Tuesday, 22 July 1941
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £1,018,215 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1942, chun Scéimeanna Speisialta Práinne (maraon le Fóirithin ar Ghátar) agus Ildeontaisí-i-gCabhair.
That a sum not exceeding £1,018,215 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1942, for Special Emergency Schemes (including Relief of Distress) and Sundry Grants-in-Aid.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): In addition to the ordinary work, under Vote 67, in connection with unemployment, relief of distress, and such additional work as the emergency may throw up for that particular purpose, the Government recently transferred to me responsibility for the production, distribution, and price of turf, and for all matters ancillary thereto, in the coordination of the activities of the different Government Departments which might be concerned in it, and that transfer included the control of  the Turf Development Board, Ltd., for the duration of the emergency. In pursuance of the latter decision, the necessary orders have been made for the transference from the Minister for Industry and Commerce to the Parliamentary Secretary of the necessary powers of that Minister in relation to turf, and the Dáil have already approved of a revised Estimate for the Department of Industry and Commerce which makes provision for the expenditure of the Turf Development Board in respect of the period from the 1st April, 1941, to the 12th June, 1941. It is now necessary to make provision for the expenditure on turf production and distribution for the remainder of the financial year, together with provision for miscellaneous schemes, to provide employment or to meet distress arising from the emergency; and, in addition, to include various schemes which can only doubtfully be provided for out of the Employment Schemes Vote, because either they are not related to the relief of unemployment in the ordinary sense, or the relationship is of a remote and indirect character.
Broadly speaking, the title of this Vote describes its purpose, it is an emergency Vote. The first, or A Group, of sub-heads, refers to the expenses arising out of the operations of the Turf Development Board as from 13th June, 1941, the date up to which provision has already been made in the general Vote of the Department of Industry and Commerce. Sub-heads A (1) to A (5) in the Estimate correspond to sub-heads L (1) to L (5) of that Vote; and sub-heads A (6) to A (8) are explained in Part III of the Estimate. The Dáil is already familiar with the history of the Turf Development Board, its policy and the nature of its operations; and it is only necessary for me now to say that the general policy will be continued as heretofore except to whatever extent changes may become necessary or desirable to meet the exigencies of the emergency fuel situation which at present confronts the country.
It might be well, however, if I refer more particularly to sub-head A (7), £35,800, and say that the Turf Development Board are now undertaking the  drainage and preliminary development of 14 large turbary areas with a view to their subsequent utilisation for the production of machine-won turf on a large scale. The drainage and preparation of these bogs are estimated to cost £228,900, and the work will cover a period of three years or more. Owing to the amount of employment for unskilled labour provided in development work of this kind, it was at first intended that two-thirds of the cost should be borne by the Employment Schemes Vote, and provision for a first instalment was allocated out of the Estimate approved by the Dáil. The House will remember that I mentioned this matter during the discussion on Vote 67 in May last. It is now considered more fitting that the whole of the cost of the development works should be brought within the scope of the present Vote, and the sum previously allocated from the Employment Schemes Vote for the same purpose will now be made available for employment schemes of the more conventional type.
The next sub-head is sub-head B— £250,000. This provision is for the making of drains and roads and other necessary work to open up bogs for the production of hand-won turf during the emergency. The work will be carried out through the Office of Public Works and the county surveyors; and grants will be made for individual drainage and road works on the certificate of responsible officials. It was pointed out, at an early stage, that, in order to encourage development, even in the case of private persons and groups of persons, or in connection with bogs developed by the county councils and local authorities, where it was shown that development works of this kind were necessary and would, in fact, be directly effective in producing an amount of turf which would be commensurate with the cost, the charges would be largely borne by the Government. About £100,000 has been sanctioned this year already for schemes of this character; that is to say, bog roads and drainage and development, which are intended to produce saleable turf in 1941 and 1942.
Sub-head C deals with Miscellaneous  Fuel Production Schemes. Portion of this provision is intended to encourage voluntary bodies in the production of emergency turf. Repayable advances have already been made in a couple of cases. Other portions are assigned to guarantee certain local authorities against loss incurred in turf schemes which they are undertaking and in which inexpert urban labour is being employed on an experimental basis. I cannot, at this stage, inform the Dáil exactly what loss, if any, may be incurred by the Government in either of these two types of schemes, but the experiments are necessary in connection with plans for a much increased production of turf in the coming year. A certain contingency might arise in relation to loss in connection with the provision of firewood, and that also is covered in this. The House will recognise that this is a contingency Vote, and that all sorts of things, which we do not know now, may come up to be dealt with. This is an attempt by the Department of Finance to give a certain fluidity and flexibility to finance in relation to this emergency, so that, when things come up which cannot be dealt with in the ordinary way, and which may be a little bit unconventional or off the lines of common procedure, they can be dealt with on this line. That is largely, the spirit and purpose of this Vote.
The next item is sub-head D. This provision is necessary to pay the remainder of the grants in respect of last season's Farm Improvements Scheme and to enable the scheme to be continued for another season. As Deputies are aware, the works carried out under the Farm Improvements Scheme cannot be closely related to the relief of unemployment in proportion to the needs of the areas in which the expenditure takes place. When this scheme was first produced and financed out of the Employment Schemes Vote, I warned the House that that difficulty would arise and that, in all human probability, these schemes would be most common in the areas in which there was least unemployment and that, very often, it would be quite impossible to show a relation between their unemployment  relief factor and the amount of money which was spent on them. These schemes are, in themselves, essentially desirable. They are a very proper way in which the State may spend money in the encouragement of agriculture and in getting over a certain difficulty, and experience has shown that they cannot be brought into reasonable conformity with a normal distribution of money which is intended to go to people who are in necessity, in any proportion to their necessity. For that reason, it was considered that money should come right out of the Employment Schemes Vote and come into this Vote. Another of the purpose which was behind the creation of this Emergency Vote was the fact that we were continually running up against an experience of that kind in which works, which, in themselves, were desirable, and for which the only possible provision then for financing them was out of Vote 67, were almost border-line cases and, in many cases, wholly unjustifiable within that Vote.
As to sub-heads E and F, with regard to seed and lime distribution—£55,000 and £40,000 respectively—provision for similar schemes has previously been made out of the Employment Schemes Vote but, as they cannot easily be related to the relief of unemployment, they are, like the Farm Improvements Scheme, being included in this Estimate. Broadly speaking, those moneys go to necessitous people, but you could not get the same degree of proportionality, nor the same degree of control over them that was necessary for a specifically Employment Schemes Vote. For that reason again, I think wisely, they have been transferred from that Vote to this one. They have always in practice been administered by the Department of Agriculture. They used to make an estimate of what they required. We did not administer them, but we did satisfy ourselves that, broadly speaking, they went into areas and were used by people who should be helped in that particular way within the purpose of the State.
As to sub-head G—Miscellaneous— the provision of £150,000 is intended to meet charges arising out of emergency  measures and unforeseeable contingencies of whatever kind in all those cases in which such charges cannot appropriately be included in any of the normal Votes of the Department, as, for example, a sudden increase in the number of the unemployed requiring the provision of additional and special employment schemes. I allude to that particular item in relation to it in order to explain that the sum of £150,000 does not limit the capacity of this Vote. It will have to be extended as and when circumstances of emergency arise, to deal with whatever kind of emergency may arise. As the House knows, a good deal of the work which we are now doing in my particular Department does cross the ordinary conventional lines of other Departments and, in so far as it has to be done hastily and rather energetically, it may have to violate in many ways the customary conventions under which State finance is guarded.
Everyone who has had any experience of dealing with State finance knows the extraordinary number of securities, guards, and protections which are put on the expenditure, and the extraordinary and inevitable delay which occurs in the fulfilling of those particular precautions. Many a good cause undoubtedly has been broken by delays of that character which are inevitable within the system, and unless some degree of flexibility and fluidity could be introduced into State finance in dealing with emergency measures, then it was impossible and would be impossible that emergency measures would be carried out with the celerity and energy which would enable particular emergencies to be met as they arise. I am giving notice to the Dáil that that is the spirit in which this Vote will have to be taken. In relation to any Department whose border lines I, unfortunately, have to cross in regard to any of the unconventional things which I ask them to do under this Vote, I will be responsible. If there is anything wrong, a mistake, or trouble of that kind, the trouble comes to me. The purpose and spirit of this Vote is that it shall be an emergency  Vote, that it shall fill gaps which cannot conventionally be filled in the ordinary way and that someone shall be here to take responsibility for any consequences of those unconventional actions.
This Vote is accounted for, like the Employment Schemes Vote, by the Office of the Minister for Finance. One of the chief objects of that is because this Vote, and Vote 67, which is so administered, will be so closely interrelated that it will be necessary in work of this kind that the closest possible co-operation should be maintained between the Department of Finance, which provides the money, and the officer who administers it; that there should be the closest possible co-operation, conference, and understanding in the spending of that money. Most of the items in this Vote are familiar to this House. We have the Farm Improvements Scheme, road works, and the rest. What has happened is that we agreed to have a new Vote, one into which we can put things which previously were on the border line of justification within the Employment Schemes Vote and into which we can put claims and necessities which are of an emergency and, at the moment, incalculable character, and out of which we can get that fluid and flexible finance which will enable those to be done properly.
General Mulcahy: On the turf side of this proposal, there are a few things I should like to say. The first is that I do not know why the particular bog represented by sub-heads A to A (5) should begin to move at this particular time. I think it is particularly disastrous that it should begin to move in the direction of the Parliamentary Secretary and his work, because he has sufficient work on hand. All this work has been dealt with up to the present by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Upwards of £500,000 have been spent in one way or another on that work over a number of years. The Taoiseach, speaking early this year, recorded the great achievement that the annual output as the result of that was something like 78,000 tons, in a country where ordinary people without any  of that expenditure are turning out about 3,000,000 tons.
I suggest that one aspect of the new turf development plan shows a breakdown of the official machinery. I am terribly sorry that the official machinery has got so loose that this particular bog is slipping over the lap of the Parliamentary Secretary. It makes me ask whether, with all the energy and drive he has shown in the rest of the work under his control and direction, work on turf under sub-head A (1) to A (5), is going to go on in the same old way that it was carried on in the past. I hope in the carrying on of the work he will be able to give some shape to the Turf Development Board that will get some useful service for present-day purposes out of it. It is a great mistake that it should be hampered either with history or present-day details. A scheme that after a year's work has only given 78,000 tons should be asked to get out of the way when the Parliamentary Secretary has to deal with 1,500,000 tons a year with other subsidiary bodies working there.
When we see what work is being done on turf I can understand how great are our fears that all the work will not keep Dublin supplied with fuel during the winter, if the coal situation is going to be as anticipated. Our fears are based on fairly firm foundations when we see people unable to get coal, and unable to get turf, as the emergency supply brought to the city is not going to be released at the present time. As all that increases our fears with regard to the winter we can understand why there is so much attention paid to turf. Making allowances for what is provided in the Industry and Commerce Vote, we have here a sum of £940,000 not budgeted for up to the present, and we are asked to recollect that it will be spent on special emergency schemes. It is rather remarkable that so much of this money is going into turf. On looking at the Estimate I ask why we do not see a more constructive spirit in the approach to emergency schemes. I do not know whether that is any part of the Parliamentary  Secretary's responsibility, but under sub-head G if the situation is going to develop, and if we are going to be cut off from possible supplies, then with our industries affected, as they are likely to be, even more than our agriculture, we will be reduced to something analogous to subsistence fare, and a growing number of our people can only be promised subsistence. While they are being promised subsistence, and while arrangements are being made so that they are to subsist, if we are able to throw so much energy into turf, and able to put so much money into it, I cannot understand why some of that energy, some of that organisation, and some of that money is not thrown more directly into the productive side and the needs of agriculture.
