and what lines can be extended. We may be told that there is no room for increased production in the external markets. I do not accept that view and it is very difficult to accept it in view of world conditions. We may be told that production cannot be increased for the home market. Now if the present population were on a sound position financially, if every worker on the land was getting a good wage—all agriculturists getting better remuneration— then there would be an increased market in this country for agricultural produce, increased to such an extent that it would absorb considerably more agricultural produce.
There is another aspect of this question and that is in regard to the production of feeding stuffs. A Deputy said that previous to the introduction of the admixture scheme the farmers were in a desperate position. Is it not clear that if the farmers were in a desperate position before the admixture scheme was introduced, that they must be in an equally desperate position now that the scheme is abolished I hold and I have always held that the grower of barley and oats is entitled to a market for his produce and at reasonable prices. I hold that while the admixture scheme was not advantageous to this country it was the duty of the Government when abolishing it to substitute for it some other scheme that would provide other markets for this grain. There is no doubt that the admixture scheme enabled growers of barley and oats to get rid of their produce. There is no reason why the abolition of that scheme should create a state of affairs in which the farmers would be unable to get a market for their produce.
The Minister cannot go on turning  somersaults and changing his policy from year to year. The Minister should adopt a settled agricultural policy. My suggestion, if the Minister would take a suggestion from me, is that the State should undertake to purchase all the surplus oats and barley so as to ensure that the people engaged in these branches of the agricultural industry would not be left with the products of their labours on their hands. We know that it is not possible for farmers in all parts of Ireland to engage in the growing of wheat. There are large areas in which wheat cannot be grown and in these areas the farmer must concentrate upon either oats or barley. It should be the duty of the Government to see that these people are not ruined through being unable to obtain a market for their produce. Now that aim can be achieved if the Government are prepared to take up and purchase oats, barley and such products and to adopt a scheme under which these can be stored and released upon the market as they are needed. That is a duty that cannot be shirked by any Government.
The Government cannot allow and should not allow chaotic conditions to arise in our markets in the future, if they seriously intend to increase agricultural production. Of course, it is also a policy generally agreed upon that it is very desirable the Government should assist and encourage the farmers to grow the largest possible quantity of feeding stuffs on their farms for their own live stock. Here again we are faced with the fact that our economic conditions are forcing the farmers to abandon that policy. Farmers have not sufficient capital to enable them to purchase the stock to consume their grain and other produce. For that reason the farmers are forced to rely upon cash crops, crops which they can market within six months. They can not adopt a long-term policy of growing oats, barley or potatoes, feeding these to live stock and waiting perhaps for a year or two years before they can turn their labour into cash. For that reason the Government, if they seriously intend to promote and increase agricultural production must set about providing capital at the  lowest possible rate of interest so as to enable the agricultural industry to recover from the period of depression through which it has passed, a period of depression which the Minister completely lost sight of when he was comparing the present conditions of farming with the conditions in 1931. The agricultural industry must be financed, and here again it will be necessary for the State to raise the capital which is required. Last year it was found possible for the State to raise £10,000,000 to settle with Great Britain. Surely it should be possible now to raise at least that sum to put the agricultural industry on its feet; to put it in a sound, economic and financial position. We are facing a new year, and I am prepared to agree with Deputy Kennedy who asked for co-operation between all Deputies in this House in promoting the welfare of the agricultural industry. As far as I am concerned, I have no hesitation whatever in offering my whole-hearted co-operation to the Government in any scheme that appears to be designed or calculated to improve the condition of agriculture. It should be possible for the Minister for Agriculture to devise some scheme, even at this eleventh hour, in regard to the purchase of seed potatoes and the purchase of seeds generally for farmers who are unable to purchase them at the present time. It should be possible to devise some definite scheme under which the Minister for Agriculture might agree to provide seed potatoes.
Mr. Cogan: It is difficult to make suggestions in regard to agriculture without referring to the speech of the Minister for Agriculture here on this question, and without referring to his general policy, as he is the Minister concerned with agriculture. However, as this is a financial matter, and as we have the Minister for Finance here present, perhaps he would give it consideration.  Perhaps he would make a sufficient amount of money available to finance the provision of seeds for farmers who are unable to purchase them at the present time, and who, if they do not get relief, must allow their land to remain idle.
Mr. Cogan: I think, perhaps, the Minister will understand, and give the matter consideration. As the Minister for Finance is here, and as his suggestion for the relief of agriculture was the very modest one that in the course of seven years the farmers would receive a reduction in rates to the amount of 6d. in the £, perhaps he will supplement that by giving some concession to farmers to enable them to increase their acreage under crops, because at the present time it is absolutely impossible for farmers to finance the cropping of their land, having regard to the enormous burdens which have been placed on them during the past few years. I would not raise this matter at all were it not for the fact that the time for providing seeds has almost expired, and it may be too late to adopt any scheme if I were to leave the matter over until the Estimates are being considered.
I was very much surprised at, and I am very much inclined to support, Deputy Corry's suggestion that the whole cause of the deplorable condition in which the farmers are labouring at the present time is the failure of farmers to unite. Now, I wonder what Deputy Corry meant by that. I wonder did he mean that it is due to the fact that farmer Deputies in this House instead of uniting, instead of all coming over to the centre benches in this House, have decided to sit behind what Deputy Corry referred to, I think—I do not know if it was  parliamentary—as town jackeens. If the Deputy were sincere, if he were anxious to promote unity amongst farmers, surely be would decide that it is not in the farmers' interests that their representatives should be bombarding each other across the floor of this House. I was very much surprised to find Deputy Corry advocating the formation of a national farmers' party, and that was the only meaning I could take out of his words. He has asked for unity; there is only one basis of unity, and that is for both Parties to come to the centre of this House and occupy the centre benches, If he is prepared to put that idea into effect he is quite welcome. I am sorry Deputy Corry is not here, but I noticed that when he was speaking he frequently glanced up towards the gallery. I wondered whether he was looking up to the public gallery for encouragement or up to Heaven for light and guidance. I assume that he was not looking up to the public gallery for encouragement, because Deputy Corry, of all members of this House, does not require any encouragement. He can always be depended upon to say whatever he wishes to say, and very often a good deal more than his leaders wish him to say, without any encouragement. Therefore, I assume he was looking to Heaven for light and guidance. I hope he gets it, and when he does, I hope he will see that it is foolish for farmers to be bombarding one another across the floor of this House instead of uniting in the centre of this House and devising a sound agricultural policy to promote and encourage the agricultural industry. Surely, having regard to the position in which farmers find themselves to-day, nothing is more urgently needed than a sound agricultural policy.
Deputy Childers said that the farming community were looking well. If he was referring only to the fair sex I will not contradict him—I would hardly have the moral courage—but if he was referring to the other section of the farming community I think he must have been looking at them through coloured glasses, because anyone in close touch with farmers at  the present time must acknowledge that they never were more depressed, that they never looked worse, that they never were more disappointed, and that they never were more disinclined to go on with their work of production or carry on the business which they had been carrying on for years. There never was such depression, such disinclination to carry on and develop every branch of the agricultural industry. We find tillage farmers saying they cannot carry on tillage, stock-raisers saying they cannot carry on stock-raising, and we find every branch of the agricultural industry in a state of depression. Surely, in those circumstances, it should be the duty of all Deputies, and particularly all farmer Deputies, to come together and pull the agricultural industry out of the slough of depression?
Mr. Moore: It appeared to me that there were a good many of the statements of Deputy Cogan mutually contradictory, but they were hardly more contradictory than a number of the statements made by more experienced Deputies. The strangest contradiction I have ever observed in the House, the most striking paradox I have ever remarked, was in the speech of the Deputy who opened the attack on the Government—Deputy Dillon. The Deputy started off by denouncing this Vote as an outrageous impost, a monstrous assessment, and so on. He said it was twice as great as the British Government had ever demanded from the whole country. Then, curiously enough, after remarking how much the Vote had been increased in the last six or seven years he proceeded to make an appeal for the agricultural labourer and the poor man.
If there is one thing that has increased this Vote—in fact, the only thing that has increased the Vote, apart from the recent demand for an increased amount for defence—it is the very big amount of money the Government have decided to spend on social services. As the Minister for Agriculture has pointed out, the Estimates have been increased by over £7,000,000 because of the Government's decision  to go out on a programme of social reform, social security; because of the expenditure, in consequence, on housing, on an extension of old age pensions, widows' and orphans' pensions, and so on. The very Deputy who denounces these increases, who denounces this “monstrous exaction,” proceeds, without apparently any idea of inconsistency at all, to make an appeal for raising the standard of living of the poor man.
The Deputy is denouncing the Government that has, obviously at the risk of very much criticism, raised taxation in order to give the poor man a decent house, in order to secure him in his old age, in order to secure his widow and children. That is what has increased the estimates by millions of pounds. After denouncing the Government that has done that, the Deputy then proceeds to make an appeal for more regard for the agricultural labourer and the working man. It is very hard to reconcile the two things.
Mr. Moore: It shows how difficult it is to put reality into the position if you have not some definite policy in your mind. The same thing was borne out by Deputy Dillon's attack on what he calls concealed taxation. He and Deputy O'Sullivan could not be severe enough on the Government for what they called the concealed taxation. while just at the same time Deputy Dillon and other Deputies are pleading for agriculture. Yet concealed taxation, everyone knows, has another name—the much better name of price insurance. In England, where Deputy Dillon thinks all hope for our future lies, the demand of the farmers is for price insurance. They put that in the forefront of their programme, in the forefront of their demands on successive Ministers of Agriculture. Here price insurance is instituted with regard to a number of the main products and the cry comes from the Opposition Benches, from the friends of the farmers: “This is concealed taxation; away with it.”
Deputy Dillon referred to what he  called a tax on butter. There was no question at all as to it being a price insurance or anything of that kind. It is a tax that evidently Deputy Dillon has some way of abolishing if he were in power. Surely there could be more reality than that in a debate of this kind? A debate on the Vote on Account is supposed to raise high questions of policy; there is supposed to be sincerity in advocating rival programmes. But when you hear contradictions of that kind, Deputies pleading for fair prices for agriculture and at the same time denouncing what has been done in regard to fixing something like an economic price for certain main products—denouncing these things as concealed taxation—one wonders whether there is any merit in the Party system at all and whether it would not be better to have an opportunity of bringing out a more sincere type of criticism if the system were not followed as it is.
Another curious paradox occurs in relation to Deputy Cosgrave's speeches. Any time Deputy Cosgrave speaks in the House he makes reference to the delicate position with regard to the balance of payments. He is obviously worried, and I believe very sincerely worried, at the difference between the imports and exports —the adverse balance. He accepts the Banking Commission's suggestion—it is not a definite statement—that we are encroaching on capital in paying for imports, and he is anxious on that point. He wants to see that position checked or rectified. At the same time, we have the demand from Deputy Dillon to give up this business of producing sugar. Let us, he says, import £1,000,000 worth rather than produce it for ourselves. That is a feature of every speech Deputy Dillon makes. We all know, too, that Deputy Dillon regards it as a victory for himself that there is to be a very big increase in the importation of Indian corn or meal this year, probably £1,000,000 of an increase. You have Deputy Cosgrave regretting that imports are exceeding exports; that you have a bad position arising in regard to the balance of payments. You have his deputy saying “let us increase our imports by at  least £2,000,000 in regard to these two things,” even though, in one case, the imports will be from Jamaica or Cuba or Czecho-Slovakia—places that do not take as much as £5 worth of goods from us. In the other case, the imports will be from the Argentine or British-India, also countries that take no goods from us. You have that glaring discrepancy between the Leader and his deputy leader on that very important subject.
I do not see any way, as long as the Government regard it as their duty to cater for the poverty that prevails in the country, to cater for the demand for housing, to increase social security —I do not see any way of reducing the Estimates that are set out here. All the talk that prevails with regard to promises that were made to reduce taxation and so on is very futile if one takes into account that the demand for such social services has been growing and that it is a demand that any Government must take note of. If there is waste, if there is more money being spent on the services that are provided for in the Estimates than should be spent, we would like to hear a good deal about that. We would like to hear what is wrong with the Government on essential matters. We would like to have it clear and definite. Deputy Cogan has just spoken, and it is a remarkable thing that he proposes, as a representative of agriculture, that agriculture be financed as housing is financed and as defence is financed. At the same time that the statement is so frequently made that practically all taxation is paid by farmers, Deputy Cogan proposes that the farmer should be financed out of taxation. It looks very contradictory. In other statements he wants subsidies for everything under the sun. He wants oats and barley, for instance, purchased at prices that would be economic for the farmers and he proposes that the Government should bear the expense. How it is to bear the expense, except by taxation of the public, including farmers, I do not know. You have these inconsistencies arising in practically every speech that is made here. You have the demand for reduced taxation and, at the same  time, a demand for more and more activity on the part of the Government, not merely activity on behalf of the poor, but activity with regard to very many people who are in a position that they are not looking to the Government and do not need Government help.
I heard Deputy Davin make a speech on this Vote in which he urged that the Government should go out to help the farmers by cheap loans. That is all the distance Deputy Davin, after 20 years' experience, went with that idea. Deputy Davin knows, I think nobody will deny, that at least 50 per cent. of the farmers in Laoighis-Offaly do not need Government assistance. That is a low estimate. The last thing they are worried about is the question of loans. They are in a position to finance themselves. At least 50 per cent. of them have well-stocked farms. If they want loans they have no difficulty in getting them, either from the local bank or the Agricultural Credit Corporation. There is another 25 per cent. or, possibly, 30 per cent. that would get loans from the Agricultural Credit Corporation if they wanted them. It is a very small boon to many farmers to be offered loans. It is a thing that experience has taught them not to believe in too much. So that, what Deputy Davin meant then by helping farmers is helping some 15 per cent. of farmers who have got stock and have not the security to offer for loans. If somebody could make a suggestion as to how they can be helped it would be a very useful suggestion. I remember the late Mr. Hogan, when he was Minister for Agriculture, sitting on these benches, talking on the very same problem. He said:—
He said he knew of no way of helping them. Probably there is a bigger number to-day than there was in the time of the late Minister for Agriculture. The position, anyhow, is that nobody yet has been able to make a  suggestion by which the Agricultural Credit Corporation or the State can advance money to people without security. If they could do that, if there could be a way shown, if there could be a proposal even that certain farms be put into commission and a sort of receiver appointed or something of that kind, that would be getting some of the way. I suppose these things will be considered by the Agricultural Commission that is sitting at present. But the vague general demand of giving loans to farmers is altogether too indefinite, in my opinion, to meet any position that exists at the present time.
Mr. Moore: That is the last thing the Deputy wishes—to interfere in an  orderly manner. He always rather enjoys trying to interfere with others. However, I consider that there has been no reasonable case made against this Vote. There has been no suggestion of any economy. On the other hand, any suggestions put forward have been made for increased expenditure. I think that the House will certainly have no alternative but to pass the Vote.
Mr. M. Brennan: There are times when people feel that the Government is getting its feet on the ground, but again you find your hopes dashed. One would imagine, listening to Deputy Moore, that they have realised that, after their last seven years of prosperity for this country, there has been some mistake in their policy. But Deputy Moore does not think that, even though he does know and realise the position. He knows the farmers are in need of assistance and yet he cannot bring himself to realise that their policy was wrong. Deputy Moore, to give him his due, is always very candid and I think he is very sincere in what he says in this House, but let me remind him that it does not come well from any member of the Fianna Fáil Party to talk about contradictions or inconsistencies. They are the last people in the world to talk about the contradictions of Deputy Dillon. They were not contradictions at all. If Deputy Dillon said that in this Vote before the House the country had a load that it cannot carry and, in the same breath, said that the agricultural labourers in the country should have their wages increased, that is perfectly consistent.
As far as I am concerned, I am not looking for any doles for agriculture at all. I am looking for a fair crack of the whip for agriculture. We are looking for greater production in agriculture, more productivity, and we do not want any of these cheap-jack jibes we had from the Minister for Agriculture the other day. It is deplorable and depressing, at this hour of the day, when people like the Minister for Finance, who has the obligation on him of the Ministry of Finance and who knows exactly what is happening in this country with regard to finance,  and who has expressed himself, I am sure, genuinely, sincerely and truthfully, at the dinner of the Bankers' Institute when he said that what we wanted in this country was more agricultural exports into the British market, the only market that we have. He said that. When he says that, I think Deputy Moore ought to sit up and take notice and not come into the House saying that Deputy Dillon has said so and so about the British market. The Minister for Finance has said it. Is it news to Deputy Moore? It ought not to be. There are times, as I said a while ago, when I think there is some hope for this Government and some hope for this country through this Government but, immediately you think there is some hope, it is dashed to the ground. The Minister for Agriculture, speaking here in the House a few weeks ago, on the Supplementary Estimate for Agriculture was replying to a speech I made in the House on the inadequacy of the subsidy which he was offering for artificial manures. My argument was that the Minister ought to take advantage of the present situation, that he ought now to increase productivity in agriculture in this country so as to assist the Minister for Finance and assist the country generally in getting exports into the British market. I said he ought to do it now, particularly while there is plenty of money in circulation there. Was there anything wrong about that? Was it not an ordinary commonsense thing to say? Was there anything controversial about it? Nothing whatever. We have the Minister for Agriculture saying in his reply:—
“Deputy Brennan made a most remarkable statement. He said that we should take advantage of the British market while the money is there because, he said, it may not be always there. That was a remarkable statement, because I have always thought that it was an article of faith with the Fine Gael Party that the British Empire would last for ever.”
I wonder what was in the Minister's make-up that made him make a statement like that, that kind of cheap-jack  tripe, because that is all it is? If the Minister had any commonsense at all, he would have told his Government that he was going to back up the Minister for Finance, that he wanted money to subsidise artificial manures, whatever else he wanted it for, and that he wanted to get into the British market while the going was good, instead of coming to the House with that kind of cheap-jack tripe. There are times when one loses one's patience with people like that. I have always felt that the Minister for Agriculture was never the man for his job. I am convinced of it.
Deputy Cogan talked about fixed prices for agricultural products. I am entirely on Deputy Moore's side in that respect. Let me say that I have no use whatever for fixed prices for agricultural produce. I think it is sheer humbug. Once you start to fix prices for the product of the main industry, you get into a vicious circle from which you cannot get out. Immediately you fix prices for the main industry, the other people come along and say: “Our wages must go up now.” The week after, you have to have another increase in the main industry, and you get into a vicious circle. What we want in this country is a determination on the part of the Government to foster the main industry, to get into every single market we can, not alone the British, but any other market, to get into every avenue that will widen our market and bring us a better price, to produce more and to have those articles, not alone first class, but first of first.
Mr. Brennan: Of course, they may. That has nothing to do with me. The British Government can do anything they like with their own market, but we  cannot do it with the British markets. If you take up our sales, you will see that what matter to the people of this country are those things that go into the British market. You cannot control that market, whether you like it or not, but you can produce more, you can produce a better article, and you can get it ready for the market more quickly.
We had Deputy Corry yesterday evening and it is evident, as Deputy Cogan has pointed out, that Deputy Corry is getting tired of his company, but cannot leave it. He said that one thing that was wanted in this country was organisation by the farmers, and he said that one of the reasons that the people were flying from the land was that the farmers were not prepared to be slaves and to have slaves made of their sons and daughters. He went on to tell us about beet. I have never grown any beet, but Deputy Corry has, and he was advocating beet here last night. The one thing I have heard from people who are growing beet in my county is that they have been made slaves of in the growing of beet, when they could make better money without slavery. Deputy Corry, however, made one very important statement last night. I am sure the Minister for Finance did not like Deputy Corry's making it. The Minister enjoyed Deputy Corry at the time, but, on serious reflection, he may be slightly perturbed about the statement, because Deputy Corry very often gives us the mind of Fianna Fáil which the Minister, of course, would not give us. There was a reference made to the Agricultural Commission and Deputy Corry told us that, in fact, that commission was set up to “cod” the people. He did not use those words, but that is what his words meant. The Minister for Finance did not want that, of course. I spoke in favour of the setting up of that commission, but I may tell the House that I have not much faith in the Government's acting on what that commission finds.
Mr. Brennan: I have this faith, that sensible men will go in and give evidence  which will be taken down and will be available as a ground-work, or a standard, for somebody to judge later on, and possibly to save this country from destruction. I have no hope of Fianna Fáil doing it, but I did not think that any member of the Fianna Fáil Party would stand up and publicly say that he had no faith in that commission, that the Fine Gael Party walked into it when they asked for it, and “we gave it to you, and you have it now, and we wish you luck with it.” So that is what the Agricultural Commission is. I wonder will Fianna Fáil speakers go down the country next Sunday and tell that to the people? Many people thought that is what it is, but they did not think that a member of the Party would come out and say it. Deputy Corry, however, has said it, and the Minister for Finance, who enjoyed it rightly at the time, will, I am sure, on serious reflection, not be too pleased that the cat was let out of the bag, and that we were allowed to know that the Agricultural Commission is a cover up for the Fianna Fáil failure of the last seven years.
