Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Old Age Pension.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dun Laoghaire Boatmen's Working Hours.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Management.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Rathdowney Cottage Plots.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Hospital Employés' Ration.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Stradbally Water Supply.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Importation of Coal.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Importation of Tea.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Petrol Storage Facilities.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Imports of Coal, Wheat and Tea.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Credit for Purchase of Tractors.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Price of Bacon Pigs.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Distribution of Sulphate of Ammonia.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Price of Milk in Dublin Area.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin Milk Producers.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Flax Scutching Facilities.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Seed Supplies in Connemara.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Disposal of Wheaten Straw.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Turbary Allotments in Ballinasloe.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Galway Lands.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Mayo Forestry Employment.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Ashford, County Mayo, Lands.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Brabazon Estate (County Mayo).
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Use of Land Commission Holdings.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Acquisition of Bogs.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Acquisition of Birr Bogs.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Wages of Land Commission Employees.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Claremorris Uneconomic Holdings.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Congestion in Claremorris.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Unpaid Land Annuities in County Westmeath.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Untaxed Motor Cars.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Military Service Pensions Act.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Coastal Patrol and Port Control Services.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Use of Petrol by Military.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Oireachtas Debates and Broadcasting.
Order of Business.
Supplementary Estimates, 1940-41.
Committee on Finance. - Vote 7—Old Age Pensions.
Committee on Finance. - Vote 50—Reformatory and Industrial Schools.
Committee on Finance. - Unemployment Insurance Benefit—Motion.
Committee on Finance. - Barrow Drainage Rate—Motion.
 Do chuaidh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 3 p.m.
Mr. Nally: asked the Minister for Finance if he is aware that Mrs. Honor Higgins, Rossduane, Kilmeena, Westport, was receiving a widow's pension up to March, 1940, when she reached 70 years; that she then applied for an old age pension, and received no pension for 24 weeks, and if he will state if and when the arrears of £12 will be paid to Mrs. Higgins.
Minister for Finance (Mr. O Ceallaigh): It is necessary to make local inquiry in this case and, accordingly, I shall be glad if the Deputy will repeat his question in the course of a few days. If the Deputy so desires, I shall communicate the required information to him as soon as the inquiry is completed.
Mr. Davin: asked the Minister for Finance if he will state if he has received repeated representations during the years 1939/40 from and on behalf of boatmen employed by the Board of Works at Dun Laoghaire Harbour requesting a revision of their existing hours of duty and the application to them of a 48-hour working week; whether he is aware that the men concerned are rostered to work a seven-day week of 105 hours in their turn, and have been refused payment for over-time or  extra payment for Sunday and night duty, and that other workers employed by the Board of Works at the same place and with less service are getting the benefit of a 48-hour week, payment for over-time, etc.; and whether, therefore, he will now state if he proposes to sanction the request of those concerned.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): Representations regarding the working hours of the boatmen at Dun Laoghaire Harbour have been under consideration for some time. The men, although described as boatmen are engaged for the greater part of their time on watching duties only, which include the night watch on the West Pier taken in turn by each of three of these men. A revised scheme which will secure a more regular distribution of hours as between the various shifts has now been drawn up and will be brought into operation within the next week or so.
Mr. Davin: Can the Parliamentary Secretary say if the revised hours will mean that the men will get the benefit of a 48-hour week?
Mr. Flinn: I think when the Deputy sees the revised scheme he will find that it will be a satisfactory solution of a very difficult problem.
Mr. Davin: asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he will state whether it is the intention of the Government to bring into operation this year the County Management Act, 1940, and, if so, the date fixed for its coming into operation; and, also, if it has yet been decided to hold the Local Government Elections this year.
Minister for Local Government and Public Health (Mr. Ruttledge): There is no intention at present of bringing the Act into force. As regards the latter part of the question I cannot make any definite statement as to what may be done later in the year.
Mr. Davin: asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he will state whether land situated at the back of a large number of labourers' cottages in Moore Street, Rathdowney, County Laoighis, was purchased some time ago by the county board of health for the purpose of providing plots for cottage tenants, and if he will state the cause of the delay in fencing the plots and giving possession of same to those concerned for food production purposes.
Mr. Ruttledge: The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. From a recent report received from the commissioner administering Laoighis Board of Health and Public Assistance it appears that a contract for fencing the plots was executed on the 22nd November last and that the contractor when interviewed as to delay in not having work advanced stated that gates and fencing stakes are being prepared but that he was unable to proceed with the work owing to weather conditions since before Christmas. The commissioner has instructed the contractor to proceed with the work immediately.
Mr. Davin: asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health whether he received a recommendation from the commissioner now administering the affairs of the Laoighis County Board of Health for the payment of an increased ration allowance to certain workers employed in the county and district hospitals, the amount of the weekly increase recommended by the commissioner concerned, and the reason, if any, for his refusal to sanction same.
Mr. Ruttledge: The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The increase is from 10/- per week in three cases and 10/6 in two cases to 11/- per week. The persons concerned occupy permanent and pensionable positions and there are no adequate reasons why any particular section of the community who are in permanent employment and enjoy  pension rights should be secured at the expense of others who may not be so well circumstanced to meet present economic conditions. It is not proposed to accord sanction.
Mr. Davin: Is it a fact that the Minister refused to sanction an increase at the rate of 6d. per week, and will he state the reason?
Mr. Ruttledge: I have given the reason.
Mr. Davin: Is it in order to comply with the requirements of the Majority Report of the Banking Commission?
Mr. Davin: asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he will state if his Department has yet sanctioned proposals for the provision of a water supply for the town of Stradbally, County Laoighis, and, if so, the amount of grant sanctioned for same; or, if not, the cause of the delay on the part of his Department in approving of the proposals submitted by the county board of health concerned.
Mr. Ruttledge: Approval of the proposals was notified on the 14th ultimo, and I understand that the local authority will shortly proceed to invite tenders for the work. A grant will be allocated. The amount thereof has not yet been determined.
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister for Supplies if he will state whether any negotiations have taken place for the purpose of obtaining our import requirements of steam coal for the year 1941, and, if so, if he will state the bodies conducting these negotiations, and whether any conclusions have been come to as to the quantity likely to be imported.
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister for Supplies if he will state whether any negotiations have taken place for the purpose of obtaining our import requirements of household coal for the year 1941, and, if so, if he will  state the bodies conducting these negotiations, and whether any conclusions have been come to as to the quantity likely to be imported.
Minister for Supplies (Mr. Lemass): I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 and 8 together. Discussions take place from time to time between my Department and the British Mines Department about problems arising in connection with supplies of coal for this country. The Deputy will, however, appreciate that in present circumstances it is not practicable to make any arrangement on which we could rely with confidence as regards our supplies of coal for the year 1941.
General Mulcahy: Can the Minister say if any particular things have shown themselves as being the cause of that?
Mr. Lemass: There are physical difficulties affecting the production and transport of coal in Great Britain which may become more acute in the course of the year.
General Mulcahy: Both with regard to the production of coal and transport?
Mr. Lemass: Both as regards the production of coal and transport.
General Mulcahy: Could the Minister say if he has been specifically informed by the British Mines Department that that is so?
Mr. Lemass: Undoubtedly, and difficulties relating to the supply of coal have arisen in Great Britain as the Deputy may have learned from reports in the Press; difficulties due almost entirely to transport. In our case the difficulty has been more acute in respect of those areas in Great Britain from which we ordinarily drew coal that was used here. I should like to take this opportunity to state that we cannot hope to get the same type of coal that we ordinarily purchased in Great Britain, and users of coal in this country will have to be satisfied with whatever types we can get. There are some areas in which the difficulties  are not as great as in others, and it is on these areas we have to rely for supplies of coal in future.
Mr. Dillon: Might I inquire whether it is not true that there are substantial stores of household coal in this country at present and that the necessity for any panic buying or charging does not arise?
Mr. Lemass: There are substantial supplies of various classes of coal in the country. The difficulties which arose recently relate almost entirely to household coal and required the imposition of restrictions upon the sale of household coal. There is no reason why, with a proper conservation of the available supplies, the possibility of a shortage in the immediate future should not be avoided.
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister for Supplies if he will state whether any negotiations have taken place for the purpose of obtaining our import requirements of tea for the year 1941, and, if so, if he will state the bodies conducting these negotiations, and whether any conclusions have been come to as to the quantity likely to be imported.
Mr. Lemass: Discussions with the object of securing the maintenance of the tea supply for this country have since the outbreak of the war taken place at frequent intervals between my Department and the British Ministry of Food. Discussions concerning future imports are in progress, but it is not possible at this stage to say what conclusions will be reached.
Mr. Dillon: Can the Minister give an undertaking in that regard that no proposal will be entertained for concentrating supplies of tea in future in the hands of a group of Dublin wholesalers without first consulting the wholesale merchants of tea throughout the country as a whole?
Mr. Lemass: I do not like binding myself by undertakings in relation to a situation which cannot be entirely visualised. I think any such arrangement  would not be practicable. In fact, part of our difficulties in regulating the distribution of tea here is due to the fact that a number of our retailers dealt directly with wholesalers in Great Britain, and that the allocation of tea for this country is made to these wholesalers who are outside our control.
Mr. Dillon: I apprehend that the suggestion may be made to the Minister that it would be expedient to hand over the wholesale distribution of tea in this country to a group of Dublin wholesalers. What I am solicitous to ensure is that before the Minister accepted any such proposal he would take energetic measures to secure the opinion of wholesale distributors in Cork, Waterford, and other provincial centres as to the desirability of such a plan.
Mr. Lemass: A number of these wholesalers have already submitted their opinions.
Mr. Dillon: The Minister will fully consider their views before determining any matter of this kind?
General Mulcahy: In view of the fact that it would appear that there has been no difficulty in getting supplies of tea up to the present, will the Minister, before developing any particular kind of machinery to control tea imports into this country, ensure that he will not by doing so block the flow of tea into the country?
Mr. Lemass: As was announced in the Press, we have been officially informed that future allocations of tea to this country for the time being will be reduced in quantity.
Mr. Dillon: Is the Minister aware that during the past year, although the official supplies of tea were rationed on the basis of a datum here, there were offered and accepted about 3,000,000 lbs. of what was called free tea outside the allocation?
Mr. Lemass: I do not think it is correct to say that that happened last  year. It happened shortly after the outbreak of the war in 1939.
Mr. Dillon: I bought free tea last year. It may be that more of that free tea will appear on the market, and, if we excessively restrict the imports of tea here to conform with some plan of ours, we might deprive tea merchants here of an opportunity of securing a share of that free tea should such supplies be forthcoming.
Mr. Lemass: I think it is highly improbable.
Mr. Dillon: Could the Minister say by what fraction it is suggested the quantity of tea imported into this country is likely to be reduced?
Mr. Lemass: That is one of the matters under discussion at the moment.
Mr. P.S. Doyle (for Mr. McGilligan): asked the Minister for Supplies if he will state if he has found in his Department the memorandum issued to the petrol suppliers in 1938, concerning extended storage facilities, and their reply thereto.
Mr. Lemass: No memorandum was issued to the petrol companies in 1938 and no memorandum was received from them before that of January, 1939, to which I referred in the course of the debate which took place three weeks ago in this House.
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state the quantity and value of steam coal imported during each of the years 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1940.
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state the total quantity and value of (1) wheat, and (2) wheaten flour, imported during each of the years 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1940.
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister Industry and Commerce  if he will state the quantity and value of household coal imported during each of the years 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1940.
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state the quantity and value of tea imported during each of the years 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1940.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. MacEntee): I propose to take  the four questions together and give in tabular form the figures asked for in regard to 1937/38 and the first eight months of 1939.
With regard to the imports subsequent to that period it has been decided, on grounds of public policy, not to publish for the present more details than are given in the summary of imports and exports, which has been issued.
|Description||Unit of Quantity||Quantity||Value (c.i.f.)|
|1937||1938||Jany.-Aug., 1939||1937||1938||Jany.-Aug., 1939|
General Mulcahy: Is the Minister aware that the Minister for Supplies has been asking people to face the facts? Can he say what particular public interest would be injured by allowing people to know the exact amount of imports of, say, coal, flour, and tea during the years 1939 and 1940?
Mr. MacEntee: I cannot answer that question.
Mr. Davin: Does the Minister not realise that, in refusing to give figures of this kind, he is destroying the effect of Parliamentary activity?
Mr. MacEntee: The Minister realises that this matter has been very frequently considered and, on grounds of public policy, as I have said and I now repeat, it has been decided to give only a summary of imports and exports. Beyond that I am not going.
General Mulcahy: Is the Minister aware that, so far as tea is concerned, he can ascertain from the commercial machinery in the city dealing with the import of tea that we got at least as much tea in 1940 as in 1939 or 1938? Does he see the implication of withholding, by an official gesture, from the people information like that, which is commonly known in commercial circles in the city, at a time when the Minister for Supplies is preparing a great scheme to ration tea and when, because of the handling of the tea situation, there is considerable hardship being imposed on a certain number of people? Would it not be better to give the facts and to look the facts in the face, when we might find it was quite unnecessary to have all this hardship with regard to tea borne by certain classes of the community, and we might even be persuaded that it was unnecessary to go to the expense and trouble, which the Minister suggested, with regard to the rationing of tea? I suggest to the Minister that he should consider whether it would not be much more in the public interest to make these facts known, so that, as the Minister for Supplies requests, people might face them and, by their suggestions and knowledge with regard to these things, perhaps help to improve the Government's handling of the situation.
Mr. MacEntee: I do not want to turn question time into a debating time, but, if I might answer the question which has been put to me somewhat rhetorically, might I say that I  am perfectly certain that a system of rationing tea will not be introduced unless it is necessary, that the public will, at any rate, accept that as a fact and be prepared to face it? I cannot see what useful purpose would be served by discriminating between one class of import and another class of import, or one class of export and another class of export, and making an exception with regard to the publicity to be given them. We have to accept the situation as it is, and we must, at any rate, put some curb upon our zest for statistical data, particularly in the present circumstances. I think, as I have said, that no system of rationing will be introduced unless it is necessary, and I am sure, when it is introduced, the people will be prepared to accept it as necessary, in order, not that one class or another may be deprived of a share of tea, but that everyone may get what can be given in the circumstances.
General Mulcahy: Is the Minister prepared, even in confidence, to suggest to Deputies what particular public interest is served by withholding the statistics asked for here?
Mr. Dillon: asked the Minister for Agriculture whether existing schemes to enable farmers to purchase farm equipment on credit cover the purchase of tractors and tractor equipment, and, if not, whether he will arrange forthwith to have them extended for this purpose.
Minister for Agriculture (Dr. Ryan): The Department's schemes of loans for the purchase of farm implements provide for advances for implements costing up to £100. Tractor equipment such as cultivators, harrows and ploughs come within the compass of these schemes, but tractors themselves do not, as they cost more than £100. Tractors may, however, be purchased on credit terms through the Agricultural Credit Corporation, which body now charges the same rate of interest (5 per cent. per annum) for loans  as does the Department. Persons inquiring about loans for the purchase of tractors are, therefore, referred to the Agricultural Credit Corporation, and in the circumstances there is no necessity to extend the scope of the Department's loan schemes so as to include such purchases.
Mr. Dillon: Is the Minister not as well aware as I am that the machinery for getting loans from the Agricultural Credit Corporation is so cumbrous that it is quite impossible to get a loan to purchase a tractor in time for this year's tillage campaign: that there are about 200 extremely handy tractors of one particular type, and, doubtless, many of other types available: that there are hundreds of farmers anxious and willing to use them, that the only difficulty is to bridge the credit gap between suppliers and those who want to use them, and that the only way to do that is for the Department of Agriculture to do what it does in regard to mowing machines and spraying machines? Does the Minister realise that my proposal would involve no burden whatever on the Exchequer? I am not asking a grant or anything of the kind, but simply that the Department should facilitate the purchase of these tractors on the instalment plan. If purchasers fail to pay their instalments, the Government can take the tractors back, sell them and recoup themselves for any money outstanding.
Dr. Ryan: The Deputy may not be aware of the particular type of loan this one is. The Agricultural Credit Corporation handle applications in the same way as the Department does under its scheme, and I think the Deputy will find that there will not be any undue delay. The applications will be handled in a few days if they get the information.
Mr. Dillon: Is the Minister able to tell what security the Agricultural Credit Corporation demand?
Dr. Ryan: The security is the same. If they get a reference they will advance up to three-fourths of the purchase price.
Mr. Dillon: And there is no question of a mortgage, or documents of that character?
Dr. Ryan: I cannot say definitely whether, when the amount in question exceeds £100, they might not expect a mortgage. I can assure the Deputy that they will not delay over that.
Mr. Dillon: Does the Minister not realise that nothing I can say will persuade a farmer in rural Ireland to mortgage his holding for the purchase of a tractor, and that to prepare a mortgage document and get it approved by the legal adviser of the farmer, a thing which any prudent farmer would be bound to do, will in itself create a delay that will make it impossible to work the scheme this year; whereas, if you go to the Department and the Department decides that you are honest and solvent, it will give you a chit? You exchange it for the tractor, the mowing machine or the spraying machine, the Government in turn collecting the sum advanced from the farmer. If the Department is prepared to advance £100 in normal times, surely they should have no hesitation here. This is a question of advancing about £250 to a man who, ordinarily, would buy a tractor. Even supposing that 2 or 3 per cent. of those who get advances should default, what is that compared with the advantage secured by the 97 per cent. who will make a success of this by putting the tractors to work, not only on their own land but on contract work throughout the whole neighbourhood. Will the Minister consider that?
Dr. Ryan: Certainly.
Mr. Dillon: asked the Minister for Agriculture whether he is aware that widely different prices are being paid by curers for bacon pigs, in many cases substantially higher than those fixed by the Export Committee, and whether he will state (1) what is Government policy in regard to pig production, i.e., whether they want it increased or  reduced, and (2) whether he intends to ensure that the full value of pigs will be compulsorily payable by all curers in Éire.
Dr. Ryan: I am aware that prices for bacon pigs in excess of those fixed by the Pigs and Bacon Commission have recently been advertised by certain curers. With reference to pig production, the policy is to maintain stocks as nearly as possible at recent levels, having regard, however, to the supplies of food available in the country.
Mr. Dillon: In that connection, would the Minister say to us now what the Government want us to do? The Minister said to us last June that he wanted the pig population reduced.
Dr. Ryan: No.
Mr. Dillon: I understood him to say so. I had 66 pigs which I sold at 88/- per cwt., and one fortnight later the same pigs were worth 115/- per cwt., involving me in the trifling loss of £90. Would the Minister now tell us what he wants us to do? If he wants us to produce the maximum number of pigs——
An Ceann Comhairle: Supplementary questions should be brief. If every question were to take three minutes, two hours would be required to dispose of the questions on to-day's Order Paper.
Mr. Dillon: This is a matter of considerable importance.
An Ceann Comhairle: Quite so, but other Deputies may consider their questions to be equally important.
Mr. Dillon: Would the Minister tell us what he wants us to do? If he proposes to stimulate pig production, then I suggest to him that he should take steps to establish a standard ration, thereby making the best use possible of the available feeding stuffs in the country.
Dr. Ryan: With regard to the production of pigs, we are very anxious  to keep up the present supplies. The only thing that would prevent us from asking for more pigs would be the fear that feeding stuffs may not be there to feed more pigs. We did consider very fully the question of taking up the available feeding stuffs to make a standard ration, but I am afraid that would make feeding very much dearer, at least at this time. The position may be different after next harvest.
Mr. Dillon: asked the Minister for agriculture whether he is aware that wholesale artificial manure distributors require their customers to furnish cash before delivery for supplies of sulphate of ammonia; that many of the retail distributors are not in a position to do this; and that consequently the distribution of sulphate of ammonia will be seriously hindered unless steps are taken forthwith to relieve the situation.
Dr. Ryan: I understand that even in normal times it has been the practice of wholesale artificial manure distributors to require their customers to pay for supplies of sulphate of ammonia within seven days from date of invoice or against cash with order, if required. I am not aware of any material departure from this arrangement in the present season, but it is possible that its terms are now being more strictly enforced as wholesale importers of sulphate of ammonia are now required to pay cash before taking delivery at the Irish ports. My Department has not received any complaints from retailers of difficulty in paying for supplies of sulphate of ammonia.
Mr. Dillon: If the Department does receive such complaints, will it take steps to ensure that reasonable credit facilities are afforded to the retail distributors?
Dr. Ryan: I do not know. That is a big question.
Mr. Dillon: If the Minister does not know, then hundreds of tons of sulphate of ammonia will go to one  area and none at all to the poor areas—where it should go.
Captain Giles: asked the Minister for Agriculture whether he is aware of the increase since 1939 in the cost of producing milk to supply the Dublin area, and whether, in view of the sharp and progressive rise in the cost of feeding stuffs, the increase in the cost of cows and the higher cost of labour, he is aware that the increase of 1½d. per gallon in the price received by the producer is entirely inadequate, and whether he will re-examine the whole question with a view to a more equitable adjustment of the difference.
Mr. Hughes: asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will state whether recommendations have been made to him by the Dublin District Milk Board during the last eight months with reference to the price of milk, and, if so, the number of occasions on which such recommendations were made; and if such recommendations were in the nature of an increase in price, if he will state what reasons influenced him from not implementing the findings of a board set up for the purpose of advising him on such matters.
Dr. Ryan: I propose to take Questions Nos. 18 and 19 together. The prices payable to producers by distributors in the Dublin sale area during the year ending 30th April, 1941, represent an increase of 1½d. per gallon over those for the previous year. Recommendations for a further increase have been made to me on two occasions during the last eight months by the Dublin District Milk Board.
I am satisfied that the prices fixed are reasonable, taking everything into consideration, including the consumers' capacity to pay, and I do not propose to review them. An increase would necessarily entail an addition to retail prices, the effect of which would be to reduce consumption and contract still further the already limited market for liquid milk in the Dublin Milk Board's sale area.
Mr. Hughes: Would the Minister say what useful purpose the Dublin District Milk Board serves if its recommendations are not implemented?
Dr. Ryan: The board is there to discuss matters arising out of the milk supply in Dublin, including price. I met the board on the 1st April, 1940, when we discussed prices for the coming 12 months. I think that the price increase granted—1½d. per gallon over the 12 months—was reasonable.
Mr. Hughes: Does the Minister think that the present management is satisfactory?
Dr. Ryan: Of the board?
Mr. Hughes: Generally, the supply of milk to the city.
Dr. Ryan: No.
General Mulcahy: It is not satisfactory to the consumer.
Dr. Ryan: I am not so satisfied about that.
Mr. Hughes: asked the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware that considerable unrest exists and has existed among milk producers in the production area for the City of Dublin as a result of the bad conditions under which they are at present working, and if he will state whether representations have been made to him by producers' interests to alter the present system under which milk is marketed, and, if he agrees that existing defects can only be adequately remedied by legislation ensuring stability in the milk trade, he will have the Milk (Regulation of Supply and Price) (Amendment) Bill, 1939, now on the Order Paper for over one and a half years, circulated immediately with a view to its enactment.
Dr. Ryan: I am aware that an important section of milk producers in the production area for Dublin is dissatisfied with the present system of marketing milk, and representations on  the subject have been made to me. I have discussed the matter with the various classes of producers and find that there is not any substantial agreement between them in regard to methods to be adopted to ensure stability in the milk trade. In the absence of some measure of agreement, I am not prepared to submit a Bill on the subject under existing conditions.
The Bill referred to in the question has been held up in the hope that a scheme of marketing might be formulated which would meet with fairly general approval. As this appears to be impossible for the time being, I propose to proceed with an Amending Bill to improve the present Act in certain details not affecting the matter of marketing. It is hoped to circulate this Bill at an early date.
Mr. Hughes: Does the Minister hope to get agreement where there are conflicting interests?
Dr. Ryan: I want it only with the producers.
Mr. Hughes: There are definitely conflicting interests amongst them. Does the Minister not agree that he has a responsibility to hold the balance fairly between them and to introduce a Bill that will deal fairly with the interests of both sides? If the Minister waits for agreement where there are conflicting interests, he will wait till doomsday. Am I right in saying that the Minister promised an improvement in the conditions at the termination of the milk strike last year, and am I not also right in saying that there has been a reduction in the number of producers in the production area from 1,800 in 1937 to 1,500 last year?
Dr. Ryan: I could not say.
Mr. Hughes: Am I right in saying that milk coming from the creamery areas, which normally would produce butter, increased from the 32,000 gallons which reached the City of Dublin in November, 1936, to 118,000 gallons in 1939, simply because the Minister has not made an effort to  control the milk supply to the city from the production area?
Dr. Ryan: But they have not produced it.
Mr. Hughes: Will the Minister now face up to his responsibility in the matter and do something about it? What does he propose to do?
Dr. Ryan: There must be some limit to this. The producer around the Dublin district is getting 1/4½ a gallon at the moment. That is a very fine price compared with what the creamery suppliers are getting. If they are not prepared to produce milk in the district at that price, the Dublin consumers will have to call on the creameries for milk.
Mr. Hughes: Does the Minister not realise that it is not so much price as control that is involved? During the summer period, there is a surplus and considerable quantities of milk are sent back to the country as sour milk which very often is not sour. These things need to be regulated and controlled, and it is the Minister, and the Minister only, who can do that by the introduction of the proper measure.
Dr. Ryan: The supplier, and the supplier only, can do it. He has about twice as much milk in May and in June as he has in winter, and how can he make the Dublin people drink twice as much milk in May and June as they drink in winter?
General Mulcahy: By reducing the price, we could make them drink a lot more than they are drinking to-day.
Dr. Ryan: They reduce it to half during these months.
Tadhg O Murchadha: asked the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware that no scutching facilities have been made available for the scutching of flax for a large number of growers in West Cork, and that the crop, the product of about 400 acres, is deteriorating in  condition; whether the growers were left under the impression when planting flax that ample scutching facilities would be available, and whether he is prepared to make the necessary arrangements to enable the farmers of West Cork to dispose of their crop in a satisfactory manner.
Dr. Ryan: It is not a fact that no scutching facilities have been made available in West Cork. I am informed that a suitable turbine scutching unit, which is capable of scutching all the retted and unretted flax grown in County Cork, was installed early in January and is now scutching the flax to the satisfaction of the growers.
General Mulcahy: Would the Minister say where that has been installed?
Dr. Ryan: I am not sure.
Mr. Bartley: asked the Minister for Agriculture what arrangements have been made to make available extra supplies of seed wheat, seed oats and seed potatoes for Connemara.
Dr. Ryan: A seed distribution scheme, intended mainly as a means of introducing and demonstrating the use of improved varieties of seed is, as in previous years, being operated by my Department in the congested districts. Under this scheme, considerable quantities of seed potatoes, seed oats and seed wheat have been made available this season for distribution, at reduced prices, to smallholders in Connemara.
Mr. Beegan: Would the Minister say if a distribution scheme for the seeds mentioned has been made available in recent months, and to what extent it was availed of?
Dr. Ryan: Yes, it has been made available. Something like 300 tons of potatoes, 100 tons of oats and 25 tons of wheat were distributed in Connemara. As a matter of fact, more wheat than that was offered, but it was not all taken up.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Is it a fact that this scheme is not confined to Connemara, but embraces the whole congested areas?
Dr. Ryan: Oh, yes.
Mr. McFadden: I should like to know from the Minister if this scheme will apply to small farmers in West Donegal?
Dr. Ryan: Yes; it applies to the congested districts.
Mr. A. Byrne: asked the Minister for Agriculture if he has any proposals for the disposal or utilisation of the 1,000,000 tons of wheaten straw which it is estimated will be produced as a result of the plans for an extensive wheat-growing campaign; if also, after retaining sufficient straw for farm purposes, the Government will afford facilities to the farmers for the removal of the surplus for industrial or other purposes.
Dr. Ryan: If, by next winter, there has not been a very great improvement in the present position relative to future supplies of feeding stuffs and artificial fertilisers, I anticipate that the straw from a greatly extended area under wheat for harvest this year will then be required for farm purposes, i.e., fodder and litter. Farmers are at liberty to dispose of straw in any way they please and, as at present advised, I do not propose to recommend the Government to take action with a view to providing special facilities for the disposal, for industrial purposes, of the wheaten straw from this year's harvest.
Mr. Beegan: asked the Minister for Lands if he is aware that a petition was forwarded to his Department signed by a large number of householders in the town of Ballinasloe and of farmers in the rural area requesting that 1,000 acres of bog at Poolboy and Kellysgrove, near Ballinasloe, in the  occupancy of Lady Katherine Trench (Record No. U.1348A), County Galway, be purchased for resale in turbary allotments to householders in Ballinasloe and tenants on Clancarty estate; if he will state what stage proceedings have reached, and if, in view of the difficulties in providing fuel for domestic use in this area, he will urge his Department to expedite purchase and have the scheme for allotment prepared in time for the coming turf cutting season.