We have had a considerable amount of agricultural work done under the compulsory tillage scheme through the ordinary machinery. Just as the county surveyors have been taken away to do constructive work in the provision of fuel, we have on the local bodies an even bigger machinery, expert agriculturists, both men and women, fully trained, who are in close touch with conditions in the country, and with the higher and technical aspects of agriculture and agricultural education. If as much money as is being spent on turf were spent on increasing agricultural production on some of the larger farms held by the Land Commission, and some other farms that could be made available, if younger people, and even older people, were brought in a collective way to these farms for production and instructional purposes, and if we could have evidence of mass production, especially by younger people on selected farms under the direction of agricultural experts, we would be doing something not only in the way of increasing production to meet the present emergency, but to increase our agricultural standard, our technical outlook and vision for the future that would be absolutely necessary if we are to meet the post-war situation with better ordering and better production on the agricultural side.
I intervened to ask why the turf  position is going to be allowed to get so much out of perspective or, if it is so vitally necessary to provide for our fuel needs, why we cannot learn from the turf scheme to bring some imagination and some cutting away of red tape into what would be really as important as increased production there. From a long-distance point of view, that would be important. A scheme that would bring our young people together in emergency work and in an educational atmosphere under trained experts could not but have a very profound effect on the future outlook of our people, on the bettering of agricultural production, and on the better ordering and disposal of agricultural produce. There is a big field, when discussing the sub-heads, to review the type of schemes we ought to have, and that we cannot afford to keep out of view. I believe we can learn a lesson from the size, energy and drive of the turf scheme that could be applied to the assistance of our agriculture by technical people and utilised on larger farms, and that we could do a great deal in the present emergency that would be even more useful than the work on turf.
Mr. Flinn: No; I am merely trying to get that help and co-operation from the Deputy which I am quite sure he is anxious to give. There was a clear case for additional production, wealth and resources being concentrated in the State. I think it is correct to ask that any raw material which is represented by turf, and any idle labour which previously was here, and which would have to be maintained, should be converted into intrinsic value to increase the wealth of the community.
The Deputy will understand that it is much easier to talk in general terms than in particular terms. It was possible to come down to the particular  in relation to turf. If he has any scheme in mind, not of a general order, which he would be prepared to apply, say, to any part of County Dublin or County Kildare or some definite social surrounding in an area in the west, and was prepared to put forward a scheme of that character, it would be a scheme which would be very definitely welcomed. There is here a sum of £395,000 under the Farm Improvements Scheme. That is an earnest and a declaration by the Government that they are, in principle, prepared to do that kind of thing.
Mr. Flinn: What I am saying to the Deputy is that the fact that the Government are prepared to give £395,000 in this way for the purpose of improving farming is a definite declaration that, in principle, they are in favour of that kind of thing. The Deputy has in mind—I speak subject to correction—something in the nature of communal farming—that we should send a couple of hundred or a couple of thousand men down to till certain areas which are not being tilled, or to use them in some way in which they are not being used. If he will put his suggestion in some definite form, I shall be grateful.
General Mulcahy: We are quite clear as to what we get from the bogs, when we send down men. We get turf. If we take some of the Land Commission farms, and send a couple of hundred young men and a couple of agricultural instructors down to them, they can plan out their farms. They will raise wheat, barley, oats, potatoes or turnips. They will go in for some of the crops of which it is vitally important  we should have seeds for coming seasons. I think the agricultural instructors for County Dublin could sit down to a sheet of paper, and, in half an hour, select three or four of the Land Commission farms available at present, draft out a scheme, arrange to control them and see what type of boys would be available for them. They might have to take some from urban districts, but it would be a valuable thing to do. The Parliamentary Secretary will not find any greater difficulty in arranging what should come out of those farms, run in the manner I have suggested, than he would have in deciding on what should come out of a bog. I do not think there is difficulty there at all. The difficulty lies in getting the idea and in drawing some of our agricultural experts away from some of the present supervision, which is not necessary, and putting them to constructive work of this kind in such a way as would enable them to manage these communal farms. I think there are sufficient on the hands of the Land Commission to get work started for next year and do some of the land preparation during the coming winter.
Mr. Davin: The Parliamentary Secretary has made claims and admissions here to-day which, I am sure, he never would have made at any time during the last eight or nine years, were it not for the fact that the fuel position has been so badly handled by other members of the Government. The value of turf development would never have been discovered as it has now been discovered, were it not that the people as a whole were assured by the Minister for Supplies that no coal will be made available for domestic use during the coming winter, or perhaps during the next year or two. I am very glad to recognise that the Parliamentary Secretary is the first Minister, junior or otherwise, who has come to the House and exposed the fact that he has been able to persuade the Minister for Finance, with the consent of the moneylenders, to provide such a huge sum for turf development at a time when it was never more badly needed.
I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary  would like to admit—I am sure he admits it to himself—that if the moneylenders or the Minister for Finance had foreseen the present position, they would have been very glad to have provided last year, the previous year or in any of the past few years half the amount asked for in this Estimate for the making of bog roads and the draining of bogs. If they had provided half the amount last year, it would be very much easier to get out much more turf from the bogs than it is at present, and I dare say there would be no necessity for the standstill order which the Parliamentary Secretary has issued in respect of the movement of turf from bog counties into cities like Dublin, where neither turf nor coal is available to certain classes of people at present. The Parliamentary Secretary, I am sure, will be able to find a record number of files in his office to show that there is a grave necessity for the making of a large number of bog roads without any delay, and the recent examination of the condition of many bogs throughout the country will prove to him quite conclusively that there is an urgent necessity for setting aside a large sum of money for the drainage of bogs.
In connection with bog drainage I should like to know whether the Parliamentary Secretary has a sufficient number of engineering experts at his disposal in the Board of Works for checking up on the work of the county surveyors and their assistants in regard to the order in which certain bogs should be drained. A few cases have come to my notice—and I have sent them to the Parliamentary Secretary's Department—in which it is alleged that bogs with a limited supply of turf have been drained before other bogs in which there is a much greater quantity of better-class turf. I cannot express an opinion on these assertions, but I should certainly be prepared to take the opinion of an engineering officer of the Board of Works on matters of that kind. Has the Parliamentary Secretary at his disposal a sufficient number of engineering officers to check up the work of the county surveyors  and their assistants in regard to assertions, or, if you like, allegations of that kind? The Parliamentary Secretary has visited many of these bogs. If, by draining a bog, it were possible to get twenty spit, as they call it in the country, of good-class, hard turf, it would be far better to spend money on draining such a bog than on draining a bog which might be much nearer to a main road, but in which the class of turf would be far below the class we ought to be able to get to meet the coal shortage. The average class of turf should be about two to one in relation to coal. I am not sure whether the Parliamentary Secretary, from his recent experience, would bear out that statement.
Mr. Davin: I have seen turf—brown turf, of very low weight—being loaded into railway wagons and brought into Dublin, and I think that, if it were possible, it would be better to keep that class of turf for consumption in the rural areas, and to keep the good, hard, black turf, which can be made into a more economic load, for long-distance transport. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to spend as much as possible of the money at his disposal on the drainage of bogs in which good-class, hard turf can be got, as near as possible to the cities and the towns where it is badly needed.
Mr. Davin: I heard the Parliamentary Secretary a few days ago say that he had so many hundred thousand tons of surplus turf in Mayo, Galway and other western counties. Speaking with very limited knowledge—not very recently acquired, but derived from information supplied to me many years ago when I was a member of the Canals and Inland Waterways Commission—I am inclined to think that most of the good, hard turf can be found in the midland counties.
Mr. Davin: I do not profess, like Deputy Dillon, to have the last word on everything. I am prepared to say that I make mistakes and that I learn in the school of experience. I am not asserting that that is correct, because I am prepared to agree also that I have only a limited knowledge of conditions in the West of Ireland. I have a holiday knowledge of the West of Ireland but I have a fairly good knowledge—a better knowledge than Deputy Dillon has, at any rate—of the type of turf that is to be found in places like Kildare, Laoighis, Offaly, and in the midland and some of the southern counties.
Mr. Davin: I am very glad to hear that and glad to know that in the west —rather than even in the midland counties—they are producing more turf for the people who need it so badly in the cities and towns. I should, probably, take the other view and be glad to think that the turf would be taken over the longest haul possible, if I was thinking purely in terms of transport finance, but I think it is a question of getting the best possible turf as quickly as possible into the cities, and make room for more turf to be produced where so much has been produced already.
I am glad to notice that the Parliamentary Secretary is providing a further sum for the development of Clonsast bog—£23,500—where some people think—and wrongly think—that so much of our money has been already burned. I disagree with that view. It was expressed on the benches on my left a year or two ago.
Mr. Davin: Is it a fact that the price of turf produced on the Clonsast bog  has been recently increased by 20 to 25 per cent. and, if so, will the Parliamentary Secretary give the reason for the increase? I have reason to know, from documents I have before me, that the increase is not due to improvement in the conditions of the workers there. I do not know if the Parliamentary Secretary knows it, but I know that demands for improvement in the conditions of the workers on Clonsast bog have been repeatedly made to the Turf Development Board since April of last year. I understand that the representatives of the workers concerned find it very difficult to get a talk with the principal members of the Turf Development Board in regard to claims of that kind.
I do not want to go into the details of that matter but I would be glad to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary whether the Turf Development Board will still deal with the question of the wages and conditions of all those employed on State subsidised bogs, or will questions affecting the working conditions of those concerned be dealt with, under the new arrangement, by the Parliamentary Secretary or whatever official he may depute to represent him in matters of this kind? This is not the place and this is not the time to go into this question in detail, but I would be glad to hear the Parliamentary Secretary say that he or somebody representing him on the Turf Development Board will be prepared to meet the representatives of the workers employed on Clonsast or some of the other bogs who believe that they have genuine grounds for grievance in regard to the failure of the proper authority to deal with requests for improvement in their working conditions. I have a statement here from the representative of one of these groups of people—a man claiming to represent 5,000 organised workers—in which he says they are working about 75 hours a week. A copy of the document has been sent to the Turf Development Board.
Mr. Davin: £2 10s. 0d. for a 75-hour week—it is alleged. The reply from the Secretary to the Turf Development Board is that there are no grounds for complaint at the present time. It would pay the managing director or members of the Turf Development Board or the Parliamentary Secretary to hear what these people have to say in regard to these matters. That is the only claim I am making at the present time. The Parliamentary Secretary admitted that the moneys provided under this Vote for this very necessary purpose would not be administered in the usual red-tape way that is expected by the Minister for Finance or, presumably, by the Auditor-General.
As far as I am personally concerned, I have every confidence that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, in view of his past history and in view of the knowledge I have, and which most Deputies have, that he is a hard-headed, hard-hearted man in many respects, has the energy and the ability to do this very tough job. I am sure, if he goes outside the usual red tape regulations laid down by the Department of Finance for the administration of moneys of this kind for this particular purpose, the House will bear with him and I believe will be able to support him in any action he may take outside the usual red tape regulations that in the past prevented the House, the Government, and the people of the country from getting moneys or such a sum of money as is provided in this Vote for this very deserving purpose.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary say, if it is pertinent to this discussion, whether he has at the moment any figures in his possession as to the quantity of turf that will be required for consumption in the City of Dublin during the coming winter or from now onwards, or whether it is a fact, for instance, that he will require to carry into the City of Dublin from the nearest or most convenient bogs where there is a surplus of turf anything between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 tons of turf? Is he satisfied that he has the detailed plan in his possession, or that it is in the course of preparation by the principal transport and carrying companies to enable him to say with some  confidence that that job is likely to be fairly well done? I am asking this question because the Taoiseach, when speaking on this matter here the other night, stated quite definitely that there would be a sufficiency of fuel in the country—and of food also—but that he was not satisfied that the transport companies would be able to do the job of bringing that food and fuel to the places where it is required. That is a serious matter. It is also serious from the point of view that if we have commercial lorries lying idle in garages or elsewhere in this country at the present time because there is not sufficient petrol to enable them to transport turf from bogs to cities and towns, it is a terrible pity, in my opinion, that fuel may be given to private car owners to carry them to hotels and golf clubs and other places to which they could very well and comfortably walk.