After our seven years of prosperity, seven years in which Fianna Fáil were to redeem all the promises of reductions of £2,000,000 per annum, and so on and so on, during which they advised the people that they were being led into a morass with regard to the British market and said that the country should be put in a position of self-sufficiency, in such a position that if there was a big wall built around it, we could exist and be prosperous and happy inside it—that has all vanished, and, in its place, what have we? We have the Vote on Account to-day which sets out the serious increase in the demands on the people and we have the Minister for Agriculture coming into the House and making the statement:
So that, after all the seven years of prosperity, we have Deputy Moore coming here and talking about the  number of people who must be assisted; we have Deputy Childers saying the same; we have Deputy Kennedy appealing for co-operation; and we have Deputy Corry saying that there is no hope for this country unless the farmers unite and fight everybody else. After all that, we have the Minister for Agriculture, of all people in the country, boasting that the Government have taken, not £2,000,000 off the Estimates, not £2,000,000 off the backs of the people, but that they have been taking £6,500,000 more from the people each year than was taken in 1931-32. That is the position we find ourselves in to-day.
If there is to be any hope for the country, we must consider what would bring prosperity to the country. We must pursue that relentlessly. Only agriculture can do that, as even the Minister for Finance said. We have agriculture, we have secondary industries; we have the financial background of the whole country, and we have taxation. Our people are flying from the country; they are flying from the land. We have had Lenten Pastoral after Lenten Pastoral, we have our own experience, we have the census figures; we have all these things to prove that Fianna Fáil did not bring us prosperity. They brought us something else. A rot has set in in this country and it must be checked somehow. How are you going to do it? You will not do it by a haphazard industrial policy which has loaded the people with taxation; concealed and unconcealed taxation, and more taxation to come. If the Government want to check that abuse, they must seriously think of some plan, not the plan that they had seven or eight years ago, not a plan based on that; but a plan based on commonsense this time. It must be commonsense this time or it will not stop it.
There is no use in Deputy Moore, Deputy Corry, or Deputy Kennedy telling us that all we want is co-operation. Co-operation to do what? We had the Minister for Industry and Commerce in the last five or six years introducing, with great energy, great optimism, and great industry, Estimate  after Estimate for such wild cat schemes as industrial alcohol and the Turf Development Board. Where are they to-day? I remember saying at one time that I had absolutely no faith whatever in the Turf Development Board. I remember saying that I had no faith in industrial alcohol. I remember various Deputies shouting across the House at me: “What have you faith in?” I suppose the Minister for Finance was not satisfied with one white elephant in this country—we should have several. Then if a suggestion is made that certain steps ought to be taken to increase agricultural productivity, what do we find? That there is no money. But there was plenty of money to set up industrial alcohol factories. Farmers were expected to grow potatoes at 38/- per ton for that factory and the product was supposed to be sold at 3/- per gallon. Would any person outside a mental hospital pursue a policy of that kind except Fianna Fáil? Nobody would. Was it any wonder it failed? We must get away from that mentality. We must realise, with the ever-increasing burden of taxation, local rates, and all these things, that something must be done to meet that situation; something not of the type that Deputy Corry suggested—kicking out all the civil servants. That is Deputy Corry's idea, but it is not mine. My idea is that we can make agriculture pay by following the lines that will pay. If any Deputy was following four lines of business, one of which was not paying and had to be subsidised out of the other, would he continue to follow that? Not at all, he would drop it like a hot coal.
Some Fianna Fáil speaker last night, I think it was Deputy Victory, told us that what we wanted was a tillage policy. A tillage policy for what? Have we not all the tillage we require? Is there any importation into this country of any tillage products? We have a population of 2,900,000 in this country. How many acres of tillage would it take to feed those? If we produce more than they will take from us, what are we going to do with it? Can we send it to Great Britain? If we can, will it pay  us? It will pay us in one way, and that is, if we send it across on four legs, and we can do it. Of course Fianna Fáil went out to kill all that. They started by killing the calves. There was no thought for anything of that kind. Bullocks could not live side by side with the human population of this country. Such rubbish! If you go to the West of Ireland you will find that the small farmers there are the people who rear the cattle and it is out of the cattle that they make their living. So far as this country is concerned, it was cattle, live stock, and live-stock products that kept the balance of trade in a fair way always, and nothing else.
Is the Fianna Fáil Party going to do anything? I have very small hopes of it. As to my hope in the Agricultural Commission, Deputy Corry told us last night that it was a blind. The Minister for Finance enjoyed hearing Deputy Corry say that at the time. Since the Deputy told us that last night it is very hard to have any hope for the country while Fianna Fáil is in power. To hear Deputy Moore and people like him talk about contradictions is the absolute limit; because I do not think there was ever such a policy of contradictions as Fianna Fáil has. All the things they said they would do they did not do, and all the things they said they would not do they did. We had recently the scandal of the bacon prices exposed. There is a bigger and a worse scandal, if it were only exposed, and that is the scandal of the flour prices.
An Ceann Comhairle: It is customary on the Vote on Account to debate some matter of general policy. There was handed to the Ceann Comhairle as the subject for debate by the main Opposition—“unemployment, including its relation to agriculture.” The debate seems to have become a debate on agriculture, with occasional references to industry. Particular cases of alleged scandals would be much more relevant on the Estimate when the Minister would have an opportunity of replying.
Mr. Brennan: These things have been  already referred to on both sides of the House and I was only making a passing reference to them. They are part of the Government policy. I am not going into details but I am entitled to say that it is part of the Government policy; they have blistered this country beyond anything that ever happened here before or may ever happen here again. The Government and the Fianna Fáil members know that. They know it is the type of thing that is pauperising the people of this country. They know that if we are to have more employment we must first have money, extra productivity, and extra prices. But while you have a situation like this not only developed but encouraged what can you expect?
The Minister for Agriculture thinks the people are not, on the whole, so badly off. Deputy Childers thinks they are not so badly off. He thinks some of them are, and the others are not, so badly off. Could one get anything worse than the figures published by the Minister for Industry and Commerce with regard to the reduction in the numbers employed in agriculture? Within the last year and a half there has been a drop of something like 42,000 in our agricultural workers. That is the account furnished by the Minister himself. Could you get anything worse than that? Then we have the situation which was referred to last night as to the unpaid annuities and the unpaid rates. If this state of things does not appeal to the Fianna Fáil Deputies, and I am afraid it does not, I do not know what will. The Fianna Fáil people know they are on the wrong track and they know it for a long time. But they have not the courage to get out of it. If we are to have more employment in the agricultural industry, first of all the productivity of the farmers must be increased; their over-head expenses must be reduced; they must be left with more money than they have at present.
Deputy Moore thought that it was very inconsistent on the part of Deputy Dillon to say those two things together. We were led to believe when the economic war was finished and when we had won, when we had retained the annuities in this country,  the annuities which we were told Deputy Cosgrave willingly sent across to England, that we were going to have a huge reduction in the bill of costs. Not only were we told that, but we were told that we were to have plenty of money to employ additional people and that we would have to send to America for our kith and kin to come home. What has happened? Deputy Davin said this is the first Vote on Account that has been presented to the House since the conclusion of the Economic War. What have we got here? We have disillusionment. Poor Deputy Corry was disillusioned about the Civil Service, as he admitted last night. The Deputy thought in 1931 that civil servants would be kicked out and that some high court judges were to be kicked out and the salaries of those that remained reduced. He told us in 1931 we had too many of them. But they have been largely increased since. Yet we have Deputy Moore coming in to-day and talking about Deputy Dillon's contradictions. Is there really any sense of humour left in the Fianna Fáil Party? If there were they would derive a lot of humour from the present situation, were it not so tragic. I think that Fianna Fáil ought to realise and the Minister for Finance ought to realise that we must have greater production and greater export of agricultural produce than we have at present. I really imagine after what has happened, that the back benchers of the Fianna Fáil Party ought to stand up and say “Yes, we will.”
The Minister for Finance is as great a believer now in the British market as Deputy Dillon, but we had the cheap-jack jibes of the Minister for Agriculture about the British market. It is hard to expect anything useful or helpful when one sees a responsible Minister like the Minister for Agriculture trying to make cheap jibes about the British market, when he ought to be trying his utmost to get in there and to widen as far as possible the market for Irish produce and get the best prices for our people. The Minister for Agriculture ought to drop all this cheap-jack stuff. It is of no use to anybody and it does not get anywhere.
It is, Sir, a great disappointment to  find this year, the first year after the economic war has been ended, that we are presented with a bill like the Vote on Account that we have before us to-day. It is certainly a disappointment to the people of this country, after all they have suffered and lost, after our exports have dropped from £64,000,000 to £42,000,000, not to mention losses that cannot be recorded and what we are losing every day by way of increased prices for everything that we have to buy—after all the country is suffering in the loss of its population, it is surely a shock to find that we are now asked to foot this huge bill. In face of this, is it too much to hope we will have no more Fianna Fáil speakers coming along and talking about inconsistency and contradictions? Why this bill before us is the biggest contradiction ever presented to this House. Fianna Fáil itself has been a contradiction and I am afraid, in the end, it will finish in the same way.
Mr. Daly: Speaking last night in this House, Deputy Corry told of the number of factories that have sprung up in the County Cork in the past four or five years and the volume of employment given in those factories. He attributed the flight from the land in the County Cork to the increased employment given in these factories. He told us that the people were flying from the land, but that they were flying into the new factories and getting very good employment. Deputy Corry knows that is not true. He knows that there were nearly as many factories and mills closing down in the last three or four years as were opened there by this Government. The Deputy knows that in the present moment there is in County Cork a condition of unemployment and distress never known there before. He knows that the unemployment lists are going up every day, that some of our workers who are unemployed have to go four or five miles to the unemployment offices, and that all they get is 7/- or 8/- a week to support themselves and their wives and families. That is all they get from the Government which, six or seven years ago,  when they were going to the country asking for the votes of the people, told them that they were the Government of the poor man; that they would reduce taxation; that they would give employment to every man living in the country, and that they would bring home from America and other countries the people who had to fly from this country years ago. Deputy Corry admitted last night that the farmers are in a bad way; that they have been in a bad way for the past 12 months. I have been listening to Deputy Corry for the past five or six years when he told us in this House that the farmers were never better off than they were under Fianna Fáil; that they were never better off than when we had no British market. He even told us here again last night that the British market which we have now recovered is of no use to the farmers of this country.
Mr. Daly: I should like Deputy Corry to go down to the farmers in his constituency who, since the settlement was made, have been able to receive a fairly decent price for their yearlings and for their two-year-olds, and say to them: “Well, you are getting no better price now than you did when the economic war was on.”
Mr. Daly: They sent you back all right. We know very well that if this country is going to carry on we must have increased products from every line of agriculture to send to the British market, and that we must get the money back here if we are to carry on with Votes such as we have before us to-day. The unemployment question is very serious in County Cork, and it is not due to the flight from the land. Deputy Corry knows that very well. He talked about all the factories that have been started in County Cork. He talked about the £1,500 a week that is being spent on wages in Cobh. Does Deputy Corry  say that the agricultural workers from the rural areas of County Cork have gone into that factory in Cobh?
Mr. Daly: I do not believe one word of it. What became of all the unemployed in the town of Cobh? What became of the unfortunate men who were receiving 7/-, 8/- or 10/- a week to support their wives and families for the past six or seven years? Does not Deputy Corry know that there are men in County Cork who have not done a day's work for the past three or four years?
Mr. Daly: Something must be done by this Government. They are the people responsible for the state of affairs existing in this country to-day. The farmers in the constituency which I have the honour to represent are working farmers. They have supported the tillage policy in this country for the past five or six years. They are growing beet and growing wheat. They had to do it. Every farmer who could grow wheat or beet for the past five or six years had to do it because there was no other way of making a penny. But that policy cannot go on, because the land of the country will not be able to continue growing wheat. That is well known to the Government, and well known to the farmers of the country who are growing it. As I say, they are working people, but the conditions at the present time are so serious that they will not be able to carry on, and that is well known to the Government. Deputy Corry is well aware of the amount of rates outstanding in the County Cork. He is well aware of the amount of rates and decrees in the hands of the  sheriff and in the hands of the flying squad in Fermoy. He knows that every other morning at four or five o'clock that squad flies up Barrack Hill in one direction or down Barrack Hill for West Cork in the other direction, and for East Cork, too. They were never as busy as they have been for the past six months. When I put a question to the Minister for Lands here a few days ago, asking him if he would draw off the flying squad at least until the Agricultural Commission had heard evidence and come to some decision, he told me that they had to do this. Yes, and he sends down instructions to the flying squad and to the sheriff that they must collect the annuities. I hold that this Government have no right to the annuities, and yet they are sending the battering ram around County Cork to the doors of unfortunate farmers who have not enough money to support their families at the present time. I know that very well. They cannot get credit in the shops; they cannot get it from the co-operative creameries because there is no milk at this time of the year, and the milk for the coming year would not pay the bills that are due at those creameries. That, I am sure, is well known to the Government, and to every Minister of this State who should be aware of the conditions down the country. That is the position of the farmers in my area. After five or six years of a relentless economic war, when they were in the front-line trenches, a settlement was made and £10,000,000 handed over to Great Britain. Here a few weeks ago this Government came into this House and asked the authority of this House for the spending of £8,000,000 on defence. Defence from what, I should like to know?
Mr. Daly: Who is going to attack us? Eight million pounds is going to be spent. There is no commission to be set up to inquire into the spending of that £8,000,000. The Taoiseach, with his Minister for Defence, simply walks in here and asks the authority of this House to spend  it. But, when it is a matter of spending money towards maintaining the principal industry of this country or helping it after five or six years of an economic war brought about by him, he must set up an Agricultural Commission to inquire into it. Why was it not necessary to inquire into the defence of the country? Why was it it not necessary to set up a commission to inquire whether we should spend £8,000,000 to suit other people? There was no inquiry necessary for that, but it is necessary when the farmers of the country have to be put on their feet after having been in the front-line trenches for five or six years. It should be well known to the Government that, after that five or six years, the state of the farmers of this country is worse than it ever was in the life-time of any man living in the country. I was glad to hear it admitted by Deputy Corry that they have been in a bad way for the past 12 months. He has admitted that much at least. Prior to that, he said the farmers were going on all right.
We were told by Deputy Moore that no suggestion for a remedy had been made. I have one suggestion to make to the Minister, and I hope he will take serious notice of it. If the Minister and the Government have an interest in the agricultural industry, and if they intend to do anything to help to put it on its feet, they must do it immediately, because the situation is very serious. We know that the Government reduced the annuities by one-half. They gave that relief to the farmers, but that relief is no good to them now. In their desperate position, they must be given loans to restock their lands and to restock their dairies. After all, the foundation of the agricultural industry is the milking cow. I believe that you must increase the number of dairy cows in the country if you are going to have prosperity in the agricultural industry. At the present time in County Cork, if you take up the daily paper, you will see every other day auctions of dairy cows, 50 cows at this fair, 150 at another fair, and so on The farmers are selling out their dairies. Why? They cannot get anyone  to work on the farm or milk their cows. And why can they not get them to milk their cows? Because they cannot pay them sufficiently. It is not easy work to carry on a dairy. At the present time one man on a farm costs the farmer £84 a year. If the farmer milks 20 cows he must have two men, or even more, and the return he will get from the creamery would not pay those two men, not to mind leaving anything for himself.
I suggest to the Government that if they want to help agriculture they will give loans to the farmers on the amount of the reduced annuity. For instance, where a farmer was paying £50 a year he is now paying £25, and the Government should give that farmer a loan equal to the £25 that he was relieved of. The Land Commission should be the body responsible for the financing of it. That is one suggestion that I make to the Government, if they are in earnest in relieving the farmers. If you spend money in increasing the price of milk for the farmers you will put them in a position to be able to pay labour for the milking of their cows. That would be another way in which you could improve and help the agricultural industry. The more cows you have the more prosperous will be the country. I do not want to go back to the time when this Government slaughtered £10,000,000 worth of cattle.
Mr. Daly: It is the truth. We know that after the settlement of the economic war the farmers were getting better prices for their cattle, but I remember going to the fair of Fermoy and selling three cattle for £8 15s.
Mr. Daly: Yes, and I remember a week afterwards when the flying squad came to my house demanding the annuities and on those three cattle I had paid taxes at the rate of nearly a year's annuities. If the Government are serious, and if they want to help the agricultural industry out of the desperate position that they have put them into, they should abolish the Agricultural Commission in the morning, and they have the remedy in their own hands. Let them take their courage in their hands and come into this House and ask for £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 to go toward the relief of agriculture and they will find that the House will be willing to give it to them to finance the farmers.
Deputy Moore said there were only 15 per cent. of the farmers in need of money by loans. I wonder would Deputy Corry agree with Deputy Moore that there are only 15 per cent. of the farmers in the County Cork in need of money by loans at present? He would not agree with him, and why?
Mr. Daly: But they were great men with you when they were in the front-line trenches; they were great men with you when they were going into the fairs and taking 30/- for cattle for which they should be paid £12 and £15, and they were great men with you when you had fellows going around this country trafficking on the unfortunate farmers. What is this they were dealing with—I forget for the moment?
Mr. Daly: , Yes, fat cattle licences. They were great men with Deputy Corry and the members of the Fianna Fáil Party at that time. The farmers were great then, but the Deputy would not give them a loan now.
Mr. Daly: Was it? It was a good relief to many a man, to the farmers, and any time money was loaned to a farmer 99 per cent. of it was always paid. No matter what you gave a farmer you were fairly certain of getting it back sometime, and that is well known to Deputy Corry and to the Minister for Finance. They know that in the recent heifer scheme 99 per cent. of the money was paid back by the farmers who borrowed it. If the money was forthcoming in the morning from the Government to enable the farmers to restock their dairies in would be duly paid back. If the Government are serious in helping the agricultural industry they must increase the number of dairy cows. They must also increase the price of milk and make it possible for the farmer to pay the labourers.
Mind you, it is not the agricultural labourers and those flying from the land at the present time that are wrong in the country. There are more classes than the agricultural community going a bit cracked at present. You know there is a great craze for amusements and dancing that was never known in the country before, and a lot of people are blaming the agricultural community that they are gone mad on dancing and amusement. That is not the case. Those people have not the money for it, but there is another class that has the money. Deputy Corry referred last night to the Departments of State and the civil servants. He said he would do this, that and everything else with them; that he would sack the half of them. I would not like to do that. I say we have a very efficient Civil Service, but for the past five or six years, during the period of office of this Government, we had thousands of new inspectors and new civil servants appointed.
I would say that £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 a year have been spent on  the new civil servants that have been put into office by this Government since 1932. Where is the need for them now? I thought the need for them was only when the economic war was on, that they were needed for all the writing and the accounts and the book-keeping, and everything else. Surely, when we have come back to normal, it is not necessary to retain the services of these hordes of officials that we have had in the different Departments in the last five or six years? I think you could spend that couple of millions much better by helping the farmers. I believe that if the Government take this matter seriously —and they ought to know it as well as I or any Deputy in this House—and take their courage in their hands and bring in some proposals to relieve agriculture, that they will, at the same time, be relieving the terrible distress of unemployment that prevails throughout the land at the present moment. I know very well that, in my area, there is a large number of unemployed, I know of several men, who are well able to work and willing to work, who cannot find work, and they have to exist on 7/-, 8/-, and 10/- a week. Those men have very large families and they have to pay rent. I believe that the Government should not wait for the Agricultural Commission. I have a certain amount of hope in it but, after all, it may not report for the next year or two. I would remind the Minister and the Government that, if they leave the agricultural industry to drift, as it has been drifting, for the next year or two, they will find it then in a position that it would be useless to help it. I would ask them now to help the agricultural industry. By doing that, they will help to relieve unemployment generally in the country. I would ask the Minister to take serious notice of the suggestion I made to him and I hope that he will, in his wisdom, implement it.
Mr. Hughes: We are opposed to this Vote, because we believe that the crushing burden imposed on the people, through general taxation, through local taxation, and through invisible taxation, is one of the main causes of the present disastrous state  of our primary industry, agriculture, and employment in agriculture. No man, I think, with any knowledge of agriculture, or any appreciation of the true position in the country to-day, can deny the fact that the agricultural community were never worse off than they are at the present time. A great many of the Deputies on the Fianna Fáil Benches must have had the same experience as Deputies on this side of the House. They have had farmers coming to them, asking them to go to the Land Commission to intercede for them, and ask for an extension of time, even if they have to pay only half their annuity, as at the present time I might say that, as far as that particular Department is concerned, my experience is that all human feeling and all human sympathy are gone; that it is simply a machine there, switched on to collect, irrespective of whether an unfortunate farmer is able to meet the demand or not, or whether he is going to be left an economic wreck after they have collected any little thing that they can find. That is my experience of the Land Commission.
It has been admitted by Deputies on the other side of the House that agriculture is in a bad way and I do not want to keep repeating or stressing that point, but it is an extraordinary position that at this particular stage you find a Deputy, like Deputy Childers, coming along and telling us here that the people were never better off, that they look better and that they have definitely more money to spend.