Minister for Lands (Mr. Derrig): The Land Commission propose to institute proceedings at an early date for the acquisition of an area of bog containing 804 acres in the townlands of Kellysgrove and Graigueawoneen on the estate of Lady Katherine Trench, County Galway (Record No. U.1348A), but at the present stage, they cannot state if or when the lands in question will be acquired and divided.
Mr. Beegan: asked the Minister for Lands if he is aware that his Department notified its intention to acquire portion of the estate of Mr. W. St. George Burke, lands of Ballydoogan (Record No. S.7873), County Galway; if, further, he will state if it is still the intention of his Department to acquire these lands and what stage proceedings for acquisition have reached.
Mr. Derrig: The Land Commission instituted proceedings for the acquisition of an area of 312 acres in the townland of Ballydoogan and Kilmeen on the estate of reps., Ml. H. Burke, County Galway, Record No. 7873. The owner objected to the acquisition of the lands and his objection was heard by the Land Commision and allowed.
Mr. Beegan: asked the Minister for Lands if it is the intention of his Department to acquire the estate of the Bank of Ireland, formerly the estate of J.J. Elder, lands of Kellysgrove (Record No. U.11414), and, if so, what stage proceedings have reached.
Mr. Derrig: The Land Commission had an inspection made of the lands of Kellysgrove, containing 171 acres approximately, on the estate of the Bank of Ireland (formerly J.J. Elder), County Galway, but they have not yet arrived at a decision as to what action should be taken in the matter.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: asked the Minister for Lands whether he is aware that a much smaller number of men are now employed by the forestry branch of his Department in the saw-mills situate at Ashford, Cong, County Mayo, than were employed there when the same were owned by the Hon. E. Guinness, and whether he will take steps to ensure a larger output therefrom, and thereby increase employment to its former level.
Mr. Derrig: There are no details available as to the number of permanent employees on the Ashford estate at the time of purchase. On the date on which the estate was taken over by this Department there were six men working in the saw-mill. There are at present four men engaged in this mill, including the foreman, and it is hoped to take on two extra men in the near future.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Will the Minister not make inquiries as to the number employed by Mr. Guinness when the mills were in full working order, and does the Minister not consider that now is the time, in view of the fact that there is a great deal of ripe timber on the Ashford estate and in view of the timber shortage in the country, the output of these mills should be largely increased?
Mr. Derrig: We are endeavouring to give as much employment as possible at the forest centres.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Will the Minister try to bring the number of men employed up to 40 or 50 instead of six?
Mr. Derrig: No.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: asked the Minister for Lands if the lands acquired on the estate of the Hon. E. Guinness at Ashford, Cong, County Mayo, have proved to be of greater extent than are required to meet the needs of the forestry branch of his Department, and, if so, whether he will take steps to have the surplus lands, if any, divided amongst the former workmen on the estate who have lost their employment and reside in the vicinity of Cong, and amongst the inhabitants of Cong.
Mr. Derrig: The estate of the Hon. E. Guinness at Ashford, Cong, was taken over for forestry purposes and any land surplus to immediate requirements and suitable for tillage or grazing is being let for these purposes to ex-employees and other persons resident in the neighbourhood of the estate.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Is it the intention to give these out permanently to the ex-employees?
Mr. Derrig: The position is as was explained by my predecessor, that these lands were taken over with the intention of having a good forestry centre and to give as much employment as possible. If we tried to relieve congestion, it would be quite impossible to do anything for anybody, except the persons actually on the estate, the former employees.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I do not think the Minister has quite grasped my question. I am entirely with the Minister in the view that as much of the lands of Ashford as are required for forestry should be retained for forestry purposes, but, where there is a surplus, my suggestion is that it should not be let out in temporary lettings, but should be given as permanent holdings to the ex-employees. Will the Minister consider that?
Mr. Derrig: Seeing that no provision whatever, as the Minister pointed out in 1939, can be made for the adjoining congests, and if it seems doubtful—I really cannot say at the  moment—whether you could even provide accommodation for all the ex-employees, we think it better——
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Would the Minister divide it amongst the ex-employees, because I certainly think they have a priority claim? If the Minister will undertake to consider the matter and let me know, I will not press him any further.
Mr. Derrig: I do not propose to reconsider this matter. A decision has been come to, and I see no grounds at present for revising the decision.
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I do not know what the decision is. The Minister has not made it plain to-day.
Mr. Nally: asked the Minister for Lands if he is aware that acute congestion exists on the Brabazon estate, Derrygay, Kiltimagh, County Mayo, that the poor law valuation of Michael J. Egan, Thomas Devine, and Patrick Moran, tenants on said estate, are £2 15s., £3 and £3 5s., respectively, and if he will state what steps, if any, are being taken by the Land Commission to acquire the vacant holding of John Walsh, junior, on Brabazon estate (C.D.B. No. 100 Coll. No. 5760/09) lands of Derrygay, near Kiltimagh, County Mayo, for relief of existing congestion.
Mr. Derrig: The Land Commission is aware of the congestion existing in the townland of Derrygay on the estate of General J. P. Brabazon (C.D.B. 100) and proceedings are being instituted to resume the holding of the late John Walsh (junior) for the relief of congestion.
Mr. Davin: asked the Minister for Lands if he will state the acreage of land (other than lands for forestry purposes) in the possession of the Land Commission on December 31st, 1940; the acreage let under the eleven months' system during 1940; the acreage of same under tillage; and whether all land let by the Land Commission last year was let under the conditions  contained in the Compulsory Tillage Order.
Mr. Derrig: The information asked for by the Deputy is not available without the institution of a special inquiry and the allotment to it of time and staff which cannot be spared for such work. The amount of land on the hands of the Land Commission varies from day to day, and particularly so at this period of the year when land is being taken over and distributed to approved allottees. The Department's statistics are compiled as of the 31st March in each year and it may be taken that of late years the Land Commission would have on hands on any date between 31st December and 31st March something like 80,000 to 90,000 acres of land acquired under the 1923-39 Land Acts. Of that total about two-thirds would consist of mountain, moor and turbary, difficult to dispose of and most of it carried over from year to year. The balance would be arable and pasture land in process of distribution and of this, again, about one-third, judging from the experience of 1940, would be classed as arable. In the spring of 1940 there remained on Land Commission hands something less than 10,000 acres of arable land and, of this, close on 19 per cent. was tilled by means of conacre lettings, a proportion well beyond the requirements of the Tillage Order.
At the present moment, tillage lettings are being made in respect of any lands which are not likely to be distributed in time for cultivation by the allottees. It is quite impossible to make any estimate of the total area of arable land likely to remain on hands this spring, but the Deputy and the House may rest assured that the Land Commission will again arrange for full compliance with the Government's tillage requirements. I am aware that, already, in some Leinster counties, arrangements are being made for the tillage of practically 33? per cent. of such arable land as is not being distributed to allottees.
Mr. Davin: Do the letting advertisements issued with the authority of the Land Commission contain any provision  that the land will be let subject to the regulations made under the Compulsory Tillage Order? My information is that no such condition is contained in the letting notices.
Mr. Cosgrave: Look at the advertisements in to-day's paper.
Mr. Davin: My question referred to 1940.
Mr. Derrig: It may not be possible, for technical reasons, to impose that condition in all cases. We are making the lettings, as far as possible, under a tillage condition and, in cases where, for technical reasons, we do not think it advisable to impose the condition, the allottees will, I take it—it often happens—till a portion of the land. A considerable amount of the land in the hands of the Land Commission is in the congested areas, and it has been the custom for many years to let that land from year to year to adjoining smallholders. Practically all these people are tilling more than is required by the tillage regulations and I am quite sure they are also tilling a considerable proportion of whatever lettings they may have.
Mr. Davin: asked the Minister for Lands what steps, if any, have been taken for the purpose of acquiring and dividing the large acreage of bogs on the Coote estate, County Laoighis, and whether a division scheme for same will be put into operation this year.
Mr. Derrig: The Land Commission have under consideration the question of the acquisition of the bog on the estate of Sir R.A. Coote, County Laoighis, Record No. U.3886. They are not at present in a position to state if or when the bog will be acquired and divided.
Mr. Davin: How can the large number of small holders and town dwellers in the vicinity of this large tract of bog land comply with the request of the Taoiseach to cut three times as much turf as they did in 1939? That is quite  impossible, as the Minister knows, unless steps are taken to acquire large bogs of this kind and divide them.
Mr. Derrig: The Deputy may not be aware that the acquisition of a bog of 2,000 acres—very scattered and consisting of several sections—is a tremendous undertaking. It takes years to accomplish it, and even the preliminaries take a considerable time.
Mr. Davin: The Minister has power, under the Emergency Powers Order, to acquire bogs in a much shorter time than the red-tape regulations of the Land Commission permit.
Mr. Derrig: If we could leave to the Deputy the trouble that would ensue to the tenants who would get the allotments, all would be well.
Mr. Davin: asked the Minister for Lands if he will state what steps, if any, have been taken for the purpose of acquiring and dividing the large acreage of bogs on the Rosse estate, Birr, County Offaly, and whether a division scheme for same is likely to be put into operation this year.
Mr. Derrig: The Land Commission are not in a position to state what action they may take regarding the question of the acquisition of the bogland on the Rosse estate, Birr, County Offaly. I would refer the Deputy to my reply of the 26th June last to a similar question.
Mr. Davin: asked the Minister for Lands if he received a memorial from a large number of workers who were employed on a Land Commission improvements scheme on the Deegan estate, Errill, County Laoighis, requesting him to sanction the payment of an increase in the rate of wages; whether he is aware that farmers residing in the same area are obliged to pay their agricultural labourers 3/- a week more for doing work of a similar nature, and whether he is prepared to recommend the payment of an increased rate.
Mr. Derrig: A memorial dated 28th October, 1940, from a number of workers on the Deegan estate, County Laoighis, asking for an increase of wages, was received by me from the Deputy on the 18th December, 1940, and was replied to on the 24th December. The minimum rate of wages payable in the area to agricultural workers for a 54-hour week is 30/-. Land Commission labourers work a 48-hour week only, and their rate of wages compares favourably with the agricultural labourers' rate. I do not see any possibility in present circumstances of an increase in the rates of wages payable to labourers employed by the Land Commission.
Mr. Davin: Is this another case in which the Minister cannot take action because of the way the Ministry is bound up with the Majority Report of the Banking Commission?
Mr. Nally: asked the Minister for Lands if he will now state what steps, if any, are being taken by the Land Commission to provide economic holdings for the ten tenants on the Ward estate in the townland of Kilscoghagh, Crossboyne, Claremorris, whose poor law valuations are under £5.
Mr. Derrig: Notices of intention of the Land Commission to institute proceedings for the resumption of the holdings of Joseph P. Mellett, containing 77 acres in the townland of Kilscoghagh and of Thomas Hennelly, containing 2a. 0r. 39p. also in the townland of Kilscoghagh were published on 28th June, 1940, under the provisions of Section 39, Land Act, 1939. Petition against resumption was lodged on behalf of Joseph P. Mellett and was heard by the Lay Commissioners on Wednesday, 22nd January, 1941, when the commissioners reserved their decision. As regards the holding of Thomas Hennelly, the necessary steps are being taken to have proceedings instituted for the resumption of the holding.
Mr. Nally: asked the Minister for Lands if he is aware that acute congestion exists in the townland of Caraun, Claremorris, where there are 15 tenants whose poor law valuations average less than £6 each, and if he will state what steps, if any, are being taken to acquire part of the Prendergast estate, which has been offered to the Land Commission, to relieve the existing congestion and provide the tenants with a proper unobstructed right of way to their holdings.
Mr. Derrig: There are no proceedings pending in the Land Commission for the acquisition of the lands of Mr. R. E. Prendergast in the townland of Caraun, Claremorris, County Mayo.
Mr. Fagan: asked the Minister for Lands if he will state (a) the number of warrants issued to farmers in Westmeath in respect of unpaid land annuities in each month from January, 1940, to January, 1941, inclusive, and the number of such warrants in respect of which there was a nulla bona return; and (b) how many notices of sale arising out of non-payment of land annuities were issued to farmers in Westmeath in each month from January, 1940, to January, 1941, inclusive.
Mr. Derrig: The reply is in the form of a tabular statement which will be circulated in the Official Report.
Following is the statement:—
|Number of Warrants issued to Westmeath County Registrar in respect of Land Purchase Annuities and Annual Sums in arrear||No. of such Warrants returned “Nulla Bona”||No. of Notices of Sale issued in cases of default in payment of Annuities in County Westmeath|
Mr. J. Cole: asked the Minister for Justice if he will instruct the Gárda not to proceed against people who were driving their cars untaxed during the first week of January while awaiting the outcome of the petrol situation, and now find that they cannot get any petrol and consequently have to lock up their cars.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Boland): I am not prepared to issue such an instruction.
Mr. O'Neill: asked the Minister for Defence if he will state (1) how many cases under the Military Service Pensions Act, 1934, now await decision, (2) how many cases were finally decided during the six months ended 31st December, 1940; and if he will explain how there has been such a slowing down of late in the matter of deciding applications.
Minister for Defence (Mr. Traynor): (1) The number of applications under the Military Service Pensions Act, 1934, in respect of which the referee has not reached decision is 10,559. (2) The number of applications finally decided and in respect of which the referee completed his report during the six months ended 31st December, 1940,  was 8,355. It is not agreed that there has been any slowing down of late in the matter of deciding applications.
Mr. Dillon: asked the Minister for Defence when Patrick Cosgrove, of Crossbane, Newbliss, County Monaghan, may expect to hear the decision of his application for a pension under the Military Service Pensions Act, 1934.
Mr. Traynor: Owing to the failure of the Brigade Committee concerned to supply particulars which have been requested, the referee has not yet been able to complete his report on the application made under the Military Service Pensions Act, 1934, by Mr. Patrick Cosgrove, Crossbane, Newbliss, County Monaghan. I am not, therefore, in a position to state when a decision will be notified to the applicant.
Mr. Dillon: Can anything be done to expedite the provision of this information by the parties responsible for giving it?
Mr. Traynor: Yes. The board is continually writing. They write to them, I think, every couple of months, notifying them of the fact that they are still awaiting that information.
Mr. Dillon: There is no other means of compelling these people?
Mr. Traynor: There is no means that I know of other than the applicant himself trying to influence these people to answer the inquiry.
Mr. Davin: asked the Minister for Defence if he will state the procedure adopted by his Department for recruiting officers, petty officers and other members of the staffs presently employed in the Coastal Defence and Portal Control Services; whether vacancies were advertised through the labour exchanges or the daily papers, and whether all the officers and petty officers already appointed were required to pass a qualifying examination in seafaring duties.
Mr. Traynor: For the Coastal Patrol Service certain personnel were taken over from the Department of Agriculture with the vessels which had been used as fishery protection cruisers. Advertisements were inserted in the daily Press requesting applications for the additional appointments required. All applicants were invited to appear before an interview board appointed to examine the candidates' qualifications, experience and suitability for the service and appointments were offered to those found to be the most highly qualified. As regards the Port Control Service, the harbour master or the assistant harbour master of the port concerned was, whenever practicable, appointed as the competent port authority. Recruitment of the petty officers and seamen required was jointly effected by the particular competent port authority and the commanding officer of the dépôt or sub-dépôt concerned. It has not been the practice to consult the employment exchanges in matters of recruitment for the marine service; the announcement in the daily Press at the inception of the service produced satisfactory results. A qualifying examination in seafaring duties was not considered necessary having regard to the qualifications and experience of the applicants.
Mr. Cole: asked the Minister for Defence how many lorries of different types and sizes and how many cars, bicycles, etc., have the military got, and how much petrol is used per month by the military.
Mr. Traynor: In present circumstances it would not be in the public interest to give the information sought by the Deputy.
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will arrange that for the future all reports or descriptions of Oireachtas debates broadcasted from Radio Eireann will be placed in the Library for reference.
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Little): I am not prepared to make the arrangement suggested by  the Deputy. These necessarily very condensed references to debates which are available in full in the Official Reports would not, I am satisfied, be of any practical use to Deputies and Senators for reference purposes.
General Mulcahy: I am sure they would not. Will the Minister consider the fact that originally there used to be a deposit in the Library of even the general news that is given over the radio and, in view of the criticisms that have arisen with regard to the inadequate and partial nature of the news broadcasted of the Oireachtas proceedings over the radio, does the Minister not realise that it would help him to improve the situation from that point of view and would assist towards a more impartial report if it was regarded as a privilege of the Oireachtas that comments and reports of its proceedings would be placed in the Library for perusal?
Mr. Little: I do not think it would. It is always open to Deputies to listen to the news——
Mr. Davin: And to the Minister, too, I hope.
Mr. Little: ——and to raise any question in reference to what they hear by way of question or motion in the Oireachtas. Otherwise I think the less any of us interferes with these reporters, who work under severe pressure of time, the better for the objectivity of the news.
General Mulcahy: Is not the Minister too simple in asking Deputies of this House to take it that the reports that are broadcasted from Radio Eireann are the product of individual outsiders? Is it not a fact that the Publicity Department of the Taoiseach keeps in the closest possible touch with the type of report that goes over the radio, even as regards reports of the Oireachtas proceedings?
Mr. Little: The general policy is to interfere as little as possible with the reporters in what they select for the news. If any other check is kept on it it is rather from the point of view of national policy at the moment, but it certainly is not done with a view to giving a Party slant of any kind to the news.
General Mulcahy: Is not the Minister aware that the machinery for giving the national-policy touch to this business is Party machinery?
Mr. Little: No.
General Mulcahy: Oh yes.
Mr. Little: Certainly not. The Publicity Department has nothing to do with Party publicity of any kind, or propaganda. That is very carefully kept apart from it.
Mr. Dillon: It is only de Valera publicity that goes out.
Mr. Little: He happens to be the Taoiseach. That is the unfortunate part from your point of view.
Mr. Dillon: The most unfortunate thing in this country.
Mr. Cosgrave: Is the Minister aware that on a recent occasion there was a report from the B.B.C. of two speeches from this House at 6 o'clock in the evening, and at 6.40 Radio Eireann was capable of giving only one?
Mr. Little: I went in detail into the various times at which these speeches were given in another place and I suggest it should be raised by way of separate question. I have not the details with me, but I know on close examination it appeared to me that the reporters had done the best they could in the circumstances.
Mr. Cosgrave: That was not the question I asked the Minister.
Mr. Little: I would have to go into  all the details if I were to give a full answer to the question.
Mr. Cosgrave: There is no necessity to do that. The Minister should answer the question “yes” or “no”.
Mr. Little: It is a separate question.
Mr. Cosgrave: I asked the Minister is he aware that on a recent occasion the B.B.C. was capable of giving two speeches from this House and his organisation was capable of giving only one, three-quarters of an hour later.
Mr. Little: I am not concerned with the B.B.C.
Mr. Cosgrave: The Minister ought not to be because he would be ashamed of his own organisation if he were.
The Tánaiste: It is proposed to take business as on the Order Paper— No. 10, then Nos. 2 to 9, inclusive. When the business is concluded it is proposed to adjourn until Wednesday, 26th February.
General Mulcahy: That is for three weeks?
An Ceann Comhairle: Three weeks from yesterday.
Mr. Davin: Is the long adjournment proposed because the Government are not in a position to put business before the House for consideration?
The Tánaiste: There is something in that. There are certain Bills that we had hoped we would be able to produce to the House in a fortnight, but I am told to-day that it is unlikely that they will be ready before three weeks.
Mr. Hickey: I think, in view of the position that is developing throughout the country, particularly in my own constituency, in Cork, the House should meet more frequently. I can see a very serious development taking place in the South of Ireland and I think it is too long an interval to allow three weeks to elapse before the next meeting of the House.
General Mulcahy: Perhaps the Minister would leave that question over until later in the day and, in view of the very serious situation that is said to exist in regard to tillage as a result of the inadequate distribution of petrol and other matters like that, would he consider during the day whether, if the House is to adjourn for three weeks, a statement might not be made on the adjournment to-night, or some suitable occasion during the night, as to the position which will assure people in the country, who have been making representations with regard to supplies that impinge on the tillage campaign, that these matters will be dealt with?
Mr. Dillon: May I further represent to the Tánaiste that the petrol situation is about to create unemployment  for hundreds of lorry drivers and van drivers in the country? It may be that that is impossible to avoid. It may be that something will turn up which will make it possible to avert that catastrophe. I suggest to the Tánaiste that it would be eminently desirable if the country could look forward to a meeting of this House on this day fortnight at which that position could be reviewed.
In the meantime I suggest that this House should ask employers to hang on to their lorry drivers and van drivers as best they can, even though in the end it may be wasted money, and they have to let them go at the end of the fortnight, but in the hope that better news will then be available and that it will be possible to keep them on permanently. If those men are thrown out of their jobs, hundreds of them will never get back. We can save the jobs of very many of them if they are just kept going now.
Mr. Davin: I do not want to create any unnecessary alarm, but I think Deputy Dillon has put the position very mildly when he says that hundreds of lorry drivers are likely to be dismissed. I am afraid it will go beyond hundreds, if it has not already done so.
Mr. Hickey: What about other classes of workers?
Mr. Davin: Other workers will be affected as well. I do seriously suggest to the Government that it is undesirable for the House to adjourn for a long period, and for Ministers to get up in other places and make statements in connection with the national position which should be made in this House, or at any rate in one of the Houses of the Oireachtas. I had taken it for granted that the adjournment would be until 19th February, because if one looks at page 31 of the Order Paper it will be seen that it more or less gives that impression.
The Tánaiste: Those dates are always provisional.
Mr. Davin: I suggest that, if the Government has no business ready for the consideration of the House, there is sufficient business on the Order Paper provided by Private Deputies' motions. I think it may be taken for granted that the discussion of the Private Deputies' motions on the Order Paper cannot be finished to-night. I would ask the Tánaiste to consider the matter seriously, and not make a final decision now.
The Tánaiste: We have considered the matter seriously, quite seriously, and we are fully cognisant of the position with regard to unemployment. There is considerable expense involved in bringing Deputies together from all ends of the country, but, if the House has a strong view that our next meeting should be on the 19th, or even that it should be on next Wednesday, we are quite agreeable. I should like the House to understand, so far as Government business is concerned, that there are certain Bills which we hoped to have ready on the 19th, but we find now that they will not be ready until the following week at the earliest.
Mr. Dillon: Say the 19th.
The Tánaiste: If there is any pressure for a meeting on next Wednesday, we are quite agreeable. If you wish to say the 19th, we will say the 19th.
Mr. Dillon: Then we will say the 19th, unless some untoward event occurs which makes it desirable to meet earlier.
The Dáil, according to Order, went into Committee on Finance to consider Supplementary Estimates.
Minister for Finance (Mr. O Ceallaigh): Tairgim:—
Go ndeontar suim Bhreise ná raghaidh thar £28,750 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1941, chun Pinsean Sean-Aoise (8 Edw. 7, c. 40; 1 & 2 Geo. 5, c. 16; 9 & 10 Geo. 5,  c. 102; Uimh. 19 de 1924; Uimh. 1 de 1928; Uimh. 18 de 1932; agus Uimh. 26 de 1938); chun Pinsean do Dhaill (Uimh. 18 de 1932, agus Uimh. 26 de 1938); agus chun Costaisí Riaracháin áirithe ina dtaobh san.
That a Supplmentary sum not exceeding £28,750 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1941, for Old Age Pensions (8 Edw. 7, c. 40; 1 & 2 Geo. 5, c. 16; 9 & 10 Geo. 5, c. 102; No. 19 of 1924; No. 1 of 1928; No. 18 of 1932; and No. 26 of 1938); for Pensions to Blind Persons (No. 18 of 1932, and No. 26 of 1938); and for certain Administrative Expenses in connection therewith.
The purpose of this Supplementary Estimate is to provide for anticipated increased expenditure on sub-head (A), i.e., on the actual cost of pensions. The original Estimate was based on an average number of pensioners over the year of 140,000, but it now appears certain that the average will be higher. The actual numbers at the end of March, 1940; June, 1940; September, 1940, and December, 1940, were, respectively, 138,805, 139,660, 140,604, and 141,430.
It has been estimated in a recent computation that the population over 70 would at the middle of each of the years mentioned below amount to the following:—
It will be observed from these figures that the upward trend in the population over 70 will be sharply accelerated in the immediate future. Taking 75 per cent.—which is the normal proportion—of such population as representing the number of old age pensioners, the number of pensioners in the middle of 1941 would be about 144,700, or some 3,000 more than the number at the end of December, 1940. Payments by the Post Office averaged £68,334 per week in the nine weeks ended 28th November, 1940. In the light of the marked increase in septuagenarians referred to above, it is considered that provision should be made for an average weekly expenditure of £69,000 for  the remainder of the year. In addition, a sum of £10,000 is being provided to cover contingencies. On this basis, the Estimate has been revised to £3,560,000, i.e., £30,000 increase on the original Estimate.
It is anticipated that receipts under Subhead C—recoveries of overpayments—will realise £1,250 more than was estimated. The surplus will be offset against the additional sum required for Subhead A, so that the net supplementary amount required for the Vote is £28,750.
Mr. Dillon: The population problem forecast by the trend upwards in the proportion of septuagenarians in our population is a wider one that I propose to touch upon now. Personally, the expenditure on old age pensions is expenditure which never alarms me, because I cannot foresee the creation of any serious abuse being possible. Armies of pensioners, vigorous young men clamouring for pensions and getting them, or “dolees” getting pensions for doing nothing, are in my opinion a menace to the State, but people over 70 years of age getting the modest pension which is provided by law cannot, in my opinion, ever constitute a menace to the State, and I think it is rather a desirable thing the wider the pensions spread. But I want to make this point. I do not believe anybody in this House grudges pensions to the septuagenarians who stand in need of them, and there might be a good deal to be said for removing the means test at present incorporated in the old age pensions code, but so long as that means test is in the old age pensions code, then the law ought to be obeyed. I have every reason to believe that in many parts of the country the law is not approximately obeyed. People with substantial incomes are receiving pensions of 10/- a week and next door to them are living people with microscopic incomes whose pensions have 1/-, 2/- or 3/- a week deducted from them.
Does the Minister for Finance ever require his staff to take some division of the country and review all the existing pensions in that division with the object of ascertaining whether they are all being properly paid or not? I  believe if he did that in certain areas he would be astonished to discover the number of persons receiving pensions who have no claim under the law to receive them. I know people who have 20 cattle and horses and traps and comfortable houses and farms receiving 10/- a week and there is a fight in which 40 could join if I were to try to get individuals living next to them on small humble farms a pension of 8/- or 9/-.
I do not complain if the officials of the Department assess a small farmer's income fairly in accordance with the terms of the statute. They have got to do that, and they have no right to go outside the statute. But it does appear to me a gross injustice that, having done that so scrupulously in regard to the small farmer, his large neighbour, who happens to have some political pull, gets 10/- and there is no comment made about it. It is not easy to run these cases down, but I am convinced that if once or twice a year the Minister would take an area in a different part of Ireland and make a strict review in that limited area of every pension payable there and required a strict report on every pensioner in the area to be rendered to the Revenue Commissioners, he would discover as much as five per cent. of the pensions at present being paid— and possibly substantially more—are being improperly paid.
The sum of money involved might not be substantial, but the sense of grievance that would be removed by creating the impression that equal justice was being done between all, whether they had political pull or whether they had not, would be very well worth the time spent in making the survey I suggest.
Mr. Corish: I should like to refer to the delay that occurs in the granting of blind pensions. The delay in many cases is inexcusable. Persons are kept, in some instances, for almost 12 months before consideration is given to their applications. Certificates are submitted to the pensions officer and by him to the local pensions committee indicating that there is definite evidence  of blindness and in some cases these certificates are signed by qualified oculists, but, notwithstanding that, the pensions officer always decides against a pension being granted. The claim comes before the local pensions committee and it is quite apparent to the members, apart from the evidence submitted by the oculist or a doctor, that the person is blind.
If there is disagreement between the committee and the pensions officer the case has to come before the Minister's Department and eventually a medical inspector is sent down to examine the applicant. All that takes at least nine or 12 months and I think the Minister will admit that that is an inexcusable delay. I hope he will do something to speed up the consideration of applications. In districts where there is a qualified oculist, the Minister ought to accept his certificate rather than waste time and expense by sending down a man from Dublin. Deputy Dillon referred to the means test. That matter has been touched upon repeatedly both here and elsewhere.
An Ceann Comhairle: As Deputy Dillon did refer to the matter, the Chair will not debar Deputy Corish from doing so. I would point out, however, that the general administration of the Act may not be raised on a Supplementary Estimate.