I was walking past a certain golf club-house in County Dublin at about half past eleven last Saturday night and I saw a fleet of motor cars outside, probably waiting to bring home the people from some dance or other social function that was going on there. If there are, as I believe there are, some commercial lorries out of action in this country at the present time because they cannot get petrol to enable them to carry turf from the bogs to the cities and towns, I say it is a damn shame that these private motor car owners should have petrol at their disposal for the purpose of bringing them to social functions, whether in the country or in the city. People who play golf for exercise should be well able and willing to walk to the golf clubs instead of using petrol to take them there in cars. If they are short of fuel themselves or if they are thinking about others who are likely to be short of fuel during the coming winter, they should surrender the small quantity of petrol—even though it is a small quantity—available at the present time for private car owners. I am not objecting to the private car owner getting petrol when he requires it for professional purposes. The number of such persons  can be stated easily. On the other hand, if the Parliamentary Secretary tells me that there is a sufficient supply of petrol for every commercial lorry owner willing to carry turf from the bogs to the cities and towns, I will say no more about the private car owners who are getting petrol to carry them to social functions in golf clubs and hotels, but I doubt if he can do that.
I have received complaints about this. I daresay that other Deputies have received complaints also. I do not say that every complaint a Deputy receives is a genuine one. I generally send these complaints, with a careful note, to the head of the Department concerned, so that it can be investigated properly, and I do not ask that any definite action be taken until I see the other side of the case as a result of the inquiry. I have seen a number of motor cars outside places, in circumstances where the petrol has been used for purely pleasure-seeking purposes. That petrol should be used for other purposes under the existing circumstances, if what the Taoiseach said the other night is correct—that there is a shortage of transport. I give the greatest possible encouragement to the Parliamentary Secretary to go ahead with the big job he has in hand, and I feel certain that he will do it as well as any member of the Government.
Mr. Dillon: I would urge on Deputy Davin and others in whose minds doubts are raised by the sight of private cars, to bear in mind two things. One is that the allocation of petrol to private cars represents a very small percentage of the total amount of petrol available. While it is very understandable that one should resent the appearance of private cars going about private business if there were a shortage of transport, it is very easy to forget that if we put private cars off the roads we will close hundreds of garages and put out of work hundreds of garage workers. Most of the small garages owners are married men with families, and are just managing to make ends meet pending the passage of the crisis. It may be that we will get a few more loads of turf carried if we cut them off by one stroke of the  pen, but we ought to ask ourselves very carefully whether the advantage to be gained by eliminating hundreds of independent citizens, earning a living in most difficult circumstances at the present time, should be exchanged for the gain that would accrue by taking private cars off the road.
Mr. Dillon: I have often said to this House that people are inclined sometimes to take dramatic action to achieve a certain purpose, and are inclined to do it without thinking of the position of the individual who is crushed by the action. I remember the Taoiseach saying here that “you cannot have omelettes without breaking eggs.” I think of the eggs: the Deputy is thinking of the omelettes; and the eggs represent neighbours of mine in Bal-laghaderreen—people who are keeping decent homes and who will be wiped out of business, put on the dole and thrown on the ashpit of unemployment. If I could keep these men going until the full volume of the trade they have painfully built up returns to them, I would be very happy to do it, even at the expense of some hardship. It is one evil against the other. I do not deny that the situation may arise in which we might have to reconcile ourselves and to let the garages go. I would be very slow to adopt that expedient, even though keeping them in existence involves very substantial sacrifices. I would like the House to bear in mind that this is a situation in which we must weigh the alternative evils.
The Parliamentary Secretary has spoken to-day of wiping away red tape and getting things done in a very flexible manner and of avoiding many of the inevitable delays—as he describes them—attendant on the system under which we operate our public finances. I ask the House to remember that this nation has set up one constitutionally independent person—the Comptroller and Auditor-General—and that his function is to say to this House, which represents the people, at the end of each year, that the purposes for which  the House appropriated the people's money have been served. Remember that we appropriate millions of pounds here every year for all sorts of little schemes and sub-heads of one kind and another. No one amongst us could go down to those sub-heads and satisfy himself that the public servants charged with the expenditure of the money have done their task; but the Comptroller and Auditor-General actually follows every independent penny piece and satisfies himself at the end of the financial year that every penny piece issued by the Exchequer was spent in accordance with our orders. To ensure that, the system which the Parliamentary Secretary refers to has been built up.
At first glance, there are great advantages manifest if you cut all the red tape and pursue a very much simpler procedure, but I think the Parliamentary Secretary would agree with me that, while in a period of acute crisis that course may be justified, it is human experience that, though you can do it properly, prudently and safely for one year or perhaps two, in the third year abuses will begin to manifest themselves, and in the twentieth year corruption will run riot. It must be remembered that in the public service there are thousands of people handling public money. If you give that army of 3,000 or 4,000 men and women the impression that there is really no supervision over the expenditure of such amounts, sooner or later you will get one weak person who is not as careful as he should be and if he gets away with it the corruption will spread through the whole service. Then the magnificent traditions of the Civil Service of this country will prove unequal to the dangers that may arise, and in our desire to cut red tape we will destroy the traditions which it has taken generations to build up.
Many Deputies forget the existence of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. His office is considered to be so important that he holds it, not from the Government but from the people. He is one of the few officers of the State whom the Government cannot dismiss. Even Dáil Eireann cannot  dismiss him: he has a protection superior to any judge on the High Court bench. He has that because it is regarded as very vital that there should be somebody, absolutely immune to pressure from any direction, to guarantee to Oireachtas Eireann that the public money they have appropriated has been spent in accordance with the law. Cut the red tape and you will completely cripple the Comptroller and Auditor-General. I do not say that there is not red tape which should not be cut—I quite agree that there is— but if you cut it all you will completely cripple the Comptroller and Auditor-General.
In that connection, I wish to draw attention to a particular feature of this Estimate. A great deal of this money comes in the form of Grants-in-Aid. When the Public Accounts Committee of this House meets and proceeds to go through those amounts with the Comptroller and Auditor-General and the accounting officer of the Department concerned, the accounting officer will be asked if the £23,500 appropriated under sub-head A (3) was spent in accordance with the Oireachtas directions. The accounting officer will reply that, under sub-head A (3), he was told to pay out £23,500 to the Turf Development Board when they asked for it and that that is all the information he can give. The moment that sum of £23,000 odd leaves the hand of the accounting officer, on the requisition of the Turf Development Board, the Comptroller and Auditor-General is completely barred from investigating how it is spent. That may be, in the exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves, a justifiable mode of procedure but, from long experience on the Public Accounts Committee, I want to warn the House that, if you are going to appropriate all the public money in that way, you will give rise to danger of the greatest possible evils to the public administration. Nobody knows that better than the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. It is common knowledge that bureaucratic spending of public money is not a satisfactory method of expenditure. It means administrative expenses out of proportion to the amount of  money spent. If the alternative is to allow a system to develop in which corruption might run riot in the public service, that is a price far in excess of anything that ought to be paid for the convenience of spending public money in a flexible way.
Much of the money to be voted under this Estimate is concerned with turf. I recently paid a visit to the Parliamentary Secretary's bog at Clonsast. The courtesy and kindness of those responsible for the administration of the bog left me deeply in their debt. I was afforded an opportunity of seeing the working of the machinery and the administration of the bog which I, certainly, found extremely interesting. It struck me, as I was going through Clonsast bog and watching the operation of winning turf from it, that if the bogs on which we cut turf in County Mayo had had the development that Clonsast had before a sod came out of it, we would not know ourselves. When I think of myself and my neighbours on the bog at Aughalusta draining all the water out of one drain, putting up a kind of shough to get it away from there, cutting down below the level and cutting the shough away to let the water away below us and then going up on the dry bank, where the water was, and trying to cut turf with water running to and fro and spending half our time up to our knees in water—when I think of that and then look at Clonsast, with ten miles of railway through the bog, with immense power lines all over the bog, with its main drains, 14 feet deep, running up the full length of the bog, each drain flanked on each side by a subsidiary drain running the whole five-mile length of the bog, and the main drain connected with a subsidiary by a subterranean drain up the whole five miles of the bog, I am forced to the opinion that, if they did that for us at Aughalusta, we would take out turf that would surprise the natives. Has that ever struck the Parliamentary Secretary?
Is it not an odd thing that, for machines, we do preparatory development of that kind, whereas, if we cut a bog-drain for human beings, we think  we have done wonders? Why is it, if you take the long view, that Clonsast, which is expected to have a life of 25 years if the Electricity Supply Board development is proceeded with, should have this immense capital sum expended upon it when bogs on which people will be cutting turf for the next four generations are not considered suitable for similar development? Is there any good reason for the distinction? Think of the bogs in the Rosses, in Donegal, where people will be cutting turf long after every Deputy here is dead, buried and forgotten. Is it not odd that the people there should be expected to go through the servitude they have to go through to get the turf out when the mighty machine at Clonsast was not asked to revolve until every square inch of the bog had been prepared for it? The reason, of course, is that the machine at Clonsast would not budge until that had been done for it, but the poor “goms” in the Rosses have to do so. The machine at Clonsast struck work and said: “Not a sod until there are drains, subsidiary drains and cross-subterranean drains; then I shall start going and produce turf.” The Rosses man has to produce it while up to his middle in water.
Sub-head A (7) refers to the preliminary development of other bogs by Grants-in-Aid to the Turf Development Board. Is this for the preliminary development of bogs on which people will cut slean turf in the future? Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would answer that question?
Mr. Dillon: The Parliamentary Secretary spoke to-day of work preparatory to cutting machine-won turf in three years' time. That will bring us, probably, beyond the period of world crisis which besets us. It should, certainly, bring us within the period when the crisis may well have passed. I do not blame the Parliamentary Secretary for assuming that it would not have passed by then. I think that it is wise to plan  on the assumption that it will last, even if the forecast should prove to be incorrect. But when is the Turf Development Board going to give us its accounts? When are we to learn, with certainly, what the cost of machine-won turf is?
So far as Lullymore bog is concerned, I am prepared to accept the proposition that it is still in an experimental stage, that the production of turf briquettes is not an economic proposition, and that it is being pursued with a view to determining whether it ever can be so made. If Clonsast bog is being operated on economic lines, it would be more advantageous if there were more machines available to work the bog to full capacity, but I think we should get costings in connection with the machines already working there which will show us what the price of turf from that bog will be.
I was a little puzzled by a point raised by Deputy Davin. He said that he heard that the price of turf from Clonsast has recently been raised. I have heard the same thing. I heard that the price of turf from Clonsast had gone up from 15/- to 22/6 per ton. That does not correspond with the price quoted to us by the Minister for Industry and Commerce when defending the economic prospects of the Electricity Supply Board development there. My recollection is that we were told by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that the figures then presented to us were based on 12/- turf. I understand that the turf at Clonsast is costing 22/6. Can the Parliamentary Secretary tell us if 22/6 at the railhead at the bog represents a profit on the Clonsast bog and will the figure mentioned by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, when dealing with the Electricity Supply Board proposal, represent a sum at which Clonsast bog can continue to be operated? Somebody ought to tell us some time, somehow, what this turf is to cost. So far as I can find out, this is a particular piece of information which nobody seems to be very enthusiastic about communicating to his neighbour. Since we are trustees for public money and are spending hundreds and thousands of pounds, we ought to know whether we  are giving it by way of subsidy or by way of capital expenditure with a view to ultimate development or on what basis the Turf Development Board looks to this House for larger and larger sums with which to carry on the work they have undertaken.
