Committee on Finance. - Vote on Account, 1942-43 (Resumed).

Thursday, 12 March 1942

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 85 No. 18

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Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  In discussing this huge Vote which we have presented with the Estimates for the coming year, I turn immediately to Vote 63—the Army. That is an item which is presented in bulk form in accordance with a certain agreement reached last year. I suggest to the House that the agreement reached last year has been stretched so as to include certain items in this bulk form which could not with any show of reason be presented in this form. The argument for not having this Estimate presented with all the appropriate facts and usual details [2483] is that some danger might accrue to the country if certain details were made known. Whatever force there is in that argument could not apply to many items that are hidden in this huge bulk Vote. I take for instance the item “certain expenses in connection with the special commemoration of the 1916 Rising”. If there are any expenses in respect of the Army in connection with that event surely they should be given as a separate item? Again, a matter about which the people are entitled to have some information, so that they may have some idea of the Government's record of achievement, is the question of the expenses in connection with the trial and detention of certain persons and certain expenses under the Offences Against the State Acts, 1939 and 1940. I suggest that there is no reason of a public necessity type which would prevent the people knowing what expenses the Government has incurred under these heads. That is a matter of fact that might be brought out in a general way so as to let us know how many people have been charged under the Offences Against the State Acts and how many people have been tried and detained in connection with the Military Court activities.

A matter which is definitely cloaked under this heading—and I suggest it is an item that has no right to be there and no right to be hidden—is the expenses of the Office of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures. I do not see how anybody could honestly say that the publication of the items which go to make up the expenses of that office would have the slightest effect in this country in relation to the war or would bring us one step nearer to danger than we are at the moment. It is a Ministry about which there has been a considerable amount of difficulty and disturbance, and a good deal of criticism, to which I intend to add some more this evening. I suggest to the Minister for Finance that he should take the arrangement given to him last year in the narrowest possible way and should segregate for the information of the House the expenses falling under the heads I have mentioned, and particularly to [2484] let us see what this Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures is costing the country, and what is his staff and expenditure year by year. Some time ago, I raised on the adjournment a matter with regard to the activities of that Minister. I do not intend to pursue this in-and-out sort of chase which exists at the moment between himself and myself with regard to these matters, but I do think it proper to refer to a reply he gave on 18th February this year to certain points I raised. His answer contains false statements, and, owing to the short period at his disposal that evening, it was not within my power to come back on the statements he made. I should say that pretty nearly everything he said in answer to me that night is false, either by omission or by the insertion of something which is definitely wrong.

There are two items which stand out for comment. I referred to a matter I have raised several times here—the difference in treatment accorded to the Kilkenny People and the Dundalk Examiner.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  If the Deputy will allow me, I should like to raise a point of order. Is it in order for a Deputy to go over every Departmental Estimate on the discussion of this Vote on Account? I heard you, Sir, suggest the other day that the procedure was for the Opposition to say what item or items they proposed to discuss on this Vote on Account. I do not know whether any such intimation was conveyed to the Chair, but I would suggest that this discussion has gone over almost every item, and that it would take me days to reply. There are certain things I could not reply to, because I should have to get notice, but there are certain other important items to which I should like to reply. I think the matter to which the Deputy is now referring, the question of the censorship, has already been discussed more than once, and probably will come up again on the Estimates. For that reason, I raise the point as to whether it is in order to raise every Estimate in the Book of Estimates on this Vote on Account.

[2485]Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Before you reply, Sir, I want to point out that we are voting a sum of £2,981,000 in this Vote under the heading of the Army, which includes the Department of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures, which includes censorship. I suggest that we are entitled to discuss censorship on that £3,000,000 Vote.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  As stated before this debate began, the practice has been to give notice in writing to the Ceann Comhairle of the matters to be raised on this Vote on Account. No such notice was given on this occasion, but it was intimated verbally that two Deputies would deal with supplies. It is customary on this Vote to discuss general policy and expenditure, but it is not permissible to anticipate detailed points that would normally arise on the Estimates. These Votes are not itemised; hence, details which would, and certainly will, arise on the Estimates proper, and on the Vote for the Minister's Department, should not be gone into now. It appears to me that discussion of replies given on another occasion, and which would properly be raised on the Minister's Vote, should be deferred.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I thank you for your intervention. I propose to discuss the policy of the Censor in relation to matters which he has censored quite recently and in relation to the excuses he has made with regard to them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  But not in detail as on the Estimate.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I have not been speaking more than two minutes and I do not think I could have packed much detail into that time. The Government's policy in hiding certain matters is what I want to get after on this Vote, portion of which is for the expenses of censorship.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I have no reason and no right to object to the Deputy raising any subject for discussion, but I do suggest that any one Deputy would not have the right to raise six, eight or ten Departmental Estimates [2486] on the discussion of this Vote on Account.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I intend to raise about half a dozen of what I think are glaring scandals in connection with the way public money is being spent. I do not think that half a dozen such matters is a very big number to raise and it is certainly a very small percentage of the scandals that could be raised. I was referring to what I regard as the unfair discrimination made between two newspapers, the Kilkenny People and the Dundalk Examiner. I was told in the reply to my question in that regard that, if anything, the Dundalk Examiner was treated more harshly than the Kilkenny People. I simply state that that is false. The Kilkenny People was ordered to supply the whole issue for examination before it went to press, while the Dundalk Examiner was asked to supply editorials. How anybody knowing these facts can say that the treatment by which one paper is asked to submit editorial matter was harsher than that accorded to another paper which is asked to submit its whole issue before publication passes my comprehension. It was proper for the Minister to go on and to say that inasmuch as one editor had turned immediately to his desires and showed himself willing to be obedient, he remitted the penalty, but to say that the treatment in both cases was the same is a false statement.

The second matter was much worse. I raised the question of the review of a certain book, the details of which I do not propose to go into now, and I was told by the Minister on 18th February that the paper publishing that review was told to go ahead and that it refused to publish, and that, therefore, if there was any lack of publication or any failure to publish, it was due to the paper itself. The paper within the next 24 hours attempted to publish a statement showing that, if the Minister had been properly advised, he could never have made that assertion, because it there appeared from letters from the Press Censor, which were quoted, that the Press Censor himself had agreed that as they would not [2487] accede to what he asked them to cut out, they had reached a deadlock. The Press Censor wrote:—

“I feel that it would not be in the national interest to allow you to do so and, accordingly, it looks as if we have reached a deadlock.”

The Press Censor, replying to the Irish Independent, said: “We have reached a deadlock” and, notwithstanding that, the Minister falsely tells the House that the Independent was allowed to publish.

I want now to touch on one other statement in relation to Army matters which is rather a delicate subject, but I think it proper that, as the allegation was made here, the truth should be known. I asked why a certain editorial was held up for three or four days and I was told that it was because it was insulting to the Army and might have prevented recruiting, and that for that reason national safety demanded that the editorial should be held up until the offending sentence could be deleted. Where did the sentence occur and what was the exact statement made? The Independent wrote an editorial on a matter which is exercising many people's minds—the immense growth of the Civil Service—and after giving a series of figures and making comparisons with different years, came to the conclusion that, for every 107 of the population—men, women and children—a civil servant is maintained. The editorial was allowed to go to press with that sentence, but the sentence with which it was proposed to follow was: “The inclusion of teachers, Civic Guards and the Army would result in a ratio that would provide a State keeper for almost every family.” That sentence was cut out on the ground that “it is insulting to the Army and might stop recruiting.”“The inclusion of teachers, Civic Guards and the Army would result in a ratio that would provide a State keeper for almost every family.” The reply by the Minister, which could not be answered that night because the Minister was last in the field, was that [2488] that statement was insulting and might stop recruiting. Is there anybody listening who believes that it could possibly have the effect of either insulting the Army or preventing anybody who wished to join the Army from joining up? Merely to add on, in bulk, teachers, Civic Guards and the Army——

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  As keepers.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  ——would provide a State keeper for almost every family. Is it to the word “keepers” that objection is now taken?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Deputy can ascribe any meaning he likes to the word.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The Minister who censored that article did not censor it on that ground. This is an example of the difficulty arising from a lack of co-ordination between the co-ordinating Minister and his colleague. That was not the reason given for censoring it. The sentence had to go, and remember that it is not insulting to the Guards and not insulting to the teachers. It is only insulting to the Army. It would not have prevented recruiting for the Guards, and would not have prevented people flocking into the teachers' ranks or have prevented recruiting for the Army. The whole thing is nonsense, and the Minister's intervention has proved that. Last night there was a scene in this House. The newspapers do not carry anything of it to-day. Why? The Censor cut it out. As far as Deputy Corry was concerned last night, it was a highly discreditable scene.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  It is my opinion that the House would desire that the incident should be regarded as ended.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I do not think it should be taken as ended. It is not taken as ended. It remains there. The people have heard of it and the newspapers are going to publish it, not in this country but elsewhere. I would like to see the whole episode published, if any part of it is published. Of course, the whole difficulty was caused [2489] because the Tánaiste did not feel empowered to administer a rebuke to Deputy Corry until, apparently, he got orders from outside. The amazing thing is how a man, the second Head of the Government, could sit silent while words were used here last night and not think it was part of his duty to do what eventually he did do until apparently he got orders from outside.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I got no orders.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Until he got permission.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I got no orders, nor did I ask for permission from anybody.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  Very good. The Minister did it on his own.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Is there no one responsible for order in this House except the Minister?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  And the Minister did it how long after?

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Half an hour.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  It took half an hour for an insult offered to a friendly people to penetrate into the Minister's mind.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Perhaps the Deputy might ask, inside his own Party, why the scene was permitted at all.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  I do not know. I think the Deputy should have been held up until he apologised, but he was not.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  As already stated details of administration should not be raised on the Vote on Account thus anticipating discussion of Estimates. Last night's incident might be so classed.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  The matter that happened last night, as far as the Vice-President of the Government is concerned, was a scandal. It was a complete dereliction of duty on his part to wait until somebody, or his conscience drove him to do what he [2490] did do in the end. In any event, as far as the Irish newspapers are concerned, a Deputy was suspended from the service of the House and the newspapers are not allowed to publish it.

I have been told, as far as the Censor is concerned, that his record is that he has never yet forbidden an official statement made in connection with the war. I listened on the wireless the other night to a statement made by the English Foreign Secretary in the English House of Commons, and I waited to see the publication of it in this country. It was not published. Certain parts of it were. A denial, which was directed mainly to the parts of it that were not published here, was put in. I do not know if anything could be more official than a statement made by an English Minister speaking in the Parliamentary Assembly. The Censor here decides to cut that out. I have no doubt that, when the details of the administration of this Department—if the items are ever segregated—come to be discussed, that we will still have the phrase used that no official statement has ever been censored.

I do not want to go into details of administration, but there is one grave matter that is undoubtedly exercising the minds of many people, and that pertains to the police, that I want to refer to. Certain orders were brought in here with regard to the evidence in connection with the trial of certain people. The trial is over and the community knows the result. In the course of this trial, certain witnesses were asked questions about the missing man Devereux. One of them said on oath that “he knew that there had been a suspicious car in the Glenbower area”—that being the area where the murdered man's body was eventually found—“about a fortnight after Devereux's disappearance, and he suspected that it was Devereux's car. He suspected that Devereux had been murdered in his area and he reported that to his superiors.” That was within a fortnight of the disappearance. A later police witness going into the box, said on oath that “in November or December, 1940, he reported to his superiors certain information [2491] which had led him to believe that Devereux had been murdered.” These are two statements made by police witnesses on oath in the box. I want to say here, as I understand it, that is not the information which the police gave to the Minister. As a matter of fact, one of the police witnesses was asked why Mrs. Devereux was not informed of her husband's death, and the answer was that “it would be a terrible thing if it turned out that the man had not been murdered.” Will the Vice-President ask the Minister for Justice, before this debate is over, whether he knew that this unfortunate woman was told an entirely different story about her husband? When he has collated the different stories told by the police in this matter to the authorities and to the Minister himself, will he make up his mind whether there is any possible reason for an investigation into the conduct of the police who were connected with this matter?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Is not that a detail of administration?

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  That is not a detail of administration, I submit with the greatest respect. This was a case which excited great attention because it upset the whole law of evidence. We here, who could have spoken about certain details, forbade ourselves the duty of speaking because we thought it would be embarrassing to the police. The statements made by the police establish to my mind either of two things: that the police were lying when they made that statement, or that they lied to the Minister for Justice. I suggest that is not a detail of administration.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That is a matter that would obviously arise on the Vote for the Minister's Department.

Mr. McGilligan: Information on Patrick McGilligan  Zoom on Patrick McGilligan  This is not a question as to whether a policeman has been found out or not in some small court case, or whether allegations against the Guards of treating prisoners in different ways have been [2492] proved or not. This was a matter that came before the House on a special piece of legislation which upset the whole law of evidence in order to allow a particular case to be brought. In the course of that case, one which excited a great deal of attention, these statements were made. Is it true that these reports were made by the police to their superiors because a month afterwards the radio in this country was brought into operation asking for information as to the missing man?

There is one other matter which came before the courts that excited a great deal of attention. It pertains to the Vote that we have here for nearly £9,000,000. At the recent criminal sessions in Dublin, a citizen of Kilkenny appeared in the dock charged in connection with certain meat contract scandals—meat contracts that were with the Army. He was found not guilty. The judge, addressing the jury, in language very rarely used by judges in this country in addressing juries in the criminal courts, said:

“You and I are in the centre of a thieves' kitchen, and it is hard to put a finger on anything clean or untainted.”

He said that:

“The jury must feel strongly that such scandalous abuses of Army contracts as the court had been investigating should be put down with a strong hand.”

At the same time, the accused had justice done to him. He went on to say that certain things must be found against the accused before a verdict of guilty could be brought in. Then he said:

“Features of that unsavoury story included the suicide of a quartermaster-sergeant responsible for the food at Kilkenny and the absence in England of the quartermaster, and the production as two major witnesses of a pair of scamps who destroyed their records to cover their tracks. One of them had pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the matter and was now serving a sentence, while the other was unconvicted [2493] and uncharged, and gave evidence on the understanding, so he avowed, that he would not be charged if he did so. Those two men were, beyond question, conspirators in the frauds alleged, but the State submitted that they were entitled to credence because their evidence showed they had come to court to tell the truth.

“They looked with hope to the documents certified by honest officers, but how far did they really examine what they had signed? It was not only in the Army that men, would sign a printed document on the dotted line, taking the contents as granted.”

He talked about a missing witness—a captain—and said he must have been kept out of the witness-box because he must have admitted that he signed as a matter of routine without any real check at all. Finally, addressing the jury on the matter of an accomplice, he used these words:—

“You have two fine specimens of the accomplice—two perfect museum pieces, as a collector would put it— in this case. It would be a danger to treat either men as reliable witnesses....”

After that charge, a Kilkenny citizen who was charged with being involved in these contracts was acquitted.

There is a vast sum of money being thrown around this country for the Army. We have parted with our Parliamentary control of that money, we have handed it over on the plea of vital national necessity, we have abandoned all control over it, and there is no way open of getting after these moneys and seeing that they are expended properly. When there is a vast amount of money thrown around, without any control, the natural outcome is a crop of scandals of this kind. Writing about that, a certain newspaper said that that was only one of the cases and that the scandal affected not merely contracts in regard to meat but in regard to bread, butter, tea and petrol. As far as I can find out, the only cases that have been tried in any court were three cases before district justices and [2494] this one before the Criminal Court. The State finds itself in the position of being unable to produce a reliable witness. Anybody they could produce was so tainted and so destroyed with the scandal itself that the evidence could not be believed.

I suggest to the Minister for Finance that, apart from the fear a person must have that the ordinary result of the lack of control will be this sort of maladministration, if the Minister never had any case but one, he has there a case that would drive him in the most serious way to apply most rigid control to these vast sums of money we are asking from the taxpayers for national purposes. There were articles written about this matter, in which newspaper editors have been brought to observe that, when men leave posts in which they get some sort of livelihood, and join up to defend the State, they are entitled to get whatever rations the taxpayers provide for them. If the taxpayer is taxed heavily in order to provide the Army with a certain amount of foodstuffs, it should not turn out later on that the money he is paying is not going where he thinks it should go, and for the purpose for which he has given it, but is going to racketeers of the type disclosed in that case.

I suggest to the Minister that, if we are parting with control in this House, we should have two guarantees from him. We should have a guarantee that the reason for parting with that control is something which he himself would regard as a vital necessity; and secondly, that, in the absence of such control as the House can exercise, he would establish something in the nature of better control himself, through his Department. He should see that these moneys go for the purposes for which they were obtained, and that those from whom they were obtained would know that they were doing what was intended.