Mr. Corish: I have not very much to say on the matter. So far as the means test is concerned, I think it is applied very unfairly to applicants for blind pensions. I have in mind the cases of some people who made application for blind pensions. They had not reached the age of 70 and were not even near it. They had to cease work because they lost their sight in the course of their employment. They were entitled to receive an allowance from their trade union, an allowance to which they contributed over many years, and because of that they were not permitted to draw a blind pension. I think the Minister should have such cases examined. Whatever excuse there is— and I suggest that there is no excuse —for applying the means test to a person who has reached 70 years, a  person who has had to cease employment in consequence of the fact that his sight became defective when in employment, and who becomes entitled to an allowance to which he has contributed during his working years, should be granted a blind pension irrespective of the allowance. I hope the Minister will examine these matters carefully and, in particular, he should endeavour to speed up the consideration of blind pension applications.
Mr. Beegan: Deputy Dillon referred to the manner in which old age pensions have been granted. He believes there is a certain percentage of cases in which no pensions should be granted. My experience is that there is an interrogation which is next to an inquisition and it takes a fairly good heart to stand up to that. If there is one class in the community towards which there should be a little leniency, it is those people who have attained the age of 70 years and over. I do not think there is any such thing as the award of a pension to a person who is not within the law entitled to it. I am quite certain of that and when the Deputy indicates the case of the 20-cow farmer, I am sure if he took up a specific case of that kind with the Department of Finance it would be examined carefully and the Department would not be very slow in acting.
We may have seen certain cases of that type happening in various parts of the country from time to time, but why should the Deputy make a statement in general terms? I believe there is hardly one case in 5,000 where that happens and, consequently, I must protest against that insinuation. I believe the persons responsible for deciding on old age pensions are not influenced in any way politically; political influence does not weigh with them. If you write on behalf of an old age pensioner, you will get your reply in due course and there is no question whatsoever of political influence weighing with those responsible.
Mr. Hickey: As a member of an old age pensions committee I think it is most unfair that the man or woman who is in receipt of home assistance prior to the time when he or she becomes 70 should be obliged to include  the amount of home assistance in their means. I consider that most unfair, because they merely get the home assistance to keep them going until such time as they are granted a pension. Like other Deputies, I think that some of the old age pensions officers are too strict and they do not act in accordance with the spirit of the legislation when they are inquiring into the means of old people. In my opinion, when people reach 70 years of age, instead of giving them only 10/- a week they should receive double that amount.
Mr. Brennan: I should like to agree with Deputy Beegan, but I cannot agree with him. I think that any Deputy who is honest with himself will know perfectly well that that sense of grievance to which Deputy Dillon referred does exist down the country. Nobody is finding any fault with pension officers or can say that they have done anything “soft”. I do not think they have ever done anything “soft” but I know instances in my own locality where some people entitled to the old age pension are getting a small amount, while other people are getting the whole pension. Yet, a comparison of the circumstances would show that it should be the other way round.
Mr. Beegan: Have you ever gone into the figures?
Mr. Brennan: I know the circumstances thoroughly, and I do not understand on what basis the amount of the pension has been fixed in many of these cases. I am sure Deputy Beegan also has had experience of people coming to him and saying: “So-and-so is getting 10/- a week, while I am only getting 5/-.” Deputy Dillon merely suggested that the Minister ought to have a periodic review of the circumstances, and I do not think anybody could object to that. There is nothing unfair in it. I am making no allegation against anybody, but these things have happened. They are probably accidental, but there is a terrible sense of grievance felt by the man who is getting only a few shillings when he knows that a person in the same, or better, circumstances is getting 10/-.
 Deputy Corish referred to delays in dealing with blind pensions. I am sorry the Minister concerned is not here, because I also have had experience of delays with regard to cases that had been referred to inspectors for investigation. I am sorry to say that the most appalling delays have come under my notice. As far as the old age pensions section of the Local Government Department is concerned, I had always the greatest admiration for it. I thought that the officers were doing their work very thoroughly and that they deserved the thanks of the community. Latterly I have not that to say. One case in particular, that of an old woman whose claim had been referred for investigation to an officer over 12 months ago, came under my notice. It may be said the delay does not matter very much, because she will get her back pension when the claim is admitted. The tragic thing is that she will not, because she has since passed away. She is dead. It is not fair that investigation of claims should be delayed in that way. There is probably a reason for it; probably there has been some curtailment of the staff who deal with this work, but some steps should be taken so as to expedite the investigation of these claims. Cases of that kind have been happening up and down the country. As a matter of fact I made representations with regard to some old people months and months ago, and I thought that their cases would be considered. It was only after one of them died that I discovered that no officer ever went there.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: I cannot answer for the Department of Local Government, which is responsible for the administration of blind pensions.
Mr. Corish: You know more about it than anybody else.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: There was a time when I had responsibility for that Department, and I know that during portion of the time when I was Minister for Local Government unfortunately there was considerable delay in dealing with claims. There was a period when we had some difficulty in getting on the staff a medical man with the necessary  qualifications. There was some delay in selecting him, for one reason or another. During that time, we tried to have the work of examining applicants for blind pensions carried out by other medical members of the staff, but they had already a good deal of work to do in their own sphere. There was certainly some delay then in dealing with the claims. I do not know, however, whether the delays were as great as 12 months. That would certainly seem to me an inordinately long time. I shall call the attention of the Minister for Local Government to the complaints that have been made in that respect.
Mr. Corish: If there was a properly qualified oculist in a district, could the Minister not instruct his officers to accept the recommendations of a man like that? That would save time and money in sending down a medical man from the Department.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: Doctors differ. Men who are fully qualified and hold specialist qualifications with regard to this subject differ with regard to the amount of blindness from which an applicant suffers. One doctor may hold that a person is entitled to a blind pension, while another may hold that the person does not suffer from the degree of blindness that would entitle him to a pension.
Mr. Corish: Under the present arrangement, there is only one man on the staff to deal with those cases.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: There is only one man on the staff, but he has the final word. However, I shall direct the attention of the Minister for Local Government to the complaints that have been made. With regard to the remarks of Deputy Dillon and Deputy Brennan, I was sorry that anybody in this House should suggest that the administration of the Old Age Pensions Act was tinged in the remotest way by political bias.
Mr. Brennan: I did not say that.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: Deputy Brennan did not, but Deputy Dillon did, although he did not say so definitely,  rather infer that there was political bias in the administration of the Act by the Department of Finance or the Department of Local Government. I think that was a very unfortunate remark for Deputy Dillon to make. I do not think that Deputies believe that officials on any side in any Department are influenced by political considerations in regard to the administration of the Old Age Pensions Act. That was a most unfortunate remark, and not one that should be made, because it constitutes a gross reflection on the officials.
Mr. Corish: I have never seen an instance of it.
Mr. Hickey: Nor have I.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: I do not think anybody in his senses would seriously make an accusation of that kind. I have heard complaints similar to those mentioned by Deputy Brennan. I have got them in writing, from Ministers, from Deputies, and from private persons. I have received signed letters and any amount of anonymous letters. When I was in charge of the Department of Local Government there was certainly not a month—I was going to say there was not a week—when I did not get some complaint or other of the type to which Deputy Brennan refers. There were letters to the Minister from the son or daughter of a person who was getting five or six shillings referring to somebody else in that parish, or in an adjoining parish, who was getting 10/-. Every single case I had examined— sometimes twice and three times because of doubts there were and of the persistent complaints. Officers were sent down to interview these people on the spot, to interview the complainant, the recipient of the 5/- or the 6/-, and the recipient of the 10/-.
Mr. Hickey: Perhaps the valuation of the house had something to do with it.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: These officers went into everything, and I do not suppose that I found that in one per cent. of the cases were the complaints justified.  That was my experience when I was dealing with the matter as Minister for Local Government. Our Department then only dealt with cases on appeal, but we got all sorts of complaints, and I sent these on to the Department of the Minister for Finance. I got so many persistent complaints that I often said to my colleague, Mr. MacEntee, the then Minister for Finance: “Why cannot you get your officers to deal with these?” and he would perhaps say: “My officers have dealt with it; it is a matter for your officers.” Eventually we got together and got the cases examined by a committee of officials of both Departments. I sat on committees and my Parliamentary Secretary sat on committees examining these complaints. I think I can say with truth that, in the eight years I was Minister, I hardly got one case per year with which I could find any fault. Was that not a good record?
Mr. Brennan: Very good.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: Whatever one may say about the means test, that is a different matter. That is the law. So far as the awarding of pensions by officials is concerned, it is straight, fair, honest and just between man and man in accordance with the law, and there is absolutely no foundation for ascribing political bias to any official with whom I have ever had any dealings.
Mr. Byrne: Alter the law regarding the means test. A very large number of people are suffering under it.
An Ceann Comhairle: It is not permissible to advocate legislation in discussing an Estimate.
Mr. Byrne: The Minister refers to the means test. It could be altered.
An Ceann Comhairle: Which cannot be altered without legislation.
Mr. Davin: I suggest one could alter the mentality of the people who arrive at the means.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: There are schedules which are arrived at after long discussions between the Departments as to the values. In an agricultural holding,  for instance, the value of the stock is taken into account. The officials meet the officials of the Department of Agriculture and of the Land Commission and arrive at what they regard as a fair average figure for such a holding, with so many acres of such a class of land and so many cattle, sheep, goats, etc. The official is tied to that figure. He does not use his own judgment in estimating, but goes according to the table laid down.
Mr. Byrne: Is the Minister aware that poor law relief is taken in as means? I sat the whole morning on old age pension cases and two or three cases of poor law relief. It is not meant by law to include poor law relief.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: Relief is means. Means is means. Income is income, wherever it comes from. That would have to be dealt with by law.
Mr. Byrne: I hope the Minister will deal with it.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: If Deputy Brennan suggests that in his area there is a grievance, I would be quite happy to meet him myself and go through any list of cases in confidence. He need not let anybody know that he is bringing up certain names. I will get the officials together and he can investigate all the facts and figures on which these pensions were granted, and I think he will be satisfied. At any rate, I invite any member of the House to bring up any individual case and I will examine it.
Mr. Davin: That is fair enough.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: And I will get the officials to put before any Deputy all the facts and figures on each pension awarded, and I think they will be satisfied that there is nothing like political bias——
Mr. Brennan: I did not suggest that.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: ——behind the individual officer who is dealing anywhere in the country with the old age pension claims. In all parts of the country, Deputy Dillon suggests, we should take an area and revise it. We get so many complaints that in every area there are picked cases under examination every week in the year.
Mr. Corish: Cases are always under review.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: There are so many complaints that there is a constant review.
Mr. Brennan: Only the complaints are reviewed.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: They are numerous enough.
Mr. Brennan: But they may not be the worst cases.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: There are so many complaints and letters that one would imagine that the ones that are bad would surely come to our attention.
Mr. Davin: Does the Department inquire into anonymous complaints?
Mr. O Ceallaigh: Yes.
Mr. Davin: They should be put in the waste-paper basket.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: We inquire into them for our own information. Since I became Minister for Finance I have not got those numerous complaints which I received in the Department of Local Government. The country people fondly imagine that the Minister for Local Government is solely responsible for the old age pensions. He is not: he deals only with cases that go to him on appeal; he is the Appeals Officer. The vast majority are dealt with through the officials of the Minister for Finance—the Revenue Commissioners in this case. I have nothing further to say, but will repeat that I should be glad to deal with any complaints of injustice.
Vote agreed to, and reported.
An tAire Oideachais (Tomás O Deirg): Táirigim:—
Go ndeontar suim Bhreise ná raghaidh thar £680 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch  an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1941, chun Costaisí i dtaobh Scoileanna Ceartúcháin agus Soathair, ar a n-áirmhítear Aiteanna Coinneála (8 Edw. 7, c. 67; Uimh. 17 de 1926; agus Uimh. 24 de 1929).
That a Supplementary sum not exceeding £680 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1941, for Expenses in connection with the Reformatory and Industrial Schools, including Places of Detention (8 Edw. 7, c. 67; No. 17 of 1926; and No. 24 of 1929).
As the Estimate explains, most of the amount sought under this Supplementary Estimate arises by way of additional sums required to meet capitation grants on account of the increased number of youthful offenders under detention both in reformatory and industrial schools. There is also a sum of £150 required to meet the cost of conveying the increased number of youthful offenders to schools. As against the increases under these headings, there is an increase in the Appropriation in respect of receipts for children in industrial schools. The amount received from parents and in respect of allowances under the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act is somewhat greater than was anticipated and it is expected that the original Estimate will be exceeded by £250.
Vote agreed to and reported.
Mr. Hickey: On behalf of Deputy Norton I move:—
Recognising that the present rates of benefit for unemployed persons under the Unemployment Insurance Acts are inadequate and that the conditions governing the payment of benefit inflict hardship on a large number of unemployed persons, Dáil Eireann requests the Government to set up a committee for the purpose of inquiring generally into the rates of benefit provided under the Acts for insured persons and their dependents, the conditions under which  such benefits are provided and the manner in which the Acts are administered.
I would like to put before the members of this House, and the Government in particular, what I consider a very serious situation. It is serious from many aspects, but particularly because the toleration of such a state of affairs is a flat contradiction of what our Constitution stands for. I may say in passing that it is a flat contradiction of the Christian religion, to put it mildly. I regret that Deputy Belton— who was talking about the small number in the House—is not present this evening to hear this discussion, as there are involved at least 113,455 unemployed who are in receipt of unemployment benefit at labour exchanges and it would be very hard to know the actual number of persons involved as regards their dependents. I asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce yesterday to let me know the number of persons in the City of Cork in receipt of 23/-, 22/-, 20/- and 18/6 per week, and the number of persons in County Cork in receipt of 14/- and 15/- per week. I had a very definite object in asking that, so that there could be no question as to the seriousness of the situation as we know it.
I got a reply to say that, for the week ending 11th January, 1941, there were 116 persons drawing unemployment assistance at 23/- per week, 116 persons drawing it at 22/- per week, 136 persons drawing it at the rate of 20/- per week, and 178 persons in receipt of unemployment assistance at the rate of 18/6 per week. I want to point out that none of these people can draw 23/- a week unless he has at least five dependent children.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. MacEntee): May I draw your attention, Sir, to the fact that the Deputy, apparently, is relating his remarks to unemployment assistance, and this motion is dealing with unemployment insurance?
An Ceann Comhairle: Quite; the Unemployment Insurance Acts.
Mr. Hickey: I am talking about the Unemployment Insurance Acts, not Act.
Mr. MacEntee: Well, unemployment assistance comes under the Unemployment Assistance Act.
Mr. Hickey: It is the citizens as a whole who contribute towards the Act, and I am only pointing out——
Mr. MacEntee: I am afraid, Sir, that this is not in order.
Mr. Davin: Sir, should not the Deputy be allowed to finish his sentence without being interrupted by the Minister?
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy, so far, has not dealt with the Acts mentioned in the motion, that is, the Unemployment Insurance Acts. Several sentences were completed by the Deputy. If Deputy Hickey has been making only some introductory remarks before coming to the Unemployment Insurance Acts, well and good, but he must cut them short.
Mr. MacEntee: I do not want the Deputy to be prevented from developing his argument, but, obviously, if we have come here to discuss unemployment insurance, we are not ready to discuss unemployment assistance.
Mr. Hickey: I am endeavouring to deal with the whole question of unemployment insurance benefits. As I say, from the latest figures available it would appear that there are 113,455 persons unemployed and registering at the labour exchanges. The maximum amount that an unemployed man can get to-day is 15/- a week for himself, 5/- for his wife, and 1/- a week for his dependent children. Having regard to the conditions under which this is being paid, and having regard to the increased cost of living, I say again that the giving of that allowance to-day for an unemployed man, his wife and five or more children is a flat contradiction of what the Constitution stands for and a flat contradiction of the Christian religion and, as Deputy Dillon said in some place quite recently, unless we bring religion into politics we will have nothing but chaos in this country.
 I want to point out that of these 113,455 who are registered at the labour exchanges there are only 26,000 odd who are in receipt of unemployment insurance benefit. There are 86,000 odd who are in receipt of unemployment assistance, and therefore I cannot accept the Minister's viewpoint that we are not dealing with the Unemployment Insurance Acts since we are only dealing with 26,000 out of 113,000, but I shall confine myself for the moment to those who are in receipt of unemployment insurance benefit.
When one considers that this allowance for a man, his wife and dependent children has been in operation even since before the Great War, one must remember the changed conditions now existing. I have here before me figures showing where the expenditure of a certain institution is £29,123 in excess for the present year of what it was in former years, and they go on to show how that increase has taken place. Since last year beef increased in price by 57 per cent., mutton by 33 per cent., house coal by 28 per cent., and I might say in that connection that coal in Cork City is 100 per cent. in price over what it was last year or in 1938. Between April, 1939, and October, 1940, bakers' flour increased in price by 32 per cent., wholemeal by 72 per cent., tea by 55 per cent., sugar by 55 per cent., and eggs by 57 per cent. Of course, as far as beef, mutton and eggs are concerned, the unemployed and their dependants do not know what they are. That is one of the reasons why I should like to make this statement and give these facts, so that we could break that complacency on the part of the Minister and supply some of the ammunition that will be necessary to bring an effective attack on the self-content of the Minister and other Ministers of the Government.
Then, apart from what I have already said, you have this business of an unemployed man having to wait before he receives payment. An unemployed man waits for six days before he gets anything. The unemployed man has to wait, but nothing else waits. Neither the payment of his rent nor the grocer's bill will wait for six days, nor does his stomach cease to operate  for six days. I want to tell the Minister that unless these things are changed and something done to bring about more consideration for the unemployed, I am afraid he will be facing a far more serious situation than he is facing at the present time. The Minister is not prepared to go into the question of unemployment assistance, but I should like to point out to him that out of the 113,000 that are unemployed from the 11th January and signing at the labour exchanges, 86,000 are drawing unemployment assistance, and the fact that of these 86,000 there are 35,600 who have no means whatever and 48,000 others who are supposed to have some means but who are still drawing the unemployment assistance, having regard to the means test, immediately shows, I think, that a revolting situation exists amongst the unemployed. I should like to say again, in the presence of Deputy Dillon, now that he is here, that that state of affairs is a flat contradiction of the Christian religion and, as he pointed out, on another occasion, unless we bring religion into politics we will have nothing but chaos in this country. Here is an opportunity for us to apply that, in a case where we have 113,000 unemployed, plus at least five persons to each of those who are registering at the labour exchanges, and that is a very conservative figure. This is a very important matter, and I hope that the motion I am proposing will be adopted by this House.
Deputy Dillon rose.
Mr. Corish: Before Deputy Dillon speaks, I beg formally to second the motion. I do not wish to prevent the Deputy speaking now, as I shall have an opportunity of speaking later.
Mr. Dillon: I have no desire to retire from the position which I took up on a previous occasion: that unless Christian ethics are interwoven with politics there is no hope for this country or for any other country in the world, and perhaps the more we dwell on the subject in these times of crisis the better it will be for everybody. I think, however, that that lesson probably requires to be better learned throughout the world than it does here, because, while I sympathise  with the sentiments expressed by Deputy Hickey in introducing this motion. I do not believe that it does any good to suggest to the masses of our people that there is anybody in this House who is indifferent to the sufferings of the unemployed.
Mr. Hickey: I beg the Deputy's pardon, but I did not hear what he said.
Mr. Dillon: I say that I do not think it is good or that it serves any useful purpose to suggest to the masses of our people that there is any individual in this House who is indifferent to the sufferings of the unemployed. We might say that the methods taken to relieve their position are inadequate, and we all are under a very solemn obligation to propose remedies in this Oireachtas which will be effective to end their tribulations and sufferings.
I remember, and the Deputy remembers, nine years ago when the hoardings of this country were plastered with Fianna Fáil posters, calling on people to elect Fianna Fáil, and that a job would be provided for everyone. I am in public life, on and off, 20 years, and I think that was the most dastardly thing done in that period. I hate to remind people who suffered terrible tribulations of those who defrauded them into giving them their votes on the sort of misrepresentation, that if they did so they could, by some secret trick, out of their pocket produce something to end their tribulations, when they knew in their hearts and souls that they could not. That was an iniquitous thing. It was a lie to begin with, and not only morally damnable but politically iniquitous, because it contributes to the totalitarian falsehood that democracy is a fraud.
An Ceann Comhairle: After those preliminary remarks the Deputy might come down to the alleged inadequate benefits under the Unemployment Insurance Acts referred to in the motion.
Mr. Dillon: Yes, Sir. I think that any benefit paid to a man for standing idle must inevitably be inadequate. The only adequate thing you can provide for men willing to work, and who cannot find work, is to find jobs for  them. While I understand what the Deputies who moved this motion have in mind, I think their words might be misrepresented to cast a serious reflection on those who are honestly seeking work and cannot get it. The words might be interpreted to suggest that what these people are primarily concerned about is to get the dole. I do not think they are. I think if they could get jobs they would not give a damn about the dole.
Mr. Hickey: They have said that.
Mr. Dillon: I agree. I further think that it is not right to dwell on the adequacy of these allowances without facing courageously both sides of the problem. I see dozens of fellows lining up at Gárda stations in rural Ireland, and they are no more entitled to unemployment assistance than I am, but they are getting it every week. I say it, and I stand over it. There is no one in this country who does not know it as well as I know it. I see that dole week after week spent on cigarettes and luxuries by young fellows who come in to collect it regularly, and the result of that is to create a feeling amongst those who are working hard to live, that they are being required to work and to earn in order to support other fellows who will not go and do work that is there waiting for them.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is not the Deputy discussing unemployment assistance?
Mr. Davin: The Minister knows that.
An Ceann Comhairle: This motion deals with unemployment insurance.
Mr. Dillon: I did not differentiate between unemployment assistance and unemployment insurance, and I did not realise that the motion is restricted to unemployment insurance.
An Ceann Comhairle: It is obviously restricted by virtue of its terms.
Mr. Dillon: Before I conclude my remarks may I qualify the statement I made. It is easy to misrepresent what I said and to suggest that I am making a general attack on the unemployed. Nobody wants to do that. I  am as solicitous for these people as any Deputy. I am not assailing or reflecting on men who are looking for work and cannot find jobs. I have the deepest sympathy for them, and the fullest sense of my obligation to do anything I possibly could to end that position, but I say, by leave of the Chair, that those seeking relief by way of unemployment assistance, and who are not entitled to it, but who are simply getting it as pocket money, are doing to the genuine unemployed the most grievous injury that could be done to them, because they are misrepresenting them as persons not deserving of sympathy and assistance when, in fact, they are. Perhaps another occasion will arise when I will have something to say about this general question.
Mr. Corish: When Deputy Hickey was moving this motion, he did not say anything that would lead Deputy Dillon to believe that members of this Party were more concerned with the payment of what he described as “the dole”, or unemployment insurance, than with men who want work. We have always definitely laid it down that what we were mostly concerned about was the provision of work for the unemployed. Nobody on these benches likes to feel that there is a necessity to have an Unemployment Assistance Act or an Unemployment Insurance Act. We are dealing in this motion with the type of men who have worked for considerable periods. They have contributed to the Unemployment Insurance Fund the contributions laid down in the Act, and, owing to circumstances over which they have no control, they have been rendered idle, especially during the last 12 or 18 months. These men were in the habit of drawing decent wages. They paid very large contributions to enable them to qualify for unemployment insurance, with the aid of the State, and we are asking now that that should be taken into consideration, and the weekly amount allowed them increased.
I am very much afraid that the Minister, as well as the Government, are out of touch altogether with the  position that prevails in the country. I do not want to be taken as an alarmist, but the position is very serious, and is such in different parts that the Government would do well to take notice of it. There is no question that, if the Government or anybody in the Departments of State examines the position to-day, and the amount of money received by people in receipt of unemployment assistance or unemployment insurance, it will be found difficult to understand how a man is able to live and to keep a wife and family, as God Almighty ordained that they should be kept, on their present incomes. We would like to see the beautiful words used in the framework of the Constitution reflected in the policy of the Government, and a magnificent opportunity now offers itself for the Government to show that they meant what they said in the Constitution. Deputy Hickey has referred to the waiting period. I suggest that that inflicts great hardship upon people when dealing with unemployment insurance. The men paid their contributions regularly. Perhaps they were working for years, and then, owing to the slump and the situation created by the war, they were suddenly unemployed. They drew decent wages when working.
This waiting period puts them in such a position that they may be unable to retrieve themselves perhaps for one or two years. As Deputy Hickey pointed out, the coal merchant will not wait for his money, and neither will the rent collector, nor the grocer. The waiting period leaves a man with a wife and a family in such a position that he finds it hard to extricate himself over a long period.
In England recently unemployment insurance benefit has been increased considerably. Up to November last a man, apart from family allowance, received 17/- per week. He is now in receipt of £1 per week. I want to tell the whole truth in connection with that matter. The weekly contribution under the scheme has been increased by 1d. to enable a man to draw that sum. I do not think the workers here  would begrudge the payment of an extra penny to enable them to get an extra amount of insurance.
Mr. Dillon: Is it not also true that there is practically no unemployment in England at present?
Mr. Corish: It is not. I was surprised to see from to-day's papers the numbers that were unemployed in England. There are nearly 1,000,000 unemployed. At any rate, up to November last men had 17/-, and now they have £1; women of 21 and over had 15/-, and now they have 18/-; young men from 18 to 20 had 14/-, and now they have 16/-; women from 18 to 20 had 12/-, and now they have 14/-. I suggest that it is cheaper to live in England at present than it is here, because there is a better system of control of prices in England. I am, therefore, of opinion that there is a greater necessity for an increase to be given to the unemployed in this country than there is in England.
I said at the beginning that, so far as this Party were concerned, they are not pleading for the dole or for unemployment insurance as such. They are appealing for an increase, because the necessity is there. We have always laid it down very definitely that we discouraged the drawing of either the dole or unemployment insurance. We have always suggested to this Government, in view of the promises they made prior to coming into office, that they should find employment for those people. From what I know of the Irish working class, the majority of them, at any rate, would prefer work to drawing either unemployment insurance or unemployment assistance. Any decent-minded man would prefer to be working, to occupy his time in doing good honest work, rather than be dependent on the Government or anyone else to provide him with assistance when he is doing nothing.
I hope when an opportunity is provided by the Government to deal with the motion put down on behalf of this Party, and which I hope will be dealt with in a fortnight's time, that they will show that they have some plan in  mind to deal with this huge question of unemployment. I am one of those who never thought that the Government would be able to fulfil the promises they made in 1932. But they made these promises. They told us that they had plans for dealing with unemployment, but up to now nothing has come of them. If they are unequal to that task, the least they can do, when this motion comes up for consideration, is to accept it and bring somebody into counsel with them who will consider this unemployment situation as it appears to them, to us, and to the country. Owing to circumstances over which we have no control, we know that within the last month numerous people have been thrown out of employment. That is going to contribute further to what is already a very serious state of affairs, and I hope the Government will give the matter the consideration it deserves.
Mr. A. Byrne: On many occasions, by means of questions and in debate in the Dáil, I referred to matters similar to those contained in the motion now before the House. I endeavoured to draw the Minister's attention to the terrible hardships that are being borne by our unemployed people in the working-class areas of the City of Dublin. I am aware that there are unemployed people in the tenement quarters of Dublin who are in the habit of buying their tea and paraffin oil by the pennyworth. To-day no shopkeeper will look at them when they produce a penny to buy either tea or paraffin oil. It is not fair or just in a country like ours that the children of these people should be going around hungry, not properly clothed, and without boots. I suggested to the Government last week that a committee of some kind should be appointed immediately to deal with this type of case and see that there should be no unnecessary hardship, at any rate hardship that could be avoided if such a committee got to work and helped the poorer type of people in this city who are trying to exist on inadequate allowances.
I spent the first half of to-day in the Old Age Pensions Department in connection  with the cases of people who had their pensions reduced as a result of the means test or who were deprived of pensions because of assets which they were supposed to have. In one case there was a large family, but because one of the family was drawing unemployed benefit that was taken into consideration in assessing the old age pension for the father. In another case there was a boy of 16 and a girl of 18 and it was disclosed that when a boy or girl reaches 16 the unemployed father gets no allowance for them. Between 16 and 18, and until such time as they go to work and get so many stamps on their cards, they get no allowance.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. MacEntee): On a point of order, it seems to me that the Deputy is completely irrelevant. May I put it to you, Sir, that this is a motion to consider certain conditions existing under the Unemployment Insurance Acts? The Deputy has been discussing old age pensions and, apparently, the means test, which does not enter into this matter at all.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I was waiting to see if he would come to the point. He was probably leading up to it.
Mr. Byrne: I was leading up to the point——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This motion deals with the rates of benefit under the Unemployment Insurance Acts. It is not a motion dealing with unemployment generally.
Mr. Byrne: I was trying to show to the House that for a boy or a girl of from 16 to 18 there is no allowance under the Unemployment Insurance Acts.
Mr. MacEntee: There is no means test under the Unemployment Insurance Acts.
Mr. Byrne: I am sorry if it hurts the Minister. I know his sympathy with them.
Mr. MacEntee: I must ask you, Sir, to protect me against remarks of that  sort. I am putting a point of order, as I am entitled to do. There is no means test under the Unemployment Insurance Acts.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I am pointing out to the Deputy that the motion deals with the present rates of benefit under the Unemployment Insurance Acts.