Mr. Hughes: I can only conclude that he forgot the people he was talking about and that he really referred to those people, those privileged people, the new industrialists here, who, through licences, quotas, and monopolies, have been given extraordinary opportunities by the Government to exploit and fleece our  unfortunate people. The Minister for Agriculture came along later and attempted to substantiate what Deputy Childers had said. He told us that the farmers were no worse off than they were under the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. In fact, he thought they were better off than in 1931 and that, on the whole, they were fairly well off. If the Minister for Agriculture sincerely believes that, he is certainly living in a fool's paradise and the position, as far as improving agriculture is concerned, is a very hopeless one. He did try to attempt to prove what he said. In order to indicate that he was right, he quoted the agricultural index figure for 1931— 110. He did not tell us that, just prior to 1931, they were higher. He told us that in 1937 it was 104½, and that the figure for 1938 was not yet published but, from the information he had, it was likely to be 112. So that, the index figure for 1938, from the information the Minister had, was going to be two points higher than that for 1931. I think that that proves nothing at all. The real barometer, to my mind, that ought to be used by the Minister and by the Government to test the true position of agriculture and the position of agricultural prosperity in this country, is the employment barometer. What amount of employment is given by agriculture in this country at the present time and how does it stand in relation to past years? We find there is a very serious decline in the number of people employed on the land. Within the last few years there has been a fall of 43,000 people employed on the land, as published by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The Minister for Agriculture went on to tell us that, although there was an increase of £460,000 in the rates, there was a reduction in annuities of £2,000,000 and that, right away, in those two particular items, the farmers benefit to the tune of £1,500,000. He forgot to mention that the general taxation in this country was increased by £7,500,000. Later on he did actually mention that it was increased by that amount and he actually boasted that that increase had hurt nobody. Did the Minister suggest that no portion of that increase in general taxation of  £7,500,000 was borne by the agricultural community? To my mind, you may at least credit the agricultural community with bearing half the amount of that sum and that would show, taking the three figures— £460,000 increase in rates, reduction of £2,000,000 in annuities, and increase on agriculture of £3,750,000 in general taxation—that there was an actual increase in taxation on the agricultural community of at least £2,000,000. During the last three years, 80,000 of our people have emigrated to England and you have at the present time about 105,000 people unemployed in this country.
Various Deputies have attempted to tell us what is really wrong with agriculture. While an increase in agricultural production would be very useful and very necessary, I do not think that it alone will solve our problem. The Minister also told us that the price of the various things the farmer had to buy in 1938 is no higher than it was in 1931. He said that the prices of artificial manure and of seeds was no higher now, compared with 1931. I should like to tell the Minister that any practical farmer knows that the price of artificial manure, and especially the price of seeds, is much higher to-day. I was rather amused to hear Deputy Moore, referring to what Deputy Dillon said about invisible taxation, saying that what invisible taxation really meant was a price insurance, that the policy of the Government in this direction was a price insurance. I will give the House what a price insurance really means. I have tried to get the price of some seeds in 1931 as compared with present prices. I chose grass seed, and I should like to point out to the House that grass seed is the most important and most expensive seed the farmer has to buy for his land. I think any farmer Deputy recognises that it is absolutely essential to good agriculture that land be laid down to grass properly and with the best seed that can be bought.
I have quotations here showing that Irish-Italian rye grass seed per imperial quarter cost 40/- trade price in 1931, and the price quoted in Dublin  to-day is 75/-, an increase of practically 100 per cent. There are some quotations even as high as 76/6. I have a quotation from Belfast giving the price of Italian rye grass seed, 21 to 22lbs., as 53/- to-day against 75/- in Dublin. Bear in mind the reference which Deputy Moore made to price insurance. The Irish-Italian seed that we sow here is mainly grown in Northern Ireland. The bulk of that seed is imported in the rough and cleaned in two, three or four cleaning mills, and in order to keep those cleaning mills going and to give employment to a relatively few number of hands in these mills—that, I presume, is the intention of the Government—a tariff is imposed on the importation of clean Italian rye grass seed. That Italian rye grass seed must be imported in the rough, and the unfortunate farmer is asked to pay the difference between the 75/- and the 53/-, a difference of 22/- per imperial quarter. In other words, the Government, by that tariff system, are helping certain people in this country to rob, to plunder and to exploit the unfortunate farmer in respect of the most important seed he has to put into his land.
What is going to happen to the small farmer who is faced with a bill for grass seed like that for this present year? Anybody who has any experience knows what is going to happen, and especially in the case of a small farmer. There will be a definite tendency for him to go to a bigger farmer's loft where hay has been stored last year, collect hay seed and try to clean it himself, with the result that weeds like docks present in that hay seed will be sown back into the land. No matter what number of men that system is going to put to work, and, in actual fact, the number is relatively small, if it is going to put 2/- a bale on grass seed, it is not worth it, because this is the most important seed that goes into agricultural land. The present policy is a policy of encouraging farmers to sow weeds and dirt. That is what it amounts to, and Deputy Moore tells us that that is what he calls a price insurance. It is a price insurance to  three or four mills so that they may have an opportunity to plunder the people all over the country.
I should like to say that Deputy Victory was very honest last night in admitting that agriculture was in a very bad way. He sincerely appealed to the House for assistance in helping to improve the agricultural position here. A number of Deputies have suggested that the solution is increased production. That is a partial solution. Increased production alone is not sufficient. Deputy Cogan told us he was satisfied that agricultural production could be increased by at least 50 per cent. I am not at all satisfied that that could be done, and I think I am a fairly practical farmer and know what I am speaking about. I have gone to the trouble of looking up the progress made by agriculture here since 1854. According to the Banking Commission report, the yield of potatoes per acre has risen by nearly 70 per cent.; of wheat, by nearly 60 per cent.; of oats, by 46 per cent.; of barley, by 23 per cent., and hay, only slightly, by about 7½ per cent.
Mr. Hughes: The Deputy will find all that in the report. I am quoting certain statistics to prove the point I want to make. In 1854 we had 2,793,000 cattle of all sorts, including bulls, milch cows, heifers and one, two and three-years-old cattle, in this country. In 1931 that number had increased to 4,029,000, but in 1937 it dropped to 3,955,000. That is a very creditable performance on the part of the farmers in the last 70 or 80 years. They have definitely adopted scientific methods; they have gone about their business intelligently, and they have actually succeeded in increasing enormously the productivity of the land here. As I said, in the case of potatoes, there was an increase of 70 per cent. in the yield per acre; in the case of wheat, of 60 per cent.; in the case of oats, of 46 per cent.; in the case of barley, of 23 per cent.; and side by side with that you had an enormous increase in live stock. Pigs  were more or less constant up to 1935, when they fell off. Poultry in 1854 numbered 6,913,000 and in 1931 increased to 22,782,000, which fell off to 19,491,000 in 1937. In face of that definite increase from 1854 onwards, it is very doubtful if we can increase agricultural production to any serious extent. We can, of course, increase it, especially in poultry, but it is doubtful whether we can push live-stock production much further.
Deputy Victory asked what was really wrong with agriculture in this country. To my mind, what is wrong in this country is that the relative values of agricultural produce and manufacturing goods are wrong and the relationship in price out of all proportion. When the Minister for Industry and Commerce talks about a balanced economy—we have heard him talk a lot about it—he probably means a balance in production. But a balance in production is not sufficient. There must be a balance in values and in the exchange in prices as well. On exchange, as between agricultural production and industrial production, the balance is absolutely in favour of industry in this country. I want to make the position absolutely clear. This is a great live-stock producing country. There is no use in talking, as Deputy Cogan talked, about guaranteed prices, because the exportable price that we get for live stock on the British market governs the price on the home market for live stock and live-stock products. We have no control over that price in the export market, but we certainly can control the cost of production.
The prosperity of agriculture in this country depends on the difference between what it costs to produce and the price you receive for the article when it is produced. The margin of profit to-day is definitely narrowed down by the policy of the present Government to such an extent that there is little or no margin of profit. I am not making the case that production has dropped seriously here. Production has not dropped seriously here. But what is really wrong in this country at present is that there is a definite clash of interests between agriculture  and industry, and that that position is definitely developing into a jamb; that the interests of industry and agriculture are conflicting interests at the moment; and that industry is being developed along lines detrimental to the best interests of agriculture. The raw materials for production in agriculture have been artificially inflated by the use of the tariff weapon by the present Government. We would expect an intelligent Government in an agricultural country like this to say: “We have a big industry here standing on its own feet capable of producing wealth for the country,” because, after all, it is the greatest source of wealth that this country has. One would expect the Government to say that in the development of any secondary arm of industry they will preserve the agricultural industry and not allow any secondary development here to interfere or injure that main industry.
What actually happened? I believe that the economic war had serious and disastrous effects on our agriculture, but not more serious than industrial development at the present time—I mean on the particular lines that industrial development has taken place. No one can deny the fact that there is a definite conflict of interests, a violent conflict of interests, between our agricultural industry and secondary industries. There is no analogy between industry in this country and industry in Great Britain and other big manufacturing countries. They have great resources of mineral wealth in Great Britain. On these they have developed enormous industries and their outlook is mainly industrial as a result of these resources. They have a huge industrial population and the agricultural population is not nearly able to feed the industrial population. At any time, with the use of a tariff, they can help the agricultural population in England, because the moment they put a tariff on the importation of any particular food or industrial commodity the price of the home-produced article is immediately raised to the level of the imported article.
We in this country cannot help agriculture  by the use of the tariff weapon in any way; we cannot help our live stock and live-stock products. There is very little use in talking about wheat, oats, and barley and about tillage, which Deputy Corry spoke about, because they are of very little importance compared with live stock—the fundamental basis of agriculture in every agricultural country in the world. but more especially in this country, when you take the climatic conditions, the type of soil we have, the type of grass we have, and everything else into account. Industry here should have been developed along lines that were not going to be harmful to agriculture. An attempt should have been made to develop industries that would look for their raw materials to agriculture and the by-products of agriculture, rather than producing articles that are essentially raw materials in agriculture and forcing up the cost of production in agriculture. But that is what has happened. Our industrial culture and forcing up the cost of production here and the margin of profit to the farmer has practically disappeared. For that reason, I think that industry should be developed along lines that are helpful to agriculture, rather than along the present lines, which are actually crippling agriculture.
What can be done for agriculture? As one of the first things that can be done, more and more attention ought to be paid in planning our industrial development here and to so plan it that there will not be a conflict of interests, that it will not harm our agricultural interests. Our overhead charges will definitely have to be reduced. At the present time our overhead charges and especially local charges, have become a very serious demand on our agricultural community. I was very glad to see one move made by the Government in the right direction, that is the subsidy and encouragement given to farmers to buy artificial manures. I might refer to what Deputy Moore said on this matter. Unfortunately, the 10/- a ton subsidy which we are getting on artificial manures does not cover the excess prices we have to pay as a result of  the monopoly that has been granted to the manure manufacturers here. If there is to be any future for agriculture in this country the cost of production will have to be reduced. There is no use in talking about guaranteed prices and trying to increase production if there is not an encouragement for agriculture. It is very little use to talk about guaranteed prices if there is not a decent margin of profit left for the farmer. That margin of profit is definitely gone at present.
There is another matter to which I wish to call attention. At the present time there is a bounty paid to British farmers on fat cattle by their Government. I really think we should concentrate on trying to produce the best type of live stock here, a type of cattle that would qualify for the first-grade subsidy at the other side. We have been giving our attention to the production of fat cattle. I do not think it is wise that we should continue to concentrate on the fat cattle side of the business in view of the changed circumstances at the other side. Rather should we concentrate on the right kind of stores that would class as first grade. Good store cattle are commanding a better price per cwt. in Great Britain than fat cattle. In the final resort it will be better for the farmer if we can get the English farmer to look to this country for his store cattle rather than breed them himself. In that way, in the end the British farmer will come to look to this country for his store cattle. That is the point to which the Department of Agriculture should devote attention. We should go in for winter feeding of store cattle and have our stores in such good condition that when the market for stores is open in Britain in the springtime our stores would be in forward condition. That means that we must have better housing for them and the use of concentrated foods. You will want a balanced ration. There is no use in wasting food if you do not supply the necessary albumenoids in the mixture.
If the Minister for Agriculture is sincere in his talk about helping agriculture he should buy concentrated  food in bulk. We are at the mercy of another group in this country. This group buys cotton cake and oil cake and charges the farmer any price they like for it. There is no competition in the trade. Denmark and Holland are buying huge quantities of these concentrated foods, but they are buying them in bulk. They are buying at a far keener price than we are. Why cannot that be done here? How can we compete with Denmark, Holland and other countries in the British market if they can buy raw material much more cheaply than we can? These are the things that should concern this House and the Government, because it is a very important matter in the life of the country. Let the people be given a chance of making full use of the British market.
There is another point in this connection that has struck me and it is this. Deputy Victory put a question on this matter last night. Most Deputies ought to be aware that there is a big increase in milk consumption in England. There has been a “drink more milk” campaign or drive by the British Ministry of Health. The British are very anxious to encourage their people to drink more milk. We should encourage the breeding of the best heifer and cow breeds of milkers. We could secure the best prices for that type of milker in the British market. The people should be encouraged to go in for the production of the very best type of milker for export to England. In that line we have no competitors in the British market. We are alone in that respect. This is the one country to which Great Britain looks for the supply of in-calf heifers of the right type. I am afraid that is a matter that has been lost sight of by the Department of Agriculture. We should concentrate on the maiden heifer of the right colour, the right sort of head and all the other qualities that the English farmer looks for in his milkers. Let us concentrate on supplying the British farmer with the class of animal that indicates best milking qualities. The English farmer looks for his own type of milker and we should endeavour to produce what he wants. We have a monopoly on  that market as far as springers and milkers are concerned. We are the only people who are catering for that demand. Now that demand is going up. The milker for export to-day is commanding a very handsome price. We can improve that situation by paying more attention to the right type of beast to supply that particular demand.
Those are some of the many things on which the Department of Agriculture ought to concentrate. It would help enormously to improve the price that we get in the British market. There are just a couple of suggestions that I wish to make and for which I ask the consideration of the Minister for Agriculture: one is that he should encourage the breeding of pedigree cattle, cattle outside the ordinary commercial cattle altogether. We have here at the present time and have had for a number of years a big demand from Russia and from the Argentine for pure-bred cattle. We have tremendous advantages here in this country. We have available the right type of land that will give good bone, good muscle, good skin and hair; we have land that will produce the right type of beast in the way of pure-bred stock. Some attention should be given by the Department to endeavouring to produce that type of stock. The production of specialised stock might be very useful in giving employment to a good many people on particular farms here in this country. I just mention in passing that it is a thing which certainly could be developed in this country in the future. At the moment we want to concentrate on our ordinary commercial market.
In dealing with the British market we must not forget this fact, that with modern and scientific development in the production of live stock, and with modern transport bringing, so to speak, competitor countries close up to the British market, our geographical position is not as strong in that respect as it was in the past. The prices are definitely more keen there  than they were in the past. We must not forget that countries like Holland and Denmark, which are our competitors for bacon, eggs and butter for the British breakfast table, are buying their raw material at the very keenest prices, and that anything which is increasing the cost of production here is having a disastrous effect on the agricultural community. Without any interference from industrial development in this country, the margin of profit at all times is keen. I want to stress that point. It is keen because our competitors naturally have made that market keen. Because of the introduction of a protected market here, because of the use of the tariff weapon and the licences and quotas and everything else we hear about, that margin of profit for the farmer here has practically disappeared. To my mind, that is the real key to the position at the present time. That is what is really wrong. I agree with other Deputies that we can increase our production to some extent, but not to the extent that some Deputies are inclined to think. But even if we can increase production at the present time, it is no use, because even for our present production there is not a reasonable margin of profit for the agricultural community. The people who are responsible for that are the people who are sitting opposite us here. Government policy is responsible for that situation. They have developed an industrial situation here which is definitely clashing with agriculture at the present time. That matter must be put right first of all.
We heard a good deal from Deputy Corry about barley and about the admixture scheme, and how sorry he was that the admixture scheme was going to be dropped. I come from a barley - growing constituency. The people in my constituency grow as much barley probably as the people in Cork, and I feel that the admixture scheme is no solution at all for this barley problem. I know that we have a certain class of land here in this country which must be kept in tillage, and that we have light, poor land which can grow good crops of barley, but it is not good policy and it is not  in the national interests to force this admixture scheme on the country because it is going to benefit a comparatively small number of farmers. I have again been looking up the position with regard to barley and malt, because I know that at the present time we have a big number of malt houses idle along the River Barrow. In my young days every malt house along that river, 12 or 14 of them, was working to full capacity. That was giving a big amount of employment. There was no barley problem at that time, and there was no admixture scheme at that time. The real cause of the necessity for the admixture policy to-day is that out of 12 or 14 malt houses only one or two are working at present. We are importing big quantities of barley and malt although we have a surplus of barley in this country. In 1937 we imported from Great Britain £59,377 worth of barley; from British India we imported £77,607 worth of barley; from the Argentine we imported £40,759 worth of barley; from Chile we imported £81,537 worth of barley; from the United States we imported £2,884 worth of barley, and from other countries £417 worth of barley, making a total of nearly £250,000. We imported £101,397 worth of malt. Over £100,000 worth of malt was imported into this country—into a country where we have all the facilities for making malt, and where we have a big number of malt houses lying idle. That position has been allowed to develop by the Government. Is it because they are afraid to say to Messrs. Guinness: “You must buy Irish barley,” and that there is one particular law and one particular kind of respect for Messrs. Guinness because they are big industrialists here in the City of Dublin, while quite different legislation is applied to the unfortunate ignorant farmer down the country who is not able to stand up and defy the Government?
In face of those facts we have had the admixture scheme here in this country for the last few years. It has ruined the pig industry and it has  ruined the poultry industry in this country, especially the poultry industry. I quoted figures which show that our poultry population here has gone down by over 3,000,000 in the last few years. Mind you, it is to my mind one particular branch of agriculture in which there is room for enormous development. In 1931, we exported from this country £3,000,000 worth of eggs. Last year we exported £750,000 worth. That is a huge falling off. I think there is no reason why our exports should not be double what they were in 1931. We in this country should be in a position to export £6,000,000 worth of eggs. It is an industry which might be termed, if you like, a thrift industry. It is the sign of thrift in the case of the cottier and the small farmer along the hillside. Those are the people who have been great egg producers in this country. That has disappeared, and it has disappeared as a result of the admixture scheme. They must be encouraged to come back into production. The Eggs Bill which was passed here a few months ago is not going to be of much benefit, to my mind, because we have not gone as far as the Danes and the Dutch have gone. Denmark exports her eggs under Government guarantee. All Danish eggs sold on the British market are sold under Government guarantee. We do not propose to do that under the present Bill, and while we are not prepared to go as far as the Danes in that respect we cannot expect to compete with them on the British market.
There are many matters that need attention there. It struck me last night that Deputy Victory, when he was putting that question across the House to this Party about what can be done for agriculture, seemed to think that we were absolutely barren of any ideas here as to what might be done for agriculture. There are many things that can be done. I am glad that the people opposite are beginning to realise that the most important industry here is agriculture. The Minister for Finance, at a function within the last few weeks, referred to the importance of that great industry and the importance of increasing production.  He pointed out that we had made certain inroads on our external assets, and he said that to offset that we would have to increase agricultural production. These inroads were made for social purposes, for improved social services such as housing and that sort of thing, and in order to offset it we must increase production. The first thing that will have to be done is to make it attractive for the farmer to increase production, and you will have no increase in production until the farmer gets a fair return for his worries and labour and outlay. Until there is some change in policy there is very little hope of that being done.
According to the returns of the value of our exports from 1931 to 1938—and this was a matter the Minister for Agriculture carefully kept away from— it would appear that in the year 1931 we exported from this country, in animals and foodstuffs of animal origin, £27,185,000 worth, and in 1938 that figure had fallen to £18,994,000. According to the Trade Journal for 1930, the total agricultural output for this country was £62,000,000, and in 1937, the last year for which figures are available, that had fallen to £47,000,000. We all remember what the Minister for Finance has said about the British market. I suggest that this is the time to try to secure a trade agreement with the British Government for preferential treatment for our agricultural produce on the British market. It is a most opportune time, when the British are thinking in terms of war. Geographically speaking, this is a country that any country, while Great Britain is there, can hardly prevent supplying foodstuffs to England, and it is in the interests of the British Government to encourage us to produce foodstuffs with which to supply her people at all times, but more especially in time of war. While the British Government are thinking in terms of war, now is the time to secure preferential treatment for our agricultural produce.
Mr. Hughes: I think we should send them over the Minister's speech that he made at the bankers' dinner, when he talked about the abiding love of our two peoples. He was anxious to secure the abiding love of our two peoples.
Mr. Hughes: There is no use served by that sort of interruption. The Minister can make lovely speeches about abiding love. I do not want to promote any abiding love between the two peoples, but, if it is in our interests, if it is good business for our country to promote good feeling between this country and England, then I believe it ought to be done, and the people from this side of the House have been telling the Government that all along. Now, when agriculture is nearly destroyed, seriously wrecked at all events, by the insane policy of the Government, we have the Minister for Finance telling the people it is necessary to secure an abiding friendship between this country and England.
This is the time when the people down the country expected there would be some reduction in the demands made for taxation. There is no sign of relief coming. It is no wonder the people are disappointed. There is no serious attempt being made to reduce the oppressive burdens of taxation. We have to wait another year, but it is nearly time for the Government to realise, as they are beginning to realise, that the deplorable condition of agriculture is due to bad policy in industrial planning and to the serious burdens of taxation that have been imposed on our people.
Dr. O'Higgins: Anyone listening to the speech just delivered, particularly anybody interested in agriculture, must have contrasted that speech with the speech delivered by the Minister for Agriculture in the course of this debate. Anybody who listened to both speeches could measure the depth of knowledge of each individual of that particular industry. We had the speech we have just listened to, showing a  very keen insight into the agricultural industry and the requirements of that industry; we had every evidence of deep thought and consideration and there were sound and sensible suggestions made. We had, on the other hand, from the Minister for Agriculture last evening, a superficial, quippish, political speech in which he dealt with many things, but rather deliberately refrained from dealing with agriculture. Having listened to the speech, and having listened to similar speeches from the same Minister over a considerable number of years, I am not surprised that he rather deliberately avoided getting into a discussion on the agricultural requirements of the country. He preferred rather to rely on the inaccurate quotation of official figures and to invite his hearers to study official figures.