One of the things that has helped to break down confidence in the Government in its handling of public finance at the present time is the well-known fact—known possibly to everybody except those in the Government itself—[2495] that profiteering is rampant throughout the country. People are finding themselves hard put to eke out their resources in the way of wages, so as to cover what they used to get and what they require. What they do get is just not as constant, as stable or as secure as it used to be. Even the money wages they get have very definitely diminished in value, owing to the fact that there has been no real attempt at controlling prices. Secondly, those people known as operators in the black market and open profiteers have been allowed freely to range through the whole wide field of commodities.

So far did that scandal go that a very eminent Doctor of the Church was led to write an article about the matter in an ecclesiastical magazine during the course of the year. In it he committed himself, after examination, to the statement that business profits were, in some cases, excessive and, in fact, scandalously excessive here in Ireland at the moment, and he made the point that it was the duty of good Catholics to expose profiteering, to condemn it, and to see that every effort was made to put an end to it. He backed up his own view by quotations and he said that, if this type of conduct were permitted, there was an obvious end to the country in which it was permitted.

He said that the matter should be tackled “not only for justice' sake but also for the sake of the peace and tranquillity of the society in which we live”. Conduct allowed in this way, he said, would “exasperate the hearts of the people and prepare the way for the overthrow and ruin of the social order”. He gave facts and details. One of them was with regard to a company which had increased its ordinary capital of £30,000 by watering operations to £100,000. They had been declaring dividends of 12½ per cent. and a bonus had been paid on top of that, and they got to a point where they were still declaring dividends of 12 per cent. on the capital, which then stood at £100,000, but which really was only £30,000. I drew attention to that, and the Minister for Supplies told me that he could identify the particular business [2496] spoken of and said the total assets far exceeded the total issued capital, and that a number of investigations had been carried out by his Department and showed that the prices of the commodities they produced had been maintained at reasonable levels.

In regard to a company which, between 1935 and 1941—in six years—by watering operations had increased its capital from £30,000 to £100,000, and while doing so had paid dividends that ranged ordinarily in the region of 12 to 15 per cent., the Minister's view, after all that was over, was that these profits were reasonable and that the prices that brought in those profits were also reasonable. That closed the matter so far as I was concerned, as I came to the conclusion that, if that was the standard which the Minister for Supplies accepted with regard to that type of thing, there was no good in putting Parliamentary questions to him. I believe that that was the most glaring and blatant example that could be given, and so it appeared to the reverend gentleman who wrote the article.

However, we find a little bit of change recently. The Taoiseach, at a meeting in Cavan in February this year, said—it is not a very definite statement, but one of the usual evasions; at any rate, it seems to have a little reality in it—

“Those who are profiteering at the expense of the community are doing something that is base, and it is the duty of the community to expose them.”

I wonder would An Taoiseach think that people who felt that they were doing their duty in exposing profiteering had got much satisfaction or would get much satisfaction if they read the reply given by the Minister for Supplies previously on the very glaring examples that were given here in the House.

In any event, there was the onset of reality. Those who were profiteering at the expense of the community were doing something that was base. A couple of days later in that month, An Taoiseach was the guest of the industrialists [2497] of this country, the Federation of Irish Manufacturers, at their annual meeting, at the Gresham Hotel, and he spoke twice to them of the danger of killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. He told them that if they exploited the people who were bound to buy from them, there would be reaction that would destroy both them and their business. He warned them that they had a full meed of protection and said—it was the first time I heard him saying it—there were grave dangers connected with protection. He described protection as a necessary evil and thought the thing had now got to the point that some body like the old Tariff Commission should be re-established in order to report upon what had happened under the protectionist system that industrialists in this country had enjoyed. There is a late recognition of the fact that not merely is profiteering possible but that it had been made easy by the system that Fianna Fáil regarded as one of their triumphs. We get the length that An Taoiseach now joins Dr. Lucey in saying that profiteering is base and that it is the duty of the community to expose those people who are profiteering.

We know that the Minister for Finance had some views upon that matter himself. On the occasion of the last Budget he arrived here with a statement that the Revenue Commissioners had been able to examine certain accounts and had come to the conclusion from an examination of the accounts that certain firms had very definitely abused the superior position in which they found themselves and had made money at the expense of the community out of the exigencies of the war situation. He proposed to tax them in the last Budget. The particular tax he was bringing in was so inefficiently applied that he did recognise after a bit that he was going to hit the type of struggling and developing business which it would be really his duty to foster. Thereupon, instead of making some discrimination or attempting to make some discrimination between the profiteering type of firm and the developing type of firm, he came here one day and [2498] announced that he was throwing away £600,000. That was the value he put upon the tax that he would get—it was not the whole amount—out of the moneys that these firms had made by profiteering at the expense of the public and by making use of the war situation to demand bigger prices than they were entitled to. That £600,000 still remains with those gentlemen. We know that, of course, the bacon curers are still allowed to hold on to that several hundred thousand pounds which a commission established by this House found that they had pilfered. We know that Ranks are not merely holding on to but are adding to the amount of money they made out of the community under the auspices of one of the Minister's colleagues.

I asked the Minister on a couple of occasions why he would not pass special legislation to deal with those people who, by commissions established, had been found guilty of practices that would have landed an ordinary citizen in the dock, and he talked of the difficulty of having tax legislation aimed at individuals. It seems to be a peculiar circumstance that we can have legislation passed in this country for the benefit of individuals. We can give subventions and credits and tariffs which are clearly aimed for the benefit of particular firms. But when it comes to the other side, trying to recover from those people something that they have unlawfully obtained, then we are told there is difficulty about fashioning legislation to that end. However, there the matter lies. Profiteering is now apparently regarded as something that is known, as something that is, from An Taoiseach's words, proved. The Taoiseach is afraid it will have a bad reaction upon industry, and he asks those people to observe what they are doing, and not to continue in that type of conduct that he described as killing the goose that laid the golden eggs, that is, the unfortunate consumer in the country.

As a pattern for the future, and as the only pattern the Government have given us for the future, in contrast to what happens in regard to those profiteers who were to be taxed to [2499] the extent of £600,000 last year, and Ranks and the bacon curers, and the unnamed profiteers that An Taoiseach points to but does not define, we have Order No. 83, which has now lasted for some little time without amendment, but in connection with which certain amendments were promised. Those amendments may limit the harsh effect of that Order upon certain of the lower grades of the community, but Order No. 83 has lasted for some time and that Order shows the policy that was actuating the Government and its attitude, on the one hand, towards those who have had the community thrown at their mercy, thrown to them to deal with as they like, through tariffs, protections, subsidies and all sorts of things, and towards the unfortunate employees on the other.

The question of supplies has been so much debated in this House that one wonders if it is worth while going any further into the matter. I think even his colleagues have begun to realise that the Minister for Supplies is not regarded throughout the country as a man who has acted up to his responsibilities or achieved the job he was given to do. Day after day, week after week, certainly, we get presented to us some woeful statements by that Minister with regard to the future. He apparently considers that his duty is done when he presents himself to the people as a prophet of evil and never, apparently, thinks it is any part of his duty to come before the people and tell them how he lessened the blow that was falling on them, what he did to try to provide supplies or to try to eke out whatever little supplies of different things came into the country.

I just want again to point out the sharp contrast between that Department and any other. If there is one thing on which the Government was apt to pride itself in relation to foresight it was in respect of supplies. We were told by the present Minister for Supplies, before he acted in that position, in September, 1938, a year before the war broke out, that he and his officials had diverted their attention [2500] from their ordinary duties to devising plans to meet the possible emergency of a European war, including rationing of petrol, provision of necessary supplies and the control and distribution of these supplies. These were the wide terms of reference he apparently was given. He had to think of rationing. He certainly had to think of control and certainly had to think of distribution and, apparently, he was also to think of getting in supplies. That was September, 1938. He told us that he hoped the fruit of the work which he and his officials had been doing for the past month or two would never see the light of day but that the plans—and there were plans, remember—would lie in the pigeon-holes of the Department and accumulate dust with the years. That was a full year before war broke out and the Government, no doubt, prided themselves on that achievement and presented themselves to the people here, a full year before the war came, as having sufficient foresight to realise that war at least was possible. They had done this great thing—they had set apart the Minister for Industry and Commerce to deal with supplies, to think of rationing and to think of the getting in of supplies and the control and distribution of whatever was in the country. That was apparently done at that time. Plans were made and the plans were going to be pigeon-holed and there was the pious hope of the Minister that they would never be used.

Of course the reality has since come upon us, and we know what truth there was, or what reality there was, in the boast of the Minister at that time. We have been able to test it here through a number of things, petrol, tea, sugar, flour, and, quite recently, bread. We have been able to see what plans the Minister had, and how far he displayed any foresight whatever. When the war came with full impact upon this country, we were able to judge how far even he had done the ordinary housekeeper's job of eking out whatever little there was of certain things in this country of which it was clear that sooner or later there would be a very definite shortage.

[2501] The Minister has answered our questions in various ways from time to time, but one specific statement of his was to the effect that in the first eight months of the war his Department had been responsible for getting in very definite extra supplies of certain goods, and he mentioned the goods. Wheat and coal are amongst them, and tea and sugar also. There were two other commodities named. From time to time I have asked him to publish those statistics. If that boast of his is true and accurate, the statistics will uphold him. If that boast of his is an empty and idle one, the statistics will belie him. I have asked from time to time to get the statistics published, and each time we were told that it would not be in the national interests to have the figures revealed. I think that that answer convicts him, because of course if we had got in any extra supplies there could be no danger to the country from the publication of that evidence. It would show that we were in a better position than possibly people believed, and would be better able to hold out against an attempt at a blockade of the country or any attack upon us. The Minister will not tell us the figures. The national security demands that they should be kept secret, and the Minister simply repeats in a parrot-like way that those statistics, if and when published, will prove his point. I have seen the statistics. I know that they do not prove his point. At the most, they will show that there was brought into the country about a month or six weeks' extra-supply of the six commodities he mentioned.

That agent of the Government who is in charge of fuel at the moment, the Parliamentary Secretary, did give certain figures here the other night, and they are worth looking at. He told us, when he was speaking of turf, that ordinarily this country imported about 2,500,000 tons of coal, and that we had imported so much more in 1938, 1939 and 1940 that the situation last year was very easy as a result of it. People here are not so sure that the situation was as easy as the Parliamentary Secretary made out, but his [2502] figures certainly indicate that there should have been a better position. His figures are given in column 2092 of the Official Debates of 4th March. They are not always quoted in the same way, but I think this particular paragraph is one that he will stand over as bearing out what he intended to say:

“The import for the two years, 1939 and 1940, the two first emergency years, averages 2,880,000 tons, giving in those two first emergency years a gross excess over the average normal consumption of some 760,000 tons. The import in 1941 was 1,640,000 tons, but, if you add that to the excess obtained in the two previous years,”

you get the required 2,500,000 tons. That particular set of figures of his is either borne out or very nearly borne out by the actual figures. I find, from the figures that have been given to me in regard to coal, that the import for the year 1941 was not 1,640,000 tons but about 200,000 tons less. But that is all coal. What I should imagine the Parliamentary Secretary was speaking of was not all coal but household coal, and then the picture is an entirely different one. I take the same years that he took for his basic comparison. The average of the three years shows what were the normal imports of household coal into this country. For those years, 1935 to 1938, the average was 1,600,000 tons, and we got in in 1939 and 1940 an average of 1,700,000 tons, 100,000 tons extra. Our import of domestic coal or household coal fell to less than 500,000 tons in the year 1941. If you add the quantity that we had over and above the normal imports in the two earlier years you get 600,000 tons of household coal imported or else held in 1941, and that is against an annual import of 1,600,000 tons. We were just 1,000,000 tons of household coal short last year, and, if we equate that by thinking of supplies of turf to substitute for it, it meant that last year we required 2,000,000 tons of turf. Of course, we did not get that.

Those statistics should be open to the public. I am told, when I ask for [2503] them on certain occasions, that it is not in the national interests that they should be published, and then the Parliamentary Secretary thinks he can make a case out of them. He quotes them. Of course he quotes figures that are misleading. On the occasion when the matter was discussed here we were not so much interested in supplies of coal as in supplies of domestic coal. Apparently, it was not then any longer a national danger to let us have the figures. The figures can only be thoroughly understood in the public mind when they get those figures properly analysed. I suggest to the Minister for Supplies that, if he wants to give some demonstration to the people of what he did, he could take that single matter of coal and tell the people what his Department did, or, if he likes, let him publish the figures for the six commodities he boasted about, letting the public have a demonstration of the value of his Department to them.

There is one matter which has been discussed recently—at least, part of it was discussed, and appeared in this morning's paper—and which has often caused me some wonderment. There was a tribunal set up to discuss the question of transport, and that tribunal reported to the Government in August, 1939. One of the statements contained in that report is that the Great Southern Railways Company found their financial position so bad that they had abandoned their ordinary practice of carrying three weeks' supply of coal, and were carrying only one week's supply. That statement was in the hands of the Government before the war broke out. They found themselves with a document before them stating that the Great Southern Railways Company had only money enough to carry a week's supply of coal. I want to know what did the Government do about that matter? Did they bring in the board of the Great Southern Railways and tell them that they were running dangerously low? Did they advise them that further supplies should be bought? Seeing that the report was framed in the terms that the Great Southern Railways' [2504] finances did not permit them to carry more than a week's supply, did the Government suggest to them that they should get credits and use those credits for getting greater stocks of coal? Did the Government, if they found that the Great Southern Railways Company had any difficulty in raising credits, offer to supply credits?

The serious point about the whole situation at the moment is that the company is almost devoid of coal supplies. But some few days before the war broke out, and in any event at a time when coal was much more easily purchased than it is now, the Government had a declaration from a tribunal set up by themselves indicating the precarious position of the Great Southern Railways Company in respect of coal. As far as anybody is aware, there was no help offered by the Government, no aid given by the Government, to the Great Southern Railways Company, although they must have realised that transport would sooner or later become a very vital matter. The main railway company circulating in the Twenty-Six Counties was running short of coal, it was revealed, and there was an urgent necessity for somebody to do something about it.

In 1938 we had a Minister who was pretending to be looking after supplies. That Minister got that warning with regard to the shortage of coal for the Great Southern Railways. I think people are entitled to know what steps, if any, did the Government, or the Great Southern Railways Board, by way of approach to the Government, take to try to ease that difficult situation. When they are told that one of the difficulties of getting turf into the City of Dublin is transport, the transport being mainly a question for the Great Southern Railways, they ought to be reminded that the situation was clearly shown to the Government in 1939.

If there ever was an emergency which called for a Minister who would be prepared to have assistance given to such a concern, there was the occasion, and the Minister for Supplies could ingratiate himself with the [2505] public by going to the radio and telling the people what he did in that emergency; how he helped the Great Southern Railways over their difficulties; what credits he gave or promised them; what aid the banks or other financial houses gave, and in what other way he helped the company over the amazing difficulties revealed in that document.

I do not believe the Minister will accept an invitation to go to the radio to promulgate what he did in that matter, because he has not a reputable story to tell. I suggest he might do another thing. Supplies of different things are running short and the Federation of Irish Manufacturers have indicated their efforts to make contact with the Minister for Supplies about the time the war broke out, and more vigorously in the early part of 1940. They did achieve a meeting, but I do not know if the Minister attended that meeting. They expressed their anxiety to co-operate with the Ministry, to supply the Ministry with information. They even sent to the Ministry a return arising out of certain circular letters they issued in which they asked their correspondents to inform them with regard to supplies. The results of their inquiries were sent to the Minister for Supplies. If they got one meeting, that was the beginning and end of it.

Surely the Minister, if he believes he is carrying out his responsibility in a way that will command public confidence, should let the people know, at least in a few details, what he has done. I suggest he should do this: Let him take any single thing he has done, get a night on the radio, and let people know about that single commodity. Let him take one area of work in reference to which he can say that the amount of money expended on the Department has been well spent and that he has saved this country from an impact worse than what has actually come upon it.

I will come back again to Vote 63. We were told last year, when we added Vote 63 and the other Votes which pertain to the Army together, [2506] that the Army was costing the country 9? million pounds. The main Vote has now gone up by £628,000. Unless the others have decreased by some amount equal to that, we may take it that the Army is costing £10,000,000—that is the amount to be supplied this year. The amount in the main Vote is £9,000,000 and then there is a bread subsidy costing over £1,000,000. That represents the subsidy for bread and the general provision for the Army. There was always some provision for the Army in any Estimates that this House has had to face, some provision ranging somewhere between £1,500,000 and £2,000,000. There is a difference of about £8,000,000 between any ordinary peace year in this country prior to 1931 and the present time. The whole Book of Estimates shows a far greater increase than £8,000,000. Will the Minister for Finance tell us what he has done to get down the amount represented in the Estimates?