I want to be quite frank in saying that whatever the economics of Clonsast may be, whether it is going to turn out as a solvent enterprise or whether it can never produce turf without the aid of a subsidy, this much is true, that when you go on that bog you feel it is a big enterprise. You feel that the men who are working on it have thrown themselves into it with enthusiasm and zeal which, if anything can make a success of it, ought to make a going to visit Clonsast bog will admit that the money that has been spent there has placed machinery and facilities at the disposal of men who are going, if at all possible, to make the enterprise a success. If those who are at present labouring to make Clonsast what they believe it is capable of being made, fail to make it an economic enterprise, then I do not believe that anyone, no matter who he may be, can succeed in making it economic.
Before we pass from that matter I want to direct the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to another point. Repeatedly for the last five or six years I have seen roads made into bogs without any ancillary drains. There is not the least use in making a road of that kind into the centre of a virgin bog. It seems to me a horrible waste of money to drive a road right through a virgin bog and then walk away and leave it there. If you make a road into a bog you should insist that the engineer who lays down the road will, at the same time, lay down a system of drains which in the judgement of competent authorities will make cuttable all the turf that that road is designed to serve. Deputy Davin has spoken of cases where the more remote bogs provide a better quality of turf than those which are easily accessible. That is very often true, but a man cannot cut the bog properly until it is lockspitted. The man who opens a  bog this year, who has taken off the surface water and allowed the turf to sink and become compressed, feels that he ought to have the right to go on that bog the second year and the third year to get the really worth while turf, because in the first year he will have taken virtually none of the good turf. He cannot go down to a sufficient depth to get the good turf, because if he goes down, firstly, his drains will close in on him and, secondly, he will extract the turf in a state of hydration far in excess of that at which turf should be extracted.
If you take out a spit of turf which is virtually mud, when that turf is dry it will break to pieces or it will crumble away in your hand. You have got to take out turf with a moisture content not above 90 per cent. The best turf has a moisture content not above 82 per cent. Therefore, as a man cannot get out the best turf in the first year, unless you give him some security that he will have the bank in subsequent years, you cannot expect him to carry out the necessary drainage or indeed to work the bog properly at all. I would consequently suggest to Deputy Davin that if you are going to make a road through a virgin bog, you ought to ensure in the first place that the man who lays down the road would provide an adequate system of drainage and, secondly, that the bog will be lockspitted.
Mr. Flinn: Lest Deputy Davin might be misled by what the Deputy has stated, I should like to say that we have taken hundreds of thousands of tons of turf from virgin bogs which will be burned this year.
Mr. Dillon: The Parliamentary Secretary might learn from the experience  of those who have practical knowledge of work on these bogs. I reiterate that if you go into a virgin bog and if you attempt to take out the deeper spits in the first year, you are likely to get turf of a kind but you are not likely to get useful turf. That is common knowledge to anybody who has every cut turf on these bogs. The Parliamentary Secretary might walk warily in this matter. The Turf Development Board one time made the mistake of ignoring the advice of men of experience with the result that they turned the bog into a black morass into which they cannot get for the next five years.
Mr. Dillon: I reiterate very definitely that the best quality turf cannot be got off virgin bog in the deeper spits and secondly that you will not get any man to drain virgin bog if you do not give him a guarantee that he will have the use of that bank in following years. It is necessary to arrange in the first place to have the bog adequately drained and to ensure that it will be lockspitted. The present situation is that large areas of virgin bog have to be acquired by the Land Commission before they can be distributed among turbary cutters. The Parliamentary Secretary ought to ensure that his inspectors and engineers will have the power which the Land Commission now appears to enjoy of not only allocating existing banks but of lockspitting the bog de novo in order to delineate the several divisions between various persons who will be cutting turf on that bog hereafter.
 A good many people decry Parliamentary debate but I think the Parliamentary Secretary to-day has already produced one valuable suggestion. The Parliamentary Secretary with his usual bland skill intervened in Deputy Mulcahy's speech in order to suggest, most charitably, that Deputy Mulcahy was advocating that something should be done——
Mr. Dillon: Not a bit of it. Of course, as Deputy Gorry says, that came out of virgin bog, and we will accept his word. The Parliamentary Secretary, in his usual bland way, was trying to suggest that Deputy Mulcahy was simply saying something would have to be done. That is what makes the Parliamentary Secretary so unattractive a debater. He assumes a mantle of dreadful innocence when you know all the time he is trying to be most insolent. But, then, the Parliamentary Secretary is a disagreeable man. However, his insolence and his disagreeableness on this occasion elicited a most valuable suggestion,  which I do not expect him to understand but, if he takes a note of it and shows it to those who are more competent to evaluate it, he will find that he has something really valuable.
Deputy Mulcahy said that unused areas of land in the possession of the Land Commission should be employed for the production of agricultural seed. That is a most valuable proposal. It requires a certain amount of technical skill which the ordinary farmer will not find it easy to command. Deputy Mulcahy suggests that agricultural instructors should be taken off their ordinary work and concentrated on the production of agricultural seeds for the coming year on those areas of land that are not at present being otherwise employed. That is a most valuable suggestion and, if properly pursued, it will give us a security which otherwise we could not hope to enjoy. Many of these seeds require to be grown at a distance from analogous types of plants, lest cross-fertilisation should take place and the seeds rendered useless. The skill necessary to carry out that operation is available to the trained inspectors and instructors in the Department of Agriculture and, if they are put to work upon it, I think that much valuable work can be done and valuable training imparted to the individuals they may employ in prosecuting the scheme.
Years ago I pointed out to the Parliamentary Secretary, when he was wasting a great deal of public money on the types of public works carried out in the early stages of the Fianna Fáil administration, that a very much better way of spending the money would be to make flag drains on small farmers' holdings. After four or five years that advice sank in, and schemes along those lines are in operation. I now suggest a further way in which money might be profitably spent. He might secure the services of experts in the cutting and laying of hedges, and carry out, in any given area like a parish, a comprehensive system of laying hedges scientifically, which is an art almost unknown in this country, and the cleaning of shoughs—that is, drains which serve as the outflow for  all the smaller drains designed to carry water off the surface of a small farm.
It is only too frequently true, and indeed it was referred to by the Parliamentary Secretary when he was speaking of the Barrow Drainage Scheme, that the most elaborate drainage plan is rendered abortive by the failure of farmers to keep the shoughs on their own farms clean. No matter how exhaustive a drainage scheme is, if the drains leading into it are not kept clean, half the value of the scheme is lost. I believe there is a wide scope for the laying of hedges and the cleaning of shoughs in this country, both on the large and the small holdings, and if an example were given of a comprehensive scheme over a wide area in any given county where the work would be scientifically done, and where labourers would be trained in the laying of hedges, it would tend to create employment for these men, and you would secure a very material return for the persons on whose land the work would be done. There is provision in the Vote for miscellaneous schemes. Has anybody got precise knowledge as to the value of the Clare phosphate deposits?
Mr. Dillon: When Deputy Mulcahy was referring to the agricultural problem the Parliamentary Secretary said: “Show me anywhere in the agricultural sphere where I can go down on the land and get something.”
Mr. Dillon: Deputy Mulcahy replied by making the suggestion with regard  to agricultural seed. I take it the Clare phosphates are mineral deposits and, under miscellaneous schemes, I suggest I am entitled to talk about getting the phosphates from the Clare soil just as we are getting the turf from the bogs. But are they worth getting?
Mr. Dillon: The number of gentlemen to whom we are paying upwards of £1,700 a year who tell this House that it is not their business to know certain things, is growing. The number of gentlemen to whom we are paying large salaries and whose principal preoccupation is the limits of their own business, is growing steadily.
Mr. Dillon: They have been repeatedly discussed. The Parliamentary Secretary is given the widest possible discretion to go after anything that can be got by the expenditure of money and the employment of labour. Will somebody find out whether the Clare phosphates are worth going after?
Mr. Dillon: If they are worth going after, they ought to be followed up at once. If the Clare phosphates can be recovered, ground and distributed, they will be more valuable than lime. To get lime we take the limestone out of the land and put it in the kilns. Is it worth while, instead of taking the limestone out of the land, digging the phosphate out of the land and putting it in the kiln? Somebody ought to know. If it is, then the money would be better spent that way than by taking the limestone out of the ground. Are we going to spend the money taking out the limestone or the phosphate rock?
It is ridiculous for the Parliamentary Secretary to be swaggering in here and claiming credit for the work done by able civil servants, and having bouquets thrown at him by the Labour Party. We all know that the work is done by civil servants, but there is a polite convention that you give the credit to the Minister. The Parliamentary Secretary is just too lazy to investigate the Clare phosphates. He comes in here and he swaggers up and down, drinking glasses of water. He swaggers up and down like a Marshall Hall——
Mr. Dillon: I submit that we are discussing the Parliamentary Secretary.  I prophesy that within the next month the Parliamentary Secretary will find out and will know whether money may be profitably spent on the Clare phosphates. He ought to know that now, and ought to be in a position to tell the House about it. We ought to have information with regard to the amount of Clare phosphates to be dealt with. We ought to know what amount of ground rock is available so that it may be made ready for distribution in time for next year's harvest. All that ought to be attended to now.
There is one other matter. Somebody must be made responsible for the distribution of turf. I understand the Parliamentary Secretary has been given exclusive jurisdiction over the production and distribution of fuel. I do not know whether he has taken coal under his jurisdiction, but I, personally, think that he ought to. Does the Parliamentary Secretary appreciate how necessary it is for a person who is occupying the position of fuel controller in this country to have something coherent to say to the tenement dweller referred to by Deputy Alfred Byrne to-day? Suppose a poor person in the City of Dublin comes to you and says: “Literally, I have food in the house, but I have no fuel wherewith to cook it,” surely the Parliamentary Secretary must have some plan in his mind to meet that situation. Nobody under-estimates his difficulty or loses sight of the fact that it is hard to winnow out the honest bona fide deserving case from the person who is not truly in acute difficulty.
But surely it would be justifiable, even now before the full blast of the winter is upon us, to establish turf depots in this city and say: “Very well, for anyone who chooses at this stage to go to the depot and take away his own fuel, fuel will be made available for him.” Apply that test merely to ensure that persons who are not in urgent need will not start accumulating fuel, because I cannot see a large part of the population going to such depots and carting turf away in small quantities for the purpose of storing it. The Parliamentary Secretary might say, with perfect safety: “If any room dweller, any person  living in one room, finds himself in the position that he cannot get enough turf to keep the fire lighting for the day, he can go to one of the depots and get two stone or four stone of turf until such time as he can get such a supply as he would normally purchase.”
I cannot see, in that situation, any considerable body of the population proceeding to hoard a considerable quantity of turf at the rate of two stone or four stone. Even if people were inclined that way the most they would be able to accumulate in a month would be about 56 stone. If we had that position, the Parliamentary Secretary would be able to say to me or to Deputy Hannigan or to Deputy Alfred Byrne that there was not one poor person in the City of Dublin who could not get fuel. If anyone should come along and say that he had food but had not the wherewithal to cook it, then we would be in a position to say to such a person that the fuel was there for him if he was prepared to go and fetch it. I submit that it is most important that the Executive should be in a position to say that. I think it is a shocking thing that any member of the House should be in a position to get up and say truly that there are people in the City of Dublin who literally cannot get fuel wherewith to boil a can of water to make a cup of tea. That was the statement made. I know that when Deputy Alfred Byrne made that statement as a true statement it is a true statement, and, being true, it is a grave reflection on all of us. It is a monstrous thing that a poor person in this city cannot get the fuel wherewith to light a fire. I say there is a grave obligation on the Government to provide, at whatever the cost, a situation in which they can say that if people have not fuel it is their own fault: that the fuel is there if only they will go and fetch it.