Now, this particular debate is one of the few occasions in the course of the year where there is an opportunity for a fairly elastic discussion on Government policy, and the reactions of Government policy. It is one of the few occasions when the results of Government policy, as a whole, can be examined, rather than within the narrow confines of one particular Estimate, and it is, therefore, one of the occasions on which every Deputy has an opportunity for something like a national stock-taking, when he gets an opportunity to see exactly whether we are going forward or backward, uphill or downhill. We have this particular discussion after nearly eight years of one administration, when that administration has been there at least sufficiently long to work out finally any particular plans or ideas which they had at the time they were in political opposition. Whether they were sincere in opposition or not, I am not in a position to state I am not in a position to know. What I do know is that, when the present Government Party occupied these benches they had, or pretended to have, a remedy for every ill and ailment that this country suffered from. Certainly, whatever remedies they had, they were not in any way modest in parading themselves before the electorate as the great healers, the great physicians. They  paraded this country, worth, south, east and west, like so many modern Sequas, following the example of that successful perambulatory merchant with dancing and cheering boys around the platform. For every ill, every evil, every grievance that the State had, they had a remedy, and all they wanted was the votes of the people and then the remedy would be given in return for the Vote. And the ailments, real or imaginary, from which the country suffered at that time were many. The people were crushed down by the brutal taxation of the time. There was a certain amount of emigration, a certain amount of unemployment; wages were bad and trade was deplorable. The remedy for all these ills was: return Fianna Fáil with their satchel full of plans. The people, in good faith, thought they would try the remedy. They tried the remedy and employed the physicians some seven years ago and now, at the end of a period of seven years of unrestricted control, enjoying a majority in this House that no previous Government ever enjoyed, free to apply any plan, sound or unsound, and with ample time to work out their policy in every direction, we face a Vote on Account towards meeting a bill for services in this country unequalled in this country, either under British or Irish control. We are met to discuss it at a time when, far from removing the brutal burden of taxation, we have taxation up by many millions of pounds; rates up by more than £1,000,000; unemployment up by tens of thousands; population down; emigration in tens of thousands; customs and excise up by more than £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, and we have every evidence either of the rakes' progress or dishonest people becoming repentent.
If there was any truth in the statements made that this country was overtaxed and that no industry, and in particular agriculture, could possibly prosper on account of the deadweight of taxation, if there was any real honesty behind those speeches, then the least one would expect would be that some attempt would he made to reduce that brutal weight of taxation. The way that particular crushing burden was removed was by increasing it by many  millions of pounds, so that, this year, we have the biggest bill that was ever presented, far and away bigger than was presented in the times when the present Ministers denounced their predecessors as being blood-sucking vampires, crippling the efforts of every honest working man in the country.
It is a time that we can look back and, if all those charges were untrue, then withdraw the charges. The only fault that was to be found with their predecessors in office was that they were not spending half enough, that they were not taxing the people half enough, that the right course, the national course, the patriotic course, was to pile tax upon tax and rate upon rate. If we are to believe that the actions since were honest, then we must take it that that was the right course and that the only thing wrong with their predecessors was that they were not spending half enough. But then, as usual, when taxation is discussed, we have the old parrot cry: “Social services,” the political cat, the animal that is blamed for all our bodily ills and evils. We have a responsible Minister pretending to quote from official records and giving people to understand that all this huge increase in taxation is accounted for by increased social services, unemployment assistance, widows' pensions, old age pensions, etc., etc., and inviting anybody who doubted his statement to examine statistical abstracts. I expect that invitation was given in the hopes that it would not be accepted. For once, I followed the advice of the Minister for Agriculture, and I did refer to that particular work. I find that nearly £2,000,000 of the increased taxation is accounted for by increased civil servants, increased number of policemen, and increased expenditure on the Army. I am leaving out the year 1939-40 because I believe the Army expenditure for this coming year can be fairly regarded as abnormal and, if I were to use it for the purposes of argument in debate, it would be entirely misleading. I have left out of my reckoning the huge bill which we are asked to face this particular year and I find that in civil servants, policemen and Army expenditure the taxpayers'  bill has gone up by approximately £2,000,000. Well I remember, and Deputies opposite remember, the time when another Government was charged by the present Ministers with aping in the ways of expenditure a mighty empire which lies alongside us; that we had to do everything on the grand British scale. They convinced every decent, honest farmer in the country that he, hard-working, badly paid man, was carrying a policeman, a soldier and a civil servant on his back. Everyone of us remembers the thundering speeches of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the Taoiseach, etc., when they convinced every honest man listening to them that all his work was going to maintain a civil servant, a policeman, or a soldier, and that industry, agriculture or trade could make no headway in this country because of the abnormal top-heavy expenditure in State display, pomp and ceremony. I remember the parallel drawn between the population and area of this country and the population and area of neighbouring countries and the impression created that, to every bunch of taxpayers, there was a policeman, a soldier and civil servant waiting to draw his pay out of their pockets. If all those speeches were the speeches of honest men, and not those of insincere political rogues, why this state of affairs after seven or eight years of their administration? The only difference between now and then, if those speeches were true, is that every workingman has two police, two soldiers and two civil servants on his back, and that he cannot straighten himself to do his job or make headway because of that enormous pressure of taxation on his back.
We had, of course, speeches pointing out the deplorable emigration from this country and the loss of the best bone and sinew year after year, when boys and girls were going to America in their thousands, and we had a picture of the appalling loss to the nation with the best of the young leaving year after year. During some of those years, we had emigration to America, but emigration to America was never as great as the emigration to England in the last six or seven  years. Does anyone, either on the Government Benches or any other benches, dare to compare Irish emigration to America with Irish emigration to England? Emigration to America took place, even in the best of times, under most prosperous conditions. Emigration to America was brought about by the attraction from abroad. Those who went out were going out to a brother, to a friend, to a cousin, they were going out with a job ready-made, with a home ready-made; they were going out to a country where they would move amongst their own kith and kin and amongst their own co-religionists, and they were going out from this country to a greater Ireland, drawn there by the attraction from abroad. Contrast that with what has been happening in the last six or seven years—the same or greater numbers going to England. Where is the attraction there? Is it a sudden development of intense love in the hearts of those boys and girls for the people in England? Is it a great attraction over there to go over to join their brothers, their sisters, their cousins or their friends? When they get over there, are they moving in an Irish atmosphere? Are they working amongst their own co-religionists? Are they going to a greater Ireland across the sea?
There is no man, no matter how brazen, would suggest that that type of emigration and the older type of emigration are on a par. Those people who have left the country in the last eight or nine years have left, not because of the attraction from abroad, but because of the drive here at home, because of the desperate economic conditions that forced them to go into the land of the traditional enemy, to go amongst black strangers, amongst people with whom they have nothing in common, and not to a ready-made job, but despairing of things at home, and going abroad in the hope of finding work, finding a home, amongst strangers. That has been stated here more than once in recent years, and practically every time it was mentioned, the Minister for Industry and Commerce got up, in his cock-a-hoop  style, to deny the whole thing as political bluff and political bluster. He tried the same game at a recent meeting outside this Dáil, and he was called seriously to task by the Bishop of Galway, who deplored that any Irishman holding a responsible position would view the tragedy of emigration so lightly as it appeared to be viewed. I do not suppose that, ever again, for political purposes only, anybody speaking from the Government Bench or from behind it will get up to deny the fact that we have a deplorable drain of emigration from this country and that emigration over to England.
That kind of political brass gets neither Government nor Opposition anywhere. If a thing is a fact, there is far more necessity to face up to it, if it is unpleasant, than there is if it is pleasant, and if there is an unpleasant, regrettable fact staring us in the face, then it is a case of admitting it and trying to remedy it. We have every sign of a flight, particularly from the land. We have the school population falling. We have two evil streams flowing inside the country, one from the rural areas into the urban areas and into the cities, and from the country as a whole out to other countries, and of the two, I think that perhaps the most serious is the stream of flesh and blood from the rural areas into the urban areas and the cities. I had occasion to go into such figures fairly thoroughly recently and I put this picture to any Deputy. You have, in 99 per cent of the rural areas, a dropping population and you have an increasing population in nearly every urban area, while you have a dropping national population. That, in itself, is serious enough, but if you investigate the thing a little further, you find that the dropping population in the rural areas is two girls for every boy, that the drop is twice as great in the case of females as in the case of males. I ask anyone seriously to picture that situation lasting for 20 years, and to picture the Irish countryside 20 years hence when, for 20 years, there has been a gradual flow from the rural areas either into the cities or out of the country, the rate of flow being twice as great with  females as with males. Do you not know very well that any ordinary rural district with which any of us are familiar at the moment, in 20 years' time, would be as bare, as far as human beings go, as the Sahara Desert? Is that a situation to be met merely by the cheap ballyhoo we sometimes hear from the Government Benches or is it a situation to be faced up to and tackled?
There was one thing at least about Fianna Fáil propaganda in the past that had a certain amount of truth in it even then. That was when they preached, every time they were outside the city, that the one industry in this country which mattered was agriculture; that agriculture then was making no headway on account of the overhead charges. There is probably not a Minister that did not make 100 speeches along those lines when he was outside the city. There was certainly an amount of truth and of commonsense behind those statements even then. But the overhead charges on agriculture then were annuities, rates and wages. There was no tax on the raw materials, there was no tax on the ordinary commodities going into the farmer's household or acquired for his work or business.
Since then, in spite of the nominal halving of the annuities, the overhead charges on every farmstead in this country have been increased, and very considerably increased. Feeding stuffs, machinery, implements, practically every requirement of the home, has a tax, or a tariff, or an increased price on it because of one or the other. When we are dealing with this matter it does not matter, in fact, whether the cost of the article is increased by way of a direct tax, or by way of a tariff, or by an increased price behind a tariff wall. It is, in fact, the same thing to the individual. Everything he buys, everything he uses—all the raw materials of his business—have increased in price due to the policy of the Government. Every boob knows that if the cost of the raw materials of any industry is increased profits cannot be maintained unless the cost of the finished article is increased as  well. In this country we have the extraordinary paradox of people talking about prosperity by increasing the price of the raw material and the cost of the finished article being reduced in price, and wedged between those two things, increased cost of production and decreased price for the finished article, we have what the Minister for Agriculture now calls the economic fabric of the country endeavouring to exist.
When the people engaged in a big industry are in that position, outgoings increasing and profits decreasing, they have to cut and lop and save in one direction or another. The sheriff will see that they do not lop, or chop, or save with the rates. The sheriff and his posse will see that they do not chop, or lop, or save with the annuities. The merchant will see that there is no lopping or saving with the cost of the raw materials, with the cost of their purchases. The only direction in which an individual can save so as to meet all these demands directly or indirectly from the Government is by one man less on the farm or one maid less in the kitchen. Is it any wonder that in that kind of a vicious circle we have two results that it is scarcely possible to see alongside one another—increased emigration, flight from the land, flight from the country, and alongside that increased exodus from the country, an increased number of unemployed people up and down the land?
One could understand with a population rapidly increasing that there should be increased unemployment. But with the population falling, and falling particularly rapidly in the rural areas, to have increased unemployment, an increased number of men seeking work, means that if there were no emigration the position would be more than dangerous.
If, on top of our present number of unemployed, we had the 70,000 or 80,000 young men and young women who fled from the country in the last five or six years, what would the position be? Would it be a position that anyone could view with an easy mind? Would it be a position that anybody  could regard as being safe? If we had that situation, we would be very near a revolutionary position, and we might have a real case for the Bills recently introduced.
I would say that the Government, according to their own way of looking at things, have in one way, by what I might call artificial means, done a considerable amount to try and meet the situation. The draw on every fund has gone up and up and up—on home assistance, unemployment assistance, and relief schemes. No matter what argument there may be, no matter what glib speeches we may hear from the Minister for Industry and Commerce, if unemployment is decreasing, and if there is less unemployed people, then there should be less draw on home assistance and unemployment assistance, and less necessity for relief schemes. But we have every single year, one year after another, the amount of money required under these three headings increasing. In a brave, if you like, but hopeless effort to meet a situation by so many panaceas, in 1935 the amount of money expended under these three headings was £2,000,000—a big lot of money. In 1936 it had gone up to £2,500,000, an increase of £500,000 in one year in the height of the Fianna Fáil Administration. The next year the sum was £2,500,000; the next year, 1938, a big jump to £2,800,000, nearly £2,900,000; and, in the present year, again £2,800,000, either under unemployment assistance, home help or relief schemes. Side by side with that we have a vastly increasing Army, an increasing police force, an increasing Civil Service, and rapidly increasing emigration; but still more and more money required because more unemployment exists. Is that healthy? What does it mean when it is faced up to candidly? It means that industry generally is employing fewer people either because fewer are required or because wages are lacking to pay more. Mind you, the real strength of a country to provide employment is the number of employed people in the country without any artificial assistance, without any relief schemes or forced State schemes  of one kind or another. I wonder if artificial respiration of that kind were withdrawn at the moment what the picture would be like? Each Deputy can guess for himself what the normal, natural position would be if all these relief schemes and State drives, of one kind or another, were withdrawn and the country forced back on its own natural resources. The position would be such that I do not think any of us would like to see it or any of us would like to live here under the conditions that would then obtain.
It is all very well to point out evils and to say that this is wrong and that is wrong. It is all very well to take a quippish line of the kind the Minister for Agriculture takes, a misleading line. But I would like that a speech such as we have heard from Deputy Hughes would receive serious thought and serious consideration even though it meant a reversal of the policy of the Minister. Serious consideration should be given to the fact that in spite of all our fancy schemes the land is employing less.
Even the official figures published from time to time by the Government make it very clear that year after year, for the last seven years, we had fewer and fewer people living out of the land, living on the land and working on the land. The reason is not that the land is not there. The real reason is that the money is not there, and the wages are not there. No man is going to work for the sake of keeping himself warm. Any man who works is going to work for wages. If the wages are not available then the man is not going to work. There is scarcely a labour-employing farm that has not cut down the number of its employees by at least one in recent years, and in many cases they have been cut down by two, three and four, not because the work is not there for them, but because the money is not there to pay them for their work. Even with State regulation and State supervision there is nobody going to claim that the rate of wages fixed for agricultural workers is excessive. I suppose in no white country is the rate of wages so low as the rate that has been fixed by the State in this country.  I do not believe that in any white country, or any country claiming to be civilised, is the rate of wages so low as here. I am not criticising the State for that because if they fixed a higher figure, and the money was not there, the result would be more men in the tragic queue of unemployed.
It is all very well to be receiving golden keys and silver trowels for opening a factory here or there, a factory which is going to employ 15 juveniles or girls. I am not against that kind of thing altogether, but if you have 15 juveniles or girls going into a job in a factory and 50 able-bodied men going out of work on the farm, you have a picture of what is happening. There is no attention being drawn to the 50 men going out of work. What has been happening for the past six or seven years in this country is that all the ballyhoo and public attention has been directed to the little handful going into the new factory in order to detract attention from the hundreds going out of work on the land.
To get back to the policy advocated by Fianna Fáil in their hectic patriotic days when they had a cure for everything, the policy they advocated was the lowering of the overhead charges, a reduction in the cost of what the farmer had to buy, a reduction in the budget that had to be prepared every Saturday night, the attempt to leave more in the trousers pocket after the weekly budget was met, to leave more for wages, more for employment, more for stock. We know what has happened. The official figures show it; the balances in the banks are being reduced, the stock is being reduced, the small man goes to the wall first. The poultry and eggs production is reduced by millions. The big man will stay to the finish. The cattle man will last, perhaps, the longest. He has more credit and more money behind him. But in the case of the small man his position is that his stock is disappearing and shrinking. He is selling week by week to meet the demands for rates and some overhead charges. We are all familiar with that story.
Every country Deputy knows the  position. What complaints does a Deputy hear oftenest? He hears of people who are forced to sell at the wrong time because of the demands knocking at the door. They have not enough capital, they have not credit. The demand is there for rent and the red letter demand for the rates. They know that the Government means business; that the sheriff will be out in a few days. What can they do? The money is not there. There are in the farm a few little cattle that if they could be kept for two or three months until fairly ready for the market, would enable the farmer to get out of his difficulties. These little cattle are sold at a loss before they are ready. The big man with the capital is there to buy them cheaply and he will make a profit on them. There is no consideration for the man without capital and credit. He is forced to sell before the little cattle are ready. He has to sell at the wrong time.
Not so long ago I heard a Minister telling us that the farmers were not really so badly off as they were making out, for although they were getting less for their cattle, they were buying them cheaper now than they were some years before. I ask the Minister did he think the calves grew on white-thorn bushes or did he think it was at Woolworth's they were bred? If the calves were being bought cheaply it was the little farmer who was suffering. I would like to see corrected that sort of mentality displayed by the Minister. Quite obviously the Minister for Agriculture is not the man who is going to develop agricultural production. I doubt if any Minister for Agriculture alone could stop the drift and stop the haemorrhage from which agriculture is suffering in this country at the present moment. Only the Executive Council as a whole — forgetting about what they said or what they did one year ago, or five years ago, or ten years ago—pulling together, and realising where we are going, can stop that particular drift by listening to and studying and considering the suggestions which have been made in  speeches such as the one we have just heard from Deputy Hughes.
Mr. Belton: The speeches to which we have listened were rather tiring because of their monotony of truth. Even though a story or an explanation of a position is done truthfully, when we hear it too often we get tired of hearing it. I wonder how many people in this House know the position outside in the country, and how long they will act the hypocrite in condoning that position. Broadly speaking, the position in this country to-day, after seven years of Fianna Fáil Government, is that that Government has failed utterly. Agriculture is worse. Industry, if everything were totted up, is worse. Unemployment is greater than it was seven years ago. Production is much less. Figures were given here which are appalling, but which, on their face, do not represent the worst part of the position. It was stated here that agricultural production in this country in 1930 amounted to £62,000,000. In 1937, it had fallen to £47,000,000. Now, what we call the price of goods is really the money value, and the price of money is the goods value. Goods can be inferior in quality, and so can money. Now, let us examine the quality of the money which in 1930 represented the agricultural production of this country. It was £62,000,000 on a gold basis. In 1937, it was £47,000,000 on an inflated basis. I will put it another way. In 1930, we produced from the soil of this country £62,000,000 gold, 20/- in the pound. In 1937, we produced £47,000,000, paper pounds, a managed currency representing only 12/- in the pound. What is the difference? Anybody can calculate it. Those are facts which cannot be refuted. The Minister for Finance smiles. He should be crying if he felt the responsibilities of his office. Of course, the Minister for Finance in this country, although he shouted “Up the  Republic,” when he got into office forgot the real essence of Republicanism, the real essence of independence, and left the control of our money in the hands of a foreign State. Now, “Up the Republic”!
How is the Dane beating us? He beats us by about 5/- in the £ because his currency is managed by the Danish Minister for Finance. Apparently, the only function of our Minister for Finance is to impose taxes, and see that they are collected by his revenue officers. That is his whole function. Again, I should like to emphasise the immense fall in agricultural production, measured by gold prices. We have, as has been explained already, a drift from the countryside to the towns, and from the whole country to some other country. Every day we read resolutions and speeches drawing attention to this fact. The last speaker, Deputy O'Higgins, touched on the real reason. The real reason is that there is no living in the countryside, thanks to Fianna Fáil policy. Is it any wonder that we have such a terrible tale of woe behind the Fianna Fáil Government's administration, side by side with their wildly extravagant promises before they came in?
In examining the position, it must be remembered that from every Fianna Fáil platform throughout the country for five long years, from 1927 until 1932, they shouted that there was no need for an army in this country, and that the only reason the Government was maintaining an army and an extravagant police and detective force was to watch the Republicans. Now, let us come down to the present Army. The Government is going to raise an Army of 30,000, and a bankrupt or semi-bankrupt State is going to pay for it. What are those 30,000 going to do if they are not going to coerce and dragoon the exasperated population which has been robbed and beggared by the Fianna Fáil Government? Let us face up to facts. My business activities carry me into pretty well every phase of the economic life of this country. My activities on public bodies give me a fair working knowledge of this thing which the Minister for Finance would describe as social  services. Let us deal with some of them. Some speakers have referred to the golden keys presented to Ministers to open industries and the golden keys to open new houses. I am a member of a body—the Dublin Corporation— which has built more houses than any other local authority in Ireland. That, of course, is natural; it is no boast for the capital, but it conveys the fact that those of us who are engaged on that work have some experience. Who provided the money for the social services? The Dublin Corporation, on its own credit, went out into the market and had to borrow there on terms that had to stand the test of the open market. They had to borrow every penny required to build the houses for the working classes in Dublin. The Government gave subsidies, but they were subsidies to meet the loan charges, not subsidies by way of capital expenditure. The capitalised value of those subsidies would amount to about £1,500,000. The Dublin Corporation have had to mortgage their credit to the extent of that £1,500,000. They raised that money, whereas if the Government really wanted to come to the help of the Corporation and to help house building they would have raised the money.
Mr. Belton: No. We do the building; the Minister does the bragging. If you are to claim credit for giving subsidies, give them. Do not make us go into the market to raise the money. I am sorry Labour is not more numerously represented here. Only this week, in the Dublin Corporation, we had a deputation from the Dublin Trades Council giving figures which showed that not during our time has there been such unemployment in the building trade. Now what about your social services? I am speaking from the practical point of view.