Mr. Byrne: I bow to your ruling.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I must ask the Deputy not to fall into the temptation of dealing with unemployment generally.
Mr. Keating: Will the Minister look back on the promises made in 1932?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: There is nothing about that in the motion.
Mr. Byrne: This is a very proper motion for the consideration of the House, and I was availing of it to draw attention to what is going on in the City of Dublin owing to the inadequate allowances paid under these Acts. What I want to bring home to the Minister is that people are suffering unbearable hardships. It is the duty of someone to attend to their needs unless we want to increase the death roll amongst the children of the city who have not sufficient food. I say that it is up to the Government to protect them. One way to do that would be for the Minister to accept the motion and increase present allowances. The waiting period referred to is most unfair. In my opinion, on the day that a man becomes unemployed he should be entitled to get the benefit of the Acts passed by this House.
Mr. Coburn: The terms of this motion are such that they should receive the support of all Parties in the House, including the Government Party. I recognise that the country is passing through a difficult time. We are living in times of danger and stress. In order to avert those dangers, it has been considered necessary to expend large sums of money. While I agree with that, there is the other picture to be looked at—the position of those with whom the motion deals. The workers of this country are fully  convinced that, due to the present high cost of living, the present allowances, whether in the form of unemployment benefit or of unemployment assistance, are quite inadequate. It is unnecessary for me to go into details of the difference of the cost of living to-day and what it was 15 or 16 years ago. But, due to the present high cost of living, it is almost impossible for a man, not to speak of his family at all, to live on the prevailing rates.
We know that honours, such for example as the V.C., have been conferred on people for acts of daring and bravery, but in my judgment the women of this country are far more deserving of honour for the work they are doing in keeping their homes and families together under present conditions. Their task has been an exceedingly difficult one during the last year or two. I mix with those people and I know their circumstances. I can say from intimate knowledge that the benefits allowed them are quite insufficient to meet even the bare necessaries of life. Owing to present conditions we have large numbers of respectable, decent, hard-working men idle. When in employment they earned, to the fullest extent, every halfpenny they got. Their position to-day is anything but enviable. They used to find employment in the building trade.
The Minister must be aware of the fact that owing to causes, many of which he has no control over in view of prevailing circumstances, we have here tens of thousands of men whose average earnings over the last seven or eight years were from £3 10s. to £4 10s. per week, and who to-day are obliged to live on anything from 15/- to 25/- a week. In view of the high cost of living, high rents and other charges, it is impossible for those men to do justice to their families and at the same time try to keep their heads above water. In view of that position I would say that if we want to preserve the peace of the country we will have to do a little more than we have been doing in the last year or two in regard to our unemployed. When I speak of the unemployed I refer to the decent honest type of worker who was never  used to the dole or to the crumbs that might fall either from the tables of Government or private organisations. They are men who were in a position to earn a decent livelihood by honest labour. In the scriptural sense they “earned their bread in the sweat of their brow.” Their present position is a danger that I see confronting the country at the present time, and what I am afraid of is that a great many people in high positions are not giving sufficient thought to it. I am not an alarmist, but I have heard those people give voice to certain expressions that they certainly would not have given voice to one or two years ago. I would impress on the Minister the absolute necessity of taking some measures to give favourable consideration to the subject matter of the motion.
The second part of the motion is also deserving of every support: the great grievance that the unemployed suffer by reason of the long delay that takes place in arriving at a decision on their claims. There is not much difficulty as regards unemployment insurance claims so long as people have stamps to their credit, but, when the stamps are exhausted, those claiming unemployment assistance have great cause for complaint in the long delay that takes place in coming to a decision on their claims. I want to make every allowance for the difficulty created as a result of the great increase in unemployment that has taken place in the last few months. I am charitable enough to know that the officials are sympathetic, and would like to do the right thing within a reasonable period of time. Anything I have to say is not by way of criticism of the officials, but rather of the statutory rules that govern this whole question, and that, in my opinion, seem to hinder those responsible in coming to a quick decision on the claims made. When unemployment benefit claims are exhausted, people have then to make their claims for unemployment assistance, with the result that sometimes months elapse before a decision is arrived at. Everyone knows that, no matter how long a man may have been in constant employment, and no matter how many stamps he may have to his  credit, when the evil day of unemployment comes, he finds that his period of benefit is exhausted in a very short time. He can only claim benefit for two periods of six months each. There must be an interval between these two periods; but even so, the statutory period during which he is entitled to benefit becomes exhausted in a short space of time. I think that something should be done in the way of amending the law, so as to enable the officials to adjudicate on a claim within a much shorter space of time.
That is a part of the motion which is very important because there are many people who have no means of existence except the money they receive under the Unemployment Assistance Act, and a man cannot live on air for three or four weeks—even if he applies to the local board of assistance, all he gets is a few shillings—until his case is decided. The Minister and Deputies must know that there are men who would starve before applying to the local board of assistance for help to tide them over the period of stress which must necessarily elapse before their claims are decided. That is a part of the motion to which the Minister might give his particular attention. As I say, the officials do the best they can. They are sympathetic, and, indeed, when any cases of hardship are brought to their notice, they invariably do the right thing at the right moment. I am speaking, however, of the rank and file. I do not want any Deputy to be in a position to hasten a decision on a man's claim because I want fair play for all. The humblest man going in is as much entitled to have his claim dealt with expeditiously as if he had the Taoiseach, or the President himself, acting on his behalf.
I think the time has arrived, if it is not long overdue, when some increase should be made in the rates of benefit. I quite appreciate that the resources of this country are not large, and I made reference to that subject years ago when the Minister and his friends were talking very big and saying that this country could do this, that and the other thing. I always joined issue with them on that point, because I am one of  those who realise that this little country of ours has limited resources and that it is only by hard work that this nation can carry on. People, however, cannot be allowed to starve. As I said before, peace and neutrality are all right for people who have all they need to eat, but there is not the same enthusiasm, where men who have very little to live on are concerned, to preserve that peace and neutrality, and these men form a very large section at the moment owing to the unfortunate circumstances that prevail. I have great pleasure in supporting the motion and I trust that the Minister, when he considers the circumstances of the people affected, will take immediate steps to implement it.
Mr. Davin: This motion was tabled before the outbreak of the present war and if there was then, as we believe there was, a good case for its adoption and acceptance by the Minister, there is a doubly good case for it to-day, if the increase in the cost of living, particularly since the outbreak of the war, be taken into consideration. Even as a result of what has taken place during the past couple of weeks, this motion has a far greater interest to-day for some thousands of workers who have been dismissed, or have received notices of dismissal, from their employment as a result of the petrol rationing scheme. The people who have received notices of dismissal, as I know they have received them in hundreds in this city, are not looking forward with any pleasure to the miserable pittance they will receive, following the loss of their employment by reason of circumstances over which they had no control.
The Minister is being asked by this Party and by the supporters of the motion to accept the statement that the existing rates of benefit payable under the Unemployment Insurance Acts are inadequate, and, if the Minister intends to oppose the motion, I should like him to face up to that portion of the motion and to state whether, in his opinion, the present rates are sufficient or not to keep those who cannot get work and their dependents in decency and comfort. I do not propose to say that the Minister,  personally, has any worse outlook on such an issue than any member on this side of the House, or any member who may see fit to support the motion, but I hope he will face up to that point, which is the real issue affecting the conditions of all those who are in receipt of unemployment insurance, or who will be thrown on the unemployment insurance fund during the present year. The very fact that this motion has been on the Order Paper for nearly two years must have given the Minister a fairly good opportunity of studying the position in the light of changing circumstances.
This is not an unusual type of motion for the consideration of this House. During the lifetime of the Dáil —and I have been a member since the constituent Assembly was established —I have heard motions of this kind discussed. I remember an occasion when the previous Minister for Industry and Commerce came to the House and apparently convinced the majority that the unemployment insurance fund at that period was insolvent, and that it was necessary to increase the contributions made by those in insurable occupation. The rate of contribution was put up and then I think that, shortly after the present Government came into office, the rate of contribution was reduced. There are thousands of people in this country who regard the payment of unemployment insurance as getting something out of the State for nothing. The people who get benefit under the Acts are people who pay for it, just the same as those people who pay contributions or premiums for other forms of insurance. They pay a contribution laid down by the Parliament responsible for the passage of such legislation, and unemployment insurance benefit should not be regarded, as it is unfortunately regarded by many people, as getting something for nothing. At any rate, the main point for the Minister in replying to the motion is to say whether he considers the existing rates of benefit adequate or not.
I put it to the Minister that if the existing rates of benefit were adequate at a particular period before the outbreak  of war, they are certainly inadequate now in view of the increase in the cost of living. Deputy Hickey has given particulars from official statistics of the huge increase which has taken place in the cost of essential commodities since the outbreak of war. Something must be done to enable those who suffer as a result of the increased cost of living to maintain themselves and their families in decency and comfort. If the rates of benefit are inadequate, the Minister, and only the Minister, has the ways and means at his disposal to increase these benefits. If he says he is convinced that there is a case for increasing the benefits, I am sure all the members of this House will encourage him to amend the law so as to improve the existing rates of benefit as quickly as he is desirous of doing so.
The unemployment insurance fund is supposed to be a solvent fund. I take it that that is accepted by all sides so long as they are prepared to accept the principle of existing legislation making it possible to pay unemployment insurance benefit. What is the Minister's opinion of the fund at present? I take it that the Minister has the services of an actuary at his disposal, and that there are periodical actuarial reports furnished to him regarding the position of the fund. If the fund cannot bear the charge for increased benefits, the Minister can maintain the solvency of the fund in the way adopted by his predecessor, and increase the benefits. Deputy Corish gave particulars of the amendments made in the benefits from the British fund. It is rather strange that we, in this part of the country, should boast of the amount of money spent on social services every year, and, at the same time, have to admit that the benefits paid under the Unemployment Insurance Act and the amount of old age pensions are smaller than those payable under the parochial parliament operating in the Six County area. If we are to get the majority of the people in the Six Counties to come into an all-Ireland parliament, we shall have to adopt measures to convince them that it will pay them to do so. We must have better social services here than in the Six County area, if we are to  convince them. The people in the Six County area who are endeavouring to exist on unemployment insurance benefit are in a far better position than people similarly placed here. If the Minister is not personally satisfied that he can announce an increase in benefits, he is given an opportunity, through the second portion of this motion, to set up a departmental committee to investigate the claim made in the motion. He has had two years to look into the subject matter of this motion. I am sure he has very able advisers at his disposal. I do not know whether, since this motion was tabled by Deputy Norton, Deputy Hickey and Deputy Corish, any investigation by a departmental committee has taken place, or whether any actuarial report has been received by the Minister since then or since the outbreak of war. There is a convincing case for increasing the existing low rates of benefit. If the Minister is not satisfied as to how the increased allowances can be brought about, the departmental committee, which is suggested in the motion, will advise him as to how that can be done.
Captain Giles: I support the motion because I think it is a reasonable one. There is hardly any member of the House who will not give it his sympathy. I travel around the small towns a good deal and, at present, there are a large number of our people on the border-line of starvation. Were it not that they were able to earn a little money by catching rabbits, things would be very hard with them during the past winter. The rabbit pest has therefore eased a dangerous situation.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Are these people receiving unemployment insurance benefit?
Captain Giles: We do not know what they are receiving.
Mr. MacEntee: Are they in an insurable occupation?
Captain Giles: They are very doubtfully occupied. Sometimes they have to steal into and out of estates.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I think that that is outside this motion.
Captain Giles: This motion does not ask something for nothing. Most of these people have been paying to the fund all their lives and they are not State paupers. They are looking for a reasonable way of living. We all know that the coming year may be a very black one. Thousands of our people were disemployed during the past month and that figure may run into hundreds of thousands. The safety-valve must, accordingly, be kept in the right position. If hunger and want are allowed to stalk the land, groups and agitators and movements will start up and a strong State will be needed to control them. We do not want that. We want unity. Men who were earning £2 or £3 a week up to recently are now on the border-line of starvation. It is difficult for men of that type, with a few children, to live on £1 a week. The time has arrived to review the whole situation and I think the Government should do that. We are calling for the loyalty of our people so that we can hold our little country intact. You cannot expect hungry people to rise to the occasion unless we ourselves rise to the occasion and help them to meet their needs. I do not think that it is beyond the capacity of the House to increase these benefits and bring some little comfort to families which at present have but a black outlook. We all know how hard it is to balance our own budgets and we are in a better position than these people are.
I am in full sympathy with the motion, because I am mixing with people in the small towns with whom, in my young days, 10 or 12 years ago, I played hurley and football. These people were happy, healthy young men in those days, and they are now the most woebegone, miserable-looking wretches you could look on. When you ask them how they happen to be so despondent, they will tell you they got married, met with hard luck, and are now unable to rear a family. They are there trying to beg and scrape a living. Some of them are the finest type of people, with whom I marched in the national movement. Now they are the most downtrodden and woebegone people in this State. I would ask the  Minister to give full sympathy to this motion, because there is justice in it. We know that, with the increased cost of living and the other difficulties with which our whole nation is asked to contend, it is only just that those who are on the borderline of starvation should get our first consideration. I believe this House should give that consideration, and that it is their duty to give it at the present moment.
Mr. Corish: Could we not now hear something from the Minister?
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. MacEntee): I might suggest to those who are in favour of this motion that we ought to hear some more arguments in support of it.
Mr. Everett: We would like to hear the Minister.
Mr. MacEntee: Deputy Hickey, in proposing this motion, and Deputy Davin, in supporting it, drew the attention of the House to the fact that it was put down in April of 1938 in circumstances very different from to-day, and put down even then, I think, under a misapprehension as to what the real position in regard to the Employment Fund was. It is not, perhaps, without some relevancy to this motion, and without some significance in connection with the circumstances under which it was put down, to refer to the fact that, so far as the Minister for Industry and Commerce was concerned, its appearance upon the Order Paper was preceded by a communication from the Irish Trade Union Congress, dated 28th March, 1938, in the course of which it was said:—
“My national executive understand funds have now accumulated to an extent sufficiently adequate to consider an improvement in benefits under the Act without any additional cost to the worker. I am, therefore, to invite the Minister to say if it is his intention to introduce legislation increasing the unemployment insurance benefits.”
As I have said, that communication was dated 28th March, 1938, and we have this motion put down in April of that year, and put down, I think, under  the misapprehension that because from time to time there was a balance to the credit of the fund after the experience of certain years, the fund would go on with an accumulating surplus, and that surplus could be used, as has been suggested in this letter, for the purpose of granting additional benefits without any increased cost to the worker.
The position in relation to the fund in fact was not at all as bright as the optimistic writers of this letter thought it to be. The excess of receipts over payments of the fund during a number of years from 1933 to 1939-40 showed in fact very large variations. In 1933-34 the excess was £7,797; in 1934-35, it was £22,665; in 1935-36, it was £130,032; in 1936-37, it was £242,136, which was, I may say, a peak over this cycle of years; in 1937-38 the excess of receipts over expenditure fell to £163,927; in 1938-39, it had fallen to £83,044 for that year; in 1939-40 it had fallen to £48,764 and the position now is that in fact the expenditure exceeds the income of the fund and that we have had to realise some of the securities of the fund for the purpose of meeting the claims upon it.
This is an insurance scheme. It is designed to meet good years and bad years and it is hoped that the surpluses which have accumulated in the good years will be there to meet and provide for the deficits which undoubtedly accrue in the bad years. In my view it would be quite improvident and, of course, wholly inconsistent with the principle of insurance to utilise the surplus which has been accumulated in preceding years, not in order to meet the legitimate demands upon the fund, but in order to provide benefits which were never covenanted and which were not paid for. I should have thought that those who have spoken in favour of this motion would have addressed themselves to the very important principles with which we are here concerned. Notwithstanding the speech of Deputy Hickey, who seemed to be running in and out as between unemployment insurance and unemployment assistance, this is not a scheme which is based purely upon general humanitarian principles. It is an insurance scheme.
 It is a scheme whereby people pay contributions in return for which they are entitled as of right to certain benefits. If, by reason of other circumstances, the benefits appear to them to be insufficient, they are not entitled as of right to get increased benefits. They may get them as an act of grace. They may get them because social exigencies would dictate that those benefits should be given. But when you come to consider this question of social exigencies, then you have to balance the needs not merely of those who happen to be in receipt of unemployment benefit but of those who are not even so well circumstanced, and you must ask yourself whether you are going to increase the contributions from those who are contributors to the fund or whether you are going to tax the general body of the people in order to provide the enhanced benefits which are demanded. That, I think, is the issue to which those who have spoken in favour of this motion ought to have addressed themselves, and which, I am sorry to say, they ignored.
Let me get back again to the fundamental principles in this matter, and emphasise the fact that we are dealing not with a scheme like the unemployment assistance scheme, under which we try to assist people who are in the utmost need, but with an insurance scheme, and the contributors to this scheme, which is on a statutory basis, consist of the employees, the employers, and the general taxpayers, as represented by the State. The benefit which this scheme can afford to those who are the beneficiaries of it, that is to say to those who happen to be unemployed and who have been paying the employee's contribution, depends on the relation which the amount contributed by those three elements, the employee, the employer and the general taxpayer, bears to the demands which are made upon the fund. From what I have said in regard to the state of the fund itself, where we have had dwindling surpluses over a number of years, and where during six or nine months of this year at any rate according to the last figures  which are at my disposal we actually have had quite a considerable excess of expenditure over income, something to the tune perhaps of £70,000, it is quite clear that if we are going to accede to the terms of this motion, if we are going to increase the payments from the fund or to relax the conditions under which those benefits can be obtained, someone must pay. We cannot do it for nothing, unless we are going completely to bankrupt the fund, and of course if those who are contributors to the fund permit the fund to be bankrupt then they will lose all their rights as insured persons in relation to the fund. Accordingly, if we do not wish to do that, and if we wish to have increased benefits, then someone must pay.
Mr. Davin: That is accepted anyway. Somebody must pay.
Mr. MacEntee: Well now, will the Deputy tell me who is going to pay?
Mr. Davin: That is the Minister's job.
Mr. MacEntee: Oh, no. It is not my job. I am not responsible for putting down this motion. I think the onus in that regard rests upon those who put down the motion. Surely if they are demanding increased benefits they must make some suggestion as to who should pay for those increased benefits.
Mr. Davin: A suggestion was made.
Mr. MacEntee: I am putting it now to the Deputy: who is going to pay?
Mr. Davin: A suggestion was made.
Mr. MacEntee: Is he going to ask the workers to pay? Is he going to ask the workers, whose jobs are, in present circumstances, very precarious, to pay for the increased benefits?
Mr. Davin: A suggestion has been made on those lines.
Mr. MacEntee: Is he going to ask them to pay for those benefits? If so, is not that going to increase the cost of living for those workers?
Mr. Everett: It has already been increased.
Mr. MacEntee: I am not denying that it has already been increased, but are we going to increase it still further? Are we satisfied that, in present circumstances, the workers have a sufficient margin over and above their ordinary needs to permit them—without doing any injustice to themselves or their families, or causing any failure in their obligations either to their trade unions or any other organisation or society of which they may be members—to pay additional contributions to unemployment insurance? It seems to me that that is a question which will have to be answered by those who sponsored this motion. I should like to hear Deputy Byrne answer it. I should be very interested indeed if Deputy Byrne would commit himself to a positive statement in that regard. We hear a great deal about the conditions under which the poor live here. All of us are very sensible of them. We hear a great deal indeed about the amount of time which he devotes to the poor of the city. I should just like him to devote a very short time to answering the question which I am now putting to him through the Chair. Does he think the workers of Dublin City or elsewhere can afford to pay a higher contribution now towards unemployment insurance? Would not that mean, as I have said, an increase in the cost of living for them?
The whole of this motion is based upon the fact—it is quite undeniable and nobody wants to blink it—that the cost of living has risen for every member of this community, employees and employers alike, since this European war started. Supposing we say we cannot ask the employees, the workers in insurable occupations, to pay increased contributions in present circumstances in order to provide the increased benefits which are asked for in this motion, are we going to ask the employers to meet the cost of those benefits? For what it is worth, my view is that, in the circumstances in which they now find themselves, the future of many of our employers is as precarious as that of many of our  workers. In those circumstances, with the knowledge that their businesses are going to run down, and perhaps that they are going to find themselves without occupation within a comparatively short period—I hope it will not happen, but it is a possibility which is hanging over everybody—are we going to ask the employers, whose own future, as I have said, is almost as precarious as that of any of their workers, to pay increased contributions in order to provide the benefits now asked for in this motion?
If we do decide that they should pay, and ignore this fact which cannot be overlooked, that we have many employers who are now put to the pin of their collar to carry on, who are just on the borderline between being able to carry on and being compelled to shut down, are we going to put upon their shoulders the last straw which will break their backs and compel them to close down and put out of employment men who are just in employment, on the margin, hanging on, as it were, by their teeth to their jobs? That is, I suggest, a decision which those who are sponsoring this motion will have to take and must have made up their minds they were prepared to take and must take public responsibility for taking—whether, in the present circumstances, they, with the knowledge that unemployment is increasing and is likely to increase still further, are going to take responsibility for closing down some of the industries which at the moment are barely carrying on.
It is no light matter. We have got, in the circumstances in which this country finds itself, to consider these things carefully and with a certain amount of hard-headedness. It is not a case of wanting to deny relief to any person who is in real need. But this is the dilemma in which we find ourselves, whether it is better to try to let everybody carry on with what they have than, perhaps, create loss for a good many people by trying to give more to a few. That is really the dilemma. If we should overlook all these considerations and, notwithstanding the fact that the future of a good many employers is as precarious as the future of a good many of their  workers, that there are a good many employers just able to carry on, we decide to give the benefits which are asked for in this motion, is it not inevitable that the increased contribution is going to be reflected once again in the price of the commodities they manufacture or sell and we are going to have this vicious spiral coming into operation and we are going to have again an increase in the cost of living?
If we decide that we are neither going to ask the employers nor the employees, are we going to ask the general taxpayer, operating through the State? Are we going to ask the general taxpayer, including all sorts and conditions of people and all sorts and degrees of poverty as well as of prosperity, to pay this increased contribution? If we do, of course again we increase taxation and again we increase the cost of living for everybody, for people who, in fact, may not be like those who are in receipt of unemployment assistance and cannot be and are not as well off even as those who are in receipt of unemployment benefit. Deputy Hickey related the two figures. He called attention to the fact that in January, 1941, there were 26,462 people with unemployment insurance claims current. I may say, by the way, that on the corresponding date in January, 1940, there was a larger number of people who had unemployment insurance claims current, to the number of 27,391. It might be well to stick to the figures for this year.
Mr. Hickey: They are all in the Army.
Mr. MacEntee: At any rate they are employed; they are being maintained and are, perhaps, better off than they were this time last year.
Mr. Hickey: Quite so.
Mr. MacEntee: I was saying that on 25th January—a fortnight ago—there were 26,462 persons having unemployment insurance claims current. They would be entitled to 15/- a week if they were men and 12/- a week if they were women and they would be entitled to the usual allowances for adult dependents  and dependent children. As against these 26,462 people there were 42,838 persons with means having unemployment insurance claims current and there were 34,466 persons with means having unemployment assistance applications current. Whether they are living in Dublin or, as the great majority of them are, in the smaller urban areas and in the rural districts, they are getting very much less, though they are almost three times the number of those who are in receipt of unemployment insurance. If we decide that neither the worker nor the employer will pay the contribution but that it must fall on the State, then the greater number of people who are in receipt of unemployment assistance and who are worse off than the people in receipt of unemployment benefit will have to pay.
Mr. Davin: Not at all.
Mr. MacEntee: They will, because there must be an increase in taxation in order to provide these benefits. There is no way known to us or any other State I know of in which the general burden of taxation does not ultimately percolate down to the poorer sections.
Mr. Davin: Tax the rich.
Mr. MacEntee: There are so few rich and they will be so very much fewer when this is over. Even if you were to take whatever the rich could give you, it would not provide for an increase in the rates of unemployment benefit such as you are asking. Let us remember that there are other services than this to be maintained. Do not let Deputy Davin, who is an intelligent man, very intelligent and very acute as well as very astute, fall into the common fallacy of wanting to employ one agency for a number of conflicting purposes at the same time. If you tax the rich to provide for various services, such as education, unemployment assistance, the defence and policing of the country and collecting the revenue, you cannot go on taxing them for a number of other purposes. You have to make up your mind for which of these purposes you are going to tax the rich and poor alike, though not in the same degree.  If you try to confine taxation to the rich, there are not enough rich people in this country to maintain the ordinary services of the State. There is no use in killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, if I may apply that homely parable to the problem which Deputy Davin has presented to us.
I was saying, Sir, that no matter whom we tax in present circumstances to provide these increased benefits, we are going to increase the cost of living. We are going to aggravate, in my view, the grave conditions with which this country has been faced by the European War. Instead of helping us to solve the unemployment problem, instead of alleviating the conditions of those at present unemployed, we should only aggravate the problem because we shall be adding to the ranks of the unemployed.
What are the merits of the motion? We have been told that it has become necessary because of the increase in the cost of living. I have pointed out that we are dealing here with what is primarily an insurance scheme, a scheme entered into on a more or less contractual basis, with some element of compulsion in order that it might be more generally availed of. The benefits, as I pointed out, are based on the payment of contributions. Those contributions, the contribution of the State and the benefits were fixed—when? Not in the year 1936 or 1935, when the cost of living in this country had fallen very considerably and was certainly much lower than it is to-day, but in the year 1920. They were fixed by the Insurance Act of 1920 at a time when the cost-of-living figure was 276, very much higher even than it is to-day. In the light of that fact, I cannot see any moral justification for the demand which is now being put forward. It cannot be said that by maintaining the rates of benefit at the existing scales that we are doing any injustice. These rates were fixed and the contributions were assessed about the year 1919-1920. While I am not going to contend that it would not be desirable, if we could afford it, to have higher rates, nevertheless I cannot see how, in the existing condition of affairs, we could possibly  tax either the employer, the employee or the State in order to provide those higher rates.
I should like the House to examine the motion. If the circumstances were more favourable, if instead of facing increasing unemployment when the resources of the State are going to be taxed to the utmost, we were in the midst of a period of comparative prosperity and looking forward to increasing prosperity as the years went by, there might be some case for examining the whole basis of this scheme. But, of course, in justice, that examination would have to be an unfettered examination, bearing in mind that there are two points of view in relation to the question of benefits and contributions. There are some people, comprising a very large section of those interested in the scheme—of those who are members of the scheme, if I might put it that way—who would be very strongly opposed to any increase in contributions at their expense. There are many of them who would prefer, instead of increasing benefits or of relaxing conditions, that the contributions should be reduced. That is the view which has been expressed, not merely by employers, not merely by Deputies, but by workers themselves, and I think that, in any investigation which might take place, they would be entitled to be heard, but apparently that is not, if I may say so, the view expressed in this motion.
The motion reads:
Recognising that the present rates of benefit for unemployed persons under the Unemployment Insurance Acts are inadequate, and that the conditions governing the payment of benefit inflict hardship on a large number of unemployed persons, Dáil Eireann requests the Government to set up a committee for the purpose of inquiring generally into the rates of benefit provided under the Acts for insured persons and their dependents...
Mr. Davin: “Generally.”
Mr. MacEntee: The point is that we start off from the premise that the rates of benefit are inadequate, and  that, therefore, you are to set up an inquiry to make them adequate. If they are inadequate, the only way to make them adequate is by increasing them. Accordingly, this motion, even on the basis of trying to do general justice to the interests involved in this scheme, is not a motion that should be accepted by this House. I do not think that the present circumstances are propitious for imposing any increased burdens on our industries, whether that burden is going to be shouldered by the worker, the employer, or the general taxpayer. In view of the fact that circumstances are not favourable, and that the motion is not equitable, I would ask the House to reject it.
Mr. Everett: I am sure that the Minister's speech when it is read throughout the country will cause dismay amongst a large number of people. He was for and against the motion. He admitted, in his diplomatic way, that there was justification for an increase in the benefits granted, owing to the increased cost of living, to persons who are insured. Then he suggested that in order to secure such an increase you would have to tax the unemployed. He was reminded from this side of the House that in order to increase revenue it would not be necessary to increase the cost of the necessaries of life. It was pointed out that he could increase the excess profits tax or increase income tax. He suggested that that would involve real hardship on employers whose position was now as precarious as that of the unemployed. I suggest to him that he is exaggerating in that statement. Employers are not in as precarious a position as the unemployed. The unemployed man gets only 15/- a week.
Mr. MacEntee: I said some of them.
Mr. Everett: Even some of them. They are assured of their shelter and their food. The Minister tried to bring a red herring across the track of the discussion by stating that the adoption of the motion would mean that employers would have to disemploy a large number of their present employees, that this would mean a great burden upon industry and that employers as a whole found themselves unable  to face the present position. He completely forgot that any increase would be justified if it did nothing but absorb some of the excess profits of the flour millers and the bacon curers. If the benefits of unemployed persons were increased, it would surely inflict no hardship on these profit-making concerns.