So far as I could understand from what I read of the speech of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, his attitude of mind apparently is that if this country were invaded to-morrow, if it were bombed and devastated, he would still bring in a group of Estimates equal to what is now before us. So far as I can gather, there is no possible way of saving money. I do not know whether the Minister for Finance holds that view, but, if he does not, he ought to explain the position to the people. Let us take any Book of Estimates, say for 1928 or 1929, and calculate the difference between that period and this, selecting particularly the difference between the two amounts for the Army, putting the bread subsidy of £1,000,000 on one side. Can the Minister explain where the £9,000,000 or the £11,000,000 is going? I can quite see the Minister's attitude towards those increasing demands on the public year after year. Does this thought not enter into the Minister's mind: that, at a time when necessity drives us to raise and expend something like £10,000,000 on the Army, there is a corresponding necessity on the Minister to see that, through some of the other Votes, economies of some type will be found? We cannot keep [2507] pretending that we are now having the same type of development in this country as in peace time.

There is another matter in this Army Vote to which I adverted last year. The details of the Army Vote have been hidden from us, but we know that somewhere or other a division has to be made between the amount spent on the human material for the Army and the amount spent on supplies for the Army. The calculations made in 1914 and the calculations made nowadays with regard to war conditions are somewhat different. In 1914 the situation was that as many men as possible were packed into the front line and only the old people were left behind in the munition factories to prepare supplies. That particular theory was abandoned and in the later period of the last war there were three men in the background for every man in the field. The modern calculation is that it is essential to have six men in the background working in factories or elsewhere in order adequately to supply the individual who takes his place in the field.

We are not equipping an Army; we have not the resources to work on anything approaching the lines of the modern army of a big Power, but the amount of money spent on supplies in proportion to the amount spent on fighting personnel must be more or less the same. So far as I can make out from the Vote, by far the greater proportion of the 9? million pounds for last year and £10,000,000 for this year is spent on personnel; it is spent by way of pay for officers and men, for clothing, for rations and for a variety of services that simply keep them alive and fighting fit; but there is a very big amount of money still required to equip them.

Of course, everybody knows that there are no factories here of the type that is required to fit these fighting forces of ours. I do not know what the division of the Vote is, but I suggest that unless there is some reasonable proportion observed between the amount to be spent on supplies, i.e., [2508] munitions, and the amount spent on the personnel of the Forces them selves, it will mean that the amount we are asked to vote here will be mainly wasted.

The feeling that that money will be mainly wasted must occur to the mind of any person who sees all that has happened with regard to subordinate units of the Defence Forces. All that the public are allowed to know with regard to subordinate units, such as the L.D.F., is, apparently, that there is much perturbation of mind about the colour and shape of the cap they are to wear and the colour of the uniform they will be in, and in this very month of March, 1942, we have seen a grand scheme of re-forming the L.D.F. Now, I have the feeling that all that time, energy, and mental trouble that has been given to talking about the colour and shape of the caps and uniforms, and the groupings of the people of the L.D.F., might have been spent far better in getting them properly equipped and armed and making them something more than a suicide squad.

In speaking of the Army at all, I know that one is open to the criticism —which will be directed against one, whether that criticism is reasonable, fair, or false—that an attack is being made on the Army. I am not making any attack on the Army, and it is not my intention to do so, but I am attacking those people whose duty it is to provide for and to equip the Army, and I am anxious to know whether the money that is now being voted is in some way being properly divided between the amount to be spent on supplies and the amount spent merely on taking other people out of occupations and putting them into Army life. Until we get the details—and, of course, we are not going to get them— or even so much of the details as would enable us to see how this sum of about £10,000,000 is divided between the two big items of warlike supplies on the one hand and everything else on the other hand, it is not possible, of course, properly to criticise the amount of money that is being spent on the Army. All we do know is that this huge [2509] amount of £10,000,000 is being voted, and the public have no details to enable them to form a view as to whether this money is being properly spent or not. Neither is the Dáil being given proper details on which to level criticism, and until we get such details, as to how much of this amount is going for warlike supplies, and so on, then I think we may take it that the rest of the money, most probably, is going to be wasted.

Again, I find a comment from a speech of the Minister for Supplies made in a recent debate in this House, where the Minister complains that in this country, as opposed to England, the Government is not getting the proper support of the people, and he asked Deputies of this House to note the attitude of the English public. He said:—

“I ask Deputies to note the attitude of English public men and English newspapers whenever the Government of that country appeals specifically to them to take some course of action that is necessary in the public interest. The newspapers, for a time at any rate, endeavour to conform to the Government's plans, and uniformly report a willingness on the part of everybody to co-operate in those plans.”

He then goes on to say that in that way they succeed in getting into the minds of the people in England an attitude of acceptance and a willingness to co-operate, and he contrasts that with what happened here. Now, the answer to that has been repeatedly given to the Minister, and he cannot be a very close observer of what is happening in England if he thinks that that statement of his is a true statement of the facts. One knows, at least, that in England they have not yet abandoned Parliamentary control. One has seen recently—twice since Christmas—how public opinion in England, engineered through the House of Commons, has made one of the most popular leaders that that country ever had, change his Ministry twice. Over there they have what is called a National Government, and yet public opinion forced the person whom the [2510] whole community believes in to change his Ministry twice, and over there also, even though they are at war, details of important Estimates are given to a most amazing extent and criticism is allowed to range freely over the details that are given. The effect of that is that they have been able to throw out of office people who are regarded either as laggard, unwilling to act in a crisis, or incompetent, and they have secured changes, and the changes they have secured have satisfied, to some extent at least, public opinion over there. Nobody believes, however, that that situation will remain for any length of time. All the time they are judging these things and judging men by their acts, getting rid of the people without whom, they think, the interests of their country would be better served, and replacing them with better people.

Now, contrast that with the situation here. In the beginning of the war it was agreed here that the Party system of Government should be continued, and we all agreed to that. Then there was a junction on a limited area of function. That junction was agreed to, and since then the Dáil meets only rarely, but since that junction was effected there has been more and more effort on the part of Ministers to burk discussion in the House, and they will not even answer questions. If Ministers will not answer questions that are properly addressed to them, they can only be judged in one way; either by achievement or by the lack of achievement, and I suggest that if there is a lack of confidence in the present Ministry—and in my opinion there is an overwhelming lack of confidence in them—they themselves are responsible for it. It is futile and paltry to ask that the same sort of support should be given to a Government here, that was acting along Party lines and is still acting along Party lines, that is given to a Government on the other side, when we have the kind of thing that we see here. It is futile to ask that support should be given to a Government here which has shown itself incapable of dealing with crises as they occur, and to compare that with the support given to a Government [2511] on the other side which has changed from time to time and which, as time has gone on, has proved more fit to deal with the emergencies with which it has to deal. I was glad, in one sense, that the Minister for Supplies complained of that because he must have realised that, on the whole, public support here is not behind the Government, and the more Ministers realise that, the greater is the chance that they will mend their hand and try to give the country some return for the vast amount of money that they are asking us to vote at the moment.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I do not particularly want to stick, or I am not particularly prone to stick, my head into the pages of history and sentimentalise over things. On the contrary, I prefer to face the things that are around me, but in view of the fact that we have an appalling war raging in the world, and when we see how the consciences and the minds of unfortunate people who have been stricken by war are looking to their future and their past, I cannot, when I sit in this House, realise the House as anything but a House for whom generations of men and women of our people fought and died so that seats of authority might be set up here from which voices might rise to speak the opinions of our country and to decide what should be done to maintain the lives and liberties of the people of this country. Yet, here, in this palpitating House, on this very important Vote, the only voices we have heard from the Government Benches—who maintain that they are the only people who are able and fit to guide the destinies of this nation—were those of the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Local Government and Public Health. We had a few perfunctory words from the Minister for Finance, and then we had a shocking interlude from the Minister for Local Government and Public Health—shocking, particularly, when we take into consideration the portfolio that he now holds, the fact that he was formerly Minister for Industry and Commerce and could look on the situation from that particular [2512] point of view, and the fact that for years he was Minister for Finance. Outside of a few other speakers we had a contribution from Deputy Crowley, with which I sympathise and which I support. Then we had another contribution and we know what the Minister for Finance himself had to say with regard to that.

We are discussing here the raising of an enormous sum of money and the spending of it in particular ways to help to steer this people and this country through, I suppose, one of the gravest crises that either this country or the world has ever faced. Last year, in the debate on the Vote on Account, we heard the Taoiseach at very great length. I think some 40 or 50 columns of the Official Report of the discussion on the Vote on Account were devoted to the Taoiseach's speech last year. He was at it on two days. We had the Minister for Supplies, and we also had the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. A day or two before that, on an analogous discussion on the Labour Party's motion that an economic council should be set up to steer the country through the situation and to see that economic matters were put right, we had other members of the Front Bench. But now, when it is not suggested that the situation has got easier; that the threat outside, either to our economy or our defensive position, is any way less, we have had nothing worth talking about in reply to the various aspects of things which have been put up on this side of the House during these two days, and we have no appearance of the people who in easier times last year thought it their duty to come forward and speak here.

What has the Minister for Local Government, who, as I say, has had the advantage and the experience of being Minister for Finance for a long time, then Minister for Industry and Commerce, and now Minister for Local Government, where he is in touch with some of the real problems that meet the people at their fireside and at the very threshold of their houses, to say? He has to jibe at Deputy Professor O'Sullivan because, when confronted [2513] with these proposals for expenditure, he asks what value are we going to get out of them. The Minister for Local Government says:—

“Let us get back to the year 1938-1939, the year before the outbreak of the war and, therefore, the last normal year which this country has enjoyed.”

It is because of the rotten foundations, economic and financial, that existed in this country in the year 1938-39, due to the general financial, economic, and political policy of the Government opposite, that Deputy O'Sullivan asked what value we are getting.

I think that the members of this House are utterly lacking in their responsibilities and in their duties, utterly blind to what the people put them into this House for, utterly blind to what the people sacrificed to build this House as a legislative power, if they do not open their eyes to see whether they can build the type of emergency structure that the Minister for Finance is suggesting in these Estimates he is going to build on what I call the rotten financial and economic foundations of 1938-39. You have to look at things in detail and you have to look at your foundations. If you are to have any conception of whether you can build for a very difficult emergency on those foundations, then you have to look at the circumstances as they are.

Deputy McGilligan suggested to the Minister that he should look back say from 1927-1931. A few simple figures, that in fact were put before the Minister and his colleagues in a speech on the Vote on Account on the 9th March, 1939, as reported in column 1864 of the Official Reports, show what the position then was, what our people had to complain of then, as well as the things that they have had to complain of as a result of the increased stringency, taxation, lack of supplies, and the rise in the cost of living. All these are being added on to the burdens and difficulties that were lying on them at that particular time. Briefly, what were they? As compared with the year 1926-27, the total annual expenditure in this country was less in the year [2514] 1931-32 by £966,477. Between the year ending March, 1932, and the year ending March, 1939, the annual expenditure had gone up by £7,374,594. By March, 1932, we had been reducing our expenditure. By March, 1939, our expenditure had gone up by £7,374,594. Tax revenue, out of which central expenditure was defrayed, had at the end of the five years, March, 1932, increased only by £212,000, but at the end of the next seven years had increased by £4,701,000. The non-tax revenue in the five years ending in 1932 had increased by £235,419. Out of non-tax revenue, largely land annuities that the Minister was taking into his Central Fund at that time, in the year ending March, 1939, he got £1,686,445. In tax and non-tax revenue, in the year ending March, 1932, £447,419 more was brought than in the five years before. In the year ending March, 1939, there was brought in £6,387,445 more than in the year ending March, 1932. That was taxation taken out of the pockets of the people. That was Government expenditure through all the various channels throughout the country. But that was not enough.

Between March, 1932, and March, 1939, the annual amount taken in rates out of the ratepayers pockets had increased by £1,607,675. It had increased from £4,677,567 in 1932, to £6,285,242 in 1939, an increase of £1,607,675, in addition to the £6,387,445 extra taken out of the pockets of the people in tax and non-tax revenue in the year ending March, 1939. But that was not enough. I stated in this House, as reported in column 1864 of the Official Reports of the 9th March, 1939, that when we take the last statistics available to us as to what was happening in the country we find that instead of eating 812,891 cwts. of bacon, as we did in 1931, we were eating 201,371 cwts. less in 1936 and were paying £220,887 more for the smaller amount of bacon. That did not show in our revenue accounts. It did not show in our taxation but it was taken out of the people's pockets. Instead of some 7,000,000 cwts. of flour which were consumed in 1931, we consumed 253,398 cwts. less in 1936 but if we did we paid £1,710,907 more for the [2515] smaller amount of flour we got. That came out of the pockets of the people. It did not appear in our taxation accounts but it implied that there was less in the pockets of those who have to look after families, that they eat less, and that less food was distributed amongst them.

I pointed out that in 1931, we consumed 2,091,260 cwts. of sugar, whereas in 1936, for which figures were last available, we consumed a little more, 2,279,422 cwts., but the cost was £2,269,309 whereas the 2,091,260 cwts. in 1931 only cost £1,236,454. The increased cost was increased wholesale prices. In what other ways were we materially and economically worse off? We demonstrated that between 1927 and 1932, of the total number of people put naturally into increased employment, the increment every year, as measured by the National Health Insurance Contribution Fund, was equivalent to 11,000 additional persons in full-time employment every year, but by 1939 that natural increment had been reduced to a full stop. Between 1936 and 1939, the figures of the National Health Insurance Contribution Fund show that that normal increase of employment here was completely wiped out.

The position in regard to agriculture was that, in 1931, 84,497 permanent agricultural workers over 18 years of age were at work. In 1939, we had 76,567. The total numbers employed in agriculture have been reduced from 562,000 in 1931 to 530,000 in 1939, including members of farmers' families, permanent and temporary workers. Let us get back, said the Minister for Industry and Commerce, to the last normal year this country enjoyed. That was the last normal year it enjoyed. Circumstances were such that the Government were persuaded to change the natural tenor of their policy, to come to a certain international agreement, and to begin to face a certain amount of light and a certain amount of reality. The change was welcome. We thought we were turning our backs on the bad days. We thought the lessons set out in the seven years that had [2516] gone before had been sufficiently clear, and that our people would see a change to a saner policy, and might concentrate on what was an economic and political policy that would give them as a whole some chance to utilise their energies in a sensible and a constructive way over the resources of this country.

However the war intervened. When it intervened we gave every possible help we could to the Government. We offered every possible assistance. We gave them all the gigantic powers of the Emergency Powers Act and kept back nothing but the power that they could not tax the people without the permission of this House. As far as I see from the attitude taken up by the Government, with their majority vote, we might as well have given that power, because it would save Parliament and would save us the humiliation, since the crisis began, of asking if there was any voice to be raised on the far side, to show firstly that they understood conditions in the country; secondly, what they considered their responsibilities to be; and thirdly, are they doing anything to look outside to see what are the things other people believe brought about the present disasters? Are they looking outside to see what hopes are being expressed, what mistakes have been made in the past, so that we may put our mistakes in perspective, to see whether in future we cannot do something, with the full legislative powers we have, with a homogeneous people, both in spirit and outlook, that will strengthen their hopes, or turn these hopes into some kind of burning faith that would assist them through the tribulations they are undergoing, and enable them to face whatever future they are facing, so that they will have a chance of fashioning a reasonable future?

We might have left the Government powers of taxation without any reference to this House. We refused to give them power to conscript the people without reference to this House. We might as well have left them that power. They might then be tempted to conscript the people, and would be brought face to face with the questions [2517] which, every day and every week that passes, stand out clearly. What have we in this country to defend? What have we been struggling to build up? To build up legislative institutions? What are we subscribing to them out of the pockets of the people, and £8,000,000, £9,000,000 or £10,000,000 on an Army to defend them? The one thing I see plainly in front of me that we do want to defend is our legislative institutions here. If our legislative institutions are going to be of the kind we are looking at week in and week out, that we are looking at to-day when discussing this Vote on Account, what in the name of heavens is the use of legislative institutions of that particular kind? It is not a question for one Party in this House, or a question for one Deputy. It is a question that Deputies in all Parties are capable of putting to themselves and must put to themselves.

Just as we have a homogeneous people in character, in outlook, and hopes, that homogeneity of character and outlook is common to every Party in this House. The fact that we argue on different sides on different things does not mean that either in our hopes, our aspirations or character we are different. I tried in a systematic way last year on various discussions that took place, first on the Labour proposal for an economic council, and secondly on the Vote on Account, to get members of the House down to certain aspirations, as to what exactly we were aiming for in our political work, what we were aiming for in defence work and what we were calling our people to engage in.