Mr. MacEntee: I submit that this is opening up an entirely new field in the debate. It has ranged over a great deal of ground, but I understood the  question to be discussed on the Vote on Account was unemployment in its relation to agriculture.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I understood the subject for discussion on the Vote on Account, the subject of which notice was given to the Ceann Comhairle, was unemployment, with special reference to agriculture. I think the question of unemployment generally was open. That was my understanding, at any rate.
Mr. Belton: For the Minister's information, I am a small builder and before the depression was felt in the building trade I was employing about 150 men. I am probably the largest tillage farmer in the County Dublin. I have 250 acres under the plough and it is only a bagatelle in employment compared with the employment that I was giving in the building trade. If a review of the employment and unemployment position is relevant in this discussion, I think a word or two on building, and the Minister's bragging about house building and social services, would not be out of order. The Dublin Trades Council are awake to the seriousness of the situation. They must be. Nearly all their men are idle. The housing activities of the Dublin Corporation are stopped, except in those cases where contracts are placed. To meet financial obligations under those contracts, a loan of £1,500,000 was necessary. Authority for floating that loan was sought from the Government four or five weeks ago, and we have not got it yet. I, as Chairman of the Finance Committee, request that it be given forthwith. The Minister, of course, will say bad management. Well, I will anticipate him.
What has brought agriculture to its present condition is far more serious and deep-rooted, in my opinion, than has been mentioned in this debate, all of it that I have heard. Looking at the economic position of this country from various angles, or from the  angles of various industries, I am satisfied that we are facing a national financial crisis. I agree with the last speaker or two who said that it is not a matter of what we said yesterday or the day before, or what we did yesterday or the day before; it will take the combined national effort of all Parties, all people of goodwill, to save this country, and it is time we got down to that. The sooner the better. The sooner we realise the mistakes that have been made the better, so that we will avoid similar pitfalls in the future. It is much better and far more national than to try to secure debating points, one over the other. The excuse that we get from every Department is that the Minister will not give sanction.
It is stated on public platforms that the Government are giving as much as 66 2/3rds of a subsidy for loan charges for house building, and they go on to say they are discharging their responsibilities by giving such a subsidy. That subsidy, which is only a loan charge, not a percentage of the capital expenditure, was given at a time when costs were not much more than half what they are to-day. That subsidy was given to the Dublin Corporation at a time when a corporation cottage cost £450 to erect and when a flat dwelling cost £500 to erect. The price of that cottage to-day would be £630 and the price of the flat to-day would be £870. But we do not get 66 2/3rds of a subsidy for loan charges on these costs. The 66 2/3rds in some cases went to slum clearances. We are being told from every platform that a politician of the Government Party mounts, that they will clear the slums. Will they give to the Dublin Corporation the percentages that they pretend they have been giving, and will they give the credit facilities that are required to raise the money necessary to clear the slums?
With regard to foresight in this matter, we know that the ills of agriculture to-day and the ills of unemployment have been due, and are distinctly traceable, to the maddest event in the history of this country—the economic war. That row which was started was  the arch mistake and incompetence was shown by letting it go to a fight. An ordinary man, if he is insulted by a champion pugilist, will resent it but, if the pugilist asks him to step into the ring and settle it, he will be a terrible fool to go into the ring. But, we went into the ring with the pugilist, and what happened? He kept playing with us until he had our brains nearly battered out and then he settled it at his price. That is what we are keeping up a Department of External Affairs for. It is for that the Vote on Account for External Affairs is before us now. That settlement was come to by the Taoiseach and three or four of his Ministers. I noticed particularly when those negotiations were going on——
Mr. Belton: Unemployment in Dublin City, the depression in the building trade, the slump and stagnation in house-building and in the corporation schemes are due, of course, primarily to the economic war, but more immediately to the settlement of the economic war, or to the terms of that settlement. That dispute was settled a year ago and it was decided that we should pay £10,000,000 to Great Britain. At that stage we had arranged with the Irish Banks Standing Committee—and by “we” I mean the Finance Committee of the Dublin Corporation—we had arranged with the Irish Banks Standing Committee, or practically arranged, a loan—I do not know whether it was for £1,500,000  or £2,000,000—on terms agreed upon, provided that the banks who undertook to underwrite the loan would he allowed to put the stock on the British and Irish markets. That was the only outstanding matter. When this settlement was made about the economic war and the £10,000,000 had to be found we were told to get out of the way, that the national agreement loan must be floated. It was floated, and all the money that was in this country to help housing and to help clear the slums of Dublin was gathered up and shipped across to England. There has been no money here since for a loan. We communicated with the Minister for Finance after this and he was to receive us. He has not received us yet, and the last we heard from him was that it was none of his responsibility. The responsibility for the slump in the building trade in Dublin and the responsibility for the delays in the slum clearance rests with the Government and the Government alone.
In regard to unemployment and its relation to agriculture, anybody who has given this subject any more than superficial thought, is, I am sure, alarmed at the terrible problem before us. If we are to produce agricultural goods for sale or exchange in a foreign market we can only do it in competition with the rest of the world. We can protect our own market but we cannot protect the foreign market. The market where we can sell agricultural produce must be a market or a country that is an industrial country, the primary objective of which is to get cheap food. So that, the most we can expect in that market is a free market. The cost of production is everything. In the British market it is considered so important to have cheap food that the farmer there is subsidised in many ways and subsidised from an enormous manufacturing industry so that the contribution by the farmer to his own subsidy is negligible. The farmer there has derated land. We have not. But we have something else: we have a Bill going through to increase his valuation so that the wool will be pulled across his eyes and he will pay more rates than he is paying at the present time. That is by the way.
Mr. Belton: Let us think over that position. This is the only commodity we have to sell to bring in foreign currency here to add to our wealth. If I sell something to the Minister for Finance and he sells something back to me, the national wealth only exchanges hands; it does not increase; no money is brought in. But if I send a bullock to Holyhead and get £20 for him, that is £20 money or credit here.
We must give agriculture here conditions that will enable it to compete with the agricultural countries that are supplying the British market in addition to the British farmers who are supplying that market. We have not done that. We are not doing it and, apparently, we are not proposing to do it.
At a time when agriculture had a capital levy on it the only remedy the Government had for it was a kind of “press-gang,” a first cousin to a murder gang, going out to collect rates and annuities from people that had paid them three times already. I think that the farmers instead of pleading for loans, should demand their money back, the money that has been robbed from them by the Government in the last six or seven years. That is really what is wrong with agriculture to-day. That is really what has caused the flight from the land and from the rural areas, if people had only the courage to say it. I said it before to-day. I said it in Lenehan's Pound and what happened? Police were given revolvers, special police, who swore on oath that they were only ten days in possession of those revolvers. They were sent up to shoot, if necessary, and they were not under proper police control, as the man in charge of the police swore on oath before the tribunal that he knew nothing about them being there at all. Now we want law and order.
Mr. Belton: The debate is on unemployment with special relation to agriculture. I submit that these things are terribly relevant to it because these are the causes that have produced agricultural depression and have produced unemployment. It takes economic forces a long time to work. They have been working in the country for six or seven years, and they are now being felt in the towns. I agree that it is extraordinary how the country has lasted so long, but now we are up against it. We have thousands of skilled tradesmen of all kinds, as good as you can find in any country in the world; we have the materials here; we have the need for houses; and we have people trying to get houses. But all is idle. Why? Because we have not got the money to set the machinery going.
Mr. Belton: Go and buy a plough, a harrow, or any piece of agricultural machinery and see what extra amount has to be paid for it. I am not one of those who condemn tariffs to build up Irish industry. I believe in Irish industry and I believe in helping it. I belong to the old school who wanted a two-armed economy, but I do not belong to the mad school who wanted an armless economy, because that is what we have got. You found an agricultural industry. You built up a kind of an industry, but where is that industry now? You are afraid to face the issue and you are concealing yourselves behind a fake commission. Anybody who wants to speak out the truth and who knows anything about agriculture knows what is wrong and knows the remedy, but it is only a Government can apply it. It would not take a practical farmer an hour to formulate an agricultural policy that would help to stay the rot. But the people opposite have said so many  wild things that the real trouble is that they must wait and try to unsay those things and get back to sanity. We will let you back to sanity, if you will only be same when you get back there.
The agricultural population in the country is disheartened, and why should they not be? I am a strong believer in high wages, and I think the best thing for a country is the highest wage that that country can carry on with, because it gives purchasing power and, without purchasing power in the hands of the workers, the people who will purchase and spend the money, you will not have a proper circulation of money. That is my view on that. Consider the way the Government have allowed the economic life of this country to drift. I have made that preliminary remark to show that I am not biased in the matter of wages. Agriculture is the foundation of this State; it is the very pillar supporting it. If that goes, all the rest goes, too. If we are going to work our industry intelligently, we must have intelligent workers, and how are we going to have intelligent workers if we do not pay them? We cannot pay them if the industry cannot afford the payment. Our Government neglected that economic aspect of agriculture, and that is pretty well the kernel of the trouble to-day. In my constituency of County Dublin, the agricultural conditions are a 54-hour week and a fixed Government wage of 27/- a week in one area and 33/- in another. In those areas, the builder's labourer will get a net £3 0s. 11d. a week for a 45-hour week. Who is going to be a skilled ploughman, or a skilled man with any other agricultural machinery, on 33/- a week, when he can get over £3 a week by carrying a hod?
Mr. Belton: I know the Deputy too well to give him the opportunity of appealing on behalf of the poor of Dublin. I am speaking of principles which affect the poor of Dublin and which have caused poverty and want in Dublin at this moment. I think I can say without boasting that I have been responsible for filling more mouths in the City of Dublin in one year than the Deputy has in his 70 or 80 years on this earth. He is not going to bring me up a cul de sac so as to give him the opportunity of appealing for the poor of the slums of Dublin. I have built 400 houses in the city to house the people of Dublin and I paid trade union wages to build them. You will find no fault with them. Since the slump in the building trade, men whom I was paying over £3 a week, when it was possible to continue building, are now working ten hours a day for 33/-. Why is that? Should not the national industry, the industry which keeps up the whole economic fabric of the State, be able to pay as good a wage as any subsidiary industry, and, if not, why not?
Mr. Belton: I do not know whether the Minister or the Labour Party is responsible for fixing the wage. I am not finding fault with or criticising the relative wages, but I am stating the position. In modern agriculture you want very skilled men and if the industry cannot afford to pay for skill you cannot have it. An effort should be made to raise the standard in agriculture. I would welcome it, but we must relate our costs to the price we will get for our product in the British  market. The countries with which we have to compete in the British market are countries of big farms and great skill. The Danish farmers have a skill in their craft perhaps superior to ours. They have the currency advantage that I mentioned. We have to overcome these things. There are other countries competing with us in the British market which are huge ranching countries.
A tillage policy was adopted here with which I agree in other circumstances. But that tillage policy was allowed to develop into a corn-growing ranching policy. Corn can only be grown successfully and economically on big farms where the overhead charges can he reduced. If there is anybody on the Government Benches with good working knowledge of agriculture economics. I would like him to deal with this point—that the land policy of the Government is absolutely opposed to the agricultural policy. You cannot grow corn—I am not advocating one policy or the other, I am only stating it from a purely agricultural economic point of view— on an eight, ten, 15 or 20-acre farm such as the Land Commission is giving to people who, in many cases, have not any experience of farm work. They expect that new farmer, even if he has experience, on that plot of land to adopt their corn-growing agricultural policy. To grow corn economically and according to the ordinary rules of good farming, mixing the farming operations so as not to impoverish the soil or rob it of its fertility, and be able to compete in the British market with the produce of other countries, it must be done by using modern machinery on big farms. If we are going to have growing, I challenge contradiction of this statement—that we can only have it by having big farms. If we are not going to have big farms—I am not advocating them—then we cannot grow corn successfully. Of course that is making itself felt in the admixture of corn.
I do not see a great absorption of rural unemployed by the present corn-growing policy of the Government. If a man ploughs up a field of 20, 30 or 40 acres with a tractor and sows wheat in  it, when he has the wheat rolled in the spring he locks the gate and does not look into that field except to prevent trespass until he puts in his reaper and binder or harvester in August or September. If that field was left to grow a meadow or grass it would give more employment.
The doctors of agricultural science opposite deceived themselves when they thought they were going to bring back the agricultural emigrants from America to till the soil here. Not only have we migration from the cities and towns, but also a flight to other countries, and those who are left in the country are absolutely disheartened. I do not see any hope. There is nothing in the Estimates this year offering any hope. The sum for the relief of agricultural rates has gone down. Nothing has gone up except the cost of the Army—£8,000,000 or £9,000,000 for defence. What are we going to defend the country against? It is £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 for imperial defence. I do not object to our standing our whack of imperial defence, but only our fair share. If we had not a popgun in this country, this country will be defended if a European war takes place. No expenditure which we put up, whether to defend the British Empire or to defend Ireland——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy has related it back now. But there was a definite agreement as to the limits of the discussion on the Vote on Account between the Deputy's Party and the Chair. The Deputy's Party informed the Ceann Comhairle that the debate would be related to unemployment with special reference to agriculture, and the Deputy ought to keep to that.
Mr. Belton: Ten million pounds were paid on foot of a debt that we did not owe. That is what put the Dublin Corporation and the country in a mess, and the Minister in a mess, too, and has produced the Coercion Bills for which we will have to pay instead of subsidising agriculture.
Mr. Belton: These millions for imperial defence should be given to agriculture. The people who are being harassed for rates and annuities should be allowed to work their land and given a chance to recover from the robberies perpetrated on them by the economic war. That could be borne if we did not undertake this extravagant defence cost. I would suggest that that money, instead of going for guns and military equipment generally, which in the main will be bought in foreign countries, so that the people here will not have a chance of earning a shilling in connection with it, should go to the relief of agriculture. There is nobody going to attack us. I am afraid that it is another consequence of the settlement of last year which so deranged our national finances. It is another undertaking, another skeleton in the cupboard. Let us think of production and of the unemployed here, particularly in the building trade and in agriculture, and ask ourselves are we justified in spending these millions on big guns, harbours and forts for imperial defences while we are in such a deplorable state economically and while we can only govern by the aid of Coercion Acts and military tribunals?
 Reference has been made by the Government Party to the Banking Commission Report. It is a terrible loss to the Government Party in these debates that they are not in opposition, because that is where they shone. When in opposition they could say what they liked. The Banking Commission Report cannot be sneered at by the Government Party or even by its remotest back bencher, even though he will laugh to order now and again. The Government set up the Banking Commission and made the taxpayers pay for it. The Government has not repudiated that report. I have been told that I stood up for the bankers because I referred to the Banking Commission Report. I wonder on what grounds the members of the Government Party have taken to talking slightingly of the Banking Commission Report, seeing that it is the product of their own government?
Mr. Belton: We were up against a terribly serious position with regard to the agricultural economy that has developed with a lavish expenditure of money during the last few years. I remember an incident that happened here some time ago. It was rather laughable. I was lectured here by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on the subject of agriculture. He did it. Of course the Minister for Industry and Commerce would presume to lecture any man on anything. However, let him go on with it. I remember his saying to me here a few years ago that if I would learn the use of three words, and keep repeating them, that I would realise the agricultural economy and the industrial economy that would bring prosperity to this country. The three words were “beet,”“wheat” and “peat.” Now the Minister for Finance is very eloquent on many occasions, and his theme on one occasion was the white elephant of Carlow.
Mr. Belton: Well, the white elephant  of Carlow, anyway. Strange, when he tasted the fruits of office, he got fond of the white elephant of Carlow, and his colleagues started to make more white elephants. The Minister was told by many people on these benches who had experience of agriculture—even by the people who advocated the experimental growing of beet, and who stood four square behind the production of some of our own sugar from sugar beet here—that it was not an economic proposition to set about producing all our sugar from beet. Why? Because the production of sugar from beet was not then and has not been since an economic proposition in any country in the world. The reason why beet was so largely grown on the Continent was for the very same reason as the big iron works in Austria and Germany were producing Mausers. It was grown as a matter of military defence.
After the War the growing of beet was taken up in England. The British Government were frightened by the submarine menace. But having got to the production of about 30 per cent. of their requirements in sugar they desisted because keeping on producing sugar from beet was found by them not to be an economic proposition. We here on these benches were the people who advocated the growing of beet experimentally. That was, I think, as far back as 1925. If the Minister consults the Department of Agriculture he will find the results of the experiments that were carried out about 1925. Five or six strains of sugar beet were then grown. I do not know how many names of the members of the Fine Gael Party he will find amongst those who grew experimental plots of beet at that time. But this I know, that he will find my name as the grower of an acre of beet. I do not think he will find the name of a single member of his own Party. As a result of that experiment the Carlow White Elephant grew. At that time people in this country had no knowledge and no experience of the growing of beet. It was only an odd chemist who had travelled in America, Great Britain or on the Continent, and who had been to the beet factories there, who knew anything about beet for the manufacture of sugar. We farmers  knew nothing about beet growing except what we could read. But when the Minister's Party came to power they had the experience of five or six years of growing sugar beet here. They saw the price that would have to be paid for the beet in order to give the farmer a return for his labour. Then they were in a position to relate that price, plus the cost of manufacturing, to the wholesale and retail prices of sugar, the price at which that commodity could be sold to the public and the relation of that price to imported sugar. I am sorry Deputy Corry is not present. But on this question the Deputy spoke here yesterday. What was the price paid at the beginning of the experiment for the sugar beet? The average was 35/- per ton for beet with a 17½ per cent. sugar content. Deputy Corry said then that would pay the farmer to grow it. Is there any beet grower in Ireland, including Deputy Corry, who will grow sugar beet to-day with 17½ per cent. sugar content at 35/- a ton? No. I do not know the exact price now. I am not personally interested in beet growing but I understand the price has gone up to 49/- or 50/- a ton without any relation to the sugar content.
What will that cost the public? Why did the farmers rush to grow beet then? They rushed to grow it simply because of the reasons given by Deputy Daly, who sold for £8 three cattle for which he should have been getting £14 or £15 each. I knew farmers with a couple of hundred acres of land, all stocked, and they had not a smoke during that time because they could not cash their stock at any price. To the people who could get some cash it did not matter what slavery they went through. During the Siege of Paris in 1870-71 the people ate all the rats that were there. Does it follow from that that rats are good feeding for the Frenchmen? Will they eat them in times of peace? We were figuratively eating rats during the economic war. We had to grow beet. I hope the Press will put it in leaded type that the figure offered as an economic price for beet was 35/- a ton  for dressed beet with 17½ per cent. sugar content.
Mr. Belton: I withdraw that, A Chinn Comhairle. Well, I appeal to all those illustrious farmers opposite, and I hope that among them there will be found one who will have the pluck to get up and say that he is prepared to grow sugar beet at 35/- a ton with a sugar content of 17½ per cent. Deputy Corry said it over there a few years ago, and the front bench of the Government put that up as an argument in favour of producing all our sugar at a loss. My opinion then and now is that in prosperous times when a man has various lines he can, for certain reasons, have one of those lines going at a loss, but he must make that up on something else. Now, we cannot afford to produce all our sugar here at a loss, and charge the public a price that will pay the farmers for growing it. The argument I put up against growing beet at that time was that we could in normal times use our land to much better economic advantage than for the growing of beet. We are between the devil and the deep sea now in the matter of beet. Factories have been built at an enormous cost. Nominally, I believe they are owned by private companies, but I think the Government stands behind them somewhere in guaranteeing the capital. I do not know, but anyway they have been built, and for the credit of this country we must not let them go down no matter how foolish was the idea of putting them there. While we could rope in and mask off one white elephant—and that white elephant had frightened a potential Minister for Finance—if we let loose seven of them they would frighten the whole Government. They have frightened them, and they are afraid to mask them off. They cannot afford to do so, because it would mean a dead loss of the capital invested in the machinery, and perhaps in the buildings, where the buildings are in places that would not suit anything else.
That is expenditure we have been let into by the economic war. We have  promoted an industry which is uneconomic, and now we have all the plant, machinery and housing to produce that commodity, but if we continue to produce it we shall do so at a loss. Any man who is growing beet could make just as much on that land by the growing of other root crops—or very nearly as much—and those root crops would not impose any cost on the community; whereas the growing of beet does impose a cost on the community. However, it is a responsibility of the Government, and I do not know how they will get over it. Now, the Minister for Finance has admitted that inroads have been made on our foreign investments—of course, we all know that—and that in order to maintain our social services we must have increased production. I should like to hear the Labour Deputies interpreting that language. What does increased production mean? It means harder work.
Mr. Belton: By modern methods and more unemployment? More machinery and less men? The Labour Party cannot have it both ways. I suggest that the only way in which we can increase production here is by lightening the charges or working harder and longer. If a man is called upon to produce more, he must work harder or longer, or both. If his only objective is to turn out more stuff, perhaps machinery here and there would help him to do that. But I want to put this to the Labour Party: If we are going to have cheaper production on the farm, we can put in a tractor that will plough three furrows. One man can do the work of six, and five men are sacked. Is that what the Minister has in mind when he says we must increase production?
Mr. Belton: The Mayor of Cork is perhaps a city man, but he knows that normally the ploughing of a furrow will take a pair of horses and a man. Three pairs of furrows will take three pairs of horses and three men. A tractor will go at double the pace of a pair of horses. One man will do the work of six. We are following the footsteps of the Minister for Finance, following out his advice. You will not cure unemployment that way. Are the Labour Party agreeable to harder work and longer hours?