We are told by one Minister that if we make sacrifices at the present time we are going to have a new social order after the war. The men who are asked to make sacrifices can only get 15/- a week if they are lucky enough to have their cards stamped. The position is very serious and I am sure the Minister realises that. He has heard from all parts of the House, and I am sure he has heard from various Government sources whose duty it is to report these matters to him, the serious position which exists especially in rural areas. There is the seed there at the present time for certain individuals if they wish to take advantage of it to cause much more trouble than would be caused by any invasion. Will the Minister's statement here to-night that he has no remedy for the present situation, that those who are unemployed or who will be unemployed next week, can hope for nothing from the present Government other than the miserable pittance which he admits is quite insufficient, tend to relieve that situation? He says he is not in a position to increase the taxation of the country to give them additional benefits and means to meet the present high cost of living. The Minister states that Deputy Hickey's motion of March, 1938, was the result of a letter from the Trades Union Congress. Is it not rather serious that he mentioned only £48,000 for 1939-40?
Mr. MacEntee: Excess profits.
Mr. Everett: Yes, I recognise that it is serious, as it shows the large number of men who have become unemployed. It also gives the serious position in which we are placed now, if it were really urgent in 1938 to have a committee. The Minister has got the alternative of having a committee of civil servants to find ways and means to give some hope to people outside  that in this House certain things can be accomplished in a way to meet the wishes of all Parties. I have returns of a large institution here in Dublin which purchases commodities in bulk. The prices have been increased as follows: The cost of flour in 1940, as compared with 1939, 30 per cent.; margarine, 30 per cent.; oatmeal, 13 per cent.; and tea, 55 per cent. The list goes on with regard to other commodities where they are purchasing huge stocks for practically a three months' supply.
I am sure the Minister realises the serious position of unemployed men, both in cities and towns, where they have only a small amount of money, and have to purchase goods in small quantities. I suggest to the Minister that he should reconsider the position, as it is not a time when one could take a particular line in connection with it. He has made a case here to-night on certain figures, but he would have made a different statement some years ago. He admits that he has certain sympathies regarding the case being made, but points out that the all-important matter with which we are concerned at present is: “Where is the money?” His colleague has promised—not in the House—a new social order. Are we to wait until this war is over to see what the new social order will be like? Have we any hope for the men who are out of employment now?
The Minister seems to have no plan. He tells us there is no hope at all other than taxation. We suggested increased credit. These men are available for various works throughout the country. It has been mentioned here, time after time, that there are various national works in which a large number of them could be employed. It is not necessary to increase taxation. Like other Deputies, I am in close touch with what is happening in the country. I feel the position these men are in, and would ask the Minister to accept the motion and to appoint a committee of civil servants to consider the matter, and to do that before introducing his Budget. I believe he will allay feelings already prevailing in the country, and give some hope to men who are in  despair, and who feel—and have admitted in public—that it is immaterial to them what State would rule or what dictator would be in power if they could be sure of three meals a day. If the Minister can give some hope that would change that view, I believe he would be doing good work for the Parliament of this country.
Mr. Hurley: The Minister stated that this fund was an insurance fund, and that as such it could not be dealt with from a humanitarian point of view.
Mr. MacEntee: Purely from a humanitarian point of view.
Mr. Hurley: Yes. He gave us figures with regard to the surplus in the fund as it varied over a number of years but he very carefully forgot to mention that there has been a drain from this fund into the Unemployment Assistance Fund over a number of years which definitely accounts for any deficiency that may arise. This matter, as the Minister said, has been under consideration by the Labour Party for some time. I think he mentioned March, 1938. I have here a report of the Labour Party giving the position which existed in the fund in 1938. I wish to quote some passages from it. It is the Eighth Annual Report of the Labour Party Conference and it will just rebut the Minister's case as far as his figures are concerned.
“In the Insurance Year 1937/38, the income of the fund was £1,231,526. The sum paid in benefits amounted to slightly over £660,000. That is, only a little over half the total income (approximately two-thirds of the contribution income) of the Unemployment Fund was expended on unemployment benefit in the year which ended at the beginning of October, 1938. The returns show, however, that apart from benefits there are other inroads being made on the fund which are depleting its resources rapidly. In the last Insurance Year, for instance, £184,500 was paid out of the fund towards the cost of administration, while a further sum of £283,904 was paid to the Unemployment Assistance Fund.”
Mr. MacEntee: Surely the Deputy does not suggest that the cost of administering the fund should not be a charge on the fund?
Mr. Hurley: I will deal with that point in a moment. I am suggesting that there is no obligation on that fund to pay money into the Unemployment Assistance Fund, whatever the object may be.
“These two sums amount to approximately £468,000. Under Section 12 (3) of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920, the Government is authorised, but not necessarily required, to charge to the Unemployment Insurance Fund a sum not exceeding one-tenth of the receipts to meet the cost of administration, and in 1933 that appropriation was increased by 50 per cent. to three-twentieths. The higher the rate of contribution, therefore, the greater the sum payable out of insurance contributions towards the cost of administration. The appropriation for this purpose was 36 per cent. higher in 1937/38 than in 1931/32.
“The Act of 1933 also authorised the payment of £250,000 per annum from the Unemployment Insurance Fund to the Unemployment Assistance Fund, and this charge was further increased in 1938. Accordingly, the tribute levied on the fund in the last insurance year in respect of unemployment assistance was, as already stated, practically £284,000. In the current Insurance Year—1938-39—it is estimated that the payment from the Insurance Fund under this head will amount to £300,000.
“Section 5 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920, provides that ‘the Fund required for providing unemployment benefit ... shall be derived partly from the contributions of employed persons, partly from contributions of employers of those persons and partly from moneys provided by Parliament’. Under that provision, in the last insurance year, the State contributed to the Unemployment Fund a total sum of £273,396. As stated above, however, there was a sum of  £468,000 transferred from the Fund to meet charges other than insurance benefits. It is doubtful whether, on these figures, the obligation placed on the Government by Section 5 of the Act of 1920 has been complied with. In other words, no part of the benefits provided under the Act is met by the State contribution. On the contrary, the deductions made from the Fund for State purposes exceed by £195,000 the payments into the Fund out of moneys provided by Parliament.
“Notwithstanding these considerable deductions, however, the Unemployment Insurance Fund had a surplus of £115,000 in the insurance year 1936-37, and of £100,000 in the insurance year 1937-38.”
It is no wonder, then, that the Labour Party, recognising that the present rates of benefit are inadequate——
Mr. MacEntee: Perhaps the Deputy would permit me to propose to him that he leave the point he has just made? May I put this to him: that that very speech is a bit of special pleading, because neither the Trade Union Congress nor the Labour Party in this House opposed the proposal to exact a contribution from the unemployment insurance fund towards unemployment assistance? They voted for it, in fact.
Mr. Hurley: Well, I am not responsible for that. I am simply stating facts. The Minister, in his statement, wanted the House to believe, I think, that these deficiencies arose from the payment of benefits. I think he suggested also that some of the securities had to be sold in that connection, but I am submitting to the House and to the Minister that if these inroads were not made on the fund the fund would be quite solvent to meet any benefits, even the increased benefits suggested by the motion. I put that aspect of the case for consideration by the House, and I hold that there are definite grounds for the setting up of this committee by the House in order to see what exactly is the position with regard to the fund and how long it can bear those inroads into it. In other  words, is it quite within the framework of the 1920 Act, or even the 1933 Act, that these inroads should be made into the fund? The Minister has definitely laid down that this is an insurance fund and not, as he said, purely humanitarian. Now, if you examine that point of view the House will have to agree that such inroads should not be made into the fund. If you take it from that point of view, or even from the purely actuarial or purely financial point of view with regard to the income of the fund or with regard to what the fund should be legitimately called upon to pay, then I think there is a case for this motion and for the examination of the provisions of the unemployment insurance fund, apart altogether from any other fund. I am not concerned in this motion with the unemployment assistance fund.
Mr. MacEntee: Do I take the Deputy to be really contending that we should stop the payment of contributions from the unemployment insurance fund to the unemployment assistance fund? Am I to take it that he is advocating that?
Mr. Hurley: What I am contending is this: that if there is an unemployment assistance fund, which is supposed to be a social fund paid from State moneys, that should be the concern of that particular branch of State activity, and that this, which is purely an insurance fund, as the Minister has laid down, should not be called upon to make good any deficiency. I am not advocating that there should be a lesser amount in the unemployment assistance fund.
Mr. MacEntee: I see. Naturally, of course!
Mr. Hurley: But I am suggesting that this is not the source from which that money should come. We hear a good deal of talk about social legislation, but it is very easy to talk about social legislation if the money and the funds for that purpose are to come from sources like this.
Mr. MacEntee: I should like the Deputy to turn back and read the  newspapers during the year 1933, when members of the Labour Party were very much concerned with the Unemployment Assistance Act, as it then was. He should turn to the statements which were made then and read who was responsible for the Unemployment Assistance Act.
Mr. Hurley: I do not want to go back on that, because, if I did, I might say things that might not be very palatable to some people. I would say, however, that I am arguing this case solely from the Minister's standpoint. At the outset of his remarks he told us that it was an insurance fund and he went on to show how it was being depleted by, I take it, a greater increase in the payment of benefits. I want to show how the fund is actually being depleted, and I maintain that it is being depleted in a way that is not particularly legitimate if you look at it from the insurance point of view. I want the House to have a clear picture of the exact position. I do not want to have only one side of the case, and that a very black side, shown up, but I want to put the case to the House as it really exists. These are facts that cannot be controverted. The Minister may not be aware of these facts or he may have forgotten all about them. That is all the more reason why the motion should receive the consideration of the Minister and the Government with a view to seeing what exactly the position is with regard to insurance benefit, apart, as I said, from any other social service or social benefit that may be initiated by the State.
There is another point to which I should like to refer, and it is one that, I think, has been overlooked by everybody. It is a question that loomed very largely some time ago—the question of reciprocity.
Mr. Hickey: There is no use raising it now.
Mr. Hurley: No; it is no good to us now, but it is a question that has caused a good deal of hardship to people who had worked across in England, and who got no credit for their status when they came here. Numbers of  them are still coming, and in whatever way they can be dealt with now, I do not know. At any rate, I think this motion is a reasonable one. It is a motion that asks the Government to set up a committee for the purpose of inquiry generally. The Minister made some claim as to the parties who would be summoned before the inquiry. The movers of the motion have no objection to any parties that may be summoned, whether workers, employers or anybody else, but the time has definitely arrived when it is necessary to set up such a committee to inquire into the working of the fund, and to see what can be done with regard to it and where, as we hold, the benefits can be improved.
Mr. Hickey: I had hoped that some members of the Fianna Fáil Party would have been vocal on this motion, and I regret very much that we have not had an opportunity of hearing them. I remember the present Minister coming to Cork to point out to the people there the great danger there would be if his Party was not returned to power by a majority. That is not going to help the unemployed now. Deputy Dillon said there was a danger that if the amount of unemployment benefit was increased people would look for it instead of looking for work. We have never left the country in any doubt about our views on the dole. We believe that the dole would never have been introduced were it not for the purpose of keeping the workers from revolting. I never countenanced the introduction of the dole or unemployment benefit except to avoid social chaos. I want to tell Deputy Dillon that no unemployed man who can get work wants the dole for pocket money. I think his statement was a most disgusting slander on the unemployed, and I say deliberately that if the unemployed were given work not one per cent. of them would prefer to draw the dole. I have experience where the Guards had to be called in order to regulate men who were scrambling for employment on a job where 20 or 30 only were required. Even during the holiday period at  Christmas we had to give up taking the names of people who were seeking employment.
In discussing this question I want to say to the Minister that we should approach it from the human aspect, and not from the point of view of unemployment insurance. The Minister asked if the remedy was to tax employers. He also asked what would happen if the fund became bankrupt. The 113,000 people registered for employment could be multiplied by four if account is to be taken of their dependents. Are these people not part of the community? A man who is unemployed can only draw insurance benefit for six months. If that man has a wife and five children he gets 25/- a week and when he pays 5/- for rent, he is left with 20/- with which to buy food and coal. In order to provide food for seven people out of 20/-, each meal would cost about 1½d. What about clothing, boots and other necessaries for children going to school? Still we are asked who is going to pay. I was told that I was not facing up to the consequences, and as to what would happen if the fund became bankrupt. Is it not the function of the Government to see that no individual in the community shall be hungry while there are others who have more than they require?
If it is a question of taxation by all means tax people who can bear taxation. While there are men and women here who require food, clothing, furniture, or anything that human life demands there should be no question of leaving them in want. That is the aspect I would expect the Minister to take up, rather than to refer to the shortcomings of those who claim to have the amount of benefit increased. I say that it is bankruptcy of statesmanship on the part of the Government in 1941, to take up that attitude. We have had talk about the dangers we are facing. In the past we challenged the greatest Empire in the world and overcame greater dangers. There is no excuse for a statement of that kind now and I refuse to accept it. When a boy or an unemployed man reaches 14 years of age his 1/- per week benefit is cut off and cannot receive  any benefit until he reaches 18 years of age. An unemployed young woman must have 204 stamps to her credit before she can get the dole. When the six months period of unemployment insurance ends a man on unemployment assistance receives the miserable allowance of 23/- a week, to support himself, his wife and five or more children.
I am not treating this question for purposes of popularity or for political advancement. I would be a fearful hypocrite and a dishonest man if I did that, especially in view of my experience in the past 12 months. During the recent frost and snow I visited houses in which there were no fires, and where they could only get half a pint of milk daily. Yet I am told that I have not faced up to the unemployment situation. Somebody asked if the rich were to be taxed. It is not a question of who will be taxed. If people are anxious to work, and if they are not given the opportunity to produce the things they require, then we must look for increased benefit for the unemployed. I say deliberately that nobody in this House—I do not care on what benches—has a right to draw allowances while our fellow citizens want for bread and milk. The Minister said there were no rich in this  country. We also heard about equality of sacrifice. I think that is hypocrisy at a time when 113,000 unemployed are registering at the labour exchanges, while at the same time 2,500 persons in this State, after paying income-tax and surtax, have an annual net income of £8,500,000.
I say that this House does not deserve to function while that state of affairs is allowed to continue. The unemployment problem is above any Party advantage or question of popularity, and I am disappointed that people on the Fianna Fáil and the Fine Gael Benches, who know what the position is as well as I do, have not let their voices be heard in order to remedy the hardships under which the unemployed suffer. Within the last week an inquest was held on an infant in Cork, and the circumstances disclosed that a man, his wife, and three children were living on a ground-floor room for which they paid 6/- a week out of the 20/- received as dole. The doctor stated that the wife was suffering from malnutrition, in other words starvation. The Minister should face up to his responsibility to the unemployed by intimating to them that these allowances will be increased without delay.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 25; Níl, 56.
|Bennett, George C.
Byrne, Alfred (Junior).
Cosgrave, William T.
Costello, John A.
Dillon, James M.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Esmonde, John L.
McFadden, Michael Og.
Redmond, Bridget M.
Rogers, Patrick J.
Carty, Frank. Kennedy, Michael J.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick J.
Lynch, James B.
McDevitt, Henry A.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
|Childers, Erskine H.
De Valera, Eamon.
Flinn, Hugo V.
Fogarty, Patrick J.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Hogan, Daniel. O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
O'Loghlen, Peter J.
Rice, Brigid M.
Ruttledge, Patrick J.
Walsh, Laurence J.
Tellers:—Tá, Deputies Everett and Hickey; Níl: Deputies Smith and S. Brady.
Motion declared lost.
Mr. Hughes: I move the following motion which appears on the Order Paper in the names of Deputies Norton, O'Higgins, Davin and myself:—
That the Dáil is of opinion that the Government should make a grant out of the Central Fund sufficient to reduce the amount of the Special Barrow Drainage rate (as set out in the final award) by 75 per cent., and in view of the fact that no benefit whatever was conferred on many ratepayers who are required to pay the county at large charge, the charge should be remitted and that the collection of these rates be suspended pending such a grant.
Many years ago, before we had got a national Government in this country, representations were made to the British Government to carry out an arterial drainage scheme on the River Barrow. Away back in 1885 a Mr. Manning, an eminent British engineer of that time, made a scheme, while in the year 1889 a Mr. Gamble was associated with a scheme which was estimated to cost something over £800,000. In the year 1924 a deputation waited on the then Government and pressed on them the carrying out of a Barrow drainage scheme. In the following year, Professor Meyer Peter, one of the four experts invited here by the then Government to advise on the Shannon scheme, was asked to make a scheme for the drainage of the River Barrow. He examined the proposed scheme of Mr. Gamble and did not agree with it. He found that there was too much embankment and too little excavation, and prepared a very elaborate scheme himself for the drainage of the river at an estimated cost of £1,130,000. That was on the assumption that, during maximum floods, there was a flow of 486,000 cubic feet of water per minute. In 1926 a flood occurred in the river which appears to have been one of the greatest floods known in the river in recent years. A record of the flow was taken, and it was discovered that the flow of that flood was 268,000 cubic feet per minute. The professor's scheme was based on a flow of 486,000 cubic feet per minute, with the result that when it was discovered in 1926 that the flow was considerably less than the flow on which the Professor had based his scheme, Mr. Challoner Smith, an engineer in the Board of Works, amended Professor Meyer Peter's scheme and, taking into consideration the reduction in the flow, reduced the cost to £425,000. He modified the Professor's scheme to that extent.
A Bill was then introduced and passed in the Oireachtas in 1927, and the scheme was put into operation. The actual cost was £550,000. The State made a contribution of 50 per cent. of the actual cost. The other 50 per cent. was borne by a contribution from the three counties concerned: Kildare, Laoighis and Offaly, with a special rate on riparian owners along the marginal  lands. The contribution by the various counties is set out in the final report. It amounted to £6,315, approximately 4/6 in the £ on the County Kildare; £6,697, approximately 6.26d. in the £ on the County of Laoighis; £5,591, approximately 5.34d. on the County Offaly.
I may say that a deputation has already waited on the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and discussed this matter with him, but, as this motion has been on the Order Paper for a long time, we felt it was only right and proper that it should be discussed in this House. Deputies are probably aware that the Parliamentary Secretary has a hydrograph hanging up at the Library door showing the levels of the floods that have occurred on the river, pre-drainage and post-drainage periods. It definitely indicates that, within the capital amount expended, the scheme was a success. I do not propose to question the success of the scheme. The hydrograph shows that the level of the floods in the pre-drainage period, practically over the whole of the winter period, was above the critical line, and that immediately on the completion of the scheme in the post-drainage period— certainly in the first and second year of the post-drainage period—I think I am correct in saying that at no time did the floods reach the critical line. The peak floods show above this critical line. No one can question that because the curve is taken and drawn from daily readings. These daily readings were taken from certain bridges over the river at Clonbologue and other rivers, and are set out on the hydrograph. I do not question their accuracy. I believe they are correct.
I would like to describe the type of land affected. As I have said, the scheme was a success in so far as it affects the country generally. The floods that occurred there in the pre-drainage period inundated the whole countryside and blocked roads and traffic for a week or a fortnight at a time. Part of the country was completely isolated as a result of the tremendous floods, but no such thing has occurred in the post-drainage period. There has been no blocking of  roads by heavy flooding and the country has benefited to that general extent. I do say that, taking the general configuration of the country and the fall available—it is very flat country for miles—to the engineers handling the scheme and taking the funds available within the limits of the capital sum placed at their disposal, I think the job was well done. Possibly, if more money had been made available, a better job would have been done. There might have been more sinkings and a better outfall got, but I do not question the success of the scheme from the general aspect. What I want to draw the attention of the House to is the quality of the land in that area, the charge on it and the question whether that charge is economic or not. The land along the Barrow valley and its tributaries consists mostly of coarse, rushy land of the poorest quality. A lot of it is cut-away bog and gorse, and large tracts are still subject to flooding. The floods do disappear more rapidly because of the drainage scheme, but I think that certain people down there have supplied the Parliamentary Secretary with photographs proving that floods do occur.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): They have a scientific existence.
Mr. Hughes: When that flooding disappears, the land, although not covered with water, is undoubtedly waterlogged, and in an unsuitable state for carrying stock of any sort. Apart altogether from its capacity to carry stock—I am speaking now of how it appears to me as a farmer—it is coarse, rushy land, and most of it in the drainage area has a very low degree of fertility. The herbage produced has a very low nutritive quality, and, in fact, has scarcely any feeding value at all, and, as I say, it is not capable of carrying stock. The Parliamentary Secretary knows that there are acres and acres of that coarse, rushy herbage cut for litter and auctioned, and it does not make more than 3/- to 5/- an acre. There is such a tremendous quantity of it available all over the country that there is no demand for it. There is too much of it available to make a price, and there is more than sufficient  to meet the litter requirements of people.
I want the Parliamentary Secretary, in his reply, to deal closely with the quality of the soil and its economic value, whether the charge is economic or not, and, taking the quality of the herbage there, whether that soil can bear the present tillage. That is the kernel of our case, and I want the Parliamentary Secretary, if possible, to deal exclusively with that aspect. We have read of big arterial drainage schemes which have been great successes in other countries, but, in my opinion, where there have been successes, they invariably have been gained when drainage has been carried out on the lower reaches of a river. The reason they have been a success, and the land when drained is very fertile, is that, by reason of flooding over 100 years an alluvial deposit has been left there. That is the most fertile soil of all, and it has been carried down from the upper reaches and deposited in the lower reaches, giving fertility to the land.
In the case of the Barrow, the reverse occurs. I suggest that what takes place is erosion, and anything good and beneficial in the upper reaches of the river has been washed out and deposited on the lower reaches. I was reared on the lower reaches of the Barrow, and I know that the bog land on the lower reaches is very fertile. It produces meadows which give hay year after year, because of the alluvial deposit left there as a result of winter flooding. It is as good as a dressing of artificial manure. In the one case, you have erosion, with the result that anything good and fertile in the soil is washed out; in the other case, where land has been reclaimed on the lower reaches of a river in the other countries and where it has been a great success, it is due to the fact that reclamation has taken place on the lower reaches where this deposit has been left for many years, giving rich fertile land after drainage and reclamation. Hence, there is no analogy between the Barrow drainage and drainage in other countries. I submit that it would be on all fours with other schemes if you were reclaiming  land on the lower reaches of the river which had had the beneficial effects of flooding and had that deposit left on it.
With regard to the economic charge, I propose to read for the House a few extracts from the Kildare County Council rate book for the year ended 31/3/'39. In the case of the holding of Edward Dempsey, Lackamore, Lackagh, the poor law valuation is £29; rates are £7 5s. 0d.; Barrow drainage rate £9 15s. 0d. The Barrow drainage rate in that case is higher than the poor rate. In the case of the holding of Mrs. A.M. Holmes, Monasterevan Bog, the poor law valuation is £5 15s. 0d. poor rate, £2 7s. 5d.; and Barrow drainage rate, £2 2s. 4d. In the case of the holding of W.J. Coonan, Old Grange, Monasterevan, the poor law valuation is £14 15s. 0d.; poor rate, £3 16s. 2d.; and Barrow drainage rate, £4 17s. 0d. Other cases are:— Patrick Weldon, Aughrim, Quinsboro —poor law valuation, £8 5s. 0d.; poor rate, £2 4s. 0d.; and Barrow drainage rate, £5 0s. 8d. That is, the Barrow drainage rate is more than double the poor rate. Patrick Kavanagh, Aughrim, Quinsboro'—poor law valuation £23; poor rate, £6 0s. 8d.; and Barrow drainage rate, £7 12s. 8d. John Caffrey, Grange, Monasterevan— poor law valuation, £25; poor rate, £7 4s. 7d.; and Barrow drainage rate £6 8s. 11d. Miss K. Lawler, Monasterevan Bog—poor law valuation, £2 15s. 0d.; poor rate, 16/10; and Barrow drainage rate, £3 10s. 1d.
Mr. Davin: That is a bad case.
Mr. Hughes: There are many other such cases, but it is not necessary for me to cite them.
Mr. Allen: Would these be the total valuations of land owned by these people?
Mr. Hughes: Yes. They are small holdings. I have here a letter addressed to His Lordship the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin by the Taoiseach on this matter, and I desire to read a paragraph which is contained in that letter:—
“The actual value of the benefit derived directly by the lands affected was assessed by a capable and  experienced land valuer, and was subsequently reviewed in accordance with the Act by an independent valuer, appointed by the Minister for Agriculture, whose recommendations were embodied in the final award which was issued on 31st March, 1938.”
That date is important, and I wish to refer to it later.
“This award is conclusive and binding, and cannot be altered except by special legislation. The assessments vary from 6d. to 10/- per acre, with an average of 2/10 per acre, over the 43,520 acres included in the award. More than 90 per cent. of the land is assessed at less than 4/- per acre, the total annual value of the improvement being £6,218. It may be mentioned that the 1890 valuation of this same improvement was £9,800, approximately.”
With regard to that, if the assessment represents the actually increased value of the land, then you are bestowing no favour at all on the owner. If you want to confer a benefit on him, the assessment should be less than the actually increased value of the land. Assuming the value of an acre of land is £5 and the State improves that by £3, if you charge the owner the full amount of the improvement-value, you leave him no benefit whatever. In any case, it must be obvious to the House from the cases which I have read that, from the point of view of the quality of the land, there is definite hardship. I, personally, believe that if you could do away with the flooding of the land— I think the Parliamentary Secretary will have to admit that flooding does occur—you would not improve the quality of the land. It is a poor type of land with no fertility. The type of herbage is not such that even a hungry beast would readily eat it. He, certainly, would not thrive on it and it is doubtful if he would exist on it. It has no thriving value from the point of view of stock.
When this Bill was introduced in 1927, Mr. Blythe, then Minister for Finance, speaking on the Second Reading, as reported in volume 19, column 615 of the Official Report, said:
“The position then is that the  State undertakes to pay half of the cost of carrying out the scheme but, if the cost of carrying out the scheme should be a sum exceeding the £425,000 estimated, then the excess will be borne by the State.”
From the paragraph of the letter from the Taoiseach to the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin which I have read, it appears that the State is bearing only 50 per cent. of the actual cost. The cost did exceed £425,000 by the sum of £125,000 so that, according to the Minister for Finance at that time, that excess of £125,000 should have been borne by the State. The House was assured by the Minister for Finance that any excess of the estimated amount would be borne by the State.
Mr. Flinn: What did the Minister say when the Bill was actually introduced?
Mr. Hughes: I have quoted what he said. When the Parliamentary Secretary is replying, will he tell us whether or not that promise has been implemented in the final award? It appears to me, from the reports on which I can put my hand, that it has not been implemented.
Mr. Flinn: What is the date of the Deputy's quotation?
Mr. Hughes: 31st March, 1927.
Mr. Flinn: There was an amending Act in 1933.
Mr. Hughes: And that varied it?
Mr. Flinn: I think it did.
Mr. Hughes: Why should that be so?
Mr. Flinn: It is so.
Mr. Hughes: I want to point out that your predecessors, who introduced the scheme which was completed in your time, had the intention of coming to the assistance of these people if the cost exceeded £425,000. Is the position now that these unfortunate people are to be mulcted for half that £125,000 by the amending Act of 1933?
Mr. Flinn: I refer the Deputy to the debate on the Barrow Drainage Bill, 1933, volume 49, column 1159.
Mr. Hughes: I refer the Parliamentary Secretary to the promise  made in this House, by the responsible Minister at the time, on the 31st March, 1927. It is with that that I am concerned. I think that it was unfair and unjust to vary that in any way by a succeeding Act.
Mr. Flinn: That Act was varied by authority of the Oireachtas in 1933.
Mr. Hughes: We see the effect now that it has had on those people. We see it has imposed an uneconomic charge which they cannot bear. That is the position as I see it and that is our case. I submit that there is an obvious case, on the face of it, a prima facie case, for examination and consideration. Our case is that the lands which have to bear that drainage rate are now burdened with costs in excess of their value, and that the charge cannot be borne by those unfortunate people. In my opinion, considering the type of land many of them own, it is a miracle that they can exist at all without shouldering any charge. The House should realise that the charges imposed by the 1933 Act, it now appears, and not by the original Act, in some cases are double and in some cases more than treble the poor rate. One point that I forgot to make is that the poor rate, when the award was made three or four years ago, was made on charges that existed at that time, and since that time the poor rate has gone up considerably. I submit that the valuers did not take into account that the poor rate was an appreciating charge on those lands. There is a case, as I said before, for examination and consideration, and it is our duty to press the Parliamentary Secretary to have the matter further examined with a view to relieving many unfortunate people who are living on that land of those heavy and impossible charges. Certainly I do not envy their lot in attempting to live on such land as is in the Barrow Valley.