I was satisfied with the response I got from various parts of the House— from the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, the present Minister for Local Government and Public Health, who spoke with such imbecility on this Vote on the 5th March, when he intervened here. “Let us get back to 1938-39, before the outbreak of war, and, therefore, the last normal year this country has enjoyed.” The Minister wanted to discuss nothing but the superstructure that was raised on that. I am satisfied to discuss that [2518] superstructure, but we have additional money for an Army, and I ask: “What on earth are we defending?” Are we defending the leisure and the silences of Deputies in this House? On the same Vote on Account, on the 9th March, 1939, when giving a picture of the economic and financial position in which our people found themselves, I said there were three things to which I wanted to draw attention. I said:

“The first point concerns the position existing in the City of Dublin with regard to young people leaving school. I speak particularly of boys and I want to speak particularly of the problem that exists in the case of boys from the age of 16 to the age of 20.”

I might have said from 14 years to 20 years. My first point was that 5,000 boys were leaving school in Dublin every year. They were going out into the world in which they were to work and live. They were being sent out, no doubt, with all kinds of splendid ideas with regard to Ireland, what sort of place it was now that the foreigner was gone, what a great people and a great country it was and how it would spread light and lustre over the world. What did they find? I have them coming in to me every day and their complaint is that their mothers are not working hard enough to get them employment. They are not convinced that there is lack of employment for them. They think that the employment is there if their mothers would only make up their minds to get it for them. They had spent some years in school in classes numbering from 50 to 70 pupils. After seven or eight years of that type of education, they find themselves on the streets of Dublin facing their life work. I asked that classes should be reduced and that a committee should be set up to examine the whole position from the point of view of those boys who had to face life. Nothing has been done about that since 1939.

The next matter I dealt with was one which cannot very well be dealt with now. I pointed out that while a large amount of work had been done as regards house-building for people not able to sustain themselves economically, [2519] a very big section of the working-class population of Dublin who could pay for houses and who were the people who sustained this State economically were compelled to house their families under very bad conditions—in single rooms and in two-room apartments, in old houses unsuited to their family conditions and in conditions in which they had the greatest possible difficulty in bringing up their families in reasonable decency or in getting the best for them out of the educational facilities available. The third point I wanted to raise then had been raised by the Cork Examiner, which referred to the “silent voice” undermining and destroying our democratic institutions. The “silent voice” which the Examiner referred to and which I have referred to since is the voice behind Ministers on the opposite side. Deputies there make no contribution to any aspect of our problems. They do not attempt to paint a picture of these problems or to offer suggestions as to how they could be met. They simply sit there in absolute silence and then go into the Lobby to blanket down, by their vote, such remedies as are suggested from this side of the House. We are not fit to defend this country through any Army unless we inspire that Army. No Army could ever fight for this country that did not feel it had a people and a Parliament and leadership to fight for —that did not feel they were fighting for something they thought worth while for their wives and families.

What we do urge and hope is that an attempt will be made to return to the type of discussion we had on the Vote on Account last year. We got a certain amount of the right atmosphere there. We did not achieve all we wanted when we came to the discussion on the Budget. The result is that we have drifted. We have less understanding of one another, less appreciation of one another and less capacity to help one another than we had last year. The Estimates for the coming year tell us that if we were in jail the cost of victualling us would be £20 19s. 6d. per head. Let us look back—this is something the Minister for Local Government [2520] should know something about because it bears on the poor relief situation—to the last normal year we enjoyed. If we had been in jail in 1939, the cost of victualling us would have been about £10 19s. 0d. The cost of keeping a person in jail has risen since March, 1939, from £10 19s. 0d. to £20 19s. 6d. For every hundred pence spent on feeding a person in jail in 1939, a hundred and ninety-two pence are being spent to-day. Last year the cost would have been £16 4s. 0d., so that in one year alone it has gone from £16 4s. 0d. to £20 19s. 6d. That represents merely the cost of feeding. It does not take into account the cost of heating or clothing or the cost of building maintenance. I do not want to compare that with the type of increase given to people on outdoor relief or to the systematic way in which relief is brought to these people. If a man or woman in Dublin wants to get outdoor relief they have to go to some of the employment exchanges and get a certificate that they are not receiving payment of another type. Then they have to go to another place and get a certificate that they are not receiving payment from another source. They have to hang around these places and wait until they get the certificates, so that their poverty is paraded over the city before they get outdoor relief.

When I see figures like those brought forward and when I see the approach of the Government which is still in these Estimates—I understand the reason for that and I understand it is going to be changed—as reflected in its January decisions and councils, to the needs of the people whose homes were bombed and people who are dependent on national health insurance, I suggest that the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures might be taken from the obscurity of the Army Estimates and that his co-ordinating energies, if he has any, might be lent to those bodies who are dealing with the relief of distress. I do not want to repeat the aspects of the outside situation to which I drew attention last year, except to refer to them in the way in which they have been summarised [2521] since. I notice that the provision in the Vote of the Department for Industry and Commerce for the International Labour Office, for which we voted £5 last year, amounts to £3,662 this year, while for the League of Nations, for which we voted £10 last year, we are asked to vote £8,338 this year. I welcome the item which is set down against the International Labour Office, and I would ask the Minister whether he or any of the other members of the Government has paid any attention to the report of the International Labour Office presented by that distinguished Irishman who is their acting director at the moment, Mr. E.J. Phelan, at the conference of the organisation held in New York in October, 1941.

The report reviews the situation, and winds up with a chapter on future policy. In winding up that chapter, it emphasises in a very particular way the difference between the mental outlook of the peoples who were engaged in the last war, facing the peace conference after the last war, and the mental outlook of the people who are engaged in this war. It indicates the trend of these differences and the way in which the people will face any peace conference that in happier days we may see, some time or another. It points out that while everything was directed to the political aspects of peace in the last war, everything is now being directed to the economic and the social aspects of peace and particularly to what is termed economic security. The report should be read as a whole, but Mr. Phelan, when discussing it, suggests that it will be the function of the International Labour Office to do something to mould a social mandate. The report reviews the tendency in every country in the world but the only country from which it actually quotes is Ireland. We find this on page 89 of the report:—

“This fundamental idea—namely that the objective of economic policy should be an improvement in general conditions of life—also finds expression in one form or another in countries not directly involved in the war. In Ireland, Mr. Seán Lemass, Minister of Economic Defence

[2522]—I wish we had such a Minister—

has stated that `in laying plans for post-war reconstruction the primary aim must be so to organise ourselves and the national resources at our command that poverty and all the social evils that arise from it shall be eliminated and no other aims can have priority over that'.”

This country is the only country from which he actually picks the words of one of the members of the Government to put into a review of the whole world from Norway, I might say, down to Peru. He sets out the headings on which a social mandate would probably have to be based.

“The formulation of such a social mandate would constitute a general declaration of international social policy and would give the International Labour Organisation a programme to implement, completing it with all the detail necessary. It is not difficult to outline in a certain logical order the main points and principles which such a mandate should cover. They are:

1. The elimination of unemployment;

2. The establishment of machinery for placing, vocational training and retraining;

3. The improvement of social insurance in all its fields and in particular its extension to all classes of workers;

4. The institution of a wage policy aimed at securing a just share of the fruits of progress for the worker;

5. A minimum living wage for those too weak to secure it for themselves;

6. Measures to promote better nutrition and to provide adequate housing and facilities for recreation and culture;

7. Greater equality of occupational opportunity;

8. Improved conditions of work;

9. An international public works policy for the development of the world's resources;

[2523] 10. The organisation of migration for employment and settlement under adequate guarantees for all concerned;

11. The collaboration of employers and workers in the initiation and application of economic and social measures.”

I should like to put that list on the records of this House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  From what is the Deputy quoting?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I am quoting from the report of the Acting-Director of the International Labour Office, Mr. Edward J. Phelan, presented to the Conference of the International Labour Organisation in New York, 1941. I understand that while we did not send the usual type of representatives to that conference, because of transport difficulties, we were represented there by some of our representatives in the United States. I put these points on the records of the House because I want to ask the members of the Government, and the members of this House who sit behind the Government, to tell us against which one of these points in a constructive way is the impact of that expenditure coming, because we cannot achieve the kind of situation, social and economic, in this country that would be worth fighting for without strategy and without a plan. We cannot do it without positive action. There is a considerable amount of positive action in spending £39,112,301.

If we have any sense of our responsibilities, if we have any intelligence to bring to bear on the direction of our work here, if we have any vision with regard to our people and their conditions, we should be able to say to what extent various sums of money in that amount are working constructively to advance the position under each of these sub-heads, and we could clean up this volume in respect of those amounts which are not working in that direction. The Minister for Local Government has had the opportunity of studying the conditions of this country both as Minister for [2524] Finance and Minister for Industry and Commerce, and the Minister for Finance, over a long period, has seen the condition of this country from his position as Minister for Local Government, and sees it now from his position as second-in-command in the Government. The basis upon which that Book of Estimates is laid, as the Minister for Local Government implied the other night, is the year 1938-39. Taking that basis, the income in tax and non-tax revenue—and I put non-tax revenue in because the increase in it is represented by land annuities which came in as moneys from the pockets of the people—between 1932 and 1939, increased by £6,387,445. The increase in rates from March, 1932, to March, 1939, was £1,607,675. The increase in March, 1939, over March, 1932, was £7,374,000, and, in spite of that, we were eating less bacon, less bread and paying hundreds of thousands, and running into millions, of pounds more for the smaller amount of bacon, for the smaller amount of bread and for the slightly increased amount of sugar we were eating. We had wiped out the natural annual increment of increased employment and reduced the number of our agriculturists working on the land by thousands. That is the rotten basis upon which the superstructure of emergency expenditure is being built to-day, and that is all the more reason why we should have a thoughtful discussion of the situation from both the front and back benches of the Government.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I listened to many speeches during this debate, and the one point which emerges, to my mind, is the need for a complete change in our monetary, social and economic system. I heard many clever speeches, speeches which showed that much study had been put into them, but Deputies, having made these speeches, left the House and I had the impression that their feeling was that they had made a wonderful contribution to the solution of this country's problems. I am not at all satisfied that that is so. We had the Minister for Local Government some nights ago displaying the attitude that he was a superman, whom his Party and this country could ill afford [2525] to do without, and we had another Deputy slandering the Irish people by saying that we are a lot of place-hunters and racketeers. Members of this House have much to be grateful for. Everybody will admit that the average man and woman in this country get very little good, very little satisfaction, out of life. They perform very arduous and monotonous work during long hours of toil without much complaint. They stick at it without any complaint, and without any desire for revolution or rebellion, but I say to the Government that their followers as well as other people in the country must take notice of the views expressed by people, and of the disregard which they have for this institution. That disregard is mainly due to the way in which legislation is passed here and to the kind of legislation we pass. We start our business here with a prayer in which we ask that every word and work of ours may be guided by God, but, having said that prayer, we do the very opposite.

We have legislation in respect of the poorer sections of the community and we have a lot in our Constitution about the family being the unit, but the legislation we pass prescribes that a man with over five children shall get nothing whatever for his sixth and seventh child, while another section of the community, with bigger incomes, are allowed £60 free of income-tax in respect of every dependent child. The unemployed man or the poorly-paid worker gets only £2 12s. a year—now increased to about £4—to keep his children, to educate them and to feed them. Deputy Mulcahy referred to the cost of keeping prisoners in our jails, yet the Government cannot increase the amount of 10/6 given to an able-bodied unemployed man to feed, clothe and shelter him. Can we claim that we are dealing with these men in a Christian manner? Can we claim that we are legislating in a Christian fashion when a widow, provided her husband was in employment immediately before his death, gets the maximum amount of 10/- per week, while the widow whose husband was unemployed for some years before his death gets only 7/6 a week, and gets 3/6 in [2526] respect of the first child, while the other widow gets 5/-?

Is it reckoned a crime for a man to be so unemployed for which the State must pass legislation penalising the widow and the orphan children, because he has been so long unemployed? Do we not know that in a good many cases workers are falling ill because of hunger and starvation, and that we have many more in our sanatoria this year than before? The man in employment who was drawing £3 5s. per week is thrown back, when ill, on 15/- per week national health benefit, with nothing for his wife or his five, six or more dependent children. If he is longer than six months in a sanatorium, the amount is reduced to 7/6 a week.

I want to warn the Government, and I say it because I believe in democratic institutions and in seeing democracy function in a proper way, as it never yet got a chance in this or any other country, that there is a total disregard of, and nothing but sneers and contempt for, this institution amongst people outside, and I am quite satisfied that the Back Benchers of Fianna Fáil know that as well as anybody else. It is my job on many occasions to address bodies of workers, and it would probably be a good thing if some of the Ministers were present when these men are expressing their views in their own crude but commonsense way. No later than last Sunday, I addressed two meetings of workers, one of which was a meeting of workers employed in one of our sugar factories. The resentment expressed by these men on that occasion in respect of Emergency Powers Order No. 83 was, to me, the expression of a deep-seated grievance.

I want to tell the Government that the sooner they consider cancelling Order No. 83 the safer it will be for this and every other institution in the country. Those men were able to point out to me that the Sugar Company in its published report showed that it had made a net profit of £258,000. That was after making provision for taxation, depreciation of plant and so on. The shareholders were reminded [2527] that the net profit was as well maintained last year as in the previous year. Yet the Government come along with Order No. 83 and apply it to those men who are wearing out their lives in the din and dust of the factory. The men are told that they cannot get an increase of a penny in their wages. Some of them are paid only 1/- an hour. Their guaranteed employment is only a day's work and the maximum amount of work they get extends over about three months of the year. There are two Ministers listening to me. I want to put it to them how much of that net profit of over £250,000 was due to the men working in the factories, to the farmers and to the agricultural workers who grew the beet—the men who did all the hard and unpleasant work? I should like to hear from Deputy Mulcahy, and some other Deputies who spoke earlier, if they are prepared to face a complete change in our social and economic system?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  It would help very much if the Deputy would suggest a few changes.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I believe that we will get nowhere until we shake ourselves free from the despotic economic power of those who control the credit and currency of the country. We can keep “gassing” here for the next 20 years, but until we do that we are not likely to get anywhere.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Unfortunately, I do not understand that.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I understand this, that we have the Government, with Order No. 83 preventing men from receiving an increase of a penny in their wages while allowing the banks to increase their charges. All that shows by whom we are governed. The Minister for Supplies stated that he was satisfied, owing to the increased charges incurred in operating the banks, that he would not be justified in refusing to allow them to increase their charges. What do we find? The published balance sheets of eight of the banks for 1941 show that they made a net profit of £995,951, after providing [2528] for bad and doubtful debts, and anybody with any imagination knows what that means. Of the ten banks in the whole of Ireland we find, from their own published accounts, that over a 15-year period, from 1926 to 1940, they made a total of £22,486,009. Their paid-up capital is £9,082,448, so that over this 15-year period they made more than double their paid-up capital in profits. That gross profit gave an annual net profit of £1,499,066 over the 15 years, or an average of £4,107 a day. Yet the Minister could not see his way to refuse the banks permission to revise their charges.

Will the Minister for Finance say if it is true that five out of the nine banks operating in this State do not pay as much as one penny in the way of income-tax towards the upkeep of this House and country? The position is that five of the nine members of the Irish Banks Standing Committee were able to dictate to the Government the charge they should make on the Irish people for operating the banking system here. In spite of that, the Government come along to workers who are earning less than 50/- a week and tell them that they may get an increase of 1/- or 2/-, but that a man with 50/- a week may not get any increase. I want to tell the Government quite seriously, honestly and frankly that the sooner they wipe out Order 83, and not by a mere amendment of it, the sooner we can have regard for institutions of this kind. We have large sections of workers operating important services who have got an increase of only 2/6 since early in 1939, and who were about to get a further increase when Order No. 83 was put into effect. I refer in particular to the men operating our bus services. Take the case of a man operating a bus from Cork to Dublin. When he arrives at his destination he has to proceed to Kells to finish his day's work. He remains there for the night. On the following day he conducts the bus to Dublin, and from Dublin to Cork on the same day. That man has very great responsibilities. He handles very big sums of money, but all he receives for his week's work is 50/-, plus 4/- for the night he spends in Kells. Men in his class cannot get an increase because [2529] of the Government's Order. Do Ministers think that workers like these can have any respect for an institution of this kind that makes such orders?