I think the Government could easily take steps to ensure that undeserving persons would not avail of the scheme to build up clandestinely a big hoard of turf to the detriment of deserving persons. I am not so enthusiastic about this business of grants-in-aid. It may be necessary, in times of extreme difficulty  such as we are passing through, but let the House be on its guard lest we hand over the administration of public funds to extern bodies unless we combine with it the authority and the vigilance of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. If we want the Comptroller and Auditor-General to function in connection with these matters, then we ought to give him authority to function. If, on the other hand, we are determined to take that authority from him, we ought to do so coldly and deliberately by abolishing that office and trusting to God. But, before we do so, we ought to remember this: that the United States of America tried to get on without a Comptroller and Auditor-General for many a long day, and, ultimately, out of their bitter experience, they instituted the office of Comptroller and Auditor-General. Let us learn from the experience of the United States of America, and realise that we have much to be grateful for in that the machinery of the office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, handed over to us, is functioning efficiently ever since the State was founded. If it were not for it the State might be very different from what it is. At the present time let us be conscious that, in anything we do, it will not tend to the destruction of the office or of the officer—in my opinion two of the most important institutions this State has.
Dr. Hannigan: The specific points that I am chiefly concerned with relate to the quality of the supply of turf that is coming to Dublin. I have in mind the very unsatisfactory situation that has arisen in relation to a sample of a 1,000-ton consignment of turf allotted to the Grangegorman mental hospital. In fairness, I must point out that the fuel situation in that institution, having regard to the difficult circumstances prevailing generally, is considered satisfactory other than in the case of turf. For that reason I understand the Turf Development Board restricted supplies of turf to the institution to the extent that they could only get them from the County Wicklow.
A sample of the turf from this 1,000-ton  consignment was submitted to the board's officers in the ordinary way. It was found almost impossible to ignite it. Later, when it was submitted to an expert for analysis, it was found to contain, in addition to the ordinary volatile constituents, 58 per cent. of water. The sum total of the analysis revealed that this sample of turf equalled in calorific value only one-third of a similar type of turf in a dry state. I should point out, too, that the expert was of opinion that the turf was of good quality. The disadvantages in relation to it arose purely and simply from its high water content. I regard that as a very serious situation. Boards like that of the Grangegorman Mental Hospital are in a very good position to protect their interests by reason of the fact that they have experts at hand to advise them on such matters, but the position becomes rather serious when we consider the unprotected state in which the ordinary user of turf would be in regard to turf of that quality. As far as I can gather from the general opinion expressed by various members of the board who purported to be au fait with the situation, if the turf in that condition was not accepted at the fixed price the probability was that they would have to do without it altogether, as it was necessary to take that consignment of turf in order to make room on the banks for other turf. In view of the fact that the price of turf is fixed, would it not follow that in that case the public authority—of course a private user would be in no different position—was paying that price not for turf but for water? Would the Parliamentary Secretary say whether or not he is in a position to state that there is no danger of such a situation becoming general, and that users of turf, who will include a very large number of people in the near future, will be protected from having to pay the fixed price for turf in the unprepared state of that supplied to the Grangegorman Mental Hospital?
Mr. J. Flynn: The Parliamentary Secretary stated that certain sums have been set aside for the development of Clensast and other centres. It  strikes me that we are continuously allocating money for those centres, and that other areas, where the bulk of the hand-won turf is produced, are not getting due consideration. I have in mind areas adjacent to Killorglin, County Kerry, where, in a five mile radius, I am informed that they have produced in this season 10,000 tons of turf. There is no mention made of that and other larger areas in Portmagee, Kells and Killarney districts, where thousands of tons of turf are being produced, and there is urgent need for drainage and road making, while we are continuously allocating thousands of pounds to Clonsast and other areas which should be developed by now. Regarding Deputy Davin's statement, I think that, in regard to this question of Clonsast, unless we intend to embark on very large scale development we should at some time reach the stage when it would be self-supporting, and when they could get the maximum output without any further assistance. I should like to make that suggestion to the Parliamentary Secretary; seeing that those centres have been liberally treated, he should direct the Turf Development Board to concentrate on the areas which are practically undeveloped. I might say in passing that I have very little confidence in what any boards can do. There must be some driving force. The Turf Development Board certainly did good work in Kerry, but they lack the organising ability. They lack the very thing we are now looking for, the real push, the real organisation necessary to bring matters to a head and reach the necessary output. I do not want to criticise them, but I think the system has outlived itself; we have reached a new phase now and we want to go ahead. There is one matter to which I should like to refer, because it is descriptive of the whole thing. Recently, in Glenbeigh, County Kerry, the local surveyor was asked to develop an area which had been previously scheduled by the Turf Development Board as a turf-producing area, and where they had spent £800 on the construction of a road. The local surveyor now says there is no turf there at all. I should like to have that matter investigated in order to  discover whether the surveyor is wrong, or whether the Turf Development Board did not know their work and made some mistake.
Mr. J. Flynn: No. I merely mention it with a view to having the matter examined. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if a system could be arranged whereby the Turf Development Board would deal only with certain areas. I submit that, from the organisation point of view, they cannot deal with all the work which is allocated to them under these subheads. There is a reference here to “grants to Turf Development Board for the preliminary development of certain bogs”. I should like to know what areas are specified, or what is the intention, because as far as I know the Turf Development Board have no organisation for dealing with that matter down in places like Kerry, where the Parliamentary Secretary himself could make a success of it; he could arrange with the local surveyors that those areas would be developed, and that a proper marketing system be provided.
There is something in the suggestion made by Deputy Dillon that turf should be transferred to central depôts for distribution in the cities and towns, but I admit that that is a difficult matter and would take some time to arrange. I am putting forward those points not by way of criticism but in order to prevent such dissatisfaction as occurred in the case of the Turf Development Board some years ago. We are sometimes blamed for being critical, but in being critical we are also being helpful. I am not by any means trying to take away from what the Turf Development Board have done. I admit that they have worked under great difficulties, but if we want to perfect our organisation we must refer to those matters  with a view to facing up to the problems which confront us at the moment.
Mr. Hughes: The Parliamentary Secretary has invited suggestions and proposals from the House that might help to solve some of the various and varied problems that have been thrown up as a result of the emergency. The Taoiseach, speaking last week on the Vote for his Department, dealt with the food and fuel position, and he informed the House that the biggest difficulty and the biggest problem that the country has to face at the present time is the question of conveying that food and fuel from where they are to the consumer; in other words, that the biggest problem is the distribution of the food and fuel that are available in the country at the present time. Now, I think that that is a very difficult problem in view of the fact that we are limited in the amount of petrol that will be imported during this present year to about half our normal consumption, and when we talk about the distribution of turf we must appreciate the fact that it takes, approximately, two tons of turf to equal one ton of coal. It must also be remembered, in connection with the distribution of coal in the past, that the coal was landed at the various ports around the country. Those were the biggest consuming centres and the biggest centres of population, and that, in fact, reduced the problem of the distribution of that coal. Even at the present time, if we had our fuel requirements in turf, the problem of the distribution of that turf would be far greater, and the cost of distributing it is a much bigger problem than the distribution of coal.
I have two suggestions to make in connection with this matter of distribution. The first is concerned with the use of our waterways. I do not know whether there is very much in it, but I have been informed by a man who lived in Canada for some years and had experience of it, that prior to more modern methods of conveyance, the Canadians made great use of rafts for  the conveyance of goods down the water-courses of Canada. My suggestion is that it should be possible to make use of our waterways by rigging up rafts, at a reasonable cost, for the conveyance of the turf down these waterways from the bogs to Dublin and other centres. I suggest that the matter, at least, is worth investigation.
The other proposal that I wish to put and which, I think, is more attractive, is in connection with the fitting up of our lorries with gas-producers. I think there has not been sufficient attention given to this question of rigging up more of our lorries with gas-producers. I understand, from people who have given this matter some examination, that there is, approximately, sufficient material in this country to manufacture about 1,000 gas-producers. Of course, it does not require a lot of skill to manufacture a gas-producers, and the experience we have gained during the past few months—or during the past year, I might say—since petrol really became scarce, has produced the result that, at the present time, gas-producers are functioning reasonably well. Now, it will take about 18 tons of anthracite coal to run a gas-producer on, say, a five-ton lorry for 12 months. Assuming that we have material to make 1,000 gas-producers and that we could rig up 1,000 lorries, the fuel consumption of those 1,000 lorries would be 18,000 tons of anthracite. The output of anthracite in Castlecomer during the past year was 100,000, so that, approximately, to run 1,000 lorries would take one-fifth of the Castlecomer output. I think that the number of lorries registered before the war was, approximately, 10,000, and so I suggest that at least one-tenth of our lorries could be fitted up immediately with gas-producers, and I am convinced that these gas-producers would function reasonably well. As a matter of fact, we know that many European countries had a big percentage of their lorries running on gas-producers even prior to the war.
Mr. Hughes: That does not matter. They will pull as well on bog roads  as petrol-driven lorries will. A lorry will function on a good gas-producer plant and pull out as well on a bog road as a petrol-driven lorry will.
Mr. Hughes: Well, no, but certainly it was working quite well. At any rate, I think it is a matter for examination. We have the raw material there; it is cheap fuel, and I think we have, approximately, sufficient material to manufacture 1,000 gas-producers, and there is no reason why we should not have 1,000 lorries running on gas at the earliest possible moment. Assuming that those lorries would handle six tons, or possibly more, on a long-distance run per day, to supply even the City of Dublin, that would mean 6,000 tons of turf per day.
Mr. Hughes: Yes, on two runs. As Deputy Davin probably knows, turf is a very bulky article and you cannot get on more than about 3½ or 4 tons of it. However, I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to have that matter examined. I notice that, under sub-head F of this Vote, there is a provision of £40,000 for a lime distribution scheme. I should be very sorry to see any of that Vote diverted to work on the phosphate deposits in Clare.
Mr. Hughes: No, but I say that it is essential to have lime for distribution on sour or acid lands. Land with  a high degree of acidity is practically useless and infertile. There may be any amount of plant food locked up in the soil, but because of the high degree of acidity present in the soil that plant food is not available. The moment you apply an alkali to that acid condition you set up a reaction and the plant food becomes free. Lime is not a plant food, in itself, but the moment you apply it to an acid soil you free the plant food that is lying dormant in the soil and it comes away and you are able to produce an excellent crop.
It would be useless to apply artificial manure to that type of soil if the chemical conditions in the soil are not right otherwise, and you can only put these conditions right by the application to an acid soil of lime. It is a problem that is peculiar to this country. In countries such as Holland you will get the same type of soil, without any variation whatever, stretching for 300 and 400 miles, whereas, in this country, you will find an alkali soil, an acid soil, and a neutral soil, in varying proportions, on the one farm and even in the one field. It is a problem to which we have not given much attention, and, in my opinion, it certainly would repay any attention we might give it. Therefore, to my mind, money spent on lime that is distributed on sour and acid soil is money very well spent.
On the other matter that was raised by Deputy Mulcahy, I think, and I have suggested it before, that the methods we have adopted this year for raising farm seeds are not the best way of handling the situation, because there is undoubtedly a danger of cross-fertilisation, and it is occurring on some farms at present.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy might submit proposals without going into the details already discussed on the Estimates. This Vote has been placed under the charge of a Parliamentary Secretary. The administration of other Departments upon which this Vote might possibly impinge does not arise since the Parliamentary Secretary is not answerable for such administration.
Mr. Hughes: In order to convince the Parliamentary Secretary that there is merit in the proposal, I am dealing with some aspects that strike me as important and that seem to have escaped the notice of the technicians of the Department of Agriculture.
Mr. Hughes: I believe that there is merit in the proposal put up by Deputy Mulcahy. It is an essential matter that ought to be handled by experts. There is a danger of cross-fertilisation between seeds, producing a hybrid or bastard seed.
Mr. Norton: I want to say a few words in connection with this Vote. I personally am in favour of the expenditure of any sum of money necessary to ensure the speediest possible production of fuel, especially in view of the circumstances which now face us  and the probability that, far from improving, these circumstances will probably deteriorate still further in the months ahead. I should like to be sure that we are really putting the maximum amount of energy into and travelling at the maximum tempo in the winning of turf. I represent a constituency which is probably one of the finest turf-producing counties, where there is an abundance of black turf, not merely black turf in the sense of describing turf as a coloured commodity, but black turf of a weighty kind which is infinitely better than turf which will turn black and still lose weight. There is an abundance of turf there, but it seems to me that the amount of money put into its production is not nearly comparable with the potentialities of turf production in that county. I know the county surveyor there has done everything in his power. I know that he has moved with sympathy, expedition, and understanding in approaching the various problems in connection with turf production. But I still think that as a nation—and county surveyors and everybody else are part of that nation —we have not yet brought ourselves to realise the appalling position that will arise next winter or in the early part of next year if there is a shortage of fuel.