Mr. Davin: I second the motion. I feel at a slight disadvantage in making a case here because of the refusal of the Minister for Finance and his Parliamentary Secretary to publish the  report of the Drainage Commission. I feel if we had at our disposal the report of the Drainage Commission which was handed over to the responsible Minister five or six months ago, we might have in that report many things which would support the case of those who are backing this motion. I regret therefore that the report of the Drainage Commission has not so far been published.
The motion which I am seconding here has been drafted and agreed to after several meetings between all the Deputies, representing all Parties, for the constituencies of Carlow-Kildare and Leix-Offaly and after a number of meetings had been held between the Deputies for those two constituencies and the members of the executive of the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Association. The Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Association was brought into existence as a result of the strong feeling of the farmers and the agitation which arose locally in connection with the fixing of excessive drainage charges on the farmers who own the land in the catchment area, which is a very wide area. I was present when the heads of the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Association informed the Parliamentary Secretary some time ago that they spoke for no less than 3,000 farmers who live in the area that is affected by these heavy charges. Very shortly after, I was elected for the first time as a member of the constituent assembly which was set up in 1922. I was one of a very large number of people from the area of Leix and Offaly and Kildare who met the members of the Provisional Government at that period. They made a very strong case which had been unsuccessfully made on many previous occasions to the British Government in support of the demand for the drainage of the River Barrow. In 1923 I was invited, and I accepted the invitation, to act on a commission that was set up by the Minister for Industry and Commerce at the time, which was known as the Canals and Inland Waterways Commission and which, in its unanimous report, made certain recommendations in connection with the demand for the drainage of the River Barrow. I feel very proud  to be still a member of this House and to have represented at that time portion of the constituency that is affected.
I want to say, as I have said at public meetings and at deputations, even at the recent deputation to the Parliamentary Secretary, of which I was a member, that I fully realise the wonderful work that has been done by the scheme carried out in the drainage of the River Barrow. It would be quite wrong—and I said so at a public meeting in connection with this matter—for anybody with any knowledge of the position in the catchment area previous to the drainage of this river to say that the Barrow drainage scheme has been a failure. Some people have been foolish enough to suggest that. I certainly could not listen, under any circumstances, to such a statement being made without making a protest. I travelled along the whole of the River Barrow when I was a member of the Canals and Inland Waterways Commission and got a fairly good look at the river in the very worst period of the year.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): What date was that? I would like to know.
Mr. Davin: 1923. Many times before I became a member of this House I travelled across Monasterevan Bridge on my way to and from Dublin, and I can well remember the long periods of flooding of that river prior to the carrying out of the drainage scheme. The long-period flooding, at any rate, has been removed, I hope for all time, so far as the Barrow river is concerned, but a case has been made—and I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will admit that a case has been made —that short-period flooding takes place on certain portions of the river with certain destructive effect to the value of the land which is flooded. Deputy Hughes has gone into the whole matter in detail and the strong case that I see has been made, and can be made, in favour of this motion is that, so far as the scheme affects a large acreage of land let by public auction, the income from the annual letting is much lower than the annual charge imposed by the ordinary award  with regard to the payment of the money raised locally in connection with the scheme. Incidents of that kind, affecting a very large acreage of land, have been given to the Parliamentary Secretary. There is something there to be put right. I sympathise with that side of the case and with the position of farmers, whether they are small farmers or large farmers, who have to pay a higher annual charge for the work of draining the River Barrow than they can get by any means by way of income from the land upon which they have to pay this charge.
The case has been so fully discussed between the Parliamentary Secretary and the direct representatives of the farmers concerned that one does not know whether it is desirable to repeat here in the House what has been said elsewhere, but I assume that the Parliamentary Secretary will cover the ground very carefully in his reply. It has been suggested here, and it had previously been suggested in my hearing, that the water coming from the Clonsast Bog has in recent times helped to increase the flooding from the Barrow in that area. I think the Parliamentary Secretary has been furnished with evidence which has been supplied by an engineer who was selected by the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Association, and who furnished a report in connection with a survey made by him over certain lands in the Barrow area, particularly in the Clonbologue area. I have a copy of the report which that engineer made to the executive of the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Association. I think it was quoted, or that extracts from it were quoted, by a deputation which recently met the Parliamentary Secretary in connection with this matter. The concluding portion of that report, dated 18th October, 1940, reads as follows:
“I have had before me a copy of the records of the various readings as abstracted from the book kept by the Board of Works, showing the levels of the river at Clonbologue Bridge between 8th July, 1938 and 21st February, 1940, which indicated the various  dates on which flooding took place, and I am convinced that when the level of the river rises to four feet seven inches on the gauge at Clonbologue Bridge large tracts of the adjoining land would be under water, and that, with the water rising inch by inch over this level, a considerable flooding to a very large extent must therefore take place, and which is shown on many photographs which I have before me.”
That is an extract from the report furnished by Mr. Bruntz to the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Association. That is the concluding sentence of one of the reports furnished after he had indicated the position in regard to the flooding over certain periods of certain farms in the Clonbologue area. I have personal knowledge that a good deal of periodical flooding does take place there. The Parliamentary Secretary will probably say that a good deal of that flooding could be avoided if the owners of the land concerned would pay more attention to the clearing of field drains. That statement has been challenged, as the Parliamentary Secretary knows, by some of the owners of the land concerned, and there is a difference of opinion, which I think cannot be settled, between those who contend one thing on behalf of the farmers who own the land in the Clonbologue area and the advisers of the Parliamentary Secretary.
I said that this motion was carefully worded after a number of meetings between Deputies representing all Parties in this House and the representatives of the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Association. I recently received a notice—I presume my colleagues received the same notice—to attend a public meeting which was held in the Court House, Monasterevan, on 28th January, 1941. That meeting was summoned by the local leading light of the Fianna Fáil organisation. The notice reads as follows: “All officers of Fianna Fáil Cumainn and all members of county councils in the Barrow drainage district are earnestly requested to attend, as the business to be transacted is of vital importance to all ratepayers.” That public meeting  was held, and a resolution was proposed and seconded by representative local politicians and representatives of all Parties, supporting the claim made in the motion now before the House for consideration. I make reference to it because this particular conference or public meeting was summoned by the local leader of the Fianna Fáil Party.
Mr. Hogan: Is his name given?
Mr. Davin: Deputy Hogan is well acquainted with the Fianna Fáil leader who was responsible for summoning this conference. The man concerned—I am sure to the Deputy's knowledge—was the mover of the resolution to which I have referred.
Mr. Hogan: I think that statement is not correct.
Mr. Davin: I am sure the Irish Press, the Government organ, does not furnish incorrect reports of meetings. I do not know who christened that paper “The Truth in the News,” but I have not seen the accuracy of this particular report challenged.
Mr. Hogan: Were you at that meeting?
Mr. Davin: I was not, and neither was the Deputy.
Mr. Hogan: As it happens, I was present——
Mr. Davin: I notice the Deputy did not speak there.
Mr. Hogan: I was not present at the meeting, but I was in Monasterevan when the meeting was in progress. There were only about five people there, including the leading light to whom you refer.
Mr. Davin: Deputy Hogan knows who moved the motion. It was seconded, I think, by the parish priest of Clonbologue.
Mr. Hogan: That is correct.
Mr. Hughes: Was the Deputy afraid to attend?
Mr. Hogan: Oh, no; I was not afraid.
Mr. Davin: I would not accuse Deputy Hogan of being afraid to attend or to speak there.
Mr. Hogan: From other angles. I was anxious to know who the leading light was.
Mr. Flinn: Can the Deputy give me the names of the other three people who were present at this very representative meeting?
Mr. Davin: To be quite frank this is the first time I heard that there was such a small attendance. I had no reliable information as to who was present, but a summarised version of the proceedings at the meeting was published in the daily papers. I do not like to mention names here in the House, but Deputy Hogan and the Parliamentary Secretary can, I am sure, find out who was present at the meeting if there were only five people present.
Mr. Hughes: Was the meeting convened by the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Organisation, or by a political organisation?
Mr. Davin: By the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Association.
Mr. Hogan: The meeting was called by representatives of the Barrow drainage organisation, with a footnote to the notice inviting all Fianna Fáil representatives to attend.
Mr. Davin: That is correct. The signature to the document is that of the secretary to the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Association. The other portion is as I have read out.
Mr. Gorry: I would be very interested to see that document. This is the first I have ever heard of it. It is the first time I heard that it existed. I got no such notification, and did not know that such a document existed, but I am aware that people took it upon themselves to speak with authority on a subject which they had no authority to speak on.
Mr. Davin: Here is the document; the Deputy can pass it to the Parliamentary Secretary if he wishes.
Mr. Flinn: I think we will add it to the list of curiosities.
Mr. Davin: The Parliamentary Secretary can add it to the very big file which I am sure lies in the Board of Works in connection with the agitation for the drainage of the River Barrow, and the work which has been carried out there. Deputy Hughes has really covered the ground very fully, and I do not want to take up the time of the House in repeating what he has so effectively said. Deputy Hughes, as a farmer Deputy in this House, is in a far better position to speak with knowledge and authority and experience as to the value of the work on the land that has been reclaimed. He has very definitely stated that the reclaimed land is not capable under any circumstances of meeting the very high charge imposed as a result of the final award.
There is one important aspect of this motion and that is whether it is fair in existing circumstances, or in any circumstances, that ratepayers, farmers and others who live far away from the catchment area, should be called upon to pay this very high charge which, in the case of Laoighis and Offaly, is roughly 6d. in the £, for the carrying out of a work from which they have derived no benefit. There are many farmers in my constituency—and my colleagues know this to be true—who are already paying high drainage rates for the drainage of land in the immediate vicinity of their farms and, in addition, they are paying, roughly, 6d. in the £ to meet the charge imposed as a result of the carrying out of the Barrow drainage scheme. The farmers residing in the Barrow drainage area, so far as I know, are not paying any portion of the charge for the drainage of rivers 15 or 20 miles away. I would be surprised to learn that farmers residing in the catchment area around the Barrow are paying any charge for the drainage of the Nore. Farmers who reside in the Nore drainage area are paying a drainage rate for work carried out on their own land, in addition to paying for the drainage of the Barrow, and I consider that is quite unfair. There is a strong feeling amongst the ratepayers who own land  far away from the Barrow area because they are called upon to pay this highly excessive charge. I hope the Government will give sympathetic consideration to the motion so ably moved by Deputy Hughes.
Mr. Gorry: Deputy Hughes has given us a very detailed description of the work that has been done in connection with the drainage of the Barrow. I well remember the demands that were made years ago for the drainage of the Barrow, and I was quite familiar with the desperate conditions under which the people in many parts of the Barrow drainage area lived, particularly around Mountmellick, Monasterevan and Portarlington. I am aware that some 20 years before the work of draining the Barrow was commenced, hundreds of acres of land used to be submerged to a depth of several feet over a large portion of the year. I know that the county council had to raise the level of certain main and other roads in order to enable the people to use them. Some thousands of acres were flooded from November until April or May.
I am sure that every farmer in the Barrow drainage area was delighted when the good news came in 1926 that the actual work of drainage was about to be undertaken. The work commenced, everything went well, and gradually the flooding became less. Then they got down to the big obstacle at Monasterevan, the layers of rock that had been responsible for holding back millions of gallons of water, thus causing the heavy flooding which had been the subject of complaint for so many years. When this big obstacle was removed, the people were very pleased. I should like to say, in passing, that in my opinion the Barrow drainage scheme has not been completed in a real sense. A supplementary scheme is necessary, and, possibly, were it not for the existing war conditions, that scheme would now be in contemplation.
Such a supplementary scheme would alter very materially the position in regard to some thousands of acres in the Barrow catchment area by opening  up arteries, which are now closed, into the different farmsteads. I refer to the many small tributaries of the Barrow. The idea would be to push them further afield than the Board of Works were capable of doing within the limits of the estimate for the main drainage scheme. I do not know why certain small tributaries were drained for a certain distance only. Of course, I realise that the engineers had to draw the line somewhere in order to work within their estimate. But the point is that, if the drainage work had been pushed a little further in some instances, it would have made all the difference to the Barrow drainage ratepayers, as they are now called.
I regard the Barrow drainage scheme, where it affects the area I know best, as being complete to the extent of about 70 per cent. I certainly must say deliberately that the Barrow drainage scheme, as such, has been a success. I often had the experience, within three miles of my home, of being unable to travel to the local town, Mountmellick. I have seen the Mountmellick streets under floods, and I have known people to leave their homes there, they were so badly affected by the flooding. I have known people in Portarlington who, at very short notice, had to leave their homes for a considerable length of time, so heavy was the flooding. I have seen hundreds of acres of good lands submerged for months. If the supplementary part of the scheme were carried out, I am aware that hundreds of acres of land could be made arable.
One good feature of the main drainage scheme is that it has made available many hundreds of acres of good arable land. As a farmer's son I claim to know a little about land. I have no hesitation in saying that lands that were fertile and arable, maybe 40 years ago, could be made just as fertile and arable again, but it may take some time to bring them back to that state. Until the extra work is done some of those lands cannot be dealt with. So far as the main Barrow drainage work is concerned, a lot of valuable land has been made available for the plough. Within the last two years I have seen fields that were  formerly submerged for months bearing some of the finest crops of corn. I think there is no need to exaggerate the position. I am not accusing my colleague, Deputy Hughes, of doing so, but I think some of the people concerned, while they presented a fair case up to a point, only damaged that case by hopeless exaggeration. I have seen lands that it was claimed were not improved and not able to carry cattle, stocked with cattle at Christmas time and the cattle did not look too bad. I will say that those lands in pre-drainage days would definitely be submerged at that period of the year. I repeat that by making exaggerated statements of that kind they are only prejudicing the issue against the rightful case that could be made.
I agree with Deputy Hughes that, no matter what drainage is carried out, certain parts of the land concerned will never become really arable land, but I do think that a large acreage of what he classifies as rough, rushy land can be improved in the course of time. I believe that there are certain cases along the river that are really cases of hardship, but I cannot agree with the case made that every farmer along the river should come within the category of people who should benefit, because I immediately must switch over to what Deputy Davin said in his concluding remarks. I was a member of the Laoighis County Council at the time. During that period, county council drainage schemes were brought in, and I am aware that some of the farmers in Deputy Davin's end of the county, round Rathdowney and Durrow, in the improved areas of these particular rivers, Erkina, Gulley and Blackwater, are carrying as heavy rate on their lands as the Barrow drainage ratepayers are being asked to carry in their respective areas. At a later stage in our history, when peace is once more restored to the world, I hope that we shall all join in directing the attention which is now rightly focussed on the farming industry, to the continued development of agriculture and that all Parties will stand by the owners of land and help the development of the agricultural industry  generally. If it does happen then, that drainage will be dealt with in a national way, and if it be possible to remit any part of the charges now imposed on the Barrow drainage ratepayers, I would say that the ratepayers in the Gulley, Erkina and Blackwater areas would be entitled equally with the Barrow drainage ratepayers to get some benefit. There are, undoubtedly, some cases of hardship up and down the river. I shall not dare to suggest the reason why the valuers did not see to that at the time, but I cannot agree that in the whole area there has not been far more improvement than some people are willing to admit. I think that it is unfair to deny that such improvement has taken place.
Deputy Hughes and Deputy Davin have said, and I agree with them, that the scheme was generally a success. Some of the fields which I referred to as being under water for a fortnight, three weeks or a month at a time, are very rarely flooded nowadays. The remarkable fact is that the flood disappears in 48 hours or less from the land. I know cases where, immediately after the drainage operations had concluded in the immediate vicinity the owners of certain farms were in a position to reclaiming land and putting is into cultivation. That being so, I think it is a mistake for people to state bluntly that they derive no benefit from these operations. As regards Deputy Hughes's view that certain lands are carrying a higher Barrow drainage rate than the ordinary rates imposed on the poor law valuation of the holdings concerned, that could cut both ways because in some of the cases I know the yearly improved value of the lands would certainly more than compensate them.
Mr. Hughes: Does the Deputy suggest that it is three times the amount of the poor rate?
Mr. Gorry: In some cases it is. I am speaking frankly and bluntly and I am prepared to meet these people anywhere. I am not trying to damage the case made by Deputy Hughes. I am stating what I know to be the exact truth.
Mr. Hughes: I know the Deputy is familiar with the conditions in many of these areas.
Mr. Gorry: The owners of these lands themselves will admit in private conversation that they are well pleased with the scheme and that they have no grievance as regards the charges imposed on them. I do know of other cases, and I have spoken to some farmers the tail-end of whose farms is of the type to which Deputy Hughes referred. Some of these farmers have been placed in a real difficulty by the fact that they have been presented with demands for the present heavy ordinary rates plus the Barrow drainage rate. The Barrow drainage rate in these cases may have been in arrears for a year or two and the joint demand presented to these people, after a period of distress brought about by the economic war conditions, imposes a heavy burden on them. If those rate demands were pressed home immediately it would do serious injury to these farmers. However, if you take the whole area you will find that many of the benefiting people have only small rates to pay. I remember that at the inception of the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Association the members of that association were prepared to pay a much lesser sum than they now are apparently prepared to pay. At a meeting in Monasterevan in the early days of the association I suggested that, without prejudicing the case one way or the other, the drainage ratepayers should at least contribute a rate that would cover maintenance charges because I thought the maintenance of the drainage was all-important.
I know ratepayers who, in 1939, had a grievance that the drainage work was deteriorating again because drainage maintenance had not been carried out. It was carried out in 1940 by the respective county councils and they are more than pleased with the result. I know one particular farm where, in the worst periods of rainfall in the last two or three months, there was no sign of water on the land. There might have been a little appearance of water here and there on fields after a night's rain, just as one would  get on the highest upland, but the following day it had disappeared, and that land is never flooded now.
I do not know anything about the position regarding the amending Act of 1933. I do not remember if I was present when that Act was going through here but I do know that, at the time the amending Act was put through the House, there was a demand for amending legislation to enable the work to be pushed further afield than otherwise it could have been. Until Deputy Hughes made the statement I did not know that, at the time the Act was going through its Second Reading in this House, the then Minister had stated that anything in excess——
Mr. Hughes: He did state that.
Mr. Gorry: I am saying that I was not aware that he had stated that the State would bear any charges in excess of the £425,000 that Deputy Hughes mentioned. I leave that question to the Parliamentary Secretary to deal with. It is not for me. On the whole, I am satisfied that there are cases of hardship up and down the river. I am not satisfied that the Barrow drainage ratepayers' case is sound in every respect, as exaggerated claims have been made with which I certainly could not agree. As I have mentioned, fields which were flooded have been brought under tillage and I have seen cattle on land at Christmas where otherwise they would not get a lying space. Therefore, I would not be prepared to stand for this, even if there were general agreement in the House that some change should occur, particularly having seen and having been impressed by the graph presented to us by the Parliamentary Secretary and his officials of the Board of Works when we met them. I know that it impressed Deputies Hughes, Davin and others as well, and that it gave definite proof, which cannot be gainsaid, as to the advantages that have been conferred on the area by the Barrow Drainage Scheme. I could not agree that the flat demand for a 75 per cent. reduction could be equitably maintained. As a matter of fact, in some cases, I agree, farmers have got quite good land, and, speaking in a general way there would be many of those. In a few cases the  type of land that these men have is where the flooding may have been removed and gradually some of it might be reclaimed. On the whole, I think we all must admit that the scheme has worked wonders in the Midlands and that it has conferred a great boon on the people at large. Even as regards the maintenance of roads, a road that is submerged, particularly in a bog area, and becomes water-logged, costs quite an appreciable sum to bring it back into good condition again.
Deputy Davin mentioned in his statement certain people taking it on themselves to speak for the organisation of which I am a member. As regards the notice that was sent to some of my colleagues, I was not aware that such a notice had been issued and did not receive any copy. Neither had certain people authority to speak as they did at certain meetings. They were speaking only for themselves and not for those for whom they alleged they were speaking. To that extent I must entirely dissociate myself from what was said then. I did not know my colleague Deputy Hogan had the benefit of being in the town where the meeting was held and we knew the size and extent of the meeting. I was not there and do not know anything on that point. Possibly I might have gone to Monasterevan had I received an invitation. I certainly can tell the secretary of the Barrow Drainage Association that he had not the proper authority in associating the Fianna Fáil Cumann with the letter of invitation which was sent out, so far as I know. At least, if it were so, I think that I would have been informed, so I am quite sure that the references that were made were made simply from a personal point of view and with no authority to speak on behalf of the people indicated.
Mr. Nally: I wish to support the motion so ably put forward by Deputies Hughes and Davin. I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary, in view of the fact that the rates are tremendously high in the district at present, to realise that they cannot bear any further impost, especially as they are paying the county-at-large charge,  which is substantial. The Government gave a grant for carrying out part of the work, but the counties for which it has been done also gave a substantial grant and the ratepayers of each county, of course, have to pay that grant. The Central Fund ought to pay the full amount. I will go even further than the 75 per cent.: the full charge should be remitted, especially in view of the fact that the rates are so high in the district and that the cost of collection would be so tremendous. The Government would be well advised to accept immediately the terms of the motion. If they give it that amount of sympathetic consideration which is expected from the Parliamentary Secretary, it will save all the land drainage schemes in the country.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): I do not propose, Sir, to treat this motion as being in any way a hostile or controversial matter. I agree with what Deputy Hughes said: that having regard to the amount of time this motion has been on the Order Paper, having regard to the fact that there have been interviews and so on, and, above all, having regard to the publicity that has been given in connection with it, it was a proper and a desirable thing—I mean that it was a reasonable exercise of the rights of Deputies and a discharge to some extent of their duties —to put down a motion for the purpose of having the facts in this matter made clear, and that is the only way in which, in relation to Deputies in the House, I propose to treat it. I am aware, of course, of a great deal of the things that were said, but I want to say that in all the documents and evidence that have come to me of things that have been said down the country in this matter—some of them of the wildest improbability and exaggeration —as far as I know, no Deputy of any Party has committed himself to any of those things. I think that in some ways that is a very creditable thing to have happened, having regard to the fact that they were all subject to the pressure of an agitation of that kind, and I take it that Deputies, in putting down this motion and in speaking to it, have  done so for the purpose of bringing out the facts; and in proposing a motion of this kind, they themselves have had to state the case for examination.
Now, I just propose to get rid, right away, of a couple of small matters. Deputy Hughes was under the impression that it is typical that the Barrow rate should exceed the poor rate. Well, you can always find cases of a different kind, and we shall remove that atmosphere of typicality by giving a few examples.
Mr. Hughes: I do not wish to interrupt the Parliamentary Secretary, but I should like to be permitted to intervene for a moment. Possibly I did not convey what I intended. What I intended to convey was that it was a typical case of hardship.
Mr. Flinn: Yes, but the difficulty is that an effort has been made to include the whole of the 43,000 acres in the Barrow scheme in that hardship. That is the difficulty, and that is the difficulty we will have to face. I am not involving any Deputy in anything of this kind, except in relation to statements which have been made here. We have a case of a Mr. W.A. Robinson, and for the three years 1937-38, 1938-39, and 1940-41, his poor rate was £256, £311, and £339, while his Barrow rate was £20 17s. 0d. in each of the three years. We have another case of Mr. R. Hipwell.
Mr. Hughes: Would the Parliamentary Secretary tell us what percentage of his land would benefit?
Mr. Flinn: I do not know. I am only giving precisely the same kind of cases that have been given: that is to say, the poor rate as against the Barrow rate, and anyone can make any use of them he likes to make.
Mr. Hughes: In the cases I cited, it is right in the centre of the Barrow drainage area, where the whole area is supposed to have benefited; but let us suppose your case is in the outer area, where only a small portion would have benefited, only that portion would have been assessed. That is a matter that should have been taken into account.
Mr. Flinn: These are all cases of men who were assessed. I can give the particulars to the Deputy afterwards, and he can examine them. As I was saying, in the case of Mr. R. Hipwell his poor rate for the three years I mentioned was £42, £54 and £60, respectively, while his Barrow rate was £5 18s. In the case of Mr. J. E. Joly, his poor rate was £103, and his Barrow rate £27 15s. That is one of the typical cases that are put forward to us—given to us as an actual specimen case.
Mr. Davin: Is that all his land?
Mr. Flinn: Apparently, yes. Then there is the case of a Mr. Odlum, whose poor rate was £41 13s., and whose Barrow rate was £9 15s. 8d.
Mr. Hughes: In any case, could not the Parliamentary Secretary give the total amount of the benefited area in all those cases?
Mr. Flinn: Yes, I shall look that up, and give it to the Deputy later. Now, Deputy Davin, in relation to the county-at-large charge, said that the farmers in the Barrow area were not paying any portion of the costs of other drainage works. That is not correct. They pay their share of the contributions made by their respective county councils to other drainage works in the counties in Offaly—namely, Cush, Clonlisk, Castlebernard, Garrycastle; Boleybeg, Cush, Erkina, Goul and Douglas, in Laoighis; and the Greise in Kildare.
Mr. Davin: I mentioned the Nore.
Mr. Flinn: Yes, but in these cases they are paying their due share, and there are plenty of cases in which ratepayers are paying for more than one scheme, cases in which a man is being assessed upon one scheme directly, and, as a ratepayer, is paying for others.
Mr. Davin: I do not wish to interrupt the Parliamentary Secretary again, but this is important. I have a letter from Mr. Joly, dated December last, in which he says that he was paying £45 a year as a Barrow drainage charge.
Mr. Flinn: Well, these are his Barrow drainage rates as we got them from the county council: £16 1s. 6d., £1 6s. 3d., £6 9s. 2d. and £3 18s. 7d., making a total of £27 15s. 6d. That is what the county council are trying to collect from Mr. Joly, apparently without success, for some years, I think.
Mr. Davin: I shall pass this letter over to the Parliamentary Secretary.
Mr. Flinn: Yes, I should be glad if the Deputy would do so, and we will look into it. Now, I have told the House the spirit by which I would be guided, and I now propose to proceed in that spirit. I find that, in introducing the amended Act in 1933, on three separate occasions I warned the House that we were not attempting to produce a drainage scheme that would prevent flooding. I said that unless an apocryphal amount — I think I said £5,000,000 — but at any rate, unless an apocryphal amount were provided, neither I nor anybody else could put forward a drainage scheme which would prevent occasional flooding. Therefore, the House, in passing that Act, knew the position perfectly well. We had gone out of our way on three separate occasions, in a column and a half, to tell the House that we were not making a scheme for the purpose of preventing all flooding. I say at once, therefore, that no arterial drainage scheme is designed to prevent all flooding. The cost would be prohibitive. If we were to provide a scheme to deal with the abnormal flood, such as the one to which Deputy Hughes alluded — even down to Athy — it would cost another £350,000 or £400,000.
That money would have to be levied on the taxpayers and on the ratepayers. The amount of added benefit would be negligible. Arterial drainage is intended to deal with the water taken off the land by the internal farm drains provided by the occupiers. Generally speaking, the standard aimed at is to deal with such flooding as might normally be expected in winter time. A channel with a capacity to deal with such floods would also accommodate the flood water when it  is likely to do most damage, in spring and harvest times. It is necessary to emphasise that a scheme of this character is not intended to eliminate all flooding, but will reduce the frequency and duration of floods on the land. The fact that no more than a substantial improvement in drainage conditions is the object of arterial drainage schemes undertaken in this country has always been pointed out in advance by the Board of Works. There are records in which we made it clear that we did not intend to put upon farmers and upon ratepayers a burden which would prevent all flooding.
The value of the direct benefit accruing is calculated on that basis, with a certain margin in favour of the owners, and on the undertaking that the occupiers of the land concerned will clean up the existing drains on their farms. Assessment or measurement of benefit due to arterial drainage does not assume that the occupiers will do the further work by way of thorough drainage and application of manures, which might be expected to be done by industrious farmers to reclaim fully the lands which had theretofore been incapable of being used to this full extent. The further value derivable from such proper husbandry is over and above that measurement and goes by way of direct profit to the occupier who takes the further advantage of the outfall provided by the arterial drainage channels.
What the arterial drainage engineer provides is an outfall and a channel into which water on the land can go. Farmers are expected to provide the ordinary farm drainage which will enable them to take advantage of that outfall. It is not calculated that they are to make any mole drainage or thorough drainage of an extensive kind. If they do so, they do it for their own benefit and get that benefit. So far as we know practically all the lands now the subject of occasional flooding on the Barrow scheme are used for grazing and meadowing purposes. There may be a small portion devoted to tillage but it would be extremely small. Grazing and meadowing land maintained in good husbandry, with  occasional flooding during the winter months, or even in the spring, would suffer little injury, but damage could be done by flooding even of short duration, should it occur in summer, particularly in July when the hay has been cut and is still standing in cocks in the fields. I think all farmers will agree with that, that flooding for a day or so in the winter months is one of the things that may have to be put up with which will not in the ordinary course do any serious damage to the land.
Mr. Hughes: Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that flooding has actually occurred there during the hay-making season when the hay was in cocks?