I have noticed for some time past that Departmental orders and regulations are becoming a very important part of our lives. I want to warn the Government that the sooner they have a little more regard for the representatives of the people by calling the Dáil together regularly, say once a fortnight, the longer we will be able to maintain any democratic institution in the country. Before orders of the kind are made, I think the Government should consult the members of this House as to whether they think the orders are necessary. The representatives of the people will always be ready to give the Government whatever legislation is necessary to run the country in a sound and orderly way, but this system of legislation by order is doing nothing but bringing discredit and contempt on this House and on the representatives in it.

On the question of food supplies, I want to say in the presence of the Minister for Supplies that, when we appeal to the people, especially the farmers, to grow more food. I think we do not deal seriously enough with the question of helping the farmers. I am satisfied from my knowledge of country people that the class of farmer who always supported this country was the small farmer. The small farmer suffered from the Black-and-Tan War, the economic war and this war, but his patriotism is still very sound. All that man wants to grow food for the nation is some financial assistance. There is no better way in which £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 could be spent than in making loans available to small farmers to till their land and buy the equipment to grow food for the nation. We have seen that in Sweden free loans were given to farmers for ten years, free of interest. Is there any reason why some of the £216,000,000 in the banks in this country should not be used to grow oats, wheat, barley or something else? Until such time as we take control of these things we will not get anywhere.

I wish to give a case in point in [2530] regard to this matter. As a member of the harbour commissioners in Cork, I know—as everybody knows—that the revenue of ports has gone down since the war started. We have very important work to do there—work of national importance—in the building of jetty walls and preparing for shipping in the future. We had plans prepared before the war started and when it started our revenue was not able to meet it. I was one of a deputation of ten which came before the Minister for Finance then in office, only 18 months ago, asking for a loan of £50,000 to go on with the plans. It took three months for him to tell us that we could not get the loan. We went to our banks, through the banker acting for us, and asked for a loan, and we were told we could get it if we could provide Government security.

The Minister should bear this in mind. We had up to £37,000 in two reserve funds and they knew where we had it, and we had also £47,000 to meet stockholders. Yet, having regard to the fact that they were bankers of the Cork Harbour Commissioners for 56 years and knowing that the whole front from Cóbh to Cork was surely a good investment and a potential source of revenue, and that it was not merely a question of an individual, we were asked to give Government security for a loan. It was then suggested that we should apply to the Minister for Industry and Commerce for an order that the funds we had at our disposal should be set off for the loan we were to get and, of course, using his emergency powers, the Minister made an order.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  There was no “of course” about it.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Very well. If there was not, it would be a good job if there was a little force in it as well as in Order 83. Personally, I opposed the matter and eventually we asked another bank for it. All this time we had the stones, gravel, cement and lime in the country, we had the work to be done and the men standing idle near by, yet we could not touch it, and we have not touched it, because of the people who control the pieces of paper [2531] called money. Eventually, we got another bank to give us a small loan for the time being, without any security whatever. That is the action of the Minister who gave powers to the banks to increase their charges to the people. The banks will draw from the people, at a conservative estimate, at least £405,000 per annum, and we will tell the working class, the old age pensioners, the widows and orphans, the wife of the man drawing 15/- in national health insurance, that, because of the shortage of money, we cannot increase their allowances.

I hope to be able to speak on another occasion on this power of money and what it has done for the people of the country. We should try to draw a lesson from the revelations of this present war in regard to what money can do. I suggest that it is not money that will win this war; it is men and materials. The sooner we get off the beaten track, the sooner we will get somewhere that will bring prosperity to the people. I think it is only right that we should bring our views to this House and tell the Government the reactions of the people to the legislation that is being passed. So far as our supplies—food supplies, especially— are concerned, the position is very grave. There is nothing more important than foodstuffs, and I look upon them as just as important as military defence.

While the Government has emergency powers, we find that, in some instances, those emergency powers prove unsatisfactory. I am referring to an incident which occurred last January, regarding a certain quantity of goods in Cork stores, which a merchant had purchased and got across. The amount involved was £36 8s. He came to me and I took the matter up with the Department of Supplies and got the usual letter back to say that only certain people had licences for importing such articles, and so on, and that he could not be allowed to remove those from Cork stores. The result will be that they will be sent back to England. I would like the Minister to know that it is not a case of interfering with the [2532] normal orders or the normal law, but that it is necessary that this article, which is very much sought after at the moment—it is thread to the value of £36 8s.—which is in the shipping stores in Cork should come in. It came there because the people on the other side were able to send it to Cork. They discovered when they had sent it that the shopkeeper could not get a licence. I say to the Minister that, when he has emergency powers, he should stand on that principle and allow these people to take the stuff rather than send it back to Manchester again.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  And the Minister for Defence is looking for thread.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I do not think the Deputy has the facts correctly.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I have had the facts since last January and have had them no later than yesterday and this morning, and yet I am told that I will hear later on as to whether anything can be done. I say that we exported 140 tons of wool from the port of Cork during the past year—wool which could be usefully used to make blankets for the poor people who have no blankets for their beds. Here is £36 8s. worth of thread in a stores in Cork and because some people have not got a licence it has to be sent back to England. I say that is not business and that green tape or red tape of that kind should not be used. When you have emergency powers, use them, and let us not be sending this back. We have enough going out of the country without sending that back when it is on our shores.

Deputy Dillon, in his speech the other day, said that before this Government came into power this was the richest country in Europe. I often heard the Taoiseach say when he was going around the country, that we were the sixth creditor country in the world.

I often wonder what advantage it was to us to have our investments abroad when I remember that at the moment we have up to 5,000 people clamouring for houses in Cork and cannot get them because we could not get [2533] money to build them. The Cork Corporation last year paid £48,000 in interest alone. A population of less than 80,000 last year paid £48,000 for the use of money. Notwithstanding the fact that we offered 4 per cent. for money in 1939 and 1940, we could not get it. We got a loan last year and paid 5¼ per cent. interest, which means that before a penny rent is put on the houses which the workers will get next week or the week after, there will be a charge of 10/4 per house for interest alone on those houses.

If we had such a rich country ten years ago, we should consider seriously why it is that it is not richer to-day. That question is worthy of serious consideration. I agree with Deputy Mulcahy that the time has arrived when we have to think out for ourselves a system that will be independent of all the entanglements of finance in other countries. We have at the moment a continual drain of men leaving the country, and I am speaking for Cork City. It is a most depressing and a deplorable thing to see these men leaving day after day. In the past week one of our ships arrived in port, I am glad to say. There was some anxiety among shippers as to whether they would get sufficient men to discharge the ship. We had to change the normal regulations for the discharge of the ship owing to the fact that the men were not available.

They have been going across and are still going across. I heard Deputy Dockrell say last evening that people are commenting on the fact that men are leaving the country, and stated: where would we be now were it not for the remittances coming from those people? Is it a desirable thing that we should export our men to work in another country in order that they may be in a position to send paper money here to buy food and clothing? Is it not a much more advisable thing that we should keep them in this country to produce wealth in this country and pay them with the same paper money in this country? Is it not time that the Government should think along those lines and try to stop the drain on the very manhood of our country? What is worth anything in this or in [2534] any other country compared with the labour power and mineral resources of the country? Where are we drifting to at all?

The position at the moment throughout the country is most serious. I have met farmers on some public boards and their anxiety is to find labour for the coming spring and harvest. The turf season is coming along and where are we to get the necessary elements of labour we had last year and the previous year? The sooner Deputies in this House, and the Government in particular, deal with the problems of the country in the manner in which those who fought and died for this country wished them to do, the sooner we will get the loyalty and co-operation of our people. Do not forget that it was the ordinary man and woman who stood behind the Volunteers when they were fighting for the freedom of this country. There is no greater menace to this country to-day than the poverty-stricken unemployed men and youths. They do not care who comes along as long as somebody will give them some hope for the future. The Government should disentangle themselves from the system that is now in operation and cut adrift from the vested interests that are responsible for their present position.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  It is little wonder that we hear this carping criticism of the Government after their ten years in office, when we find them presenting us with a bill for this huge amount, £40,000,000, for the Vote for the services of the State. It is little wonder that there is criticism from Deputies like myself who have spent a long number of years in this House, and saw the State being built up, since 1923. In that year we were faced with a bill equal to the present one. From 1923 to 1932, the amount of the Vote for the services of the State was brought down by practically 50 per cent., £20,000,000 or £21,000,000. It is little wonder there is criticism to-day, after ten years of this Government being in office. They came into office when the State was built up, when they had a Civil Service second to none in the world, when everything was perfect in [2535] the garden before them, and after ten years we are presented with a bill that has again reached £40,000,000. When this Government took office our resources were almost limitless. We had gone through the big war. Money was plentiful. Now we have no resources whatsoever. I wonder where this money is to come from. Our stocks are depleted. We have nothing wherewith to produce. We have no artificial manures to produce crops. Our farm machinery is going into disrepair and cannot be replaced. We cannot get shoes for the horses to get work done on the land. If we could get the shoes we could not get the nails to nail them on the horses. There are no nails in the country with which to put the carts together to enable the farmers to get their work done. There are no files to help the carpenter to sharpen his saws to prepare the boards to make the carts. We have no coal to light the fires for the people who are working. There is no paraffin to get the primus stove going for the men who have to go out to work early in the morning. It is true we have bad turf. We have no tea to help the hardworking man who has to spend from morning till night on the land. No tea to give him encouragement in the morning or in the afternoon. I am afraid if things continue we will have no sugar either. We have not any bacon worth talking about to help the worker to do his work. I am afraid if things continue, the little that there is will disappear altogether.

The Minister for Agriculture was asked to-day if there was any grain for the feeding of fowl for the rearing of chickens and egg production. He said: No; he did not know where it was to be had. People who engaged in that industry will have to get out of production. In that case we will not have even an egg for the working man to help him to do his work. In those circumstances I do not know what we are going to do.

The Government certainly deserves censure for the way they have tackled this problem of production on the land. At one time the Taoiseach appeals to the people to produce; another time he [2536] threatens them if they do not produce. The appeals and the threats are belated. There would be no necessity for them if the Taoiseach had done the right thing at the commencement and had offered the farmers a decent price for their produce. For those who are not inclined to till the required proportion of their farms, there are inspectors going out to inspect the lands. That inspection has just started, I understand. If the Government wanted to get at those farmers who are not inclined to till the land, they should have had the inspectors on those farms last October or November, pointing out to the farmers: “You have to till so much land, and, if you have not that much under the plough by January, the land will be taken over”. There is no use in sending out inspectors at the moment. That is not going to increase production. It is too late now to till the land, and as a result of this belatedness you are not going to have the wheat, or oats or barley that will be required for the people. On this point, we heard a Deputy on the Government Benches last evening speaking of the County Limerick, and saying that little or no ploughing had been done there.

It is very hard to blame the County Limerick farmers, who have no tillage traditions in their families. They have one agricultural tradition, and that is milk and butter production. They have no machinery, no ploughs, no tractors, no harrows, with which to effect the change over to tillage. Anybody who knows anything about milk production knows that the Limerick farmer is as hard pressed as any other man to make ends meet. He gets 6d. a gallon for milk, and that does not pay for the cost of production. He cannot make money. What encouragement is he getting from the Government to help him to purchase machinery to change over from milk and butter production to tillage? There is a tariff of 50 per cent. or 75 per cent. on machinery. He cannot get plough parts at the moment. He cannot purchase——

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  That is where the loan comes in.

[2537]Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  There are no loans available. I do not know what the Agricultural Credit Corporation is for, or whether it is merely a white elephant. It is not helping the people to plough their land.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  At 6 per cent.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  The farmers would be glad to pay 6 per cent. for money to keep them going at the moment, but they cannot get it. The Limerick farmer is getting no help whatsoever from the Government to enable him to change over from one form of agriculture to the other. Even in the case of those of us who have been engaged in intensive tillage, or who have at least carried on mixed farming, what encouragement are we getting or what help are we getting to carry on our work? For the past six weeks I have been looking for a steel bar for a plough, and I cannot get it. How am I to carry on with my work? If the Government were honestly inclined to help the agricultural community to produce the food that is required to support our people, they should give them an opportunity to get machinery. They should help them to get pure line seeds, and so on. They are not doing it.

I know the case of a merchant who wanted to get a certain quantity of pure line wheat, and he applied to the Department for a permit. He was not getting a big quantity, only six or eight tons. Three weeks afterwards he got an acknowledgment from the Department, but no more. On his behalf, I went to a high official of the Department of Agriculture and put his case before him. He said: “Well, we do not think it right for small importers to be in this thing. Our idea is to get the big importers to bring in this wheat in bulk.” I said to him: “If that is your policy I am afraid it is very unsound. The big importer will bring in the wheat in bulk. He will distribute it to the smaller men down the country, and by the time it reaches me, the man who wants the seed, I will have to pay the profit of the man who is selling it to me below and the profit of the big importer as well.” I think that is an unsound policy to adopt, and [2538] while that policy continues there cannot be prosperity or contentment in the country.

Take the case of artificial manures. The Government should have seen that there was no hope of getting them, and they should have tried other methods to secure something which would replace the superphosphates and the ammonia that were coming in here. Last year I advocated the collection of seaweed along our seaboard. Thousands of tons of it go to waste every year. In reply to a Parliamentary question of mine I was told that a small quantity of kelp had been produced, but it will not be available for use on the lands this year. My information is that during the last war a merchant in Galway produced in one year ten times as much kelp as this Government has produced under their scheme in three years. That merchant in Galway produced sufficient to meet the requirements of this country at a time when potash was not available.

Seaweed is important for manurial purposes, as it contains all the ingredients of good farmyard manure, nitrates, phosphates and potash. The seaweed is there for the gathering. The Minister for Agriculture told me, in reply to another question in regard to seaweed not very long ago, that that was a matter for local enterprise. Within their limits, the local people are doing their best to get all the seaweed that is available, but that only touches the fringe of the coastline. What are the inland people to do? Petrol is being used for joy-riding all over the country. The seaweed could be gathered by the people whom Deputy Hickey has mentioned, the people who are leaving the country in thousands. If they were employed in gathering seaweed, they would be doing a valuable public service, and the petrol that is being used by joyriders going from one race-meeting to another and from there to “the dogs” and all the rest of it could be given to lorry owners to take the seaweed inland to the people who badly need it.

The same remark applies to sea sand. Again, the people along the seaboard are able to avail of the sand. Take, for instance, the sand of Bantry [2539] Bay. No better manure ever came into this country. No encouragement is given for the dredging of that sand. That applies not alone to Bantry Bay, but to all the bays where coral sand is available. In the island where I live there is a very fine strand. There is any amount of sand there. The greatest industry we have there at the moment is the carting of that sand inland. The people come with their donkeys and carts or ponies and carts and put out the sand for the lorries to take inland. They can make anything from 15/- to £1 a day shifting out the sand with their carts. That sand goes 20 or 30 miles inland. The farmers are being asked to increase their tillage, but they cannot get artificial manures. They are satisfied that if they got this sand they could produce a reasonable crop, but they have no possibility of getting the sand.

As regards the few who have lorries to remove sand, they could not in six months fulfil all the orders they have got, and, of course, the sand will be required within the next month or two. Recently, tractor owners who have wagons attached to their tractors have been shifting sand, but they were put off the roads for a little while because they had no haulage licences. When there is such a demand for sand, it is too bad that the Government should put off the roads the men who are trying to do their best in hauling a necessary commodity, just because they had no hauliers' licences. I expect that was done at somebody's instigation. If the men who have lorries want petrol and the men who have tractors want kerosene, I suggest that whatever quantities are available should be given them because they are prepared to work, night and day, shifting sand. I have been informed that the railway lorries get a larger allowance of petrol than the private lorry owner. I do not know whether that is so.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I do not think that is so.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  I was informed that that was the position. There are five [2540] or six lorry owners in my town hauling sand and they get an allowance of about 80 gallons a month. For the next month or two they would need double that allowance in order to permit them to meet the requirements of people living inland. If sand cannot be supplied it will be useless for the people to turn up their land and put in seed, probably at a big cost, because the land will need a sand dressing in order to enable the crops to thrive.

So far as those who are dredging sand are concerned, I would like their claims for a paraffin allowance to be promptly dealt with. The Minister for Supplies should have in his office the names of owners of sand-dredgers and also the owners of lorries and tractors engaged in the hauling of sand. I suggest that paraffin and petrol should be made available to those people to the utmost extent within the next few months. As regards the situation visualised by the Minister for Agriculture in his reply to-day on the subject of poultry rearing, I think it would be better that the paraffin allowance should be withdrawn from those people. There is no use in throwing good money after bad, and that paraffin could be put to a more useful purpose.