As I see the turf-production problem to-day, my grave fear is that we do not appear to realise what is really expected of us, and that as a consequence the maximum amount of energy is not being put into the production of turf. In recent weeks I have inspected many bogs in my constituency. There was excellent black turf there awaiting the operation of the slean and manual labour, and yet it seemed to me that a goodly quantity of that turf would still be in the bogs next winter, although people in that county and in the cities and large towns would be crying out for fuel, which they could not themselves win, when the fuel is most needed. I know the Parliamentary Secretary has plenty of ability to do this job. While I disagree with certain economic theories of his, particularly in relation to wages, I do not question his ability to do this job. But  my fear is that he will be strangled in a forest of red tape and that governmental regulations will be an impediment to him and prevent his giving of his best in the production of the necessary quantity of turf for our requirements.
One of the things that struck me recently from an examination of the activities on the bogs was that the spreading of turf was now reaching a stage where it was impeding the production of fresh turf. It seems to me that, having cut the turf, some attention should be given to the question of getting it away from the bogs at the earliest possible moment so as to make room for a further harvest. I saw large quantities of turf on bogs in certain areas, and it seemed to me that the continued depositing of the turf on the bogs would impede the production of further turf there, unless new banks were opened up or persons intended to exploit another area which was not nearly as accessible as the area which was being worked. I got the impression that a good deal of the turf which had been raised there was sufficiently dry for removal, and should be on its way to Dublin or other large centres, so as to ensure that when it was required there would be a substantial quantity of turf stored in Dublin and other large areas. I fear that if you wait for a long period before you begin the transportation of the turf, you will get the position so cluttered up that you will inevitably have disorganisation, no matter how well-intentioned you are in the matter of transport.
I realise that an area like Kildare must of necessity provide for its own requirements, and must ensure that turf is available locally. But I do not think there is any doubt about the ability of a county like Kildare, not merely to satisfy its own requirements, but to satisfy the requirements of a number of other areas as well. I should like to see the transportation of turf undertaken at the earliest possible moment to the centres where it is required, because I fear that if the problem is deferred much further, you will have disorganisation which will hamper the best-intentioned plans. I shudder to think what the position of  tenement dwellers will be this winter unless we appreciate the peculiar position of this city. It is true that the grates and fireplaces in tenements, and even in small working-class houses, in the city are not specially adapted for the combustion of turf, but, if there is no choice, I suppose these fireplaces could use that kind of fuel. If Dublin is going to face a hard winter, and if the position of poor people is going to be rendered more difficult by a shortage of fuel, as well as high prices of food, to some extent we might try to neutralise these difficulties by providing some fuel, particularly where there are children. It seems to me that Kildare is the natural link with Dublin for a supply of fuel. I hope that any effort made to supply Dublin with turf will be towards getting it from the place nearest to Dublin, which seems to be Kildare.
Mr. Norton: The man power can be made available there, and I believe the turf got there eventually gives a five, ton per ton, that will last much longer than turf got elsewhere. I saw a number of men working on a bog in County Louth on Friday last. They were simply cutting the top of the bog, but even when they went down a certain distance, what they were getting was very white looking. It was a type of bog that gave results that were no better than brown paper rolled up in lumps. I wish these people could have been working in Kildare where they could get black turf. I do not know if it would be possible to induce them to go to Kildare bogs to work. When talking to some of the sleansmen I said it was a pity that they were wasting their time cutting such turf. Their earnings were not very good and the finished article did not seem to be worth much. Where people are operating on what seems to be useless bog. some effort might be made to induce them to transfer to areas where they could produce the best turf. I think there would be a certain measure of success for a voluntary appeal of that kind, if it was recognised that these people would have to be treated fairly  generously. Expert sleansmen should not have to spend half a day draining water off a bog. They would probably go to work on good bogs if they got a fair rate of wages. I am not making a special case for Kildare or asking that it should have a monopoly of the Dublin market. I would make the same case if there was any other place nearer Dublin. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to give more consideration to the question of transport, so as to avoid long hauls for turf. It does not seem to be right to have to bring turf from Mayo or from Kerry merely because it can be got in these counties cheaper than in Kildare.
Mr. Norton: I am prepared to cooperate with the Parliamentary Secretary. Some effort should be made to shorten the haul and to utilise transport in the most economical manner. I believe there are possibilities that have not been fully exploited in regard to turf production, and that it is worth while making a special drive to get good turf produced.
Mr. Norton: Nothing was further from my thoughts, but where there is a bog so close to Dublin, for which the provision of turf is so important, it seems to me that Kildare and perhaps Offaly should be a kind of fuel reservoir for Dublin. In these areas it is very necessary to encourage the maximum production of turf. I also wish to call the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to an advertisement that appeared in a newspaper recently in which a Dublin trader offered to buy turf on the bog at £1 per ton. I presume the trader is entitled to sell turf at 45/- per ton.
Mr. Norton: I am not going to dwell on that aspect of the case. The production of turf is not child's play. A trader in Dublin offered to purchase turf on the bog at £1 per ton, and presumably he is entitled to sell it at 45/- in ton lots, and at 48/- or 49/- per ton in smaller quantities. Assuming he purchases a ton of turf in Kildare, and can sell it at 45/- in Dublin, it seems ironical that the man who produced the turf only gets £1 while the distributor gets 25/-. That seems to be an unreasonable allocation, having regard to the energy expended. I do not know if the Parliamentary Secretary has examined the matter in sufficient detail to know whether turf bought at £1 per ton in Kildare and sold at 45/- in Dublin gives a fair return. It seems to me that the producer is not getting the best part of the bargain. I sent the advertisement on to the Parliamentary Secretary and presumably he knows the case. Some  effort should be made to ensure that, if people produce turf a trader will not come in—and the trader in this case was a very extensive one—and by refusing to pay more than £1 per ton compel local people to sell it at that price. If that position developed people would begin to ask themselves what use there was in producing turf, when they could only get £1 per ton for it. In a short time that would produce a prejudice against the production of turf.
Mr. Norton: I would not think that there would be a great margin of profit out of £1 a ton for turf produced in Kildare. If expert turf cutters, and people with a turf tradition, are to produce turf at £1 a ton it ought to be distributed from Kildare much cheaper than £1 5s. a ton. If it is possible to produce turf in Kildare at £1 per ton, what profit would a man have who brought down a lorry and loaded it and got £1 5s. for doing so? If you examine the balance sheets of the turf producer and the distributor I would prefer the distributor's profit.
There is provision in the Estimate for roads, drainage, and other work in connection with turf production, and I assume that the money will be made available from the Central Fund to local authorities when schemes are submitted. I quite understand that there must be some reasonable check on schemes submitted, but I should like to know if it would be possible to give county surveyors, particularly where they have shown ability, prudence and expedition in handling schemes, within definite limits to proceed with the making of roads and drainage of bogs, where they are satisfied the work will increase turf production and will facilitate its removal. It seems to me that there is quite a danger that, in a desire to exercise the utmost care in regard to expenditure on schemes of that kind, there may be inevitable and quite understandable delay at headquarters, which probably everybody would wish to avoid. If I had to make a choice between trying to get 80 per cent. efficiency  in administration, with the production of a lesser quantity of turf, and 60 per cent. efficiency, with a greater quantity of turf, I should be prepared to have a lesser degree of efficiency in administration, so long as we could get the turf we require, because the administrative difficulties will be very easy to liquidate if we can provide fuel for our people. To tell our people next winter that there is not sufficient fuel available for them, but that the administrative machine worked perfectly, is not going to get much thanks from anyone associated with turf production.
I have the view in connection with turf production that, in a way, it may be well that we are, to some extent, thrown on our own resources in respect of turf. I agree that it is very important for us to import very substantial quantities of coal, if we are to have efficient industrial production, but, at the same time, I think there are considerable national possibilities in the winning of turf on a greater scale than that which we have experienced in recent years. If, under this scheme of endeavouring to produce the fuel we require, we can inaugurate a scheme of extensive bog drainage, the making of bog roads, and cultivating a turf-mindedness in our people, I think that, in the long run, we shall probably be able to produce fuel from our bogs to replace the fuel we formerly imported, and in that way help to provide greater employment in rural areas which, in the past and in peace times, normally suffer the maximum amount of hardship caused by unemployment. I wish the Parliamentary Secretary well in a particularly difficult task, and I hope that in his efforts to produce the maximum quantity of turf we require, he will not be afraid to make mistakes, if they are made in the good cause of winning the fuel which our own people very badly require.
Mr. Cogan: When the Parliamentary Secretary was last speaking on this matter, I ventured to ask him if he were satisfied that the maximum effort was being made in all counties. He rather parried that question by asking what county I represented and I do not think that was a very fair way to answer the question.
Mr. Cogan: I informed the Parliamentary Secretary that I represent a constituency in which there is a considerable amount of development in regard to turf carried on. In County Wicklow, everything possible, I believe, has been done to develop turf to the fullest extent. The amount of turf available in the county is not very large, but, through the energy and activity of the county surveyor and the various parish councils, and enormous amount of work has been done under very unsatisfactory conditions in many cases. The turf, in many cases, has had to be obtained on mountains, and from bogs which have never been drained. The county surveyor laboured under considerable difficulties in Wicklow, and also in Carlow, portion of which I represent as well. In Carlow, there is practically no turf, but nevertheless, by an almost superhuman effort, the county surveyor managed to procure a small amount—probably almost sufficient to supply the needs of the local authorities—but in order to secure that turf, he had to canvass the various bog owners and obtain permission to go, in a small way, on the various bogs. He had, of course, compulsory powers, but the banks available were so limited that it would not serve any useful purpose to use them. Nevertheless, he overcame the difficulties to a considerable extent and did the best he could in the circumstances.
My attention was drawn to the fact that there are several very extensive areas of bog in County Kildare which, in the opinion of those who spoke to me, were not being developed to the extent to which they should be developed, and it was for that reason that I asked the Parliamentary Secretary if he were satisfied that everything possible was being done in all counties. The Parliamentary Secretary to-day has more or less explained the reason why the maximum amount has not been secured in Kildare, namely, shortage of man-power and shortage of accommodation. These are very serious difficulties, I admit, but they are difficulties which ought to be tackled immediately in relation to the  future, because Kildare is very centrally situated for supplying the needs of the city and the large towns. So far as the present year is concerned, the first duty of the Parliamentary Secretary should be to ascertain the amount of turf required in our large consuming areas. In addition, a thorough survey should be made of the amount of turf saved this year. I think the Civic Guards could be relied on to supply most of that information. Further, a thorough survey should be made now of the amount of timber fuel available, so that if, in the event of a shortage or with a view to meeting a possible shortage, a certain amount of timber is converted into fuel, the Parliamentary Secretary will know the amount available in the various counties and, if it be necessary to supplement our other fuel supplies with timber, he will know exactly where to secure the best supplies and where a sufficient supply is easily procurable. That information should be collected at once.
I believe that the nation, and the Parliamentary Secretary, perhaps, in particular, have been extremely fortunate this year inasmuch as the weather has been very favourable for turf production. There have been years when turf could have been dried much more quickly but, on the other hand, there has not been a heavy rainfall during the summer months, with the result that it has been possible to cut and save turf in many bogs where, in other years, it would have been extremely difficult, and we should express our gratitude to Divine Providence for having assisted us in that way.