Mr. Flinn: I will take those cases in a moment. I am aware that photographs appeared in two local newspapers in June of last year, and both photographs were marked in exactly the same way: “This is a photograph of recent flooding in the Barrow.” A particular area was given. The photograph published was taken in the previous January, five months before that, but was published in the newspapers as if the flooding had taken place at the very critical time that Deputy Hughes and I referred to as dangerous. Both photographs in two different papers had precisely the same caption. I am deliberately taking that for a headline of the spirit, of the amount of veracity and fairness behind the whole of this propaganda.
Mr. Hughes: I am not a party to that.
Mr. Flinn: As far as I know, no Deputy is involved in any way in the exaggerated propaganda used about this question. It has been suggested that the channel in the Barrow should be three times as large. It could be made that big if it were to deal with these rare cataclysmic floods which are sometimes experienced. No sensible person would contemplate such a scheme. Its cost would be outrageous. The present scheme is designed to pass a flood 218,000 cubic feet per minute at Athy. Actually, little flooding will occur if the channels are properly  maintained, until the discharge reaches 240,000 cubic feet per minute. The actual capacity of the Barrow to discharge water has been doubled over the whole length of the river. The highest flood ever recorded in Athy gave a flow of 365,000 cubic feet per minute. To provide capacity for this flood would entail about twice as much work being done between Athy and Monasterevan, and the cost would run to anything about £800,000, and that would not end it. It would also be necessary to provide an outfall downstream for the increased flow.
In designing a drainage scheme, the extent of the work should be related to the value of benefit to be got from that work. Looked at purely from the material point of view, a scheme is barely economic — barely worth while — when the annual value of that benefit is just enough to meet the annual charges both for repayment of the capital expended and maintenance of the work. When the value is less than that, it is uneconomic, and the account can only be balanced by taking into account such general gains as improvement in public health, sewerage facilities, roads, large bog development and the like. In every case of a drainage scheme of which I am aware, the State and the local authorities had to contribute for the imponderable advantage of such schemes. No scheme yet done or contemplated even moderately approaches the standard of being economic, in the sense of being able to pay capital charges and maintenance. What we have to do is to find in relation to a scheme the amount of water which we are able to take away, at a price which has some reasonable relation to the improved value. We have frankly to face the difficulty that in certain cases, a few days in the year, or perhaps for a considerable period in an exceptional year, flooding must take place.
Deputies will recollect that work on the Barrow started in 1926 in anticipation of the Act approved by the Dáil in 1927, which was extended and modified by the second Barrow Drainage Act passed in 1933. The scheme had a total actual capacity for arterial  drainage designed to deal with 218,000 cubic feet per minute at Athy and cost £550,000 to improve 43,520 acres of land, to the extent of £6,218 per annum. The Acts provided for an annual expenditure of about £6,500 for maintenance, the responsibility for which was vested in a specially constituted Barrow Drainage Board. The finances of the scheme are what I want not merely to get at, but Deputies to remember. The scheme was financed as to 50 per cent. of the capital cost, and of the first 35 years maintenance cost by the taxpayers, with a similar contribution from the ratepayers in three counties, Leix, Offaly and Kildare. The ratepayers, however, were to be reimbursed by the benefited occupiers to the extent of the assessed improvement in the annual value of the lands, that is £6,218 per annum which is actually less than the cost of maintenance. This scheme was handed over in March, 1938, in workmanlike condition to the county councils, as provided in the Act. From that date the Government ceased to have any responsibility, and the local authority is responsible for its actual maintenance. This is the only drainage scheme in which the State or the local authority contributes to maintenance charges, and the combined contribution from the State and county councils towards capital cost represents the highest percentage grants given in any arterial drainage scheme.
Now there is a special financial procedure in relation to the Barrow which differs from the financial procedure which has been generally adopted in relation to drainage schemes, and with which the House is familiar. In normal drainage schemes under the 1925 Act, the State and the ratepayer pay only a percentage of the capital cost, the occupiers bearing the remainder, as well as the entire cost of maintenance. If we apply to the Barrow scheme a simple method of calculating the grants, so that the House will understand it, this is what emerges. If all concerned fulfil their present legal obligations the percentages and amounts of the State and local contributions to the capital cost  on the Barrow are in effect as follows: the State pays 59½ per cent. of the capital cost, £327,250; the county councils pay 40½ per cent., £222,750; and the benefited occupiers pay nothing; that is, £550,000 to drain 43,500 acres of land on the Barrow, at a cost of £327,250 to the State, £222,750 to the ratepayer, and not one red cent to the benefited occupiers. They are not even asked to bear the total cost of maintaining that free gift of £550,000 which was made for their benefit by the State and the ratepayer.
Is there any other form of State activity, or any other business, or any other profession, or any other way in which men make their living, in which that degree of generosity is shown by the State and the ratepayer?
The representatives of the Barrow drainage organisation say they want to be reasonable, that they want to help the State in every way. Their proposal is, and the Deputies for the moment are furthering it, that they should pay one-fourth of the maintenance. The suggestion then is that drainage shall take place in this country for the benefit of the farming community, that under expert engineers, under thoroughly sound supervision, under a good plan, and with the most modern machinery, the State should spend money, as in this case they have spent £550,000, and, at the end of that time, those for whom that money is expended will turn round and say “The work you have done is not worth to us one penny of the capital cost and only under pressure are we prepared to admit that we ought to pay even one-fourth of the cost of maintaining that free gift in a condition in which we can continue to use it.” If those who are responsible for making this plea are speaking fairly and honestly, then it is perfectly clear that the State should not engage in expenditure of this kind.
What is the justification for the State spending in the Barrow valley the money not merely of the ratepayers of Leix, Offaly and Kildare, but also the taxes of Donegal, Cork, Clare and Mayo on creating a piece of public work, of which, when it is completed, those for whom it is done say that it  is not worth one penny of the capital cost and is barely worth one-fourth of the cost of maintaining it in a condition to work it? If, on the contrary, the position is that that is not a fair statement of the benefit that has been given, what is the position of the State if it continues to spend £550,000 for the benefit of the people who, when they have received the benefit, will not acknowledge it, and, when they have an opportunity to make greater use of it, turn their backs upon the obligation which they hold to the State, to themselves and to the ratepayers to make use of the benefit which the taxpayer and the ratepaper have taxed themselves to provide for their benefit?
I would not deal at the length with which I am going to deal, and with the care with which I am going to deal, with this particular question if it merely concerned the Barrow and the Barrow drainage ratepayers' agitation. I am dealing with it because the facts of it, the economics of it, and the philosophy of it seem to me to cut to the root of the whole future of drainage in this country. Not one single word has been said here to-night by Deputies and, as I have said before, to my knowledge not one single word has been said by them in the country, of a kind which seemed to me to be other than a reasonable contribution to the discussion. But that is not what is behind the agitation. It is with the other things that have been said that I must deal.
It has been said by a representative of the local organisation that the Barrow scheme as carried out is not a success; that while little or no benefit has been received by the vast majority of the landowners, the farmers are asked to pay the greater part of the cost, and the assessments on them are exorbitant; that thousands of acres in the Barrow district are under water; that large areas almost constantly flooded are assessed at 7/- an acre; that 10/- an acre is assessed for the next 35 years on poor, washed-out, rushy land which is still flooded after every heavy rainfall; that this is due in effect to the insufficiency of the Barrow scheme which provides a channel not one-third large enough; that the benefit  charged for will accrue only when the drainage authorities actually provide the drains on and in the farms; that improvement has been overvalued, and has been assessed, not on the benefit, but in order to provide a specified contribution from farmers. It is stated that the land is inherently not worth having existing farm drains opened up, and that owing to the constant flooding the chief effect of opening up the farm drains will be to flood the land more quickly.
Coming down to particular cases we have the statement that there are farmers in the Edenderry district mulcted out of 4/- per acre for lands actually flooded as a result of this scheme, and that at least 100 farmers in the Cloncreen and Clonbologue areas have been ruined by the operation of the scheme. These are very different statements from the statements which have been made in this House. These are the sort of statements which have been propagandised and publicised on Press and platform. Is it any wonder that the owners of the 43,000 acres assessed under this scheme have taken the advice given to them at Monasterevan at a meeting of the representatives of committees of this organisation on the 2nd April, 1939, when Mr. R. Hipwell, now the chairman of that organisation, said to that meeting of representatives of the committees “The charges are exorbitant, and my advice to you is ‘don't pay’”?
Mr. Norton: He is a follower of your own party.
Mr. Flinn: The Deputy had better discuss that with Deputy Davin.
Mr. Norton: He is a member of the Fianna Fáil Party I think.
Mr. Flinn: As a result of the activities of this organisation, expressed through statements of the above character — I want to get this in — you get this: that out of a total sum of £18,535 due by the directly benefited Barrow occupiers to the county councils of Laoighis, Offaly and Kildare for three years drainage rates, £18,193 are outstanding and these county councils are out of pocket to that amount. In relation to a scheme which cost  £550,000, which is contributed to as to 59½ per cent by the State and 40½ per cent. by the local authority — to which the benefited owners did not contribute one single penny in respect of that capital cost — of £18,535 which they owe for maintenance, they have handed over as an obligation to the ordinary ratepayer of Laoighis, Offaly and Kildare, £18,193, and apparently are prepared to continue, for every year as long as this is successful, to hand over the added obligation of, roughly speaking, £6,300.
I now propose to deal with the evidence which has been provided by this organisation, not because I have any respect for it whatever, but, I want to be quite frank and fair in the matter, I do so because it is their evidence, the evidence on which they choose to be judged.
Mr. Davin: Where did they give the evidence?
Mr. Flinn: I will tell the Deputy that in a moment. The main contention is that these lands assessed are still almost constantly flooded; that little or no benefit has been received by the vast majority of landowners and that the improvement has been overvalued. In support of these contentions there has been produced a number of photographs and particulars of nine cases specially selected as being typical of the condition of which they complain. I propose to take first the evidence of the four photographs received by us on the 31st October, 1940. Some Deputies have already had the pleasure of seeing these curious exhibits.
Mr. Davin: The Parliamentary Secretary was down there shooting at that time.
Mr. Flinn: I was down there wading over land that was wet and sodden while the river opposite was three feet below the level on which I was standing. Water was standing there because the good old drains, which were visible upon the land, were actually dead choked, and in one case blocked at the outlet to the river.
Mr. Davin: The Parliamentary  Secretary cleared away all the snipe when he was down there.
Mr. Flinn: All the places shown on these photographs were inspected by our engineers on the day after — on the 1st November, 1940. Two of these photographs represent land on a small branch drain over half a mile from the river and above the zone affected by the water levels in the river. On inspection on the 1st November, 1940, the lands were found to be perfectly dry. Somebody had cleaned out the drain, and all the water which was exhibited in the photograph had run away into the Barrow.
The area in the second picture was apparently completely covered with water. This turned out to be a pond in a depression. This pond is shown on the 1913 edition of the Ordnance Survey map as “Lingbawn Lough”, apparently a lake within living memory. It could now be removed entirely by clearing the field drains. The pond was full when inspected on the 1st November, 1940, but the water level in the adjoining river was three feet below the level of the pond. The last photograph is even more remarkable. It also was practically covered with water. There were two or three interlacing lines of land. On examination this turned out to be a photograph of the new and of the old courses of the Figile river. There was not a drop of flood water on the map. It was a photograph of the river's old course, and of the new course which we had created, and of the water lying therein. Of the four photographs that were produced of evidence of flooding on the Barrow, one was a river, one was a lake, and two were places where the water had run away before we could get there.
Mr. Norton: The members of the Parliamentary Secretary's own Party do not agree with that, of course.
Mr. Flinn: The Deputy had better discuss that with Deputy Davin. I do not want to be unkind.
Mr. Norton: The Parliamentary Secretary wants to play with the team.
Mr. Flinn: I want to tell the Deputy without any hesitation that I do not care a damn if every Fianna Fáil cumann in the world said something which was not true. I am here to tell the truth in relation to these matters, and the mere fact that a Fianna Fáil cumann says the opposite does not matter the toss of a coin to me. I am going to deal with things which can be proved by competent witnesses and which can be sustained on the basis of hydraulic fact.
In 1939, also, photographs were produced and some were published in the Press of 10th November, 1939. The locale of these photographs was in each case inspected 24 hours later, and, in each case, the report showed that the water had disappeared and the lands were practically free from flooding. Photographs were taken of the seas which had disappeared. In some cases, the scheme drains were in need of maintenance, but even in cases where the scheme drains were in poor condition, water was lying on the land at a level higher than these drains and, therefore, while in some cases the condition of maintenance might have slightly delayed the disappearance of the flood water — it did not delay it for a day — in no case was it the cause of the flooded condition. I have given before the case in relation to a photograph published in two papers and now I refer to it only in order to give the date and the particulars. This photograph appeared in the Leinster Leader of 21st June, 1940, and in the Carlow Nationalist on the 25th May, 1940. Both photographs, which were identical, were marked “This photo shows recent flooding at Derrygarren, Offaly.” These photographs appeared in May and June, with that caption. The 21st June would not be a date on which flooding would be regarded as of no importance, but the actual flooding took place, and the actual photograph was taken, in January, 1940, five months before.
Photographs of flooding on isolated occasions are not evidence of the failure of the drainage scheme. The arterial drainage engineer is not concerned with one-day or two-day flooding  in winter. He does not pretend to build a scheme to deal with that, and he would be definitely wrong if he put on the community the capital cost of providing a scheme that would prevent any such flooding, but photographs showing, say, for a series of days or a week, flooding in a particular area would be a matter with which a drainage engineer would be concerned. He would then look into it, the nature of the soil and the rest of it, to see whether or not it was the kind of flooding which was really doing harm. In this House, and outside it, I gave specific invitations to those who were anxious to produce reliable and useful evidence in this matter to give me photographs or evidence that would cover anything that even approached flooding over a period. Not a single piece of evidence of any sort or kind, covering even one acre of land, has been produced.
On 22nd July, 1939, typical cases were put forward by the secretary of this organisation for examination, and were followed, in August, 1940, by the reports of a local auctioneer and valuer on valuations made on 22nd August, 1940. This was followed on 19th October by a report of the engineer employed by the organisation. The main contention of the engineer's report was that flooding took place on certain lands about Clonbologue bridge when readings on the gauge at that bridge ranged from four feet seven inches down to three feet three inches. Deputy Davin read the last paragraph of that report which, in my opinion, adequately summarises it. He said that any considerable flooding started in that particular district when the reading at Clonbologue bridge was four feet seven inches. We went down practically the next day and one of the places which we were shown was one of the specimen cases, the land of Mr. Joly on which it was said flooding took place at three feet. Mr. Joly was there and he brought our engineer along to what he thought was the lowest place and from that we took levels, in the presence of Mr. Joly, which proved that no portion of the land he had chosen to exhibit to us, and which had been put forward as an example of the flooding, was flooded  until the gauge reading was five feet. There may have been lower parts, but Mr. Joly was not able to point them out, and in relation to the other places given, although the report had come through the secretary, he did not know where the levels were taken.
We are prepared, however, for the moment to take as an example, for the purpose of argument, the figure that Mr. Bruntz put forward, that some considerable flooding in that district begins to take place when the gauge reading at Clonbologue is 4-ft. 7-ins. We will take it an inch lower than his figure. I want the House to coordinate this with the suggestion that little or no benefit has been received by the land, and we are taking their own evidence at its face value. The general purport of the organisation engineer's report would be to show that, under post-drainage conditions, considerable flooding begins to take place when the reading at Clonbologue is 4-ft. 6-ins.; and, assuming this condition for the purpose of argument, the actual pre-drainage and post-drainage condition in relation to flooding is represented by the following figures: In the seven years pre-drainage, records show that, on an average, the water stood above 4-ft. 6-ins. for 353 days each year, or 96.7 per cent. of the time. It stood sometimes three or four feet above 4-ft. 6-ins., and, therefore, this land was flooded for 353 days each year; whereas, in the post-drainage period, the average was only two and a half days per annum, or .7 per cent. of the time, and practically the whole of that took place in the last couple of years after we had handed the scheme over in full condition.
Now, I want Deputies to ask themselves, as between a piece of land, which is flooded for 353 days each year for seven years, and the same piece of land flooded for two days in winter, what is going to be the difference in the condition and the value of the land? Is anyone going to suggest that there is no material improvement under these conditions? Remember, these are not cases chosen by me. These are typical areas picked out by the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Organisation for me to check  and test. The effect of the Barrow drainage scheme has been to lower the flood period from 353 days in the year to two days. Remember, that, with 353 days in the year, your lands are covered with water all the time and never have an opportunity to dry out. With only two days in the year flooded, and 363 days dry, and the level of the river lowered until there is an average free board of four feet between the river and the land, is anybody in his senses going to say that the statement here is justified, that little or no advantage has been got from the drainage and that nothing practically has been done?
We are told that vaguely and gently. I have a great deal of respect for the ingenuity of some of the propaganda which is being used in this matter. We have the suggestio falsi and the suppressio veri, careful, quiet, organised suggestiveness; land at 7/- and land at 10/- per acre. The average assessment is 2/10 over the whole 43,000 acres, but, by some casual, inchoate, unorganised and undecided co-operation of opinion, the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers all come to the common conclusion that they will leave the ratepayers of Laoighis, Offaly and Kildare to shoulder the bill of £18,159. So far as the immediate vicinity of Clonbologue is concerned, the area selected as typical, according to this local organisation — we think they could have chosen an area which would be more typical — we know that no appreciable flooding occurs above Clonbologue Bridge when the gauge is at 4 feet 6 inches. We also know that below the bridge, towards Derrygarren, there is some low-lying land, comparatively small in area, which floods at a level on the gauge of from 3 feet 6 inches to 4 feet. Conditions in other parts cannot be related to the Clonbologue gauge. It is not possible for anybody to suggest that, in an area as large as the Barrow area, there would not be an odd spot, here or there below the level, but the suggestion that any considerable proportion of the 43,000 acres in respect of which these people have unanimously decided  not to pay — to take the advice of the chairman of the organisation: “My advice to you is ‘do not pay’”— justifies that description is, I think, absurd.
I do not think that anyone in his senses in relation to the figures I have given in these cases is going to suggest for one moment that there is either truth or frankness in the suggestion that little or no benefit has been obtained. However, that is only the beginning. Another of the so-called typical cases illustrates the quality of the evidence which has been produced. This is the case of Cloncreen lands, belonging to Richard Gilleece. I only use these names because they have been used and because they are the raw material on which we have to work. Otherwise, I would not use any names. We have three reports on the condition of these lands. The first is that of the secretary of this organisation, which says: “This is marsh land, subject to constant flooding, summer and winter and can never be grazed, as it is dangerous to all stock.” Unfortunately, he forgot to inform the stock. We have a photograph taken on the 6/10/39 — that was coming on to winter. It shows cattle grazing on these lands. The second report appears in the Independent of Saturday, 2nd November, 1940, and is an advertisement of the same lands for sale. It reads as follows:—
“A nice mixed farm, suitable for tilláge or dairying. It consists of 1,015 statute acres made up as follows — approximately, 100 acres of good, arable land, 60 acres of meadow land, 200 acres of rough grazing, ideal for winterage, and the balance good, dry, turf banks of excellent quality and very accessible, adjoining Clonsast and from which a good income is already received.”
Mr. Norton: Was that fellow right when he said that?
Mr. Flinn: I would not say that.
Mr. Norton: You discovered that each of them was an Ananias in that area up to now.
Mr. Flinn: The third report is from the Office of Public Works in respect of an inspection made on the 6/10/39.
This report says:—
“The general cleaning, deepening and widening of the main river saves this land from constant inundation——” it is exactly opposite Mr. Joly's land—“and ensures that, if it is flooded in abnormal times, it is quickly relieved. The nature of the land, however, is such that if the main farm drains are not opened and the holding worked, full benefit will not be realised. The main river needs attention here but the primary cause of any trouble would be the state of the main farm drains and their inability to carry off surface water from the lands. There is a good layout of old main farm drains which require only a cleaning out of accumulated silt.”
I walked over that land myself and, certainly, in the condition in which I saw it it was not “ideal for winterage.” At the time I inspected it — it would be some time early in November, 1940, but I forget the exact date — it was, at least, three and a half feet above the level of the river which runs beside it and of the drain which runs between it and the contiguous land. I had to wade over it in sea boots. The drains were absolutely choked up. That was the same position that I found on the land exactly opposite, on the Figile river, belonging to Mr. Joly. His land also was absolutely saturated; it was covered with water; his drains were chock-full and they were blocked.
Now I want you to go back for a moment in memory to last year. You know the kind of year it was. It was an extraordinarily dry year. Our records show that that land could not have been flooded at any time for nine months by the Figile river. In fact, the only occasion on which the water did rise was on that famous January the photograph of which was transposed to the following June. That land must have been absolutely bone dry in September because the whole land of the country was bone dry in September. No water had come on to either  of those lands from the Barrow and therefore every drop of water which was sogging that land, which should have been absolutely dry, was water which had come in rain or had come down and had been trapped on these lands by the unclean drains on it. We had certain conversations in relation to those lands. Our engineers were down on Mr. Joly's land, which was flooded. It was pointed out to him that his land was over three feet above the water level of the river running right beside it. A drain which ran out was closed within 20 feet of the river. His answer was, “As long as there is any water there, no matter how deep or how wide you make that arterial channel, my land is not drained.” In other words, you are getting quite clear the meaning of the demand which is being made upon the community: “Not merely shall ye spend £550,000 on providing an outfall but I will not use it unless you come on to my land and open my drains to allow the water which is on the land to go into the outfall which you have created.”
That may seem an exaggeration, but we took up the question of the land on the other side of the river and pointed out the relative improvement to the land next door to Gilleece's land, on which the very minimum of drainage had been made. The drains had not been opened up but the drain going in from the river to the drains had been opened up; I mean the water had been allowed to drip into it. That is all that was done, but something had been done. When we pointed out the relative improvement that had taken place there due even to that little preparation, the answer was: “The more fool he; the more he opens his drains the quicker and the oftener his land will be flooded.” Now you have the mentality behind the people, at any rate behind the organisation, which has £550,000 in capital spent for it on a scheme on which it will not spend a penny; farmers who owe £18,159 to the local authority for rates which they will not pay; who will not open their own drains, and who say: “Unless you come in and do our farm  drainage for us, then that £550,000 will go to waste.”
A photograph appearing in the Press on 10th November, 1939, showed this land flooded. The land was inspected on the following day by the engineer, who reported that the surface water had practically disappeared and that it would have completely disappeared had there been effective field drains.
Another of these typical cases (Lot 1, Rearybeg) is peculiar and we are bound to take note of it, because this is the first and the only suggestion that has ever been made of defective constructive work on the part of the Office of Public Works in relation to the Barrow drainage scheme. This is one of the reports put forward, and it is apparently suggested that in this particular case some of the condition of the land is due to the fact that a drain was left incompleted by the Office of Public Works owing to a strike which took place during the main drainage operations and that a dam had been knocked into the old river and not removed. No work in any part of the Barrow drainage area was left incompleted due to a strike. An inspection of the drain concerned in October, 1939, by our engineers shows no sign of any such dam.
There was one case, you remember, where apparently the witness had not consulted the bill of sale, and there was another case in which he had forgotten to consult the cattle. There is a third case in which there has also been lack of consultation. In the case of the lands of Mr. George Storey, the statement made by the auctioneer and valuer is: “In this case no economic advantage has been derived by the drainage and the holding could not possibly bear a drainage charge.” In the proceedings of the Draft Award Inquiry, where witnesses are on oath, this occurred:
“President (to the owner of the land): Do you object to this assessment of £2 13s. 9d. on 10 acres 3 roods of your land?
 George Storey (sworn): I consider it a bit too high.
President: That is your only objection — that it is too high?”
Mr. Norton: On a point of order, would the Parliamentary Secretary say from what he is now quoting?
Mr. Flinn: I am quoting from the Report of the Barrow Drainage Inquiry.
Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I think the Parliamentary Secretary might give the date of that.
Mr. Flinn: 5th October, 1935. Staff work, apparently, is very good.
“President: That is your only objection — that it is too high?
President: Do you admit improvement to your land?
Witness: Yes, a great improvement.”
The expert witness of the Barrow drainage states: “In this case no economic advantage has been derived by the drainage.” The owner of the land, on his oath states: “A great improvement has taken place in the land.” Actually the Investigator subsequently reduced the assessment on this lot by 1/- an acre. In other words, George Storey thought it was a bit too high; the assessor agreed with him and everything in the garden was lovely. The report of our engineer's inspection, on the 5th October, 1939, states that “the land is in rough grazing, but suffers from lack of usage and working; no use was made of the facilities provided for proper drainage; the holding is now sound and dry — three cattle on it; despite lack of attention the improvement in the holding is evident; the scheme drain requires attention.” As the House will remember, the mere fact, that the level into the outfall has been reduced on an average right through the river over  the year by about four feet, has changed a condition where flooding was normal into a condition in which there is on an average about a four-foot free board in which the land can seep down and attempt to dry itself. In spite of the neglect of farm draining, some considerable improvement has taken place on the whole of the land.
I did not receive any deputation at any time from the Barrow drainage organisation, nor, as put in a newspaper report, were the Deputies dragged along as a sort of a long tail to that. I agreed with the Deputies that I would receive them, because they were entitled to this information. They were entitled to a perfectly frank statement, and they could bring whom they liked as expert witnesses. I think the Deputies who read that report and compared it with the facts will know how much regard to pay to any testimony or any evidence or any statement made on the authority of that organisation. It will be within the recollection of Deputies present at the conference which I had the pleasure of having with them on this matter on 13th November, 1940, that an expert witness stated that on that date certain lands were, to his knowledge, three feet under water. Fortunately or unfortunately, that portion of the Barrow had been inspected on that morning by two engineers of the Board of Works, who were present, and who certified that the land was found to be dry. I have told you that I inspected the land of Mr. Joly. I saw a good deal of the land, because I thought it was my duty to get to know those things at first hand. There is an awful difference between what you are told and what you see, and, even though one may not be expert as an agriculturist, and may not claim to be an expert engineer in the matter of drainage, it does definitely increase one's right to speak with knowledge and authority upon this subject, and does enable one to discharge the duty one has to the House in a controverted case of this kind, to be able to say one has oneself with one's own eyes seen the things which were complained of.
Mr. Norton: I do not want to interrupt the Parliamentary Secretary, but do I understand that this motion is going to finish at 10 o'clock? The Parliamentary Secretary has now had nearly half the time on his own. Somebody else might like to express an opinion on the matter, and the mover of the motion has the right to reply. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary if he would bear that fact in mind.
Mr. Victory: The House is entitled to get the information at the disposal of the Board of Works.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. MacEntee): Surely the House has the right to hear what the Parliamentary Secretary has to say. Surely the taxpayers and the ratepayers have the right to hear it.
Mr. Norton: If the Minister for Industry and Commerce wants to put a point of order, he ought to be mannerly enough to stand up, instead of continually interrupting in his usual disorderly fashion.
Mr. MacEntee: Take another photograph !
Mr. Norton: One could take worse photographs than of water. I want to put this consideration to the House. There was an understanding that the mover of the motion or some person interested in the motion would have the right to reply, when this three hours' limit was devised. I want to put it to the Parliamentary Secretary that he ought to bear that point in mind, notwithstanding the extremely interesting speech which he has prepared.
Mr. Flinn: I think the Deputy will agree that not one single word that has been said in relation to this matter has been irrelevant, for we have remained silent under everything that has been said, conscious of the fact that the Board of Works had done a good job and could stand over it and justify it when the time came. We are now doing it.
Mr. Norton: Could we get some idea, Sir, as to what your understanding of the procedure is?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The motion must conclude at 10 o'clock, and it is usual to allow some little time, certainly not less than 10 minutes, for the mover to conclude.
Mr. Hughes: And Deputy Norton has not spoken yet.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: At the same time the Chair cannot limit the statement of any particular member.
Mr. Flinn: One great advantage in this House is that occasionally we get into that attitude of common cause which enables us to deal with our difficulties. I think the House is entitled, so long as it is completely by consent, to carry on even after 10 o'clock, and I think that the little difficulty in this particular case might possibly be met. I do think that we must put on record once and for all the facts in this case.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This present motion cannot go beyond 10 o'clock.
Mr. Flinn: Yes, by consent of the House?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Standing Orders would have to be suspended.
Mr. Flinn: I think you will find that, by consent, it could go beyond 10 o'clock.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Standing Orders would have had to be suspended before the motion was put. I think that, once the motion is put, it must follow the Standing Order.
Mr. Flinn: I think we could agree on it.
Mr. Norton: We could agree to deem the Standing Order suspended before the motion was put?
Mr. Davin: Could it be taken as agreed that if necessary the debate could go on till 10.30 p.m.?
Mr. Flinn: I am prepared to do that. An examination of our engineers' report on the typical cases——
Mr. Norton: I do not want to interrupt the Parliamentary Secretary at all but——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: To put the matter in order, if there is an interlude for a minute and if somebody likes to put the question that the Standing Order be suspended I will accept it.