I saw in the papers on Tuesday a letter from a veterinary surgeon warning farmers about a certain poisonous root. A good deal of land that was growing ferns for years has been turned up. It is perfectly good land, but the root of the fern is a menace to cattle. There are officials in the Department of Agriculture well aware of this. They should certainly know about it in the Research Branch, yet it is left to a veterinary surgeon to warn the people that the root of the fern is dangerous to cattle. I suggest the officials of the Department should bestir themselves a little and notify farmers about poisonous herbs. That would be more useful than many of the things they are doing. It would give some of them who are not doing very much something to think about. They might let us have an article in the Press every week about such things as the danger of fern roots. Money could be usefully spent in that direction.

There is a lot of talk about a certain [2541] disease, but people really know very little about it. I refer to mastitis in cattle. That and contagious abortion are two things that have brought about considerable losses to farmers of this country. There is never an article in the Press from the officials of the Department who should guide us in those matters. They should tell the farmers about those diseases, point out how they can be detected and diagnosed, and suggest remedies. Very often some man or woman in the country writes to the Farmers' Gazette about blackhead in turkeys or contagious abortion in cows, but they merely get the usual short reply. That is only the quack way of doing things.

We should have things done the right way. The officials of the Department should contribute an article to the Press every week dealing with one or other of the diseases likely to be met with by the average farmer. Such articles would be enlightening and they would prepare the farmer and put him in a position to effect remedies where diseases occur, and in that way he will be able to improve his position.

There are other matters connected with the agricultural industry with which I should like to deal, but another opportunity will offer itself. I do not envy the Minister or the Government at the moment. As I have said already, there are some of us here who saw this country being built up. We saw the abnormal expenditure of a certain period brought down, whilst at the same time the country was being built up under wise guidance, able statesmanship and efficient service, and taxation was being brought down to the capacity of the people to pay. At that time there was plenty of money. Now there is nothing. All our stocks are depleted. There is no money, and where it is going to come from, I do not know.

Mr. J. Flynn: Information on John Flynn  Zoom on John Flynn  There are one or two matters to which I should like to refer. They are really matters for the Department of Supplies, but seeing that most of the Deputies who have spoken have touched on this important question, I think I should mention one or two points. I would ask the Minister [2542] to take note of the fact that the distribution of flour in South Kerry has broken down completely. It would appear that the poorer centres are really short of supplies, not very often I admit, but it has occurred within the past few weeks that there has been no flour at all in several villages and small towns in my constituency. It appears to me that the Minister for Supplies expects or is depending altogether on the merchants who have supplies to ration them out to these districts. But quite the opposite has happened.

Farmers in the other end of Kerry, who are in a favourable position because they occupy wheat-growing land and have a sufficient supply of their own, are allowed at the same time to come along and purchase flour whilst withholding the wheat supply that they have in stock. I think that is a very serious matter. It is somewhat analogous to the picture that was painted here by Dublin Deputies when they referred to the position of the people in the wealthy and suburban parts of the city as compared with those in the thickly populated and tenement districts, where there was not a proper distribution and where flour had been bought up by the wealthy classes to the detriment of the poor.

The same analogy can be drawn in my county. In North and East Kerry, the farmers raised large quantities of wheat and stored it up, and at the same time they are buying quantities of flour that should be available for the people in the poorer districts. I think that the time has come for strong action to be taken in that regard. Rationing, in my opinion, is the only way out of that difficulty, and I think the officials of the Department of Supplies should have no difficulty, if necessary, in co-operating with the Gárda authorities. Why should not the officials of the Department of Supplies obtain statistics with regard to the quantity of flour consumed in a normal year in these districts, allocate a sufficient supply accordingly, and compel the shopkeepers to refuse supplies to the farmers who, as we are all well aware, have sufficient of their own to tide them over a difficult period?

[2543] I think that that matter is very urgent and, as far as we are concerned, we would not have to come along here time after time and table questions, asking the Minister for Supplies to arrange for supplies of these commodities, if they were systematically dealt with. The thing could be done in a general way, either through a rationing system or by having an inspector visit these districts and compel the merchants, if you like, or the people who usually have been allocated these quantities of flour, to distribute them in accordance with the Department's instructions. Otherwise, the matter will be serious and the people will certainly be in a very bad position. In portion of our district the people concerned have no possible chance of raising wheat or any of the other essential commodities, and they are depending altogether on the Ministry of Supplies and the Government to arrange a proper system. I admit that it is difficult, but if we are to face these problems and to act properly the time has come when the Government must act strongly and deal with people who are withholding stocks to the detriment of the poor and adopting a selfish and conservative attitude.

I would also point out that with regard to the distribution of tea great hardship and trouble have been caused as a result of customers being advised, when they cannot obtain supplies in one centre, to submit their cards to other dealers in order to obtain supplies. I submit that there is something radically wrong with the whole system. Why were these people asked to deal with a certain trader, in the first instance, on the assumption that they would get supplies, only to be informed later that if they did not get supplies there they could tender their cards to another merchant? I think that that has created confusion and is a source of great trouble to the traders concerned. The result of it has been that an impression has been created that someone has got the supplies and that merchants who should have distributed the supplies in the first instance did not do so; in other words, that the supplies were allocated to a [2544] district and that the poor people who should have received them did not get them. I think that the whole matter is so urgent and important, together with the question of the distribution of flour, that it is only right that I should take this opportunity of speaking on this Vote to put it up to the Minister as an outstanding question demanding consideration and attention.

Mr. M. Brennan: Information on Michael Brennan  Zoom on Michael Brennan  Deputy John Flynn, apparently, is, like the majority of the House, not satisfied with the machinery of supply and not satisfied that the Ministry of Supplies is, in fact, doing its job. That is true, but if Deputy John Flynn is making the general allegation against the farmers of this country, which has been made through the Press and made by some members of the Ministry, that they are holding stocks of wheat and refusing to put those stocks on the market— that they are holding unduly large stocks of wheat—I say that that is a libel on the farming community and that they are not doing any such thing. If a farmer who was growing wheat has retained a barrel or two for the use of his family, is he not entitled to do that?

Mr. J. Flynn: Information on John Flynn  Zoom on John Flynn  I admit that, but I say that in parts of Kerry some of them are holding unduly large stocks.

Mr. M. Brennan: Information on Michael Brennan  Zoom on Michael Brennan  Well, I am glad I am not a Kerryman, if that is what they are doing, and I think that any penalty that could be imposed on such people would not be too heavy. As regards the part of the country that I come from, however, I can say, from my personal knowledge and from the knowledge of those with whom I come in contact, that there are no large stocks of wheat held by anybody. Now, with regard to this Vote on Account that is before the House, some very dismal pictures have been painted, and it is really a question of whether it is worth while painting a picture as dismal as, possibly, you might paint it, or whether, on the other hand, you ought to put your head in the sand, like an ostrich, and forget all about it. It is a question of which is the more dangerous attitude. After all, of the two choices, I think it is better to paint [2545] the picture as we see it, but of course some of us who have been in this House for a good many years remember when the present Government were in opposition.

When one remembers the speeches that were made from this side of the House at that time on matters of this sort, when one remembers the comparisons that were made with regard to taxation in this country and taxation on the other side of the water, and when one remembers the promises that were made to the people of this country as to what would happen to taxation if Fianna Fail were the Government, he would indeed be an optimist who would expect that the Book of Estimates under this Government would ever be reduced.

Now, what has really happened is that this Government, both before they became a Government and since, sowed their wild oats, and now we are reaping the whirlwind. Unfortunately, once you set a Department going, and once you increase the civil servants in that Department, you cannot stop the increase. That is how the inefficiency and the inexperience of the people at present in office got this country downhill. Take the number of civil servants employed ten years ago and the number employed to-day. Although Deputy Corry has an objection to any Civil Service, he was, apparently, not effective in stopping the increase in the number of civil servants. As pointed out by, I think, Deputy O'Higgins the other day, Government offices are overflowing from street to street, although our wealth is not increasing and our population is not increasing. Overhead expenditure is, however, increasing. The Minister for Local Government said a few days ago that we were not now living in a normal period, that the last normal period was 1938-39. Notwithstanding that, Departmental expenditure continues at the same rate.

Apparently, that was a thing the Government did not foresee. Their inexperience was probably responsible for it but that is not an excuse. Even though we are now living outside a normal period, we cannot reduce Departmental [2546] expenditure. If we are not normal, we are either abnormal or subnormal. Notwithstanding that, our expenditure in every branch goes on as if we were in a state of normality. The only exceptions are the Army and a few of the other services which are, of course, abnormal. I sympathise with the Minister for Finance, or anybody else, who sees the situation in which we are and cannot get out of it.

While I feel that I have a right to complain of the gradual additions to the expenditure, by millions, from year to year since 1932, until we come to £13,000,000 of an increase this year, I would not feel entitled to complain if the Estimates contained any indication of policy which would help the country when the war is over. We have not that. Since the war started we have not had any plan and we have no plan now. As Deputy Flynn pointed out, there is no plan even for the distribution of flour. The Minister for Supplies the other night, in very halting and lame fashion, told the House that he would much prefer seeing things rationed on a voluntary basis to seeing them rationed officially. In other words, the responsibility for maintenance of distribution on some kind of equitable basis is to be thrown on the flour merchants, retailers and everybody and anybody but the Government. Since the war commenced, the Government have found that their 100 per cent. self-sufficiency programme was all humbug, that no country could exist upon it and that we must have exports if we are to have any semblance of industry other than agriculture. We have to import the raw materials for industry and we cannot import them unless we export something. We have had a type of panic created from month to month as regards supplies and we have had reactions to that in various ways. On occasions, there was dislocation of supplies for a certain time. The people who were most panicky were the members of the Government and officials of Departments. It we are to exist, we must have an export trade and that export trade must be based on the natural resources of the country—in other words, agriculture. Notwithstanding [2547] that, we have people, including Ministers and Departmental officers, going around and discouraging people from the feeding of pigs, the raising of live stock and the turning out of dairy produce. What do they expect this country will do post-war? Whatever exports we have ought, if possible, to be maintained—even at a loss.

I know it will be said that pigs consume food which might be used for human beings. I do not agree. Some person in Deputy Flynn's constituency may have fed wheaten meal to pigs. I do not know about that and I am not condoning it. It ought to be penalised but, if it happened at all, very small quantities only could have been involved. After all, what is a pig, when finished, but consolidated, concentrated human food? What he has consumed consists of from 70 per cent. to 90 per cent. of things which no human being could consume. Yet, we are told that we ought not to feed pigs and the price of pigs is pulled down by the Bacon Board on the advice of the Government. We are told to grow more wheat, oats and barley but we are also told that we may not be able to sell our cattle. I agree with offering every inducement to people to grow corn, wheat and other cereals. But I think it is the limit of lunacy to advocate the abandonment of the only exportable thing we have, because we cannot exist without that export. That is being done. If there is a limitation placed upon live stock by the turning up of lea soil, the soundest advice that can be given to the farmers is to till more and more to carry the live stock. That policy ought to be preached at the cross-roads. The fertility of the land will go down if something is not put back into it and live stock, in-fed if possible, offer the only solution of that problem. An abundance of oaten or wheaten straw, of itself, is no use as manure. If farmers were advised to feed their live stock “in” and get the manure back on the land, you would be doing something worth doing. If we are to have a hand-to-mouth policy during the war, if we are [2548] to frighten the people at every cross-roads every week or month and advise them that they must conserve the last ounce of food for the people and that they must abandon their live stock, then God help this country at the end of the war. There will be no future for it. As the Taoiseach said quite recently, we have, unfortunately, to import the raw materials for our industries. That was true and these imports can only be made up for by exports. How does the Taoiseach hope it to be made up at the end of the war if we have, in the meantime, abandoned any hope of exports?

When a Vote like this is presented, it is our job to go through the items. It is our business to see how we are going to meet this expenditure not alone to-day and to-morrow but in the future. Any businessman who adopted any other policy in his business would go bankrupt. We shall do likewise if we do not adopt the right course. For the past half dozen years, I have been advocating a substantial subsidy —not 10/- per ton—on artificial manures. My appeal was not heeded for a long time. Eventually, a paltry 10/- per ton was given. That was no use. It cheapened artificial manures by 10/- per ton, but it did not induce the buyer to put in any more. According to these Estimates, we are proposing to expend practically £9,000,000 upon the Army. Had we spent £2,000,000 on artificial manures in 1937 or 1938, we could snap our fingers at hunger because we would have the fertility in the soil and could grow any crops we wanted to grow. But we have never been able to take the long view. We are taking the short, panicky view even now. Apparently, we have no other view. I heard the Minister for Supplies warning the country that, in mid-May, or mid-June at the latest, if further supplies did not arrive, we would find ourselves without flour. That was, if there was no limitation on the supplies sent out. We had the Taoiseach and other Ministers attending meetings of farmers and county committees and advising them to grow cereals and, above all, to grow more potatoes. I advised people to do that last year. I did it myself and most [2549] people in my district did it. I still think it was good policy, and I would still advise people to do it. But we have at present hundreds of thousands of tons of potatoes which we cannot get off our hands.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  You have not got a market?

Mr. Brennan:  No. Suppose we were accidentally to run out of wheat, would the people be allowed to die of hunger even though there were plenty of potatoes? Is that the position which is to come about in mid-May or mid-June? If the position is that we are threatened with a grave flour shortage in May or June, could not the Government do something about the potato position? There are hundreds of thousands of tons of potatoes awaiting a market all over the country. The same case could be made for Wexford and Louth as I am making for my own county. But nothing is being done about it. No effort has been made to get these potatoes to the centres of population. There has been no restriction on flour so far as it would admit of the use of potatoes. If potatoes are to be used at all, they have to be used in the months of March, April and early May. You may get early potatoes in June and July, but you will not have potatoes on which you can rely earlier than mid-July or August. July is considered to be the “hungry month”.

Why are we not conserving our wheat during the months I have mentioned when potatoes are good food? The reason is that the Government have no plan. In other countries, they are making potato flour. I do not know what it is like or how it is used but it is being successfully manufactured and used as a human food. In this country, while creating panic about a shortage of flour, we have made no preparations for the supply of an alternative food. If we were to run out of flour in May or June, potatoes would then be no use. At present, we are advocating wheat, wheat and yet more wheat. It is questionable that that is wise. I, for one, would not advise a man in the far end of my parish what to grow on his land. He is a much [2550] better judge than I am of that. I am afraid that people, in their anxiety to do the right thing, are sowing wheat upon land which is not able to give good wheat but which would give perfectly good oats. How was it that, last year, when we calculated on an ordinary return of eight barrels of wheat to the statute acre, the average was not six barrels? Some people have misled themselves and the country as regards wheat-growing. They overlook the fact that if I had an acre of wheat and somebody else two acres, that wheat went into the best land we had and the most highly manured land we had. When, instead of growing one acre, I felt obliged to grow ten acres, then I was encroaching on land which was far from being well fertilised. Consequently, the average yield fell.

We ought to ask the people to grow more cereals, wheat if possible, but at the same time we ought to tell them that they are the best judges of their own land and, if they can grow oats successfully and are afraid of growing wheat, they ought not to grow wheat. If I were able to get six barrels of wheat off a statute acre and 16 barrels of oats off the same statute acre, I would take the oats from the point of view of human food, and I would have at least 20 or 25 stones more of edible human food from the oats than from the wheat—perfectly sound, good food and the food which kept the people of this country alive with the help of potatoes in the old days.

As I said in the beginning, there does not seem to be very much use in painting a very dismal picture. But what really disheartens me is that, when I take up this Vote on Account and the Book of Estimates, I feel that I do not know how we can reduce the expenditure. It is, of course, the fault of the Government. They are the people who ran it up. They ran it up by putting in more and more civil servants. They told the people that they were going to reduce expenditure, but they did not do that. People who make lavish promises never fulfil them. If I could see any way by which we could reduce the amount, I would be very pleased. But, once you have established a departmental administration [2551] of that sort, it will take years and years to put it back, and that is where the Government have got us.

Deputy Hickey referred to the exodus of able-bodied young men from this country to do work across the water. As the Deputy pointed out, at this time when there is so much useful work waiting to be done, so much land that could be brought into production, so much drainage that could be carried out, it is a shocking state of affairs that we are not able to tackle these things. We are asking the farmers to till more and more. Has it ever struck people that when the harvest comes we will be put to the pin of our collar to get it in? If we allow that exodus of men from this country to continue, I do not know what will happen when the harvest comes. The Government have at least one source of supply which I hope they will find some plan to utilise It will not be the plan that they presented to the country when looking for office, the plan that never worked, the plan that was to bring such prosperity to the country that we would have to send to America for some of our exiles to carry out the necessary work. That plan never worked and that plan is of no use. But the Government have sufficient time between this and the harvest to prepare a plan whereby people who are now being paid what is called the dole will be compelled to assist in the taking in of the harvest. If farmers and their wives and families have to work from sunrise until dark in order to provide food for the people, including the people on the dole, at least the people on the dole ought to lend a hand in getting in the harvest. I hope when that time comes that there will be in operation some scheme whereby the farmers can get men to assist in the harvest operations.