Mr. Belton: Then, I do not know how we are going to increase production. I will leave it at that, and perhaps my friend, Deputy Hickey, will explain. I would be glad to see shorter hours introduced, because I have a lot to look after, and the shorter hours they would work, if it paid me, the shorter the supervision I would have to give. Nobody wants longer hours if they can carry on. But when you have to meet your bills by commodities, the cost of the production of those commodities is all-important and governs the whole economic life of this country. The poor man's Government and the workers' Government in this country, namely, the Fianna Fáil Government, after all their plans and their perambulating up and down the country, telling the workers of the benefits they have brought them and what they have done for them, come back to this: “During our term we have squandered the savings of the past; we have mortgaged the production of the future, and now you mugs who voted us to power have got to work harder or longer for less wages in order to increase production and to save this country from the ruin we have brought it to.”
Mr. Harris: The reason I intervene in this debate is to correct a false impression that Deputy Belton may create in the minds of the farming community. Deputy Belton is a man who has a reputation for being a good agriculturist, but when he talks here in the Dáil for political purposes, he should not be taken, and I cannot take  him, as speaking honestly in the interests of the farming community.
Mr. Harris: I want to correct one matter that I happened to hear since I came in here. The Deputy was talking about the growing of beet and his speech might put any farmer who was inclined to grow beet, off it; it might discourage him from doing so. To any one who would ask his advice or listen to his views on beet growing, Deputy Belton would say: “That is a crop I should not grow; I would be at a loss by growing it.” The Deputy said that a farmer would make as much or more out of any other root crop than he would out of beet.
Mr. Harris: The Deputy said that any farmer would be just as well off to grow any other root crop as to grow beet. I was in support of the agitation of the Beet Growers' Association to get the highest price possible for the beet growers. I would like to see them get as much as they possibly could out of the sugar company. I know that the labour in growing beet is pretty severe and that the farmers earn whatever they can get out of it. At the same time, I believe that any farmer who is carrying on a system of mixed farming and who is feeding live stock ought to grow beet. He would be wise if he examines into the matter and replaces root crops by beet. He would be doing much better, in my opinion, because he would have cash from the factory for the beet and he would have the beet pulp to feed his stock and also the tops of the beet.
Mr. Harris: Along with getting cash for his beet from the factory, he has the tops of the beet and the pulp, and they are more valuable for feeding than other root crops. For instance, if he had a turnip crop, he would not get any cash for it the same as for the beet. I have experience of that, and I defy anybody to contradict me. We hear a lot of complaints about the bad year for beet this year, but we hear no complaints about the losses the farmers sustained with the crops the Government give no guarantee for. Throughout the country this year we had acres of turnips rotting in the fields and the pits. That cannot be denied. I agree that the farming community sustained losses in regard to beet, but that was probably due to the bad season and the difficulty in getting, out the crop. We hear nothing about the big losses the farmers sustained, about the large quantities of kale and turnips and potatoes that were ruined, and that were a complete loss. If they lost money on the beet, they had bigger losses on the other root crops.
Mr. Harris: It is wrong for Deputy Belton to be misleading the farming community, to be dishonest about the matter. Deputy Belton is not interested in beet, but the beet crop is a valuable crop to the people of the country.
Mr. Harris: The Deputy did not annoy me a bit. There has been so much said about the condition of agriculture that I do not think I will say very much more on the matter. The conditions of agriculture are no worse now than they were during any period for the past 10 or 15 years.
Mr. Harris: The prices now can compare favourably with what they were during the Cumann na nGaedheal period. I admit that during the Great War the farmers had a pretty good time, but when the war was over the prices collapsed. From 1922 to 1931, when Cumann na nGaedheal were in power, conditions were gradually going from bad to worse and the only remedy that some people seemed to have for agriculture that time was to reduce the standard of the people in the rural areas. There was nothing done for social services and the people really believed their standards would have to go down, and they were actually going down. The position of the agricultural worker during that period was gradually getting worse. When Fianna Fáil came into power the people expected higher standards. What is happening now is that the agricultural community are fighting for a higher standard of living than what they had in the past. We are struggling for that and that is our difficulty, to give the people in the rural areas that higher standard. If we want to reduce the overhead charges on the farming community, the way that can be done, I suggest, is by reducing  the wages for the agricultural worker, bringing him back to 12/- or 14/- a week to support himself and work very long hours. That is one way in which you could reduce the overhead charges. I do not think any of us would like to go back to that.
I think the wheat policy should have got more support from the Opposition than it did. Wheat is a profitable crop. I admit that a farmer cannot grow wheat unless he has his land in good condition and of a fairly decent standard. There is nothing wrong with the Government's agricultural policy. It is a sound policy. I agree with some of the speakers on the opposite side, Deputy Hughes and others, who spoke about improving our young stock and feeding our young cattle better and having them fit to qualify as first-class stores in the British market. People say that Fianna Fáil despise the British market. I never despised the British market.
Mr. Harris: I was never foolish enough to depend altogether on the British market. I realised that the home market is our most important market. Deputy Keating believes that the British market will do everything for the Irish people.
Mr. Harris: And produce a better quality cattle for that market, but some encouragement should be given to the people who have suitable land to grow wheat, because wheat is a profitable crop. I admit that the one big difficulty with the farming community is lack of capital. The policy of the Government is sound enough. I do not know whether all this whinging and crying about the desperate condition of the farming community is going to improve the credit of the farmers. What we  want to do is to try and get confidence into the farmers. It is only with confidence that the farming community can get back credit. Money cannot be distributed indiscriminately. I would not have intervened at all if it were not for the lines of Deputy Belton's speech.
Mr. Coburn: I want to say a few words on this Vote on Account. It is true that this money is wanted to finance services which, to a large extent, the House as a whole has agreed to. I am quite conscious of that fact. The items of expenditure here in connection with old age pensions and so forth had the unanimous support of the House and, naturally, we must give this money, but that fact alone does not prevent us, or should not prevent us, from giving our views on this Vote. A great deal has been said about the farming community and unemployment, but I propose just to take up a few points in connection with this Vote on Account.
It is my definite personal view that the policy of the Government during the past six or seven years has been one of undue interference with the ordinary daily life of the people of this country. I believe, if the Government put into practice a little more of the policy that they used to shout so much about some few years back, that is, the policy of self-reliance, this country would be better off. At the moment, as far as I can see, we have Government for breakfast, dinner and tea. In fact, we can hardly breathe the air without the consent and sanction of the Government.
I think that is rather a humiliating position for the people of this country to be placed in, and I think it would be well if the Government, from this on, would endeavour to give the people of this country, the farmers, industrialists, and businessmen, especially in the small towns, greater freedom to make their living. Take, for example, all the legislation that has been passed during the past year or two in connection with the pig industry—the Pigs Marketing Board, the Bacon Board. Consider the harm that has been done to this country.
 Deputy Childers has referred to people who are under-employed; that there are very large numbers of the people of this country who are, not unemployed, but who are under-employed and who make their living by taking a hand in various things, such as attending fairs and markets. Since the introduction of this Pigs Marketing Board very severe damage has been done and the living of very many of our people has been taken away. For instance, take the pork markets that existed all along the towns situated convenient to the Border. I dare say that, if a census were taken of the numbers engaged in attending those markets and the business ancillary to them, it would outweigh, both in numbers and money, any increase that has been got in the bacon factories as the result of the setting up of those boards. I go as far as to say that from Dundalk, Castleblayney, Carrickmacross, Cootehill, Cavan, Clones, right up to Ballyshannon, there must have been from 500 to 1,000 people around there making a living out of working in and out of those pork markets and attending them on the different days. I venture to say that, if you took a census of those employed in the bacon factories, the increased employment has not exceeded 50.
That is a point which seems to have escaped the Government. That is the situation of the people of this country who were in a very small way, but who earned their living in that way. It is no business of ours to inquire how they made their living. They made it, and reared large families on it. But, of course, the people on the other side had to paint the lily, as they have been doing for the last six or seven years, and they have brought the people of this country to a state that they have got out of sorts with their standard of living. They have got restless and discontented. That is really the kernel of the trouble. That is really what you are up against at this moment. You know yourselves that the Bacon Board has done a great deal of damage to the people of this country, not alone in regard to doing away with employment but also in regard to the increased cost of living.
There were, too, quotas. The average  quota every month for bacon is somewhere in the region of 60,000 cwts. of bacon, half of which is for export and half for local trade. You will have made the people of this country pay for the losses incurred in supplying the foreign market. Again, the setting-up of this Pigs Marketing Board has, in my opinion, destroyed competition.
Mr. Coburn: The beet scheme was passed as a result of legislation and it was criticised here. The wheat scheme was also passed as a result of legislation and it has been criticised. I intend only to make a passing reference. I am not going to dwell on the matter very long, although I could, if I so desired. I know that there has been a sort of understanding, to which I am not a party, to confine this debate to agriculture and unemployment. I do not want to find fault with the Chair, or disagree with any of its rulings, but I do say respectfully that I might be allowed to make a passing reference to this matter which I consider of great importance.
An Ceann Comhairle: In references to agricultural policy, the growing of wheat and beet could relevantly arise, as they did, and it was in suggestions made that more profitable lines might be pursued. That is obviously a very different thing from criticising the administration, as the Deputy admits he is doing, of the Pigs Board.
Mr. Coburn: If I impress on the Government the necessity of doing something to ease the situation, I think I would be only doing my duty here, because I am fully conscious of the fact that very many decent me have been deprived of their living as a result of the operations of the Pigs  Marketing Board, and, next to murder, the greatest crime that can be committed against a man, in my view, is to deprive him of his living. I have come across cases within the last fortnight of pig dealers, who, if they were permitted to do so, could earn an honest living, as they did for the past 40 years, in exporting pigs to Northern Ireland and Great Britain, but who cannot do so at present owing to the operations of these two boards. We will leave it at that.
I come to the question of eggs, a most important industry which again suits the people of the country. It is an industry which suits the small farmer, the cottier and the other people who are engaged in it. I put it to the Government that surely, in view of the friendly relations that exist at the moment between the Government of Great Britain and our own Government, it is high time some move were made whereby our eggs could be got into the British market without having this stamp on them. Personally, I think it is doing more harm to this important industry than anything that could be conceived. I have had personal experience of that in England. I made it my business the last time I was there to look at the different shops, and I found that there was a marked difference between the eggs which were marked “new-laid English eggs” and our Irish eggs with the stamp on them. Personally, I would not buy or eat an egg that was stamped, or beef, either.
There is something in the thing that does not appeal, and Deputies, I believe, will agree with me that it is one of the things which are very bad for the industry. This is an industry which has been worth millions of pounds to the little cottiers and farmers who are the backbone of this country, and I urge the Minister to get in touch with the British Government with a view to having arrangements made whereby our eggs could be marketed there under the same conditions as the eggs from Northern Ireland.
 The Six Counties, knowing the importance of the industry, have gone out of their way to do everything possible to encourage the breeding and rearing of pigs. I have forgotten the figures, but I do know that, in respect of numbers of pigs, we are far behind Northern Ireland, taking into consideration that there are only six counties there as against 26 here. Whatever the reason, whether it is the result of Government policy, I do not know, but I respectfully suggest that the Government should do something that would enable our farmers, both large and small, to increase the pig population, because undoubtedly, by doing so, the national revenue will be increased.
Much has been said here about wheat, beet and cattle. I do not intend to dwell very much on this subject, but I am ready to admit that there are many farmers who have stated that wheat has been a profitable crop for them. On the other hand, I have met very many farmers who said that it had not paid them. Possibly, they were unlucky. Possibly, the nature of their land was not such as would conduce to the growing of a good wheat crop, but, leaving all that aside, I say that the wheat policy of the Government has not done all that the supporters of that scheme claimed it would do. I have a vivid recollection of the Minister, when this wheat scheme was introduced, giving it as his opinion that if we went whole-heartedly into the production of wheat, increased employment to the tune of anything from 30,000 to 40,000 would be given, and he proceeded forthwith to do a bit of the blackboard business. He assumed that to supply the needs of the people here in wheat and flour would take 800,000 acres, and he assumed that for every 20 acres one extra man would be engaged. It was then a simple sum, and he arrived at the figure of 40,000. Leaving aside the merits or demerits of the scheme, has it meant increased employment to the tune of 40,000? I do not think it has. It is questionable if it has led to any increase in employment.
Here again we have to examine the situation. Again, quoting Deputy  Childers, that many of our people are under-employed, it is my humble submission—and I am not a farmer, but one who knows a little about work— that the small farmer who farms 15 or 20 acres would not require to employ an extra boy or girl to sow four or five extra acres of any crop, for the reason that he has sufficient time at his disposal to do that work. It does not mean a fortune to him, it does not mean a penny to him, whether his wheat is in on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday; so that it does not follow at all that if we grow 800,000 acres of wheat we are going to have 40,000 extra men employed. That is the position. Then you have to remember the all-important fact that 800,000 or 1,000,000 acres at most would produce all the wheat, and, incidentally, all the flour that our people could consume; and that we have 12,000,000 more acres which we have to make use of and find a market for the produce.
That was the difference between the view held on these benches and that held by the Government. The Government were of opinion that the wheat scheme was going to solve all their difficulties. We took a different view. I think they will admit, without going into the question of the economic war, that it was as a result of the condition of affairs which prevailed at that particular period that the Government had to embark on the wheat scheme so as to give the farmers some crop which would give them an immediate cash return. That is not playing Party politics—as a rule I do not go in for that. That was really the position at that particular period; just as the Taoiseach himself admitted that we had to proceed more quickly in setting up industries owing to the economic war than we would have if the economic war had not been in operation.
Deputy Corry made the point that cattle have not gone up in price. He conveniently forgot that, as a result of the opening of the British market, a 10-cwt. beast, which was sold when the economic war was on for £6, £7 or £8, was making from £14 to £15 after the Agreement was come to. Because these cattle did not go up to £17 or £18, Deputy Corry tried to make out  that there was no increase. Dishonest arguments of that kind are not much good in this House. We all know that cattle have gone up in price. Top-grade cattle are realising anything from 38/- to 40/- per cwt., live weight, at present. Previously, these cattle were sold at from £7 to £9. I know of the case of a farmer who sold 37 cwts. of beef for £25, and when the economic war was settled he got £45 for 25 cwts. Therefore, there is no use in trying to mislead the House by stating that there has been no increase.
Deputy Corry also made reference to civil servants and said they should all be sacked. Deputy Corry always blows hot and cold at the same time. He conveniently forgot that he is a member of a Party which, since they came into power, have increased the numbers in the Civil Service by anything from 5,000 to 6,000. Why does he not raise his voice in the councils of his own Party, instead of coming here and trying to belittle men who are not here to defend themselves and who are giving good service; at least, we are supposed to believe that; and if they are not, that is the fault of the Executive Council. I suggest to Deputy Corry that it would be much better for him to direct his remarks in that direction.
A great deal has been said about unemployment in this debate. I do not want to twit the Government on their failure to solve that problem, because I never asked a Government to solve that problem. I have sufficient common sense to know that that is an impossibility. The Labour Party may agree or disagree with that, but that is my view as a person who knows what work is. It would not give me much trouble to go back to it in the morning. I have always held the view that the Government, who were foolish enough to think they could solve the unemployment problem, instead of solving it increased unemployment. A much bigger man, I suppose, than the Taoiseach, a man in a country with much larger resources — President Roosevelt—has also come a cropper in his efforts to solve that problem. I am sure he is a wiser man to-day than he  was six years ago. He said that he would solve the unemployment problem, but after he has spent hundreds of millions there are 10,000,000 unemployed in America to-day. When the Labour Party was in power in England the unemployment figures went up by leaps and bounds.
Mr. Coburn: You cannot cure that problem by words. As I say, I am not out to twit the Government on their failure to solve that problem. Even a partial solution of it will require the co-operation of all concerned. You can only make headway in the solution of it by recognising the all-important fact that we are living in a small country with limited resources. That is the mistake that the present Government made, and to a lesser extent possibly their predecessors, and to an extent possibly the people of the country themselves. When we got freedom through the Treaty, we were not content to carry on for a little while as we had been carrying on, but we wanted to surpass older and richer countries than this country; in other words, we wanted to walk before we could creep. We have got to get back and recognise the fact that we are living in a small country.
The Government can do much to provide employment by passing wise and useful legislation which will enable those who are giving employment to continue to give employment, and if possible to increase that employment by lessening their overhead charges. You cannot expect a businessman to increase employment by tying one of his hands behind his back and asking him to do the same amount with one hand as he had been doing with two. The sooner we recognise that fact the better. I give the Government credit for all they have done during the last five or six years. I appreciate that they would like to give all the employment they can with the resources at their disposal. But I cannot get away from the fact—I am not saying this for political reasons because, rightly or wrongly, the people of my constituency have returned me for the last 11 years without making  many political speeches—that never in my political life have I had so many men coming to my door looking for work, the vast majority of them, I am sorry to say, coming from the rural areas. If anything can be done to relieve that situation, no matter what Government are in power they should get all the help and co-operation possible from Deputies as well as from the people of the country. That is the position, but, as I say, I am not going to make capital out of it. It is an unfortunate position that we should have so many unemployed. It is also unfortunate that people who are receiving unemployment assistance should be deprived of that assistance for the least possible fault. That is another matter which the Government might look into.
These are my views. I have given them for what they are worth. I hope that the Government will reconsider many of the things which they have been doing for the past five or six years. I hope that with the experience they have got that they will try to undo some of those and make changes that will give the people of this country greater freedom in the carrying out of their business whether it be public or private.
Mr. Linehan: On this Vote on Account, there are a few brief references which I would like to make, particularly with regard to one speech that was made in defence of the motion from the Fianna Fáil benches. The references that Deputy Coburn made to President Roosevelt reminded me that something is developing on the Fianna Fáil Benches along the same lines as developed in the United States. Behind President Roosevelt there is the Brains Trust. Behind the Fianna Fáil Party and Government there is also a brains trust. But there is this one difference, that in the Brains Trust behind President Roosevelt in America there is more than one brain. Here there is only one brain in the brains trust behind the Fianna Fáil Government and that brain is the brain of Deputy Childers. Deputy Childers gets up here and talks of figures and facts and semi-facts. He made a speech which occupies more  than four pages of the Official Report and then he received the benediction of Deputy Tom Kelly, who said Deputy Childers' speech was a good, sound speech and he hoped we on these benches would all take it in. I spent some time to-day taking it in and I sincerely hope that Fianna Fáil will adopt Deputy Childers' policy.
Mr. T. Linehan: Everything that a Deputy says from the Fianna Fáil Benches nowadays is to be taken as an expression of his individual opinion, and not as a comment on Government policy. I suppose that is good enough, because nobody would believe for a moment that Deputy Corry's expressions of opinion about civil servants, which might sound all right at a chapel gate on a Sunday morning would be taken here as Government opinion. Anyhow, Deputy Childers is the bright young man of the Fianna Fáil Party. He is the man who talks about a planned economy. The Deputy starts off his speech by saying that he would not consider any serious change in the Budget or the Estimates on the ground that the Government cannot possibly have had time yet to study the Report of the Banking Commission. That is to say, rightly or wrongly, we should not consider any change in the Vote on Account until the Government have considered the Banking Commission Report. A little further on, when he is discussing the agricultural position, he suggests that no matter what is wrong, nothing definite should be done until the Banking Commission Report has been dealt with. He comes along later as regards drainage and, though he would like something to be done immediately about drainage, because the River Shannon flows along the edge of his constituency, he would not press the matter until the Government has first considered the Banking Commission Report.
I am sure if Deputy Childers were interested in the formation of a new Seanad he would not like to commit himself to anything definite until the Vocational Commission had first reported. Well, there may be something in that policy of Deputy Childers. I  am inclined to agree with Deputy T. Kelly that it was a good speech. If carried to its logical conclusion it would mean that the one way to put over the Fianna Fáil policy would be to scrap the Executive Council and the rest of the 77 Deputies, and to appoint commissioners for every Department of the State. That is the type of policy that is set forth in Deputy Childers' speech. If we are to develop on those lines we will have to shelve everything and appoint a commissioner or a commission to deal with all these things. The bright young man of the Fianna Fáil Party will whisper: “Do nothing rashly, take your time, consider it well.” I am very glad there is somebody on the Fianna Fáil Benches, even though it is rather belated now, who does not believe in making up his mind about a policy, and then later on having to apply the soft pedal. It would have been better if a few years ago Ministers looked a little ahead and calculated beforehand the effects of their policies.
The Minister when he came into power thought he need only wave his Ministerial wand, and right in five minutes all the wrongs and the evils from which this country suffered. In Deputy Childers' defence of the Vote on Account he stressed one point strongly. That point was that unemployment in the rural districts was not caused by economic or financial distress. He said that under-employment rather than financial distress was the cause of unemployment. In other words, he said that the farmers were not employing as many men as they should, and that the reason was not economic distress. If that is so, it simply means this: that there are a number of farmers in this country who had capital either in cash or land and who had an opportunity of employing more than they are employing, but who are not doing it.
I wonder does Deputy Childers mean that? He does not, because he qualifies himself immediately after, and explains that if it is not economic distress that is causing under-employment it is some kind of distress caused by a combination of both. He said that it is the existence of a combination of both these factors. He said: “It was due to a combination of two circumstances  and that there were two types of farmers in the country—those who, owing to uncertainty, are unwilling to risk any small capital expenditure on new developments, and those who have definitely suffered from the economic war and who are not in a financial position to employ people.”