Mr. Flinn: I move: that the Standing Order be suspended, and that the debate continue, if necessary, until 10.30 p.m.
Mr. Flinn: An examination of our engineers' report on the typical cases put forward by the organisation showed that in the vast majority of the cases nothing whatever had been done to the internal drains, and in no case had full advantage been taken of the outfall provided. So long as the occupiers neglect to do their part in opening up the farm drains, so long shall their lands remain saturated, no matter what the arterial drainage engineer does, or how much the State spends on arterial drainage to benefit them. The evidence in our possession shows that only in a negligible percentage of holding has any attempt been made to take advantage of the outfall provided.
Before I forget it, I should like to deal with one matter raised by Deputy Hughes; that was the question that the amount spent upon the Barrow had been increased from £425,000, and his idea that that had some effect upon the amount which those drainage beneficiaries were paying. It does not make the faintest difference to them. Not one single penny more is being paid by the benefited farmers as a result of that increase.  I just mention that in case I might forget it.
Mr. Hughes: Does the Parliamentary Secretary say that the State has paid up the difference?
Mr. Flinn: I am dealing now only with that one particular case. I am dealing with the question that the increase in the cost of the Barrow drainage did not affect by one penny piece the amount of annual assessments which have to be paid by the farmers directly benefited.
Mr. Hughes: I am asking the Parliamentary Secretary a categorical question. Did the State pay the difference of £125,000?
Mr. Flinn: No, it did not.
Mr. Hughes: That is all I want to know.
Mr. Flinn: The Dáil unanimously passed the Acts, having had the actual facts in front of them. The condition here revealed — I am now taking the complaint that there had been no improvement, and at that time there was a refusal to tackle even their own drains — would be generally analogous to a case in which a town complained that, as a result of the inadequacy of a sewerage scheme, an epidemic was rife, and in which an examination of the houses of the complainants showed that their own domestic drains were culpably choked, and that seven years of household waste was accumulating in front of their doors. I have indicated the position in relation to Gilleece's land and Joly's land. For such an occupier to complain that the disease from which he was suffering was due to the inadequacy of the main sewerage scheme, would be manifestly absurd.
Let us consider the suggestion that the benefit has been over-valued. The Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Organisation, in their letters to the Press, speak of their lands being assessed at up to 7/- per acre, as if that were the  normal assessment. There are lots valued as low as 6d. per acre, and lots in the vicinity of towns valued as high as 10/-, but of the whole 43,520 acres assessed, 90 per cent. is valued at less than 4/- per statute acre. The fact is that the average benefit per acre assessed is 2/10 as against an estimated improvement of 4/3 under the 1890 scheme. It might be well to bear in mind that the comparable average assessment of improved value per acre per annum on the 51 separate schemes carried out under the Arterial Drainage Act, 1925, is approximately 4/- per acre, while in the case of the Barrow scheme it is only 2/10. Obviously there is no case of exorbitant assessments.
From the point of view of husbandry, the assessed lands cannot in the main be expected to enjoy full benefit unless advantage is taken of the improved outfall by attention to farm drains. Before confirmation, the assessments were reviewed by a highly competent investigator whom the Minister for Agriculture appointed. This was the method appointed by law for the ascertainment of the improved annual value. The meticulous care with which the assessments were made on these lands is evident from the valuers' and investigator's reports, showing the separate lots divided into numerous sections at varying valuations, with notes upon the type of lands in each case. Moreover, the State, having already agreed to pay 50 per cent. of the cost, had no interest in high assessments, and the assessments were made after full and careful consideration of the reports of these assessors, who were experienced and qualified men with no urge to place an undue share of the cost on the benefited occupiers.
The assessment was made at the lowest possible point in relation to agriculture in this country. It was in the middle of the economic war. We were right at the bottom of the slump of agricultural prices. The prospects were bad and yet the improvement was valued on that basis. I am perfectly satisfied that if it were valued now, or if it had been valued at any other  time by the same men, by competent men, the assessment would have been higher.
Let us now turn from the evidence put forward by the organisation, in which the statements of alleged fact, as distinct from mere expressions of opinion, were capable of being checked and have been proved to be unreliable. Every statement that I checked has proved to be unreliable; it is all unsupported and prejudiced opinion. I want you to turn to the evidence that we produce, scientifically recorded evidence in relation to these works contained in the two charts which have been on display outside the Library of this House. One of these hydrographs indicates the daily height of the water level on the Figile river at Clonbologue bridge for the 14 years from September, 1926, to January, 1941. About half the total period shown on the chart — from 1926 to 1933 — relates to pre-drainage conditions, the other half to post-drainage conditions.
The critical height of five feet indicated for each year on the chart is the height of water level at Clonbologue bridge at which, in general, flooding will occur on the improved marginal lands in that area, and the period and depth of inundation are indicated by red colouring. Blue colouring indicates the period during which the river level was below the critical flood height. At lower gauge heights down to about four feet some lesser flooding will occur on isolated and particularly low-lying lands, but the area affected below the five feet level is relatively small. It will be seen from the red colouring on the chart that in pre-drainage times the river level stood at or above the critical flood height of five feet for long periods each year, and only dropped below this height for short spells in the summer months. Generally, the amount of drop below the five feet level pre-drainage was not such as to enable the lands affected to be dried out properly.
The change in flood conditions resulting from the Barrow works will  be clearly seen by an examination of the river hydrograph for the year 1933. The improvement works on the Barrow reached Clonbologue bridge on the 25th July of that year, when there was an immediate and considerable drop in the water level of the river. In fact, the bed of the river at Clonbologue was lowered by about five feet. This point is the dividing line between the pre-drainage and post-drainage periods and the lower water levels continued throughout the rest of the post-drainage period.
The number of occasions in the post-drainage period when the water level has arisen above the five feet critical level are extremely few, and, in general, the drainage improvements which have been effected by the scheme can be readily interpreted by the amount of red colouring on the diagrams before and after the works were completed. It will be noticed, too, that any floods exceeding the critical level in the post-drainage period were of very short duration. They show as occasional spear-heads in the post-drainage period as compared with practically continuous flat and rounded areas in the pre-drainage period. It will be noted, too, that any post-drainage flooding which has occurred is confined almost entirely to the winter months, when it can have little serious effect.
On two occasions only in the seven years of post-drainage has the water level risen above four feet in the summer months. These occurred during the wet summer of 1938, but the floods on each occasion were of very short duration. No maintenance work was done in the district from the end of 1937 until 1940. No doubt the routine maintenance works will improve matters again. In the worst conditions of post-drainage flooding only low-lying lands adjoining the main channels are affected. The second chart exhibited is for the water gauge at Dunrally Bridge on the main Barrow river. This chart for Dunrally is probably more indicative of conditions generally over the whole of the  Barrow scheme. The critical flood height for the Dunrally hydrograph is eight feet, six inches.
I invite all Deputies, and all others concerned to know the truth in this matter, to study those charts — evidence based on ascertainable and unquestionable facts — and see for themselves the really tremendous improvement that has been effected in the flooding conditions.
An advertisement appeared in the newspapers on the 31st January, 1940, inviting the Deputies of Counties Kildare, Leix and Offaly, engineers and all others concerned, to come immediately to inspect thousands of acres in the whole drainage district which were under water. We have similarly received an invitation to hold our engineers in readiness to come immediately when it was intimated by telephone that the water had reached a certain level. Our experience of inspecting the so-called flooded areas at the earliest moment that we could after we received notice was that before we could get there the water had gone and the whole evidence of these frantic appeals for immediate presence to inspect is evidence of the brevity, infrequency and, therefore, lack of significance, of any flooding which, under present conditions, takes place.
Taking all this evidence into account, it seems to be clear that the State has efficiently and economically done what it set out to do. It has, under a sound plan, with eminently competent engineers and proper supervision, carried out an arterial drainage scheme which has so lowered the level and made available an effective outfall that the 43,500 acres of land which were assessed in the award must have received, even under the present conditions, a very real benefit, and would receive the full assessed benefit if the ordinary farm drains on these lands were opened up and connected to the outfall provided. As I have said, the value of the benefit was assessed on the reasonable assumption that the occupiers would do this work.
The second portion of the motion,  which no one has touched upon, suggested that no benefit whatever has been conferred by this scheme on many ratepayers who are required to pay the county-at-large charges. I have a good deal of sympathy with the ratepayers in this matter, but I also have a good deal of sympathy with the taxpayers, and the question of transferring any particular burden from a ratepayer to a taxpayer does not seem to me to involve any great principle. Ratepayers have to contribute to all such schemes. The motion, in effect, demands that the ratepayers' share of the cost of this scheme should be transferred to the taxpayer of the country. What benefit is given to taxpayers in Kerry or Donegal by this scheme? Yet, they contribute their share of 59½ per cent. of the capital cost. It must be clearly appreciated that the payment of contributions towards drainage schemes by way of county rates is general throughout the country and rests on Parliamentary authority.
In 16 counties the ratepayers are making, by way of ordinary rates, contributions towards drainage schemes from which they get no direct benefit. In many counties, they are contributing in rates towards more than one scheme and of course they also pay a share of the State's contribution by way of taxes, etc. In fact, in many cases the county councils have even increased their contributions subsequently when it was found that the schemes were more expensive than was anticipated. I have been always struck by the willingness and the generosity of county councils to contribute towards schemes. County councils generally have shown a remarkable willingness voluntarily to contribute towards the cost of the drainage schemes. In every one of these 1925 Act schemes it was required that they should be sponsored by the county councils and that the county councils should voluntarily contribute to their capital cost.
Amongst the indirect benefits accruing from drainage are improvements in highways, towns, sewerage, public health, wages distribution and increase in the productive capacity of the rateable area served. I have the testimony  of Deputies Davin, Gorry and Hughes to support that statement. In the case of the Barrow, out of £550,000 spent, some £333,000 went on wages. The development of the Clonsast bog was made possible, on which up to £70,000 has already been spent on wages, giving steady employment to 200 men, as well as seasonal employment to about 400 men. Further developments in Clonsast are contemplated with consequent local financial advantage. The sanitary conditions and amenities of all the towns and villages in the district, particularly Mountmellick and Portarlington have been improved with consequent public health advantages. There was one road in the area that used to be known as the “navigation”, and there are a couple of other roads there along which piers were erected to enable pedestrians to travel along the roads when they were under water. Many important public roads in the area, formerly rendered frequently impassible by floods—for instance the main roads between Athy-Monasterevan and between Portarlington-Mountmellick — are now completely free from flooding.
It would seem, therefore, that in principle the contributions from the county funds in the case of the Barrow are in line with the position in other counties, that the benefits received by the ratepayers are relatively substantial and that productive assets have been created. This condition has been brought into being in accordance with the law and that law was not voted against in any of its stages by the representatives in the Dáil of the ratepayers concerned. No case can be made in principle on behalf of those county-at-large ratepayers in Laoighis, Offaly and Kildare, which does not extend to all ratepayers in the other counties in which drainage contributions are being made. Unless, therefore, conditions come about in which it is decided generally, in relation to drainage that the whole capital cost, future and retrospective, of arterial drainage in Ireland, should be borne by taxation raised by this House, without any contribution either from the benefited  occupiers of the land or from the local ratepayers, and that, in addition, a large proportion of the maintenance cost of such free gift drainage schemes should be borne by the taxpayers of the country, there is no present case for changing the financial basis of the Barrow drainage scheme.
Deputy Hughes raised one other point in relation to the intrinsic quality of the land. If some of the land had been under water, as it apparently had been for some considerable time, there is no question but that at the moment that land could be considerably improved. Had advantage been taken of the outfall which has been provided there, for instance in the last seven years, does anybody suggest that the quality of that land could not have been considerably improved during that period? Everybody's opinion in relation to the quality of land is his own and I do not expect anyone to accept my views on this question ex cathedra. We had an extraordinary experience in Rynanna. It was an area which had been submerged, an old drainage area which had been allowed to get out of condition. It was necessary for the purposes of the aerodrome there to produce a grassy sod. In the early stages, like our engineers, we recognised that there were limitations to our knowledge and we went to experts and asked them what mixture of seed was necessary, and under what conditions we should sow that seed, in order to get upon the surface of Rynanna a good sod. After the experts had not merely looked at it, but had analysed the soil, they told us that no grass could be grown there and that we could not get a grassy sod. I need hardly tell you that that was somewhat of a shock to us — engineers, experts in soil culture and all the rest. While we were worrying about this, some photographs of the area which had been taken from an aeroplane, some years before, turned up. On the photographs there was a series of very curious dots with no regular formation. We inquired what these dots were and  ascertained that they were haystacks. I understand that the crop of grass which we are getting at Rynanna this year, from land which the experts in their ripe judgment told us could grow no grass, would make a prosperous farmer very happy.
I have gone into this question as carefully as I could and I am satisfied that a good job, a straightforward, sound engineering job was done. I am satisfied that the basic water level over the whole area has been so lowered that the land can be improved. I am satisfied that an adequate outfall channel has been provided, that an improvement of a very considerable character has taken place up to the present, and that a larger improvement will take place if ordinary good husbandry is used in opening up these drains. I am satisfied that the £550,000 that has been spent by the State in this matter has not been wasted; that good value has been given; and that good value can be got. I am satisfied that those who to-day are withholding from the ratepayers of Laoighis, Offaly and Kildare a capital sum of £18,159 and who apparently are contemplating withholding from them in the near future some £6,000 a year are not doing their duty either by the State, by themselves, or by their job. The case for the motion has failed for that reason directly, as far as the Barrow is concerned, and for the reason that the principle which. I am asked to adopt in relation to it, applied to ordinary general drainage, would be bad; and I am not prepared to recommend that special ad hoc legislation should be made in this matter.
Mr. Norton: We have had from the Parliamentary Secretary a well-documented and picturesquely written speech. It was rather unfortunate for him that he chose as his curtain to that speech an example which indicated — even on the testimony of the Parliamentary Secretary — that experts were not always right. Having devoted the best part of his speech to dealing with what competent engineers  of the Board of Works — to use his own phrase—discovered in connection with the Barrow Drainage Scheme, he insisted in winding up his speech of one and three-quarter hours' duration by telling us that experts told him that he could not grow grass at Rineanna and afterwards he discovered photographs which told him that it could be grown there.
Mr. Flinn: In other words the land was better than they thought.
Mr. Norton: The land was better. The Parliamentary Secretary told us we must rely on the experts and then chose an unfortunate simile by telling us that in respect of Rineanna the experts could not be relied upon. You could not grow grass there but the photographer produced hay-stacks. Let us try to get some kind of a picture of this whole Barrow Drainage Scheme from another point of view, not that of the folk who sit in the Board of Works offices and occasionally have a visit with the Parliamentary Secretary in state to Clonbologue or the adjoining districts. Let us consider this from the point of view of the Deputies in the area who are in constant touch with their constituents there and who see the flooded condition of the land and let us in that kind of background judge the value of the scheme. I do not want for a moment to go on record as saying that I believe the Barrow Drainage Scheme was a useless drainage scheme. I do not. I believe it was a valuable one, but its main value lay in the fact that, at a time when unemployment was high, it put very large numbers of people into employment and, as the Parliamentary Secretary said, brought them wages to the extent of £330,000 out of an expenditure of £550,000. I never have had any delusions about the scheme as a drainage scheme. In the main, it was an employment scheme and its greatest value was that it provided a large number of persons with employment, with a source of income, with a means of livelihood which they would not have had otherwise. Those who represent the area know perfectly well the very serious effect on the economic position there and that the  persons employed on the Barrow Drainage Scheme lost their employment when it terminated.
To judge the scheme as a drainage scheme there is only one test possible and that test is the value of the work. What was the value of that drainage work, judged by the productivity of the land? If the Parliamentary Secretary would travel the course of the Barrow and not make the fetish about visiting Mr. Joly's land so frequently——
Mr. Flinn: I have been all along its course.
Mr. Norton: ——and if he would get Mr. Joly out of his mind, he would take a more impartial view. If he could get Mr. Gilleece's position out of his mind — I understand the farm he mentioned was Mr. Gilleece's — he would realise the situation more clearly. Mr. Gilleece's advertising advisers are entitled to advise Mr. Gilleece in any way they like as to the Olympian character of his lands. The Parliamentary Secretary described the land in such a manner as to make one think it must be a Garden of Eden, but he did not tell the House that the gentleman who described his lands in such a picturesque fashion did not sell the holding that was being advertised. The Parliamentary Secretary was prepared to play Slippery Sam. He told only one side of the story and did not say that the man who described the land so favourably was unable to sell it.
Mr. Hughes: He would not get a buyer even in a lunatic asylum.
Mr. Flinn: Not for a farm of 1,014 acres.
Mr. Hughes: Not for 1,014 acres of that type.
Mr. Norton: The Parliamentary Secretary tries to put one over on the House. He may describe the land as  being of any quality he likes, but the test is whether anybody believed it. The test in this case is whether anybody would buy the land or not. He tries to slip it across the House by trying to get us to believe that that land had been put in that position by the Barrow Drainage Scheme and that it would fetch an instantaneous buyer when the facts are that the land produced no buyer. The Parliamentary Secretary imagines—judging by his enthusiasm in the final part of his speech — that, as a result of the scheme, he has produced a new kind of Ukraine along the Barrow valley and that you can spill wheat out of your pocket and automatically get good crops. The facts are, as anybody who knows the Barrow valley can tell — and I know a substantial portion of it — that the land is incapable of being used as arable land, in the main, and from the point of view of feeding stock the utilisation of the land is a menace to cattle rather than an advantage, in a great many cases. I do not deny — I said at the outset — that there have been advantages in certain places. That depends on the height of the surrounding land in relation to the river, but where there is not a great disparity of height between the surrounding land and the river the land, in fact, is benefiting to a very negligible extent and, in many cases, is not benefiting at all.
I think that the Barrow drainage charge is an outrageously high charge, because, as the Parliamentary Secretary well knows, the Barrow drainage charge is higher than the poor rate charge, and it does not seem to me, from what I know of the low-lying portion of the Barrow valley, that it is a fair impost to require farmers in that area to pay a Barrow drainage charge which, in fact, is higher than the poor rate charge in that area. The Parliamentary Secretary was terribly worried about the fact that the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Organisation have not paid, approximately, £6,000 a year for the past three years for drainage rates, and he says that because of that the ratepayers of Kildare, Laoighis, and  Offaly are compelled or will be compelled to make good that charge. He was rather strangely silent, however, about the fact that under the Barrow Drainage Act the ratepayers of Kildare, Laoighis, and Offaly were compelled to shoulder an annual burden of £18,000, independent of the maintenance charges, and that that charge was imposed by his own Department under the provisions of the Act. While concerned, therefore, that the action of the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Organisation will require the ratepayers of the three counties to shoulder a burden of £18,000 for three years, he has not the slightest compunction in compelling them to pay the other burden of £18,000 a year. Many of those who are compelled to pay that £18,000 have never seen the Barrow, do not know its source or where it goes to, and yet they are obliged, under the provisions of the Act, to pay £18,000 per year which, again, is an excessively high charge, because it works out at 1/- in the £1 on the poor rate for the three counties. Therefore, when the Parliamentary Secretary gets tender about the ratepayers of Kildare, Laoighis, and Offaly having to pay £6,000 a year as a result of — as I think he means—the misdemeanours of the Barrow Drainage Ratepayers' Organisation, he ought to tell the same ratepayers that he himself is putting a charge of £18,000 per year on the ratepayers of Kildare and two other counties. If the people concerned are wrong in not paying £6,000 per year, the Parliamentary Secretary can work out, as a mathematical proposition, how much more wrong he is in imposing a charge of £18,000 a year on the same ratepayers about whom he worries, or appears to worry, so much.
I think it has to be recognised, in connection with the Barrow Drainage Scheme, that in the main the Barrow valley was very low-lying land and probably presented more difficulties than any other drainage scheme in the world because of the character of the valley, the contour of the countryside, and the special drainage problems presented by it. It seems to me that, in any approach to an assessment of the  value of the benefits derivable by the local farmers whose lands are alleged to have been benefited, sufficient allowance was not made for the fact that in the drainage of the Barrow they might not expect the same benefit, having regard to the contour of the country and its physical characteristics, as they might expect to derive from a scheme carried out in an area where the circumstances were not as difficult as they were in the Barrow valley.
Whatever the Parliamentary Secretary may say about the ability of the water to get away before he can get to Clonbologue from Dublin, the fact remains that walking on the land will convince anybody that the land is sodden, that in many cases it will not produce a single cereal crop, and that, from the point of view of its ability to graze cattle or produce grass, it is quite worthless. If the Parliamentary Secretary believes that it is good land, let him advise the Minister for Agriculture to plant wheat on it, or let the Parliamentary Secretary himself take it for winterage for cattle, and I am telling you that he will have frequent visits from the local veterinary surgeon if he does.
These lands, in a great many instances, still remain flooded, and in so far as they remain flooded the benefit to the owner of the land is of very doubtful proportions indeed. It is really immaterial whether the lands are flooded to a depth of one foot or two feet; if they are flooded at all, from the point of view of ability to use the land, they are worthless, because any water-logged land is useless. Whether there are ten feet of water on the land or only a few inches, it is still useless, and probably just as useless in the one case as in the other. That is the position in connection with the Barrow valley. It may be true, and I think it is true, that the water does not remain on the land as long as it formerly did and that, probably, the flooding is not nearly as deep as it formerly was, but the basic fact is that the lands still suffer from flooding,  and, because of the condition of the lands, it is not possible to use them either for the purpose of tillage or, to any great extent, for the purpose of pasture. One thing that is clear is that the land has not been made, to any great extent, arable by the drainage scheme. It may have diminished the floods, it may have reduced the extent of the floods and the depth of the flooding, but in a great many instances the land is still unusable and just as unusable as it was before the Barrow was drained.
The Parliamentary Secretary talked about Clonsast bog, and told us of the great benefits that have been made possible in the development of Clonsast bog as a result of the Barrow drainage scheme, but the owners of the Clonsast bog are not being asked to pay a ha'penny drainage rate. Instead, the ratepayers of the three counties of Kildare, Laoighis and Offaly, are going to pay 50 per cent. of the cost of draining the Barrow which conferred such a benefit on Clonsast bog, and the farmers in the area are to be asked to pay £6,000 a year for the maintenance charges on the River Barrow, which made it possible, according to the Parliamentary Secretary, to develop Clonsast bog. I think the owners of Clonsast bog ought to be asked to pay, since, according to the Parliamentary Secretary, the Clonsast bog scheme was made possible by the drainage of the Barrow, particularly as the owners of the bog are not paying anything, while ratepayers in three counties, some of whom may never have seen the Barrow, have to pay 1/- in the £ in the poor rate, and the others have to pay £6,000 a year for the main tenance of the drainage scheme.
As I said at the outset, I do not want to say that the Barrow Drainage Scheme did not produce some benefits. Undoubtedly, it did, but they are not as extensive as the Board of Works people say, or not as beneficial to the owners of the adjoining lands as the Parliamentary Secretary believes. I would urge him to set up some tribunal to review cases of hardship, and permit that tribunal to hear the evidence  of persons who contend that their lands are not benefited. We have now an opportunity of ascertaining, more accurately than at the time when the arbitrator's report was produced, what the benefit is to these lands, in the light of experience over a few years. If the Parliamentary Secretary is convinced that no cases of hardship exist, the tribunal will easily dispose of frivolous pleas of that kind, but if, on the other hand, an impartially constituted tribunal of competent persons are satisfied that there is a case for relief, I think that relief should be given. I am interested in this matter from the standpoint of endeavouring to persuade the Parliamentary Secretary to set up a special tribunal to deal with cases of hardship of that kind, and to allow the matter to be investigated by a competent arbitrator in the light of the experience of the past few years. If the Parliamentary Secretary did that, he might get over the difficulties that have arisen about the payment of maintenance rates, and the question could probably be amicably settled, rather than force through, with the aid of the agencies that the State can command, the provisions of the Barrow Drainage Act. That would only produce resentment and would not enable us to garner the full benefits of the drainage of the Barrow.
Mr. Hughes: I must say that I was greatly disappointed at the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary. I consider that he treated Deputies rather badly. He came into the House with a typewritten reply and he based his reply on statements made outside this House, instead of replying to the case made here. He spent much of the three hours devoted to this motion in proving that the scheme generally was a success. No Deputy disputed that fact that the scheme was a success. The Parliamentary Secretary was wasting the time of the House in trying to prove the scheme was a success, when it is generally admitted to be a success. It was pointed out, however, that there are exceptions,  and that certain special cases of hardship require examination. In face of what he described as hydraulic facts, the Parliamentary Secretary was very careful to keep away from the real problem to which I directed his attention, and that is the nature of the soil and the type of herbage and fertility in the area. Speaking as an agriculturist I believe that fertility is absent over large tracts of the land there. The Parliamentary Secretary stated that he went and walked over the land with engineers from the Board of Works. What does the Parliamentary Secretary know about herbage or the fertility of the soil? I am inclined to question his knowledge there and, in fact, the knowledge of any engineer in the Board of Works.
I do not know that engineers presume to be experts on soil. I do not presume to be an expert but I have practical experience that is useful when coming to a decision on a matter of that kind. I am satisfied that it was not the intention of the scheme to create land for tillage purposes but for grazing or meadowland. In certain areas of the Barrow valley there are large tracts of land, as Deputy Gorry has admitted, containing a number of holdings made up of rough coarse washed-out bogland. The herbage there has no grazing value. The charges imposed by this scheme are not economic. That is the problem. The Parliamentary Secretary merely made a passing reference to that, but he devoted most of the time to deal with what is generally admitted, that the scheme generally was a success. He referred to the amending Acts that were passed. I quoted from the Official Debates a statement made by the Minister for Finance at the time promising that if the cost of the scheme exceeded £425,000 the difference would be borne by the State. The Parliamentary Secretary said that by the amending Act of 1933 the State had not to contribute the other £125,000. I want to point out that there are two parties to a contract. One party cannot break a contract without the consent of the other, even if one of the parties is the Government.
 People who consented to pay a certain portion of the cost were not consulted before the amending Act of 1933 was passed. Morally there was no just case for the amending Act without consulting the people who had been a party to the parent Act. The Parliamentary Secretary said that the scheme could only be economic if it met capital charges and maintenance. He also said the financial assistance given in the case of the Barrow was more than could be given for every drainage scheme. I have no doubt about that. There is no parallel case in this country. Can he point to any other case where there is a vast tract of flat, very poor quality land containing thousands of acres to be drained?
Mr. Flinn: There are half-a-dozen other cases.
Mr. Hughes: Is not the Barrow scheme out on its own in that respect? There is no parallel case. It was acknowledged, long before this Parliament  was established, that the Barrow problem was out on its own. The Parliamentary Secretary attempted to compare the Barrow with other schemes because it was claimed that it improved an amount of land. He could not make that case. I read out names of people on whose holdings the Barrow charges are far in excess of the poor rates. They live in the centre of the area, but the Parliamentary Secretary quoted cases on the edge of the scheme where less than 10 per cent. of the land assessed actually benefited. That is not a fair comparison. Take the case of Patrick Weldon, who has eight acres. Allowing 20 years' purchase in that case, the amount would be £100, and, if that £100 be divided by eight, it means that the valuation would be £12 10s. per acre instead of £8 5s. Would the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the Land Commission would pay £12 10s. an acre for that land? I do not think he has attempted to deal fairly with the case that was made, or in the right spirit.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 11; Níl, 46.
De Valera, Eamon.
Flinn, Hugo V.
Fogarty, Patrick J. O'Reilly, Matthew.
Rice, Brigid M.
Ruttledge, Patrick J.
|Gorry, Patrick J.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Lemass, Seán F.
Lynch, James B.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
O'Loghlen, Peter J. Sheridan, Michael.
Walsh, Laurence J.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Corish and Hughes; Níl: Deputies Smith and Brady.
Question declared lost.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.40 p.m. until 3 p.m., Wednesday, 19th February, 1941.
Mr. Hurley: asked the Minister for Education if he will state the number of students in the final year of their training course in the various training colleges of Éire, which receive State grants, for the year ending June, 1941, under the following heads, viz: (1) Lay students, (a) male, (b) female; (2) religious students (a) male (b) female; further, if he will state the numbers under the above categories for each of the years ended 30th June, 1940; 30th June, 1939; 30th June, 1938; 30th June, 1937; 30th June, 1936.
Minister for Education (Mr. Derrig): The number of students in the final year of their training course in the various training colleges of Éire, which receive State grants, is as follows:—
|Lay Students||Members of Religious Communities|
|Year ended 30th June, 1936||117||167||30||24|
|,, ,, ,, ,, 1937||97||165||22||25|
|,, ,, ,, ,, 1938||104||168||27||22|
|,, ,, ,, ,, 1939||52||136||37||78|
|,, ,, ,, ,, 1940||70||86||28||60|
|,, ,, ,, ,, 1941||60||92||39||71|