I also want to refer to what I think is a great mistake in the present policy of the Government. People who did not do the required amount of tillage last year are being fined heavily. I have no sympathy with those people. But, if the Government want more tillage, and if they want results, I think they should not press for fines in these cases. My idea is that they should insist [2552] on these people doing more tillage. I know of people in Roscommon who recently were fined as much as £5 per acre. I know one man who was ill last year and was not able to do the required amount, and for being two acres under last year's quota he was fined £10.

If that man has to pay £10, how is he to get his tillage done this year? I do not know where he is to get the £10. If I were administering justice I think I would do better then that, although it might not be called justice. I would simply put it up to him that if he tilled this year two acres more than his quota I would let him off. He would have the £10 to do it; I would get the tillage done and I would get a much better return than the Government will by fining people, because the Government are taking from them the money which they require for the seed and to get the work done. One man made an offer to do that and, apparently, the justice was quite pleased with the offer, but still he fined him the £5. I have no sympathy with that man, but I do not think it is good policy. I would prefer to get the tillage done.

There are, as Deputy Hickey pointed out, a lot of things happening which show a lack of organisation. There is the matter of the thread that is lying in some store in Cork because the person who imported it was not a licensed importer and the Government say it will have to be sent back to England, although the women in Cork have not as much thread as will sew on a button. As Deputy Hickey pointed out, the Minister for Supplies, by the use of his emergency powers, could put that matter right in five minutes. Apparently it has never struck him to do it.

It is bad enough to have to pay a huge bill of this nature and to look forward to diminishing returns from what is really the only industry in the country, namely, agriculture. It is positively bewildering to imagine how this country is to exist in the post-war period if we have the type of bungling that is going on at present. There ought to be some kind of clear-cut policy, some long-term policy. We [2553] ought not to create panic, but we ought to go all out to put this country in the position, when the war is over, that it will be able to carry on; that we will not have dissipated our resources at least beyond what it is absolutely necessary to do. But, if we have to meet huge bills of this sort, if we have bungling in the distribution of various supplies, if there is an absence of policy with regard to live stock, if we are to be deterred from feeding, not only pigs but live stock generally, I am afraid there is no hope for this country in the post-war period.

Mr. Childers: Information on Erskine Hamilton Childers  Zoom on Erskine Hamilton Childers  I propose to deal with just one or two items in connection with this Vote on Account without making any general statement. First of all, I should like to advert to Deputy Brennan's commentary on our agricultural policy. I have never read or heard that the Minister for Agriculture said that we would give up the live-stock policy or that we would cease exporting live stock. I have only heard him say that unless we produce certain tillage crops we would be forced to dispose of a certain proportion of our live stock in order to preserve food for the people of the country. The Minister also made a speech in which he spoke rather pessimistically of the future of the bacon and dairying industries. I think that he gave people a lot to think about, but he made no definite or final proposals in regard to those industries. He made it quite clear that unless we could, by an improvement in our methods of production, largely lower the costs of production in both the bacon and the dairying industries we would be unable to dispose of our surplus after the war. As far as I know no one has suggested that we should abandon the live-stock industry. After the war, when conditions may be chaotic, our live stock may be a valuable source of currency for foreign purchases, and if we can succeed in feeding the population and in maintaining our live stock without having to resort to any artificial methods of disposing of them, it will ultimately be to the great advantage of this country.

To deal with particular items, on the [2554] question of supplies, I do hope that the Government realises the gravity of the situation in regard to supplies of raw materials for industry. The mercantile marine put at our disposal is being used principally for the transport of wheat and foodstuffs which are needed to make up the balance not grown on our own farms. At the same time, the wheels of industry are running slower and slower and by the end of this year, a great part of our industrial production will be on a 15 to a 50 per cent. basis as compared with 1939 or 1940. There is a very serious scarcity of small items absolutely essential not only for maintaining the production of goods for which we have the raw materials, but for maintaining industries for which we have a diminishing volume of raw materials. Such things as iron bolts, steel parts and numberless parts in connection with the production and transport of food, steel for making tools, processing chemicals, cotton thread and other similar items are becoming desperately scarce. Many of those products can still be purchased in the United States at a very high price. The Government have made the decision that we must, above all, bring sufficient into this country to feed the population and that the mercantile marine available to us cannot be used for bringing these industrial products to any great degree at the present time.

Unfortunately for this country, the United States is going into full war production and the number of priorities in connection with various forms of raw materials is constantly increasing. It may be, however, that when those ships have finally brought the balance of wheat required up to next year's harvest, it will be impossible to obtain many of these other products. I would ask the Government seriously to consider whether it would not be better even to make us tighten our belts a little bit more until next harvest in order to make use of some of the ships for bringing in at least the bare minimum of raw materials to maintain our machinery in the production of goods for which we have certain raw materials, to enable us to continue on a skeleton basis.

[2555] It is impossible for us to know the exact position in regard to the use of the tonnage available, but I should like to stress the point that if only for a short time, we could, even by consuming a larger quantity of potatoes or taking other steps, release some space for the transport of these essential articles, I think it would be a good thing. I am not offering any criticism; I am merely making a suggestion. I hope the Government have once more given their full attention to this matter, that they have examined the problem thoroughly, that they have been given an up-to-date figure as to the actual cubic space which could be utilised to bring in the bare minimum of these commodities required to repair agricultural machinery and vehicles essential for the transport and production of food. I hope a survey is available in a form in which they can see the problem at its worst.

Secondly, there is the question of profiteering. Profiteering and black-marketing are widespread throughout the country as all Deputies know. There is a particular type of profiteering and black-marketing which is very difficult to control at the present time. There is one form of black-marketing in connection with commodities which are already rationed and of which some retailers have very much larger reserves than others. The number of these retailers who dispose of their supplies to customers at inflated prices is overwhelming. It would be impracticable to confiscate these reserve supplies which in many cases were obtained as a result of direct encouragement by the Government. At the same time unless there is co-operation between the consumer and the authorities, it seems to me that it would be very difficult to control black-marketing of that particular type.

There is a second type of black-marketing in articles which are not yet rationed but of which there is a diminishing supply, articles that everybody can buy if they look for them but which are beginning to disappear from the market and are beginning to be reduced in quantity. No Government legislation can possibly prevent black-marketing [2556] or profiteering in these commodities until, at least, they are rationed. I would make it quite clear, as far as my examination is concerned, that there is quite a number of commodities, commonly bought by householders in which rationing is not at present required but for which rationing is necessary if we are to prevent black-marketing. Many things such as foods of certain types, preserved foods, soap and other household commodities, will have to be rationed in any event in six or nine months' time according as materials become scarcer but, during that period of decreasing supplies, black-marketing and profiteering will continue unless these commodities are rationed even before they require to be rationed from the point of view of providing everybody in the country with a small proportion. That offers a very big problem to the Government. I am not saying the solution is an easy one.

I do not think it is fair for anyone in this House to accuse the Government of taking no steps to prevent black-marketing and profiteering unless they, in the course of their remarks, point out that the consumers' co-operation is required. I can get no consumer co-operation in my constituency to provide the Government with proof of profiteering and black-marketing, but the problem to my mind is a perfectly simple one. You will not get the average consumer in this country to give evidence of profiteering unless you can make him feel that, having given that evidence, he will continue to be able to obtain rationed commodities, or commodities in short supply, with Government assistance. There are many towns in this country where profiteering is going on and in which, if you want to stop profiteering, or black-marketing, you will practically have to provide a Government shop where people who have been courageous enough to give evidence in reference to black-marketing or profiteering will be able to buy commodities. Then you will be able to say: “Come forward and give your evidence and we will assure you of your share of the commodities for which you have been overcharged.” I [2557] challenge any Deputy to provide any other solution to the problem. There is no way except to guarantee to persons who give evidence that they will be able to secure goods which are household necessities.

I think it is a very difficult problem. I myself have made up my mind as to how to tackle it, but I should like other Deputies besides myself to advert to this matter in a fair and impartial manner and to see whether they can make suggestions for obtaining consumer co-operation.

I suggested this time last year that there should be consumer councils, but I now find that it would be extremely difficult to obtain the services of a number of people in a community who would be willing to act on such councils, because there are so few people in any town who are in a position, either through opportunities for leisure or by reason of being people of means, to take an attitude of wide criticism in regard to their neighbours in retail and wholesale commerce. I think the Minister for Supplies will need a great deal of help from this House, and help on a non-Party basis. Once again, it is a matter of obtaining consumer co-operation, and no one will go to the Prices Commission and give receipts for goods bought at high prices, or give affidavits in respect of people who refused them goods which were rationed but which they knew were available if they paid higher prices for them, unless such people feel that they are not going to be cut off from providing goods for their families.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I have sent receipts to the Minister for goods which I purchased.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I have seen papers in respect of boots being returned from the Department of Supplies, with the statement that the Minister would not go into it.

Mr. Childers: Information on Erskine Hamilton Childers  Zoom on Erskine Hamilton Childers  I have been able to present a certain amount of evidence also and the Government have taken action, but the evidence is not nearly sufficient to prevent black-market activities going on.

[2558]General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I have seen consumers turned down and their bills sent back to them.

Mr. Childers: Information on Erskine Hamilton Childers  Zoom on Erskine Hamilton Childers  So far as agriculture and the production of sufficient wheat to meet our needs are concerned, I should like to make two suggestions which have been made by other Deputies but which I want to express in my own way. I do not believe that the non-wheat growing areas will grow the wheat the Government expects them to grow, unless they are given more special attention by the Government. I believe that inspectors of the Department will probably report that the 25 per cent. Tillage Order has been carried out in so far as they can see that it should be carried out, but I believe that lack of knowledge of how to grow wheat on lea land in non-wheat growing areas will provide a tremendous difficulty, although I am well aware that the Department have arranged for special instruction in those areas, have done everything they could to publicise the methods of growing wheat on lea land and have done a great deal to warn farmers of the dangers they will meet in growing wheat on lea land when they are not accustomed to that form of production. I feel, however, that, either in connection with this harvest or the next, the Government will have to bring a great deal of the force available to it in the way of inspectors and other persons in the Department out of the wheat-growing country into the non-wheat growing country and make a far bigger effort to assist farmers in areas where wheat is not normally grown.

I have made quite an elaborate study of this matter so far as one part of my constituency is concerned, and in many cases I was informed by farmers who are accustomed to grow wheat in the non-wheat growing area that the yield was low because of the particularly harsh season last spring, but also because many of the farmers tilled their land in a manner which was not conducive to good wheat growing. As a result the yield was abnormally low. I am quite certain that more steps will have to be taken in the future in that regard. Secondly, I am [2559] beginning to wonder whether the Government will not have to go half way towards the British system of specifying areas for wheat production, whether they must not have a survey made of the non-wheat growing land and arrangements made to insist on a certain proportion of wheat being grown on farms in those areas and giving every possible assistance so that that should be done.

Thirdly, I think there may be one still more drastic step which the Government will have to take. They will have to insure themselves against loss from a bad harvest or from a low yield by taking over sufficient acreage throughout the country in specially allotted areas and doing a very high degree of tillage on these lands, compensating, if necessary, the owners for the loss of the normal system of farm rotation. I honestly believe it is going to be so difficult for us to grow wheat in sufficient quantities during the successive years of this crisis that, unless the Government create their own reserve of wheat growing area in which they ask for the co-operation of farmers on a special basis, unless they temporarily take away from owners of land in congested districts out-farms on which there is no tillage done at all, because it is done on another farm area, and arrange for the special cultivation of these areas, we are going to have a shortage of wheat. I am aware that the Government are considering this matter, but I am quite certain that we are getting to the point at which a survey of land, followed by minimum acreages in certain areas and the cultivation on a special basis of areas of tillage in other areas, will be necessary.

The next question that arises is that of manuring the land. One Deputy has already referred to the possibilities of using sea-sand for manure. The Government for many years have been trying to find schemes of employment which will allow for what might be described as the movable type of labour camp, and the objection has always been that it is hard to find a sufficient number of schemes in an area adjacent [2560] to a labour camp, or adjacent to a large group of available workers, and that the cost would be prohibitive; but I am quite certain from talking with farmers that an enormous amount could be done with the aid of the unemployed in providing farmers with the only manure available to them, namely, natural manure—the ordinary compost made from leaf mould from under trees in forest districts, from cleaning out ditches and cleaning out boggy areas, making piles of rushes and peat mould, and allowing the compost to rot and decay until it forms good humus which can be applied to the soil.

I myself have gone into the cost of doing that and I find that it is far too much for the average farmer. I know one man who, to provide sufficient compost for a field of 17 statute acres, had to spend no less than £55 in labour in order to provide what he considered to be a sufficient heap of compost to replace the amount of farmyard manure, which was not available to him, and to replace the artificial manures which he lacked. He said he would get back the cost over a period of five years in the increased fertility of his land, but obviously the primary cost of that is far too great. I sincerely suggest to the Government that they seriously study the question of unemployment in the light of enabling the unemployed to do that work of cutting out drains and making available to farmers natural manures, when farmers have not sufficient labour, or are not able to pay labour, to do that work. Many farmers throughout the country are doing what they can, but one has to go through only a square mile of the country to realise the vast amount of extra work that could be done in that respect.

Lastly, I hope that the Government, before the final Budget is announced, will review once more the grant for land improvement works, which I see has been reduced, due to the fact that part of the balance of last year's grant is being added to the present year's grant, so that the total amount estimated to be spent will be the same. The land improvement grants have been, I think, largely successful. There are various modifications, which [2561] I do not propose to go into now, that I think could be made. The fact, however, remains that there are 500,000 acres of land which was classified as “arable” in 1918 and is now classified as “other land”, land which could be brought back into cultivation during the present emergency. I am quite certain that if land improvement grants were increased, if more publicity were given to them in certain areas and if arrangements were made to stimulate interest in those grants, more money could be spent with greater advantage to this country. If some of those 500,000 acres could be brought back into cultivation, that would help to relieve the farmer in giving effect to the 25 per cent. increase under the Tillage Order and, generally, would result in increased production.

Finally, I would like to suggest to the Government that they should supervise more rigorously the giving of allotments by local authorities. A number of inefficient local authorities are extremely slow in making arrangements for allotments and in obtaining land for them once the workers who desire the allotments register their names. Moreover, there are many towns with great numbers of unemployed, still physically fit, who could make use of an allotment, and who have not done so, although on the other hand it must be said there has been some improvement in that direction. I think there should be a tightening of the allotments scheme both in regard to the numbers who apply for them and in the arrangements made for obtaining the land required.

Mr. Brodrick:  One would imagine, listening to Deputy Childers, that everyone in the country was against the Government. He has asked for co-operation from the consumer, the trader and the farmer and, I suppose, he would include the tradesman and the labourer. May I ask him: was not that co-operation offered to the Government years ago? The Government refused it at one time, but it is still there. The people he referred to are prepared to help during the emergency. One would imagine from what [2562] the Deputy said that force had got to be used in order to make the farmers till the land. They are quite prepared to do that. Something was said about the consumer who buys his stuff from the merchant who has made his purchases in the black market. If that is going on, why is not something done by the civil servants and inspectors that we have? Their number is now equal to the population of the City of Waterford. Surely it is up to them to stop the operations in the black market. I have no hesitation in saying that the Government know well that the black market is there. The whole country knows it, but what can people do if the Government are not able to provide them with the necessary supplies? Do the members of the Government want the people to starve? That is a question that requires to be answered.

The foundations of this State were so well laid that, when the present Government came into office ten years ago, nobody thought taxation would ever go to the present figure of about £40,000,000, or that we would have the number of unemployed we have to-day. If their number were added to the number who have gone to another country, it would be found that the total of unemployed is much greater than the number we had when the present Government came into office. What are we getting for all this taxation? Nothing. Let me take one of the fantastic schemes introduced by the Government. I refer to turf development. This was a good scheme if it could be worked or if the Government were able to work it, but, in my opinion, you can never work schemes of this kind on the advice of civil servants. We have inspectors going around the country every other day, butter and egg inspectors and others. They have the people harassed travelling around in their high-powered motor cars. I remember on one occasion when I was building labourers' cottages for a board of health I had a visit from four inspectors on the one day. They took up the time of the foreman and of myself all that day.