If there is under-employment and that is not caused by economic distress, by what can it be caused? The fact that a man who has money and dare not risk it in his business is given as one reason, and the other is that the rest have suffered so much that they could not afford to employ labour. Deputy Childers dealt with practically every point that might be raised in this debate. He goes along and says that: “I deny, from going around Longford, South Roscommon and the Athlone district of Westmeath, that the people are not relatively better off than they were”. The Deputy does not say “quite”. He says “relatively”, He put in the word “relatively” there. He did not say “relatively” to what period or “relatively” to what state or condition; he meant possibly that the people of Longford, South Roscommon and the Athlone district of Westmeath are better off than they were in the Middle Ages or in 1914. But if we take any fair test in any rural area in the country the matter could be decided. I would make a bet with Deputy Childers that if he picks out five large farmers, five small farmers, five large shopkeepers, five small shopkeepers and five labourers who are still doing the same work as they were doing ten years ago, that he will deny that they are not relatively worse off in many respects than they were ten years ago. That is the type of argument that would decide the matter. The Deputy said that the relation between agriculture and industry is becoming better in every way and every day, and that in every way and every day things are better and better. The most sensible remark I heard from the Fianna Fáil Benches was that by Deputy Harris, who made an admission about the Fianna Fáil policy that it was sound enough. I would like to know if Deputy Harris would have made that statement at a  general election, if he would tell the people at the chapel gate that the Fianna Fáil policy was good enough. Deputy Childers' explanation is that there is no unemployment because of economic distress but because of under-employment. It is like his explanation that there is emigration, not because there is distress in this country but because there is an attraction from another country.
An Ceann Comhairle: I understand that there is general agreement that public business be not interrupted at nine o'clock, in order to conclude, under some understanding which I believe has been arrived at, all the financial business to-night.
Mr. Linehan: His explanation of emigration to England is not that it is caused by any conditions here, good or bad, but that emigration is caused by a very considerable degree of attraction from another country rather than by any financial conditions at home. That is another lovely piece of beating about the bush. Emigration is not going on because conditions are bad here but because conditions are better somewhere else. Now, he is welcome to that type of argument. He says that the question of emigration in this country is not a social problem to be solved here, that the question of unemployment in rural areas is apparently not a social problem to be solved here, but that the question of emigration and lack of employment in the rural areas of this country is something that is going to depend, in the Deputy's own words, on the changing economic policy of England. Now, I am very glad—whatever Deputy Kelly thought of it—that Deputy Childers made that speech. On reading it—I was not here when he made it—I assumed that it was a perfectly honest speech; that it was the speech of a man with sufficient understanding of the financial and economic position of this country to know what he was talking  about, but who at the same time was trying to reconcile facts that he knew existed, facts that he was certain of in his own mind, with Fianna Fáil policy, and the only way he could do that was to talk in terms of commissions, in terms of under employment rather than of unemployment, in terms of better conditions elsewhere rather than of bad conditions at home. Perhaps the Minister will hearken to those brains trusts and will, when he is replying, deal a little more fully with some of those points than he did when opening, or than Deputy Childers did when supporting him.
As far as the general position of this Vote on Account is concerned, if one wanted to criticise the amount of the Vote on Account one might talk about Fianna Fáil policy ten years ago, and what they thought of the Votes on Account in the period from 1923 to 1932. One could also talk about the Minister's naïve explanation that there were considerable savings on some sub-heads, and that the fact that there was a general increase was merely because the Vote for Defence had increased to such an extent that it offset the savings on other sub-heads.
As far as I am concerned, if this country is going to survive as a country mainly consisting of people living on small farms; mainly, as it should be, of people living in small towns, I say that a stop has got to be called to this rush of increase on increase every year, whether it is going to be for Army purposes or anything else. Before I would consent for one moment to vote for this Vote on Account, on the Minister's explanation that the increase is because of the increased Vote for the Army Estimate, I would want to know from somebody on the Government Benches something which has not been heard from anybody on the Government Benches so far, and that is, what the Government's policy is which requires this extra money for defence.
Mr. Linehan: If the Deputy were in the House listening to the Minister for Defence and the Taoiseach for the next ten years, he would not know what the Government's policy on defence is, because nobody was ever told it. As a point blank question to the Minister now, if he cares to answer it, what is the Government's policy on defence? Is it merely that we are going to talk about A.R.P. here, on the assumption that sooner or later we are going to have a commotion in Europe which is going to lead to another Great War? That might be all right; nobody would object to spending money on A.R.P. provided we expected that the job was going to be properly done. But there is more behind the Government's policy of defence than merely spending money on the big guns or A.R.P. The defence policy is the outlook of the Government on the possible situation that might arise if there were a European conflagration. I am afraid the answer of the Government on that would be something like Deputy Childers' answer on the points he raised in his speech—that they would have to wait for something or other to report; that they would have to wait and see what was going to happen. Would the Minister answer this question? If there was a European outbreak in the morning, on the lines of that which might have taken place last September, what would the Government's defence policy be? Would the Government line up with England and France if that outbreak occurred? Does the Government know what their position would be in the event of war, or is the Government's policy of defence that we would declare a type of neutrality and hope we could keep out of it, while at the same time we would carry on an act of war—a modern act of war in any case—by supplying the sinews of war in the shape of foodstuffs to one or other of the belligerents? I do not believe the Minister can say that the Government's defence policy is actually what the Government are going to do with the money they spend, how many guns they are going to buy, how many  air raid shelters they are going to build, or how many Sam Browne belts they are going to provide for the Army. There is something more in a defence policy than that. That is one of the things I should like to hear from the Minister if he feels like answering that question.
On the point raised by Deputy Childers as to the people being relatively better off now, I myself believe that one of the great reasons for the unsettled position of the agricultural community in this country is the fact that while the price of everything they need has gone up the price of the goods they produce has come down. That is not merely because of world conditions alone. It is because competition has been taken away to a large extent by Government action in this country—competition which gave the farmers a chance of obtaining articles at a competitive rate. They have also suffered, from the point of view of selling. As Deputy Coburn said, they have the Bacon Board on one side fixing the price they are to sell at. Even if the Government does not actually fix the price of some of the articles which the farmer must buy, the Government's industrial policy has put a ring round certain articles, which gives no margin for competition, because certain industries in this country —bacon, flour, and others—are in such a position that they have the consuming population of this country at their mercy for whatever price they wish to charge. That is borne out by one of the Minister's own commissions in its report.
On the question of unemployment, I believe, like a lot of other people, that there is one item in this country which might be used in such a way as to reduce unemployment considerably. Rightly or wrongly, I believe that money widely and well spent on the reafforestation of this country would be money well paid out of the Exchequer. I do not wish to go into any details on the point with the Minister. I myself believe that a lot of good could be done by wisely planning our reafforestation policy, and I would be prepared in this House to vote for the expenditure of a considerable sum of money on reafforestation, because I  believe that it would give employment, and that the ultimate value for the money so spent would be very beneficial to the country. As regards unemployment in general, Deputy Childers said that, even adding to the register of unemployed here at present, the people whom he admitted had emigrated to England, we are still fourth or fifth lowest in Europe. The Deputy seemed to be very pleased with that statement. I do not know that the fact that we are fourth or fifth lowest in Europe in our unemployment rate is anything to brag about. I should like to know from the Minister or from Deputy Childers for how many countries in Europe we can get accurate unemployment figures? If we are amongst the five lowest, who are the other four, and what is our position compared with countries like Italy and Germany? If we are to believe what we see in the Press, Italians who are working in France are actually being called back to positions in Italy, and Germans who are in positions in Holland and in England are being called back to work in Germany. I do not believe it is any great boast that we are amongst the five lowest in Europe.
I think if the Government were properly using the financial resources they have at their disposal we would not have to be claiming that we are merely amongst the five lowest. The Government's policy, whether Deputy Childers or the Minister will call it planned economy or planned industry or planned industry in relation to agriculture, will never take this country out of the position it is in, either as regards unemployment, the position of the people in the small parts of the country, or take the people in the country towns out of the position they have been left in through the Government's policy.
I invite Deputy Childers, on the question of the people being better off, to take any small town and a five mile area around it and compare the conditions there in 1914, 1922, 1932 and 1939 and we will then get the relative position as to the people being better off in definite figures, and we will see whether the Deputy was right or wrong.
Mr. T. Kelly: I would not have intervened at all to-night on a debate concerning agriculture were it not for the fact that I asked Deputy Belton a plain question, when he was speaking in connection with work on agricultural land and the wages payable to agricultural labourers, and compared those with the wages paid to builders' labourers. He said that the agricultural worker got 27/- to 33/- a week and the builder's labourer got £3. I asked the Deputy a very civil question. I asked him what are the relevant expenses and he got impudent with me, and when a man gets impudent with me I get impudent with him. That has been my policy all my life. The Deputy has gone away. He said he was a great builder, that he built 400 houses. I never built one, and I never will. He should not pose as a philanthropist. If he built 400 houses, he built them to make money. He is not here, but I suppose some of his friends will tell him about this.
Mr. T. Kelly: In my own good time I will tell him that. He made a reference to me and I am not going to let any man get away with it, even for 24 hours, if I can stop him. The Deputy who has just spoken has gone out now. He is a brainy young fellow; there is no doubt about that. He is one of the two rising hopes of the Party beyond. They have only another one left. I am afraid he is a bit jealous of the other young man turning up on our side. He seems to have got him on his brain. He was not here that night to judge from the speech. It is a sort of compliment to Deputy Childers. The other Deputy probably resents what was said. I advise the young man over there not to be in a hurry and not to be too presumptuous. Let him remember there are possibly 100,000 brainy young fellows in Ireland who could come here and make as good a speech as he has made.
I am on my feet and I had better deal with the agricultural question. I have never yet seen a distressed farmer over there. I have listened to them talking for the last four or five years about the farmers and never once did I see a distressed specimen over  there. They are all fine men. I was listening to Deputy O'Neill speaking about the distressed areas in Cork, places such as Carrigaholt and Ballydehob, and a number of other places. He told us about the population going down and everything going wrong. As I sat listening to him, it occurred to me that he would make a splendid ambassador. If the Party opposite ever get into power—I hope they will not— I would suggest to them that they should make Deputy O'Neill an ambassador. He is the picture of perfect health and prosperity. He is the type of man we would like to have representing Ireland, the type of man I should like to send to Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, Rumania, Sweden, or Norway, or perhaps he might be sent amongst the Eskimos. As soon as they would see Deputy O'Neill they would say: “If that man has come from a distressed portion of Ireland, what sort of a man would come from the portion that is prosperous?”
I can go back a long way in connection with the farmers. I can go back to 1879. I remember the land war and the Land League, and the National League that followed. I can remember as a boy following the farmers up to the greatest conventions held in Dublin in those days. They were a splendid body of men, of fine physique, fine clean men. I remember them so long and so well that I could give many instances of the tremendous demonstrations that they took part in, in this city. I remember one especially, when thousands and thousands of them came up to welcome William O'Brien back from Canada when he went there to denounce the Marquess of Lansdowne for the evictions at Luggacurren. I cannot convince myself now that the sons and grandsons of these men are in any worse position. They are not.
We hear a lot about the woes of the farmers. A great offensive has now begun here. All the big guns opposite were brought up to fire on the Minister for Finance. Evidently there is going to be more of it. There is going to be a great new offensive, and one of the war cries will be the distressed farmers again. I saw them coming back from the economic war. I was in Westmoreland Street one Sunday morning in  October, if I do not mistake the date. A football final was on. I forget whether it was Galway or Cavan were playing. A Deputy here informs me it was Kerry and Galway. I remember seeing some splendid young men and women. The young people were wearing Galway hats. It is a good job that Deputy Dillon was not knocking around; he would have seen plenty of them. Those great standards that hold the lights that now illuminate Dublin were lying in Westmoreland Street, and, looking at the girls, I barked my knee against one of them and it was very sore for a long time. Probably it was wrong for an old married man to be looking at the young girls.
There were 60,000 people in Dublin that day, and I can honestly say that the worst dressed man in that crowd was myself. Deputies may laugh at that, but I am telling the truth. I went on looking at that splendid body of young people. Could they be distressed, I asked myself. There was not a single one of them had the appearance of being so. I examine them critically almost on every occasion when there is a hurling or a football final, and when people come to Dublin. I am always glad to see them. There was a replay a few weeks afterwards. There were 50,000 at the replay. There were 10,000 short. Evidently, those 10,000 got jobs in Dublin and stopped there.
Mr. T. Kelly: I went out to Drumcondra, and there were lines of motor cars spread out in a radius around the football ground, for miles around. I walked up almost to Glasnevin on one side of it, and there were motor cars lined on both sides of the road— another evidence of the distress of the farmers.
Mr. T. Kelly: I think there is a fair share. Deputy Hickey is an honest man and would not say anything that was wrong. I know what I am talking about. There is no evidence of distress. I am a man that makes enquiries. Some years ago I was speaking on this subject. I am not going to relate all that now.
Mr. T. Kelly: Am I laughing myself? A funny man generally laughs at his own jokes. I do not laugh. I am serious. I speak out in plain, homely language that everybody can hear and understand. I do not use big words or classical phrases. I would not have spoken here to-night only for the impudence that was given to me. I do not believe in making speeches, if I can avoid it.
Some years ago I was talking to a bookmaker, who travels the country and has a good idea of the position of the people and he told me that where they used to bet half a sovereign they only bet half a dollar now. I asked him what was the position of the country, was there any sign of great hardship on account of the economic war. He said there was not much sign at all. During the year 1937, in the height of the economic war, I met a parish priest, a very gentle, affable, learned man, and I asked him how were the farmers faring in his district. He said that they were suffering badly, that the economic war had injured them. He said that in the 22 years  that he was parish priest he never before had seen the farmers so hard hit. Some of them had to come to him, for the first time in their lives, for assistance. He said: “Although I regretted it, I had a feeling of pride that I was able to help them after my experience of so many years.” I said to him that those people would never vote for de Valera again. “They will,” he said, “every man and woman of them, because they believe that de Valera is fighting for his country and, no matter what hardship they go through, they will stand by him.” That was a statement by a parish priest.
To-night I was speaking to a man who is from one of the smaller towns —I do not know whether it is a city or a town—and who is in a responsible position there. I said to him that the discussion in the House was on the question of the economic war all over again and I asked his opinion, as he is a man who mixes with the people. He said that his business is connected mostly with small farmers and that, no doubt, they were hit very hard but that they were recovering; that the greatest blow they had got was within recent months owing to the bad weather. He said that, only for the bad weather, they would be doing fairly well, with every hope of doing much better. That is, I think, all I have to say on the agricultural policy. Whether it is funny or serious, you have it. I could give other accounts of meeting people who mix with the farmers. I protest that if the general body of farmers knew the talk that is going on about them here they would resent it, and resent it in a manner that would make itself felt.
Mr. Nally: There are just a few matters I would like to point out to the Minister before he replies. I understand that in County Mayo at present there are in or about 7,000 people unemployed. I want to make a suggestion to the Minister as to how the Government would be able to put those men at work. First of all, there is drainage. There are three rivers in the County of Mayo which, time and again, the Commissioners of Public Works have been asked to have drained—the Gweston, Pollock and  Yellow rivers, in the parishes of Knock, Kiltimagh, Bohola, Swinford, Straide and Foxford. There is also the Dalgan-Clare river from Ballyhaunis to Lough Corrib. If the Government agrees to do that work it can easily absorb about 2,000 of the 6,000 who are out of employment there.
There is also a considerable area of land down there in the hands of the Land Commission, which they have had for years. They have not divided it or done anything with it. I want to make the suggestion to the Minister that the Land Commission should be made immediately to go and take over that land and divide it. There are two or three very large areas of land which I want specially to mention. First of all, the estates of Oranmore and Browne, at Castlemagarrett, containing about 2,000 acres, and which has been let for grazing for the past 20 years and which the Civic Guards are looking after for the last five years. There is also a big farm on the Ward estate, Kilscoghagh, in the Crossboyne parish. The Guards have been watching this land for the last four or five years.
With regard to the annuities, I know there is a great deal of difficulty. The Taoiseach has stated in this House that he has settled with England, and that he did not pay one penny in respect of the land annuities. If that is so, why should the farmers, who have purchased their lands under the Ashbourne Act before 1923, have to pay anything for them? If it costs the State here nothing, I see no reason why these people should have to pay half the annuities at the present time. With your permission, a Chinn Comhairle, I wish to read a short extract from a Pastoral here which has special reference both to flooding and agriculture. It is from the Pastoral of the Most Reverend Doctor Dignan, Bishop of Clonfert:—
“As I write this letter, many farms in the diocese and throughout the country are flooded, owing to an excessively wet season. Rivers have overflown their banks, lands are submerged, crops and hay destroyed; stock had to be removed, and in  many cases sold owing to lack of fodder, and many families had to leave their homes for they are feet deep in water. The condition of these unfortunate people is appalling, and, as is well known, this state of things is of frequent, almost yearly, occurrence. No Government, it is conceded, can command the winds and the rain, but surely a Christian Government ought to take steps to prevent the ruin and the suffering that are caused by them.”
“Time and again, it is asked that a complete survey of the whole country be undertaken by competent engineers with a view to the adoption of a national drainage scheme to be carried out according to plan over a number of years. Concurrently, new schemes on national lines should be undertaken for the reclamation of our bogs and for afforestation. The advantages of these schemes must be evident to all—the whole face of our country will be altered for the better, the climate will be improved and as a consequence the health of our people will be improved, the land will be improved, unemployment will disappear, the rush from the country to the towns will be stopped, and, at the same time, afforestation will pay rich dividends in years to come.”
“Why are not these schemes undertaken? I do not know, but presumably it will be alleged that there is no money to finance them or their cost is prohibitive. There are rumours afloat that very large sums of money are to be expended on rearming our forts and on military preparations. Many consider this a mistake and a great waste of money. Our geographical position removes us from the seat of possible wars, and it would not be to the advantage of any nation to attack us if only we have the worldly wisdom of keeping out of any trouble that may arise. Modern warfare is too horrible to  contemplate and as a Catholic people we ought to have the heavenly wisdom to use our national influence to prevent, or at least to localise, wars, and by concentration on our economic and industrial reconstruction and on improvement in our social services, we would be an example to the world of what can be done for the welfare of the people in a peaceable and Christian State. Anyhow we have neither the men nor the money, even if we have the inclination, to defend ourselves effectively against nations fully equipped with modern weapons of destruction and to pretend to arm and to fortify our coasts is merely to entice or even to provoke attack.”
I very strongly commend that pastoral to the Minister and to the Government, and I hope they will give it at least careful consideration. There are in it remedies for relieving distress in the country and I commend every word of it to the Government. We know the condition of affairs for the past five or six years. We have seen from the bank returns for the past six months that deposits in the banks have fallen by £4,500,000. We know the condition of the railways. They are practically in bankruptcy. We saw the report presented to the shareholders of the Great Southern Railways Company on Friday last and we know that they cannot pay anybody. If a company like that cannot pay anybody, one can only conclude that they are bankrupt.
With regard to relief schemes, we have schemes down the country, but they apply only to certain areas where there are a certain number of unemployed. In those areas, the work to be done has been done for some years past and it is not in those areas that the work is really needed. In the areas in which the work is most needed, we cannot get any work done. There are certain areas in Claremorris, Ballinrobe, Kiltimagh, Ballyhaunis and Swinford in which no work can be done for the reason that there are not sufficient people on the unemployment register. Where there are sufficient unemployed, the works have been carried out for some years past out of unemployment scheme grants. I ask the Minister to look into these matters  to see if there is any possibility of amending the law in order that works needed all over the country and especially those works which are badly needed can be carried out.
Mr. MacEntee: I understood that the Ceann Comhairle announced, when Deputy Linehan was speaking, that an arrangement had been come to that the financial business would be concluded and that I would be permitted to reply. It is quite obvious that the Deputies who have spoken are not prepared to observe that arrangement. There was also an arrangement about Private Members' time not being taken to-night, but being taken to-morrow night. I certainly am not prepared to abide by that now. This absolute disregard by Deputies of Fine Gael of the arrangement which their whips and their leaders have made makes it quite impossible to conduct the business of the House in a proper fashion.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: There is always an understanding, when an arrangement has been made that the financial business is to be concluded, that the Minister will be given a reasonable time to reply.
Captain Giles: If there is arrangement and the Minister requires an hour, I will defer speaking, but I do not think it is fair that a Deputy like me, who will speak only for five minutes, should not be allowed that five minutes, while the Minister wants an hour to himself.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy must remember that it is not the question only of the Minister's reply. There is other business to be done. It was agreed that the Central Fund Bill would be put through all its stages.
Captain Giles: We have listened to-night to a flood of oratory and some very good suggestions, but I believe that these might not have been submitted at all because, no matter what is said from these benches, it seems to run off the Government like water off a duck. I believe that the position in the country to-day is the result solely of the bad, unsound policy of the Government for the last six years. It was not, in fact, a policy at all; it was really a stampede to undo all the previous Government had done. For the last six years, we have had nothing but annual increases in the Budgets, and  we can look forward to nothing else but increase. In addition to those increases, we have an increase in unemployment and a flight from the land. I think that the only thing wrong with the country is the present Front Bench of the Government, and we have no man on that Front Bench who knows anything about agriculture.