A reference was made to virgin bogs. I believe that there is a certain amount of truth both in what Deputy Dillon said and in what Deputy Flynn said. In certain cases it is absolutely impossible to get turf out of a virgin bog without having it previously drained. In certain years it is impossible. There are certain types of bog where, by reason of the fact that they have not been drained or cannot be drained, it is not possible to get turf out of them in any year. Of course, in certain circumstances, occasionally, turf can be procured in such  bogs. It just shows that in regard to this matter it is not right that anybody should attempt to dogmatise because there are so many varieties of bog and so many variations in climatic conditions that no definite rule can be fixed. I have before my mind an incident which occured this year, in which the county surveyor for Carlow went into a bog which had not been used for many years. Every experienced bog-man—and of course there were hundreds about—shook his head and said he would get the fright of his life, that he would probably be working many weeks and get nothing at all. It so happened that the surveyor succeeded in procuring several thousand tons of excellent turf out of that bog, in spite of all the advice and criticism which was showered on him by the professional turf-cutters. The reason, of course, was that the year was exceptionally favourable for that particular type of turf. If it had been a wet year, the turf would have absolutely crumbled away or if it had been an exceptionally dry, sunny year, the turf would also have broken up. Therefore, he was fortunate that he could laugh at his critics although he was a mere amateur. It shows how unwise it is for anybody to attempt to dogmatise in regard to turf production.
I wish to warn the Parliamentary Secretary and his Department against being too confident in regard to future development because of any success which may have attended him in a particular area this year because we may not always have years as favourable as this one. My main reason in intervening in this debate is to warn the Parliamentary Secretary of the desirability and the urgency of getting any turf that is dry removed as far away from the bog as possible at the earliest possible date. This warning may seem unnecessary but there are cases in which turf may be clamped in a bog and it may not be definitely decided where that turf is to be sent.
In that particular case there might be a delay about removing it. Although it is undesirable to have too much rehandling of turf, there are certain bogs that I know in which it would be  disastrous to leave the turf and where it would be better even to risk whatever loss would be involved in throwing it down in a certain place and having to reload rather than to risk loss by having the turf left completely in the bog in such a condition that it could not be removed.
It has been remarked that the ordinary lorry will not convey more than three or four tons of turf at the outside. I am wondering if it is not possible, by attaching trailers to these lorries, to increase their capacity. If it is possible, it would be an enormous saving of fuel and of time, and would relieve very greatly the problem of transport.
Another matter which has engaged much attention and which has involved a good deal of contention in many districts is the question of piece work. Of course, in the type of bog that exists in Wicklow and Carlow, where the surface is very irregular and the amount of turf is very varied, it is absolutely impossible to have turf cut by piece-work, but I think that in bogs which are of a uniform character there should be no difficulty in applying piece rates, and I think it should work out satisfactorily both to the Parliamentary Secretary and to the workers. There is always the alternative, which is found by local authorities to be advisable in some cases, the alternative of soliciting contracts for work. I am not suggesting that the contract system should be substituted for direct labour, but it is always desirable to have several alternative methods of work and to compare production by the various methods so as to achieve the greatest measure of efficiency.
Mr. Brennan: My intervention will be very brief, but there are a few points I would like to mention to the Parliamentary Secretary because I think they are important. Firstly, there are the turf counties where small farmers and people who have a good deal of turf accommodation have extended themselves and have cut a certain amount of turf over and above their usual amount of cutting and it is on their hands at the moment. I have  been asked if the county surveyor could be used as a kind of central purchasing agent for the purpose of storing turf.
As Deputy Cogan has pointed out, if they have to take it home, as they must, if they cannot otherwise dispose of it, it will mean shifting it back to the gardens and possibly shifting it to the railway station later on. The county council has a good deal of turf on hand and right beside it we have people who have turf for sale and who have not got private customers. I think that the county council authority, which is working so very excellently, I must say, with the Parliamentary Secretary, should be depended upon to act in this matter and to buy the turf for the Government. Those people who cut the turf were assured of a market. Now that they have the turf saved and clamped and fit for delivery there is nobody to deliver it to. There is no doubt about it, turf will be required later on but the question is what are they going to do with it at the moment. I put it to the Parliamentary Secretary that he must set up some kind of organisation to deal with that particular matter. If people have to take it home and rehandle it, there is serious loss in deterioration. Something ought to be done in the way of authorising the county surveyors in the various counties to deal with this matter in the interests of the Government. I do not see any other way of dealing with it.
There is another matter to which I would like to call the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary. I did not hear it referred to. I feel that the cutting of turf this year is at an end. At least, there is great risk from this on. From all appearances, the emergency will continue beyond this year, and we will have to go full steam ahead for next year. I regard this Estimate as covering that, but to what extent it is going to be effective is quite another matter. The main thing that is required in the West of Ireland is drainage, and while the Parliamentary Secretary and the county surveyors, jointly, have done very good work, generally speaking, they are hampered because many of the bogs in  the West of Ireland, at least, lie along the banks of the rivers and the rivers are not drained and are not able to take the water from the bogs.
It is a very big matter for the Parliamentary Secretary but we have a report from the Drainage Commission, and my attention—and I think possibly the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary—was drawn recently, by way of resolution from the Boyle Parish Council in the County Roscommon, to the fact that they cannot hope to get anything like the supply of turf from the bogs around Boyle until certain work is done on the Lough Arrow drainage which is held up at Lecarrow. They believe down there that if, possibly, £500 was spent there it would at least drain the bogs of two feet of water. I have heard engineers discuss this and I have heard them being contradicted by the local people as to what the effect of it would be, but I mention it to the Parliamentary Secretary. We have such conditions all over the Suck, the Shannon, the Boyle River and all these rivers and our bogs are on a level. The Drainage Commission has made certain recommendations. Possibly, some of them might be partially put into operation, because there is no use in making a drain around a bog and creating an outlet for the water unless you can get it away. That is the difficulty we are up against.
When I was speaking here a couple of weeks ago I expressed my opinion that the transport problem ought to be tackled at once, that turf ought to be brought into Dublin at once and should be continually brought in because I feared congestion in the transport problem. From what I am told by the county surveyor in Roscommon, who has done excellent work in this direction, I believe turf is being brought in at the moment and I am very glad that that is so. Even if there were an abandonment of every other activity, the amount of transport that there is could not bring enough turf into Dublin in the specified time. Whatever the risks may be, the turf transport into Dublin must be maintained from now on. I rose, in the first place, to draw the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to the private turf owners,  and I hope that he will think over the points I have put and find some remedy. If the turf is not taken off these people's hands, they will have to take it home and they will lose a certain amount of it.
Mr. McGovern: I would like to say a few words on this question before the Parliamentary Secretary replies. I agree with the point made by some Deputies with regard to getting the turf, wherever the proper qualities can be had, at the point nearest to the city and so save transport. In view of the Taoiseach's statement here, that the problem of transport was a really serious one, and that he believed there would be sufficient turf if it could be transported to the City of Dublin, everything should be done to secure the greatest amount of turf possible at the point where it can be transported most easily. There may be difficulty about finding labour in Kildare, but there are other counties where I believe there is turf of a superior quality and an abundance of labour at the same time. That applies in West Cavan. I do not say that it would be convenient, but at least it would be 100 miles nearer than Donegal, where there is a lot produced. I believe there is no better turf in Ireland than that in West Cavan, and it is fairly well served by a main road, though it is in a mountain district.
Most of this is virgin bog and that is one of the difficulties, but being mountain bog that is shallow, it requires very little drainage. I was of the opinion that it would not be a success to get turf from virgin bog, until this year has proved otherwise, whether that is due to the good season or not. I am told that the Cavan County Council got very good turf in a virgin form. I know that there are hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of acres of the same class of bog, and it would be well worth while for the Parliamentary Secretary to consider the development of that bog. There is no doubt about the quality. If it cannot be done now, it should be drained for next year, as next year it may not be as good in some places, and this bog would be a safeguard against a bad season. It would enable the Parliamentary Secretary to get turf which he could not expect  elsewhere in unfavourable conditions.
With regard to the drainage of bogs, I think that the Parliamentary Secretary is a bit lax—although a great deal of money is being voted—about relieving bogs by drainage, where a very small amount of money would be necessary. Two or three weeks ago I was asked to try for a small drainage grant for a place where there are 20 families getting turf, and where twice as many more could get turbary if the place were kept in fair condition, with the drains open. Where there are 40 or 50 people, and it is every man's business in general to see that that is done, and no man's business in particular, the bog is not kept in good condition. All they require is a lead, and they would be prepared to help. I went to the Board of Works and made an offer, that these people would be prepared to do even more than half the work if they got a lead, and if the Board of Works put in a ganger and a few men. It might cost £4,000 or £5,000, but that would not be much in comparison with the result. In the absence of anyone responsible to give a lead to these people, nothing has been done, though it may be the intention to go on with it.
We must remember that drainage work can be done only at certain times of the year—when the water is low and when people are not too busy with other work. When the harvest rush comes along, the men may not be able to co-operate with the Department as they would now. For that reason, a matter like that should not be neglected or put on the long finger. Where so little is involved and where so much can be saved and such important results achieved for a small outlay, it should not be neglected. Not only could the 15 or 20 people who are getting turf in that bog secure it, but twice as many could get it next year. Many others, who are growing potatoes and oats nearby, would be served by the same drain, and it might be worth 50 times what it would cost to clean it. The Parliamentary Secretary used to ask us to co-operate, and to point out schemes and show where he could spend money that would give the best results, but, unfortunately, I am afraid he does not co-operate when he finds  people prepared to co-operate with him. That is why I bring this matter to his notice.
I notice that the burning of lime comes in on this Vote. This is a very important industry. Any class of moory land is wonderfully improved by lime. There is a scheme in West Cavan —in all Cavan, but in West Cavan in particular—and the district is very suitable for lime burning; but some of the lime burners are held up at present as they have to apply for licences to purchase coal, and when they make the application they have to wait from week to week before it is granted. I suppose that eventually licences will be granted, but there should not be this delay.
Mr. McGovern: There is a distribution of lime scheme. I thought that was concerned with the burning. It cannot be distributed until it is burned, and it cannot be burned until licences are obtained for the coal.
Mr. McGovern: Very well. If the Parliamentary Secretary has nothing to do with it, we cannot hold him responsible. It is important, however, and perhaps he would touch up the Department which is responsible. I see a sum of £395,000 down here in connection with the Farm Improvements Scheme. I believe that that is a valuable scheme but, like many other things, it moves too slowly. It is not commenced in time and it is not stopped in time. If these schemes are forced on people at a time when they want to be putting in or taking out their crops, they may do more harm than good. Farmers in a certain district which I know were not able to  get on with this work when the spring work commenced. Extra crops had to be put in and they commenced their work early. They did not neglect the crop for the sake of improvement work that could afford to wait. They have to follow that up by the saving of the crop and the saving of turf, and they cannot complete the improvement work in time.
I think the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister for Agriculture, if he were here, would agree with their action in that respect. It is important that they should not be pressed in connection with this Farm Improvements Scheme and that the time should be extended until the crops are all saved and it is convenient for them to resume this work. As regards the scheme for completion next year, I suggest that it should commence on the 1st November, at latest, and let the farmers in their own time carry out the improvements. It is not right that their men should be disemployed for the winter and that this work should come on in the spring when they are preparing for the ordinary farming operations. I hope that these points will not be lost sight of but that the point referring to the Farm Improvements Scheme will be brought to the notice of the Minister responsible for its administration, so that the period will be extended in the case of farmers who made application in time but who did not get started on the work in time.