If the Government were serious about agriculture, and about putting the country on its feet, they would put a Minister in charge of agriculture who belonged to agriculture. I do not believe in a doctor, who may be a very learned and a very good man in his own profession, taking charge of agriculture, about which he does not know the first thing. To my mind, there is not one man on the Front Bench who knows the first thing about agriculture or who knows what he is talking about when he gets up to talk about agriculture. We had a few speeches from the Fianna Fáil Party, and who were the men who spoke?—men who did not know the first thing about agriculture. We had Deputy Tom Kelly, a fine old honest man, in his own way. He got up and indulged in tomfoolery, delaying the House for a quarter of an hour. I would like him to talk about the facts of the situation, and, if he wants to know anything about the facts, let him get a 2/- ticket down to the midlands and ask the people there what they think of the position. It is all very fine to say he met men in Grafton Street. The men he met were able to pay their way to come to the city, but there are people in the country who are unable to see the city once in five years. These are the people who could talk about agricultural distress.
We had Deputy Childers making a very able speech in his own way. But we must realise that a man like Deputy Childers is not fit to speak on agriculture. He is what you might call a young student; a bookworm who sits down and delves into books until 2 o'clock in the morning. That is not what we want. We want a man who comes from behind the plough or the spade with practical experience of the work. Of course, the Government allows itself to be run by that type of philanthropist who talks about high  finance and all that. That is all nonsense. This House would be as well off if it never heard a speech from Deputies like Deputy Childers relating to agriculture or anything else. After all, what connection has he with agriculture or anything else? He has not his roots in the country. He is only one of those who were imported into this country a few years ago. What does he know about the country?
Captain Giles: But the chickens have come home to roost. The policy of the last six years has brought forth, not chickens, but ugly ducklings. If the Government wants to make any effort to solve the unemployment problem they should ask the farmers to take on all the idle men and tell the farmers that for every man they employ the Government will pay 40 per cent. of his wages. If they do that they will go a large way towards solving the unemployment problem. It is unfair to see thousands of idle men going to the labour exchanges and drawing a few shillings to keep themselves alive. These men are so used to that now that, in the summer time, when farmers want them for the hay making they cannot get them, because if the men spend a few days at hay-making they lose their unemployment benefit.
If the Government would put a proposal to pay 30 or 40 per cent. of the wages on these men, farmers would employ them. We have plenty of work to give them. We have land to drain, ditches to clean out, and swampy land on which shelter belts could be made. Our land is being wasted because we are unable to put up the money to give these men employment. I ask the Government this year, when they have no war, and I hope they do not contemplate a war, to settle down and solve that problem. The only way to solve it is to get the people back on the land and put the people who are on the land in a position to pay a wage in keeping with the times. If they do that they will be going on the right lines.
 If we had £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 spent on agriculture instead of defence. what would we have? We would have a vast improvement in agricultural activity in the country. We would have every farmer working as he never worked before, because he would know that he was not working for nothing. For the last five or six years he has been working from morning to night without any return. If he had any little return he had to pay it out in wages to his workmen. That is the condition of people who kept this country on its feet for hundreds of years. If the Minister can find £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 for defence and £10,000,000 for a debt to England which he said we did not owe, surely he can find £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 to spend amongst the farmers so as to give employment to our people. There is no reason why he could not. This House is failing in its duty if it can put up millions for defence and millions to pay to England and cannot put up a few millions for the farmers. Deputy T. Kelly talked about the “whinging” and crying farmers. We are not “whinging” or crying. We want our rights and we must get our rights. Everything that is put on the Deputy's table is put there by the sweat of the unfortunate farmers. The Deputy gets his milk and other things delivered at his door.
Captain Giles: You do, but to produce those things we have to work hard for long hours and we get no return. We must sell all these things to get a living. You are getting them after our sweat has been poured out trying to produce them and no return is given to us for that. The Minister should realise that the country is in an uproar against the Government's policy for the last six months since it turned out to be, not a policy for Ireland, but for England. You find the farmers organising as they never did before. Farmers who support the Party on this side of the House and farmers who support the Party on the other side of the House are uniting in order to get justice, and justice they must get. I want the Minister to state plainly to us what he intends doing for the farmers.  There is no use in saying that our main industry in this country is agriculture. We have heard that from the Government Front Bench time and time again. I believe that it will be counted as our mean industry, because it is being treated in the meanest possible fashion.
I want the Minister to say that he will maintain our main industry as such by giving money to keep it in the position in which it should be, as the premier industry in the country, and that our industrial development will take second place to the agricultural industry. I agree that we should have an agricultural arm and an industrial arm, but the arm which we have had for so many years should be the strong arm. At present we are paralysing that arm and trying to make strong an arm that never can be strong. If industry is to be anything worth while, you must have the mineral wealth to make it such and we have not that mineral wealth. No matter how you try to develop the industrial arm, you will have to go across the water for the raw material for it. It is a case of importing stuff and riveting it together just like the motor cars— putting them together and saying it is an industry. It is nothing more than giving employment in the big factories in England, which are turning out stuff night and day in order to send it over here.
Mr. Hurley: I want to correct the impression that this Party had agreed to finish this debate to-night. I have made inquiries and I have been told that there was no such agreement. The only agreement made was that Private Members' time would be taken; in other words, that public business would not be interrupted. Beyond that, so far as I know, we had no agreement. I have listened carefully to the speeches made in this debate and I think there were two facts standing out and they were, that the agricultural industry is the principal and the most important industry in the country, and, secondly, that there is a certain amount of distress in that industry. We had that from both sides of the House.
I am going to make a suggestion which came to my mind in the course  of this debate, and that is, that whatever is wrong with agriculture the remedy for that disease could be found if we got the farmer Deputies on both sides of the House to come together and discuss the question and put up their decision to the Minister. I suggest that Deputy Corry should act as chairman of that gathering. I make the suggestion in all seriousness, because I do not see that on this question of the decline of agricultural prosperity there is any great difference between the two main Parties in this House—Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. We have heard various details of the impact of the economic war and of the bad weather and other things on agriculture, but I think it is generally agreed that the industry does require some form of help.
There were various suggestions put forward as to what form that help should take. It was stressed that the farmers are in a bad way, and I quite agree that the working farmers especially are in a serious position in many parts of the country. I know that in parts of my constituency that is the case. I have received requests from various small farmers to get the time extended for the payment of annuities. In fact, I have had requests to try and prevent the necessity for the sheriff making seizures for annuities. That shows that there is distress amongst the small farmers.
In the agricultural industry there is a very important element—the agricultural labourer. I have figures here, taken from the statistics of the Department of Industry and Commerce, of the number of males engaged on farm work in Munster on 1st June, 1936. These are the last available figures. The number of males from 14 to 18 years of age who were members of the family was 8,980. Other males—that is, agricultural workers—employed were. permanent, 1,756; temporary 921. The number of males of 18 years of age and over who were members of the family was 118,912; other males employed permanently numbered 34,164, and temporarily 18,449. The total number of males engaged in agriculture in the province was 183,182. Of that number 55,290 were agricultural labourers. The average earnings during a week in July  in each year, 1931 to 1936, of permanent agricultural labourers over 21 years, without free house or allowance of any kind, were: 1931, 25/-; 1932, 24/3; 1933, 22/9; 1934, 21/-; 1935, 21/9; 1936, 22/3; 1937, 22/9. For the same period the average wage for Eire was as follows: 1931, 24/3; 1932, 23/6; 1933, 22/3; 1934, 21/-; 1935, 21/3; 1936, 21/9; 1937, 22/-. The average rate of wages of agricultural labourers in Munster over 21 years of age, with full board and lodging, was: 1931, 14/8; 1932, 14/3; 1933, 12/6; 1934, 12/2; 1935, 12/2; 1936, 12/11; 1937,13/1.
Mr. Hurley: I got these from the statistics published by the Department of Industry and Commerce. It will be noticed that the wages of permanent agricultural workers, without free house or allowances of any kind, fell from 25/- in 1931 to 22/9 in 1937, although the cost of living had gone up. In 1931, the cost-of-living figure was 165; in 1932, 155; in 1933, 156; in 1934, 157; in 1935, 162; in 1936, 166, and in November, 1937, 177. So that, while the wages of the agricultural workers went down, the cost of living went up appreciably—it went up by 12 points. These workers on the farms have been rightly described as skilled workers, and the remuneration they can get for that skilled employment is shown by these figures, while the cost of living has gone up. Therefore, it is no wonder that there is no inducement to stay on the land. There is no inducement for skilled workers in these conditions to stay in employment where they are so poorly paid. It may be urged that the general income of the farming community is not able to pay a higher wage. But, I submit that if the Agricultural Commission is going to do any good, it must take into account the fact that there are 55,219 skilled workers so poorly paid and working under such conditions.
Again, I wish to refer to the fact that  very little consideration seems to have been paid to these agricultural workers, and in that respect I should like to refer to the treatment meted out to them under the Labourers' Cottages Purchase Act of 1936. Under that Act, the occupying tenants can purchase their cottages at a reduction of 25 per cent. We are told that there was a net sum of £1,750,000 given by way of relief to the agricultural community through the halving of the annuities, etc. But these agricultural workers received no benefit of that kind, although they were as hard hit and very often more severely hit by the impact of the economic war.
The demand of the occupying tenants is that there should be an equal reduction of their annuities as an offset for the ravages of the economic war, and that there should be an offset also for the responsibility for repairs. The suggestion is that there should be an offset of 25 per cent. off the 50 per cent. left; in other words, that there should be a net reduction of 62½ per cent. on the annuities of the occupiers in order to make this Act acceptable to them. That is only fair and just. They are part and parcel of the rural economy. They had to put up with the impact of the economic war and other circumstances in rural life, but a differentiation is made in the treatment meted out to the landholders and the treatment of the people who do not own any land, except the little plots they have with the cottages.
I think the Minister for Local Government said at one time that that was not even thought of in the recommendations of the commission which went into this matter. I have here a copy of a separate recommendation signed by four members of that commission and it reads as follows:
“We have signed and agree with the general report, but desire to add that, in view of the fact that substantial reductions to the extent of at least 50 per cent. are being made in all annuities payable by tenant farmers and others under the various Land Acts, we suggest that in this connection favourable consideration should be given to the position of existing cottier tenants whose rents  form portion of the payments hitherto made to the British National Debt Commissioners by An Saorstát. (Signed) Eamonn Mansfield, Michael Smyth, James O'Farrell, Seumas Johnston.”
Now, Sir, there was no heed paid to that recommendation of these members of the commission, but a reduction of 25 per cent. in the rents has been insisted upon as part and parcel of that purchase scheme. That has been computed as a reduction of 3½d. in the rent per week, but as against that a computation has been made, and I think correctly, that the responsibility for repairs will work out at about 6d. per week. That means that the reduction of 3½d. is offset by a payment of 6d. on the part of the cottier tenant. That cottier tenant, as I have said, is part and parcel of the rural community. He is an individual with his family whom we are anxious to keep in the rural parts of the country, in order to strengthen the rural economy that we all wish to see in this country. It may be said that there is a certain amount of responsibility on the ratepayer for the rent.
We are told that the tenants of these cottages do not pay a full economic rent but under the Housing Act of the present Government there is a payment of 66? per cent. of the loan charges by the State where a slum clearance has been effected. I want to suggest, Sir, that the people who were taken out of the hovels and who were put into these cottages at the time were certainly taken from as bad, if not worse, conditions of slumdom as the people who are taken from the slums in the cities and towns. There is no reason why that argument should be trotted out against the cottier tenants in order to deprive them of the justice they expect to get.
Deputy Corry referred to the fact that farmers had to let their men go and had also to reduce their wages as a cure for the economic ills of the farmer. If that policy were generally adopted by the farmers, we would revert to the suicidal policy of grass and I am quite sure that in a very short time the rural community would  cease to exist. You must have production and the only way production can be achieved, to my mind, is by having people on the land to bring about that production. You cannot have that production if the farmers allow their men to go or if they reduce their wages. Their wages are already low enough. Then, we had Deputy Corry suggesting that workers in the factories in Cork were paid such high wages that there seemed to be a necessity for reduction in these wages. Again, I wish to point out that that is a suicidal policy. In reducing wages you are reducing the purchasing power of the people who receive these wages, a power which they exercise freely. The people who have that power utilise every penny of it. None of that money is held up, none of it is put into the bank; it circulates amongst the community to the community's good. Therefore, that again is no cure.
We had no other suggestions with regard to a cure for the economic ills from which the rural community suffer but I have to say that the suggestions I have heard certainly did not, to my mind, in any way form a reasonable or any kind of a responsible contribution towards the solution of the ills of that community. We have been told also in the course of the debate, I think by Deputy Coburn, that there did not seem to be any solution for the unemployment problem. I do not think that the Fine Gael Party much less the present Government Party. will subscribe to a defeatist policy like that. Before the present Government came into power we had it in black and white, placarded on all the dead walls of the country during the General Election in 1932 and also in 1933, that there was a solution for the unemployment problem and that there was no need for unemployment in this country.
The Taoiseach stated from the Opposition Benches at the time that there was no need for unemployment in a country on which you had so many gifts conferred by nature, where you had people ready and willing to work and where there was so much work to be done. Now we are told by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister  for Finance that, on the one hand, work cannot be found and, on the other hand, we are told that the money cannot be found. Again, I say that I am sure the Fianna Fáil Party would not subscribe to that defeatist policy. I am sure that the Minister for Finance and other members of the Government who thought of these schemes in 1932 and 1933 still have them in mind and can still find a way to put them into operation.
At the present time we have somewhere about 105,000 persons unemployed, and we are told that money cannot be found to put schemes into operation. That is one excuse. The banking system has been mentioned here. Some of the works that can be provided have been mentioned already —drainage work, afforestation—about which we have seen some controversy in the papers recently—and housing. These are surely works of national importance, as they are reproductive works. If the Government are serious in their efforts to end unemployment, surely they should be able to control, through the banks, enough money to finance such schemes and to employ people who are out of work on useful reproductive work. During the passage of the Treason Bill and the Offences Against the State Bill yesterday, we were told that no power outside this House should have any authority in the country or should have any claim to see that the writ of this House did not run through every part of the Twenty-six Counties. Here we have a force outside this House which controls the very life-blood of the economic life of this country—namely, the banking system. We have the Minister for Finance himself investing a very large sum—I do not know exactly the figure; it is anything from £14,000,000 to £30,000,000—of State money across in Britain. That does not show any great confidence in our own people. It does not show any great effort to end this unemployment scandal. Surely we should have more confidence in the people of our own country than we have in the people of another country.
I suggest that some of that £14,000,000—that is the minimum figure I got—could be very usefully lent to  the farmers to stock their holdings and repair some of the ravages of the economic war. Working farmers in my constituency and in every other constituency want that money. The lack of it is holding up their power of production and the money could be usefully spent in that way instead of investing it across in Britain. We do not know what it is used for there, but we are told that it is safer there and that it is more prudent to have it there. But if Britain were worsted in a European war, what would become of our millions?
Mr. Hurley: Then I shall talk about it on the Budget. Unemployment both in the rural areas and in the towns is the big problem in this debate. There is an Agricultural Commission sitting —how long it will sit nobody knows— to devise ways and means of helping the agricultural community, but no effort is being made by the Government to arrive at the solution of the unemployment problem. Remember, this unemployment problem has roots far deeper than the present generation because these 105,000 people have families, and these families suffer by the bread-winner being deprived of the means of earning a living. They are under-nourished. We get that evidence in various reports from the medical officers of health—that the children are under-nourished. Thousands of them must be in that condition. How can these children grow up to be useful citizens in the future? We are rearing up a C 3 nation by our neglect of the unemployment problem. The only solution we are offered is that of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. He tells us these minor relief schemes are very acceptable in some parts of the country. That may be true, but, in my constituency these minor relief schemes are not accept able. I have already given examples in the House of how men were forced to refuse to work under the conditions imposed by these minor relief schemes when they knew that by refusing to work they would be deprived by the  regulations of the miserable amount of unemployment assistance to which they were entitled.
Under this Vote, little hope is held out of any solution of that terrible problem. No real effort seems to be made by the Government to effect a solution. There is no inducement to the rural worker to remain in the rural area. We have been told that emigration is caused by the attractive conditions across in Great Britain. I know that hundreds of young men have left my constituency for Great Britain who would willingly work for much lower wages if they could get a chance of work at home.
When the Minister is replying, I should like to hear what scheme he has for the solution of the unemployment problem. I do not refer to those palliatives whereby the unemployed are kept quiet by two or three days' work per week at 4/- or 4/6 per day. That is not a solution of the problem and it is not right for either the Minister for Finance or the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister to stand up in the House and tell us that the unemployed are quite satisfied. We should get credit for some common sense and for the experience we have obtained amongst the unemployed in our own constituencies. The Minister will, probably, ask what my solution of this problem would be. I refer him to the solutions which he and his Party said they had in 1932 and 1933 and which we, of the Labour Party, and the people of the country believed they had. In 1932, when they came in here to form a Government, they got the support of the Labour Party because they put up schemes which they said were going to cure that terrible evil of unemployment. They were, they said, going to deal with social problems and these problems were the first care of the Labour Party. We did not mind who solved them— whether Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil— and we were willing to give our support to any Party which would attempt to solve them. That attempt has not been made and it is now seven years since the Fianna Fáil Party came into power. I should like to know from the Minister if he intends to withdraw some of the investments he has across in Britain and, in that way, finance  the housing schemes. That would be a better investment than the investment he has at present. I do not know whether it would be as profitable but it would be a better investment than having the money across in Britain.
Mr. Hurley: In Cork City the Corporation sought a loan of £250,000 to finance house building. House building is a very useful form of employment. If an effort were made to build all the houses required in Cork City, it would afford employment to a great many people, as well as making for better health, better hygiene and better conditions for the workers who would inhabit the houses. Of that sum of £250,000 little over half was subscribed. There was a definite boycott by people with money, because the terms, we were told, were not attractive enough. The terms were attractive, being 4 per cent. at par, but apparently they did not give scope enough to the financiers to make money. I suggest to the Minister that it would be a very useful service to the community in Cork, if the remainder of that loan was taken up at 4 per cent. through some of the funds under his control. In that way he would be serving a double purpose. He would be doing something to solve the unemployment problem, as numbers of skilled and unskilled workers could be employed in the construction of houses, and he would also be helping to improve the general health of the people, by enabling them to be removed from the bad conditions under which they live in the slums. Afforestation is also work that should be taken in hands and developed in rural areas. I have experience of the delays, or of what amounted to obstacles, that are put in the way of afforestation schemes. That is work that could be taken up in a big way, and the money could be found in the manner I suggest. As long as the banking system has its hands on the throats of the people, unemployment is not going to be solved, and the things that we were told would be done in 1932, will not be done, until that question is tackled. As soon as the Report  of the Banking Commission was issued we had a rather subtle example of how the Report was to be put into operation. I do not suggest that the Minister is responsible for that.
Mr. Hurley: What I suggest is that the Minister has power to put an end to what was done. If the banks and the people with money are not prepared to put money at the service of the community then power can be got by the Minister.
Mr. Hurley: I will probably get another chance to deal with that matter. I notice a number of items on this Vote on Account, on which I would like to get some information from the Minister. There is £2,600 mentioned for Haulbowline Dockyard.
Mr. Hurley: There are a few other points to which I wish to refer. We are asked to vote £10,855,000 as part of the general demand for the year. It is a rather remarkable fact that, despite the conditions to which I have referred,  the position of the farmers, the lowering of wages of agricultural workers and the rise in the cost of living, that the demands of the State have increased over a number of years. The total demand in 1927-28 was £22,106,656; in 1928-29, £21,841,173; in 1929-30, £20,769,824; in 1930-31, £20,925,911; in 1931-32, £21,722,888; in 1932-33, £24,217,504; in 1933-34, £26,039,980; in 1934-35, £26,531,105; in 1935-36, £26,050,016, in 1936-37, £26,324,345; in 1937-38, £28,111,919, and for the years 1938-39, £29,861,881, and for 1939-40, £30,248,897. In addition, there is expenditure from the Central Fund of about £4,500,000 per annum in later years, and about £4,000,000 in the earlier years. What I want to emphasise is that we were told by the Fianna Fáil Party at one time, that many things could be done, and that there should also be a reduction in taxation. That Party also stated that the social services would be extended, and that when they got into office widows' and orphans' pensions would be awarded.
It is very hard to understand the increased demands in the Estimates generally during these years. Taking the demand at £30,000,000, roughly, and 3,000,000 of a population; that is about £10 per head for every man, woman and child. Deputies can imagine what an impact that has on each family amongst rural workers. They have to meet their portion of the demand, and it is met by taxing the bit of tobacco, or the pint of porter if they take a drink, so that even their little luxuries are taxed, and they pay their share. There is no redeeming feature there as far as the workers are concerned. The wages they receive are not a living wage within the real meaning of these words. The wages are not sufficient to give them any kind of a decent standard of living. That is what I complain of. The general trend of events proves that my contentions are right. There is no doubt that there is a definite flight from the land. Deputies from rural constituencies know that there is a flight to the cities and towns, and, what is even worse, a flight to Great Britain. Surely it is the duty of the Government to give some information as to the steps they intend to take  to deal with that problem. Every year 10,000 or 12,000 of our people are leaving the country. What means are being taken to prevent that? What would our unemployment problem be if these people had not gone away? It would be a very serious problem, and it is one that the Government should face up to, and take very drastic measures to  deal with. Our people have been going in large numbers for the last seven years. I move to report progress.
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