Mr. Flinn: I often think that if a debate goes on long enough it is not necessary for the man in charge to reply because, as a rule, nearly everything that has been raised is replied to by some other Deputy. A good example of that is furnished by the complaint made by a couple of Deputies, including Deputy Norton, that the turf was not being removed off the bogs. At the same time, we have the latest neophyte of that particular Party, Deputy Hannigan, complaining bitterly that the turf had been removed off the bogs too early. We had Deputy Cogan crying out, in the interests of Wicklow, that they should be allowed to remove the turf off the bog when it was the turf which was removed from  the bogs in Wicklow too early of which Deputy Hannigan was complaining. One is between the devil and deep blue sea. You can remove turf too early or you can leave it until it is cured. Assuming for the moment that the particular sod that was selected for the purpose of analysis was a correct, average sample of the whole consignment, it is clear that Grangegorman Asylum had turf which, by way of answer to Deputy Cogan and Deputy Norton, had been removed too early. In these cases, you find that the best is always the enemy of the good. You cannot always do what you want to do. At the present moment, there is not a great deal of turf ready. Turf began to come forward, at the earliest, at the beginning of this month. Those were exceptional samples. It is beginning to come forward in a steady stream and it ought to be coming forward at the rate of from 80,000 to 100,000 tons a week at the end of this month. But the amount of actually finished turf in the country ready to be shifted is not great and I think that that amount is being shifted.
Our task is not to ascertain the amount of turf that Dublin is entitled to have. That seems to be an obsession—that Dublin is entitled to lay down a regulation requiring so much turf and that Dublin must get that amount. When it is not there, Dublin cannot get it. What has happened up to the present is that the turf areas have sacrificed the whole of their right to domestic coal for the benefit of the eastern counties. In return, they have been told that if they will, by their own energy, produce the amount of turf that will give them fuel, they will have left them a reasonable supply of fuel for the winter. There is no machinery by which more than that could be taken from them. This is not turf which is, in the main, produced by hundreds and thousands of tons from factories. It is being produced by 30,000, 40,000 or 50,000 separate producers all over the country and it is being produced by a series of county councils which have a duty to their own counties. The House has to recognise that these responsibilities will have to be met.
 Once we know what the actual position is, we shall estimate how much turf is available for the non-turf producing areas to supplement the whole of the domestic coal which is segregated for these areas. Then, that turf has to be divided up and got in reasonable proportions to these districts. That is going to be done and the whole of the transport system, so far as it is available, will be used for that purpose. So far as I know, everything that it is possible to do now is being done. I have a county in mind which has not got sufficient turf for its own requirements, although it is scheduled as a turf county. Yet, the people in that county are hungrily looking for licences to get the turf out of the county because they think it may command a good price in some neighbouring district. I know cases of contiguous counties which could feed each other and make that position balance and the tendency is not to do so. The licence they are asking for is not to transfer the turf to the neighbouring county that wants it, but to transfer it out of the turf area into the coal area for the sake of price. Deputies will all hear of cases of grievances of that kind.
As I have told the House before, it is my business to be an honest broker and to find out as fairly as I can what is intended to be done with the turf. If the transfer of that turf is in the national interest and in the social interest, then that turf is moving now and will continue to move, but to the extent that in my opinion it is not in the social interest or it is not in the national interest, I am not going to move that turf at all. The present intention is to shift surplus turf into the eastern areas, into the boroughs and places of that kind to be kept until such time as real necessity arises. Whatever necessity there may be now, it cannot possibly be as acute as it will be later, and I think that it is not merely my own policy in the matter, but clearly it is the sense of the House that it is our business, to accumulate that stuff and to hold it until such time as acute necessity arises. The transport system of the country will carry a good deal  of stuff, but it will not carry in any one week or in any one month the amount of fuel which will be required in these eastern districts in that particular week or in that particular month. Therefore, if we are going to stave off the real acute difficulties of November, December, January and February, it means that we must put in during these months turf which we will not consume now.
The next thing you have got to face is that turf and coal are not only going to be burned over the country during those months; they will be required right through the year. Some people seem to have the idea that this is a sort of harvest to be reaped and brought into barns in a few weeks. It is physically impossible to do anything of the kind. It is going to be a question of a long series of months' steady and unbroken organisation, of an unbreakable organisation of transport. The stuff can only leak through—I am using that phrase deliberately. Compared to the amount of stuff that has to be moved and the maximum necessity with which we may have to deal, it can only leak through. A figure of 1,500,000 tons has been mentioned for Dublin.
No man who has any knowledge of the transport problem suggests that 1,500,000 tons can be brought over the present system within the time required. Then it is suggested that we should pick up all the lorries there are and shift it with them. Again, we have to make a proper and provident use of the petrol and the stuff we have. In my opinion, that is being done. We do not know the whole of the problem by any means. It is only within the last two or three weeks that the picture of production and consumption has begun to emerge. I have a fairly good idea of where the turf is and I am beginning to have an idea of how much of it I shall have to leave there. As soon as the whole picture comes out, we shall know where we stand. In the meantime we are moving everything we can, because we know that the maximum movement will not be more than sufficient, to put it in the most optimistic way. For that reason, we have no hesitation in shifting the stuff  as early as we can, but the Government's guarantee was not to buy everybody's turf at once. The Government's guarantee was not to the man who had turf first saved or who had it in the condition in which he was prepared to let it go off the bog whenever he could get whatever fancy prices were available for a quick market. The Government have guaranteed to provide a market at reasonable prices for all merchantable turf which is being produced this year. That guarantee will be taken up and that is quite sufficient for anybody. It is a better guarantee than has ever been given before in relation to a matter of this kind by anybody.
Deputy Norton raised a very sensible question when he said that while there had been an energetic attempt to work the bogs in Kildare by local officers, they had in fact failed to produce the goods. There is a huge area of bog in Kildare, quite good bog, but the total amount of labour which was available was somewhere about 400 or 500 men, as against 4,000 in Donegal, and the men in Donegal probably were cutting twice as much per man per day. Our difficulty at the present moment is that we have big quantities of turf in the remote areas. It would be excellent if they were near Dublin, but I have got to face the facts; that is where they are and that is where it has got to be shifted from. There are only two possible ways to develop turf production nearer Dublin. That is by sending urban labour on to the bogs or bringing labour from Donegal or Mayo to cut turf in the bogs in Kildare.
That raises problems both of transport and of accommodation which are very difficult problems to face. I do not pretend for a moment that it is a simple problem. I do not know at the present moment with even a 50 per cent. degree of certainly, if I can get the mere physical material with which to build the accommodation which is required for them. That problem has to be investigated and will be dealt with to the best of our ability.
Deputy Norton said that somebody had been buying turf in Kildare at £1 per ton and that the fixed price in Dublin was 45/-, so that he was making 25/- a ton. What evidence has Deputy  Norton that that stuff was sold in Dublin? That turf cannot come into Dublin without a licence. There is no intention that turf will come into Dublin to be sold at an exorbitant price. There is nothing in the world to prevent anybody going down to turf-producing districts, offering a price for turf, and selling it in the turf-producing districts, but the surplus stuff which is going out, goes out on licence and we shall know where it is going and why it is going.
Deputy Dillon in one of his usual speeches in which he objected even to my drinking water, said that I was out to abolish the Comptroller and Auditor-General. All I can say to that is that it is the usual sort of cod. What we are out to do is to get rid of unnecessary delays, and everything that is in this Vote will go before the Comptroller and Auditor-General in exactly the same way as our Votes have always gone.
Deputy Hughes raised quite a good point. He said the difficulty was that our fuel consisted of coal which was landed at the principal points of consumption and only a very small part of the total imports had to drift over the transport system into other places. The result of our first year's effort has been to produce practically the whole of the surplus turf in areas which are the furthest possible points from the points of previous high coal consumption. If it were the other way about, perhaps it would be very much better. Take the ordinary consumption of fuel coming into a place like Dublin. The storage requires to be the minimum, because the incomings and outgoings were normally the same. There was an absolutely continuous flow of fuel in and fuel out and the result was that the storage capacity did not happen to be even one-twentieth of the total consumption.
In the case of turf, we will not be able to supply it at the rate at which it is consumed in the high consumption months. It has to be accumulated and stored to a very considerable extent. It has to be stored in what would represent, at one particular moment, very considerable proportions. It would occupy a space three or four times as much as coal for the same calorific  value. The storage problem in relation to turf in the eastern area is relatively appalling. It is not going to be possible to store under cover the amount of turf which will require to be stored. Reckless improvisation will have to be made. Even if we filled the Dáil Chamber, and did reckless things of that kind, we still would not be able to get sufficient accommodation for turf. That is one of the problems we have to face. We are not complaining about it. We are simply stating that those are the facts, and we must do our best to meet the situation.
The question of gas-producers on lorries has been taken up, and is being actively pursued, both in relation to finding an alternative fuel to turf—on which I am not completely hopeless at the moment, though there was not much hope of doing anything this year —and also from the point of view of the use of anthracite. There is definitely a shortage of the amount of material which could be used. Every piece of material we want is needed for some other purpose. The Minister for Supplies, when he is asked to provide X tons of some particular material, has to choose between its various uses. I had my eye on some material for the purpose of providing accommodation in Kildare or some other place for western turf-cutters next year, and I find I am fourth down the list of competitors who want to get possession of that material.
Deputy Mulcahy wanted a constructive approach to a general scheme. I invite him, in relation to the proposal he made of an extension of the activities on the agricultural side, to come down to brass tacks and give us a scheme which he thinks might be worked. Any proposal of that kind will be treated very sympathetically, but it is not the faintest use for the least agriculturally-minded man in the country to pretend to express an opinion along the lines of some general idea that money should be spent on agriculture. The Minister for Agriculture is actually spending £395,000 under this Vote on the way he thinks best. There is money spent on lime, the reclamation of land and compulsory tillage.
The Minister's technical advisers  have not missed anything which is obvious in the matter of using money for the purpose of agriculture. Any scheme put forward to me would have to be vetted by that Department before it was considered from the point of view of a Vote of this kind. There would be nothing that would give greater joy to the Minister for Finance than to find a scheme for the use of money in agriculture which would definitely and demonstrably give a productive return commensurate with the increase. That is a problem that I would be glad to see Deputy Mulcahy or anybody else tackle. I said that I would sit at the Deputy's feet and learn with very great pleasure and very great gratitude.
Deputy Davin said the value of turf was not discovered until this year. It is an amazing thing that, in some ways, it was not. It was practically impossible to sell turf up to December, 1940. Everybody thought there was something wrong with it. As regards the turf sold by the Turf Development Board from Clonsast, more than three-quarters of it was sold in the two or three months after December. You could not get people to believe that turf was worth burning. It is amazing the conversion that has taken place within the last few months. Everybody now believes that it is worth burning. In the eastern areas, where the people are accustomed to coal, turf is an absolutely new discovery.
Mr. Flinn: I am in one of those kindly moods in which I do not want to point out the sins of commission or omission of anybody, but I will say that up to December, 1940, you could not dispose of turf, even if you tried to give it away.
Mr. Flinn: I am not suggesting that every Government Department was widly enthusiastic about it, but they are cross-sections of the public mind and they are like everybody else. Again, we had the old story about the bog roads. The suggestion was made that we should have spent, in the last four or five years on all the bog roads in areas in which no one was prepared to produce or buy turf, the money which we now know to be desirable because everybody wants it. It is the easiest thing in the world for the whole of us to be wise after the event. At the present moment, in relation to the money which is required for the purpose of producing turf, in a quantity commensurate with its cost, in 1941 and 1942, there is no difficulty in getting the money. I have lists here of the different counties in which it has gone out. Nearly £100,000 has gone out altogether. There has been no delay or difficulty of any kind. As I told the House before, I am not going to go into the case of a particular bog road and express an opinion on it. To do that would be to interfere with the sense of responsibility of those who are charged with that duty. What I have done is this: I have examined a dozen or so typical roads and I am satisfied, from my knowledge of them and of the circumstances, that the treatment of those particular roads is right. That makes case law for the other things that are done, or that are going to be done, in the same spirit of fairness, with the idea of getting production and a total disregard of any special pressure of any kind. Certainly the last place to put pressure on is here. My opinion is that, at the present moment, the thing is being fairly and expeditiously done and I am satisfied that will continue to be so. These, I think, exhaust the matters that were raised on this Vote. As Deputies know, it is an emergency Vote. It covers a variety of things. We must only do our best to meet new emergencies and new difficulties as they arise.
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