Take turf development. Members of the Government Party can bear me out [2563] in this, that at the present time we have 60,000 tons of turf in West and North Galway. What is going to be done with it? The Square in Galway is packed with turf. In June, July or August last, when the Government were asking for three cuttings of turf, I tried to persuade the Turf Controller—the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance—to take the turf away from the people. Transport was available at the time because no fairs were being held in the West, and there was no drawing of beet, timber or potatoes. I suggested to him that he should get crates put on the railway wagons. I saw 40 wagons going to Dublin with three tons of turf in each. At that time the ordinary private haulier was taking five tons of turf on a lorry. It was not until November or December that the railway company put the crates on. I am well aware that people in Dublin complain of the quality of the turf they are getting from different parts of the country. But that is not the fault of the people who cut and saved the turf. It is the fault of those who left it in the country in a big mass, badly clamped. As a result I must admit that some of it is very bad value.

If the people who cut and saved the turf were given a chance, and if the Government would allow the hauliers to take the turf in the lorries, the people in Dublin would have no complaint to make. So much turf has been cut in the Country Galway and is being held there that, in my opinion, it is going to cost the ratepayers of the county at least £90,000—I am sure the Fianna Fáil Deputies from Galway who are members of the county council will bear me out in that—that is if something is not done to have it removed to the non-turf areas where it is required. In this connection, too, some training should be provided for the engineers. Some of them that we see in the West are fairly good. They do their job well, but they want the co-operation of the Government. What do civil servants know about the cutting of turf? I imagine a great number of them never saw a bog. Surely they are not able to give advice [2564] to people who have spent their whole lives cutting turf.

Take wheat-growing. I have been told by farmers in the West of Ireland who are good tillage men that the return from the crop last year was down by at least one-third. Here again we have plenty of inspectors going around the country. In view of that it should not have been necessary for the Minister for Supplies to have to wait until November or December to be told that the yield would be down to that extent. The general opinion is that the yield was poor because of the fact that artificial manures were not available.

In my own part of the country, in the West of Ireland, the country is black, people are tilling much more than their quota. On farms with a valuation of £10 or £15 there may be a milch cow, a horse, a few ewes, lambs and some pigs to be fed. They cannot continue tilling that land year in and year out. They should do three years' tillage and then let it off in grass and come back again in a few years. They cannot do intensive tillage without manures. They have good land in the midlands; Deputy Corry, I think, stated yesterday that he saw only four acres tilled from Limerick Junction to near Dublin. If the manures were more fairly distributed, to give a fair supply to the lands that are bearing the crops year in and year out, there would be good crops from the poorer land such as in the West of Ireland, in Donegal, and in the south in Kerry and parts of Clare. I fear that you cannot get good crops this year again; even with the increased acreage under tillage, there will not be the same return. Would it not be better to get the manure for the poorer land and to till as much as the manure will produce? If we go on with that intensive tillage on lands unable to produce it, we are ruining the land and wasting the time of the people doing the tillage.

There is the matter of wheat. I brought under notice here a few years ago the case of two millers—one a cooperative society where the farmers themselves put in the money and were [2565] the shareholders, and the other a privately-owned mill. In one case the private company was fined £79 for over-milling; in the other case, the co-operative mill was fined about £73. Why were they fined? It was because the farmers, who were shareholders, milled more than their quota. That is happening all through. If these people do not get a chance to mill the wheat in the district, what are they to do? These are good mills and give a good deal of employment. Control should be taken off and they should be allowed to mill the wheat and not hampered. When they are fined for over-milling, it is the farmer who has to pay and not the miller.

There is also the question of the Forestry Department. They were cutting timber for supplies to the cities, at a time when there was a fair amount of transport, last autumn. The next thing was that the beet started in the same district, and the Forestry Department was left with the timber, in the very months when it was needed. Now it is going to Dublin because they are finished with the beet. Another thing that was most unfair was where a Dublin firm cut a lot of timber for housing in Dublin and Kildare and a lot of it was handed over to the Turf Development Board. The latest thing is that people are told they cannot cut the timber, that the Forestry Department must cut it for them. It is most unfair to business people that they should be hampered in that fashion, that a forestry agent can come along and say he will cut timber to-day whether it suits or not. Whether it suits the people or not at that particular time, they have got to take it.

I would also like to put the case of the haulage contractors. They should not be victimised. The railway companies are stepping in and doing their work, though there is plenty of railway work to be done. The haulage contractors are trying to earn an honest living and they were able to carry four or five tons of turf to an institution I know of in the West of Ireland when the railway company were not able to take, in their own waggons, more than three tons.

[2566]Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Complaints have been made by some Deputies that the Estimates for this year show a very substantial increase on the Estimates of last year and the preceding year, and that the Vote on Account is correspondingly increased. I am not worried at all by the sum of money required for Supply Services, as I think that, in themselves, increased expenditure and increased taxation are not necessarily objectionable. What is objectionable and what is nationally mischievous, is the taxing of the people substantially without any corresponding social advantage. My fear in connection with our Estimates and Budget is that we are imposing an unduly heavy burden on people without getting any corresponding advantage for the sum of money obtained from taxation.

We cannot discuss the Budget without seeing in it a picture of the whole Government policy. It seems to me that the central point of Government policy is needless bustle and shouting —those are the two cardinal points of Government policy. People are shocked one day when they are told there is an insufficient supply of petrol; the next day they are shocked when they are told they cannot get a sufficient quantity of bread; then they are told they cannot get tyres for motor cars; then they are told transport services must be reduced; then that bus services must be reduced; then they get a shock when told that gas must be rationed. The public seem to receive no appreciation of the order in which they are to meet difficulties. What seems to be perfectly abundant one day becomes scarce the next day. No attempt has been made by the Government to catalogue our difficulties and give them an order of precedence, so as to enable the public to appreciate the precise type of difficulties or shortages which they are expected to meet as consumers.

Of course, all this follows from the fact that the Government have no plan whatever, that they do not appear to have made up their minds as to the particular direction in which they desire to travel. If I may say so without offence, Wilkins Micawber might very well be envious of the complacency [2567] with which the Government approaches our problems. The whole Government policy is the policy of Wilkins Micawber in excelsis—the policy of waiting for something to turn up. And this without any previous plan, without any preconceived ideas as to how the problem is to be met. You get bustle and shouting, the public shocked; difficulties created that might well have been avoided, and no serious effort made in any kind of co-ordinated way to meet difficulties which ought to have been foreseen well in advance.

Let us consider the position of this country to-day from an economic point of view and let us try to relate to those economic problems the policy of the Government. I see no effort whatever being made by the Government to stem the wave of poverty that threatens to engulf the whole country. I see no effort whatever being made by the Government to stop the appalling drain of our man power to the Six Counties and to Britain and I see no effort whatever being made by the Government to realise that the export of the most virile of our manhood and of our womanhood is robbing us of potential wealth which, if translated into actual wealth, would make a greater abundance of commodities available for our people here.

The Government seem to have accepted in the most complacent way that we must have a wave of poverty. The Government seems to have committed itself to Malthusian economics, to the idea that we have too many people in this country and that we must get rid of them by emigration. The Government seems to take no cognisance whatever of the fact that we are losing the best of our manhood and womanhood by emigration, and the Government machine now is part of the official organisation with the British Government for exporting our people to Britain. If anybody were to suggest that we ought to give 40,000 head of fat cattle worth, presumably, £30 per head, to Britain for nothing everybody in this country would say that that was the economics of an asylum. But we are doing worse. If [2568] we gave Britain 40,000 head of fat cattle for nothing it would be bad enough. What we have done in the 11 months ended in November was to give Britain, not a present of 40,000 head of fat cattle, but a present of 40,000 human beings, every one of them able-bodied, every one of them capable of entering into production in Britain, every one of them an instrument of Britain's gigantic armament machine. While there would be an outcry if we gave Britain 40,000 head of fat cattle for nothing, there is the most perfect complacency when we give Britain 40,000 virile human beings and, apparently, do not ask anything in return from Britain because we cannot even get from Britain some of those commodities which Britain has in abundance.

I would like to ask the Minister for Finance who, I am sure, cannot be unconcerned with this problem, whether the Government for whom he speaks on this Vote on Account has any plan in mind for dealing with the tidal wave of emigration which threatens the existence of this nation; whether the Government has any plan for dealing with the uncontrolled export of 40,000 of the most virile of our manhood and womanhood, whom Britain is glad to get; and whether we are to accept it that this Government regards poverty as inevitable and emigration as the best means of getting rid of the population of this country for whom legislatively we are too lazy to provide employment. We are a very small country in Europe, probably the only white nation in the world that is losing its population, a matter which would be some concern to any country, even to a country with a large population, but, probably with the smallest population in Europe, we sit here in the utmost complacency, perfectly satisfied to see 40,000 of our people exported to Britain, without even any idea of evolving some scheme of productive employment which might keep these people in their own country. Is it any wonder that, with such a heavy drain on our manhood, with such a serious diminution in wealth-producing possibilities, our national resources are weakening and diminishing? [2569] Is it any wonder that in these circumstances poverty is ravaging this country with the ruthless intensity that we observe all around us to-day?

I have read speeches by Ministers and speeches by the Taoiseach in vain to ascertain what is the present basis of the Government's policy. I am forced to the conclusion that the only policy of the Government in the present crisis is a policy of pathetic belief in the efficacy of low wages to remedy our economic difficulties. If low wages could ever have made a country prosperous, the Ireland before 1914 ought to have been the most prosperous nation in Europe. If low wages could make a country prosperous to-day, China and India would probably be the most prosperous countries in the world from the standpoint of the social standards of their people.

But, just as low wages never brought prosperity to Ireland pre-1914, and just as low wages do not bring prosperity to India and to China, so also the low-wage policy to which this Government appears to be unalterably wedded is not capable of bringing, and not calculated to bring, to this country that degree of stability or prosperity which, apparently, the present Government believes to be the direct result of fidelity to a low-wage policy.

Side by side with the Government's low-wage policy, we see them committed to a policy of high prices. Prices have soared skywards during the past two years without, so far as the ordinary member of the public can see, any effective effort being made to control them. During the past 18 months the Government has been efficient only in one way, and that has been a vicious form of efficiency. That efficiency has manifested itself in keeping wages low whilst permitting the prices of commodities to rise.

If we look to the general economic policy of the Government we discover that it has no plan whatever. One cannot see, in any of the utterances by Ministers, in any of the activities of state Departments, in any of the executive actions of the Government, [2570] any relationship whatever to a comprehensive economic plan. We get Emergency Powers Orders with bewildering frequency, but after they have been issued, after they are known to the public, the problems remain, if they are not intensified by the promulgation of the order. The Taoiseach, resisting a motion for the establishment of an economic council, said that Ministers, as heads of their Departments, with their respective secretariats, were all acting in a co-ordinated way as a kind of economic council. Apparently, the Taoiseach believes that was the position for the past ten years. If our present position is the result of thought and planning by an economic council composed of Ministers, secretaries and officials of Departments, and if the present position is the best they can give us, the sooner that economic headquarters staff is dismissed the better for the whole country. It has given us nothing but scarcity, dislocation, a complete absence of supplies, a complete want of plan, and a complete inability to direct the nation along whatever road is calculated to be best in the circumstances which confront us to-day.

If one looks at the Government's production and trade policy, one can only express bewilderment. One is tempted to ask oneself: What is the Government hoping to achieve when pursuing its present production and trade policy? At the present time we are sending to Britain a large quantity of goods, not because they are surplus to our requirements but because our people are so poor that they cannot buy those commodities. Last year we exported tens of thousands of cwts. of potatoes which our own people wanted but could not purchase. In the past few months we have exported tens of thousands of cwts. of potatoes to Britain, and our own people may be hungry this year. In return for them we did not get an equal quantity of goods. We got a certain quantity of goods, and we got a cheque which is placed to out credit in the Bank of England. If Britain should happen to lose the war, those cheques will be of no advantage whatever, but in the meantime we are continuing to send to [2571] Britain approximately £12,000,000 worth of goods, and are prepared to take back from Britain in exchange approximately £8,000,000 worth of goods. The merest tyro in economics will know that, if you export to another country £12,000,000 worth of goods and accept in return £8,000,000 worth of goods and a cheque of doubtful value for £4,000,000, the one thing you do and the only thing you do is to reduce the national income. There are less goods to distribute among your own people, and the other people get the advantage of your productivity, while your own people suffer because of the fact that you export more than you can afford to export, and take less from the other people than you can afford to take. The Government's policy of trade with Great Britain is a one-way foreign trade policy. It believes, apparently, in producing as much as we can and exporting it to Britain. It has not even the good economic sense—if we are going to keep on exporting goods to Britain that our own people ought to be consuming —to ask the British, except by ordinary departmental letter, to give us in return goods of equal value for the goods which we export to them.

All that muddling, of course, arises from the fact that the Government has no monetary policy whatever. Whatever fragment of a policy they had is now supposed to be enshrined in this new Central Bank Bill, but, of course, that Bill might have been written on one side of a postcard, and it might have described the Currency Commission as the Central Bank. Beyond that, there is no change whatever effected by that Bill, and clearly no change whatever effected in the Government's financial policy. The Government's whole financial policy appears to be related to low wages. But low wages mean a demand for less goods, less goods mean less employment, less employment means more poverty and more poverty means more home assistance and more emigration. That is the kind of vicious circle we are travelling in to-day, without any member of the Government showing the slightest inclination to end that [2572] vicious circle and to break out in an entirely new line of policy which would at least give us some better results than those we are getting to-day from following that kind of insane circular policy of low wages, unemployment, poverty, home assistance, and emigration.

We had, during the past financial year, the issue by the Government of Emergency Powers Order No. 83. We were told then that the object of the Order was to stabilise wages. Of course, the Order never stabilised wages and never purported to stabilise wages. If you think of wages as a passport to goods, that Emergency Powers Order did not stabilise the purchasing power of wages. What the Emergency Powers Order did was to peg wages down to the low level in operation in May, 1941, and it permitted prices to rise very substantially above the level in operation in May, 1941. Looking back over the past ten months we know that that Emergency Powers Order has had this effect in the homes of working-class people. It kept wages low. It prevented those wages from buying the same quantity of goods as the wages bought in May, 1941, and on the other hand, it permitted prices to rise in an uncontrolled way. The net result of all that was to reduce the standard of living of the workers, and to prevent them from buying the same quantity of goods as formerly.

There can be no greater indictment of the Government's policy than its own figures. According to statistics issued by the Department of Industry and Commerce, the cost-of-living index figure in September, 1939, was 173. In mid-November, 1941, approximately two years afterwards, the figure had risen to 237, an increase of over 30 per cent. in the price of commodities in those two years. The Government must know that in many industries and occupations the wages remained static over that period. Is it not the clearest indication that the standard of living of the workers has been substantially reduced? Is not that the clearest evidence that people are able to buy only a limited quantity of goods to-day, a quantity much less than they bought in 1939? Is not that another [2573] way of raiding the kitchen dresser? Is it not another way of raiding the kitchen cupboard? Is not that another way of still further reducing the low standard of living on which those people formerly sustained themselves?

I am not surprised that that type of muddling thoughtlessness, that complete absence of planning, that subtle attack on the standard of living of the masses of the people, is producing a wave of despair and discontent. If some Minister would go incognito down to the labour exchange in Gardiner Street, represent himself as an unemployed man, and discuss with the thousands of workers who sign up there for a miserable pittance what their conception of life in this country is, that Minister might be sufficiently shocked to induce the Government to stop and think. It is no wonder that in this country to-day we find among the people a mentality which expresses itself in saying that almost nothing can be as bad as what they are enduring to-day.

If there is difficulty in recruiting people to the Defence Force and to the Auxiliary Defence Forces—I am sorry that there is difficulty in recruiting them to any section of our Defence Forces—I think direct responsibility for that lies on the shoulders of the Government, because the people are beginning to develop the mentality which expresses itself by saying: “What have we to fight for?” It is not easy to tell an unemployed man with six children that, if he joins the Defence Force, the State will express its gratitude to him and its appreciation of his citizenship by paying him a miserable pittance of 14/- a week in a supposedly civilised country to maintain himself and his wife and six children, to pay rent, to buy fuel, clothes and the other necessaries of life which ought to go hand in hand with a civilised existence.

The Government's economic policy, in my view, is creating a measure of discontent and distrust which is highly dangerous for the country in present circumstances. I regret the development of that policy. I have tried in my own way to create among our people the belief that in present circumstances we ought to unite for the [2574] purpose of meeting any menace to our independence or any aggression against our people; but, quite frankly, I begin to despair of appeals to people to accept that point of view when so little is being done by the Government to rescue persons from poverty and destitution which could scarcely be worse than the poverty and destitution they would suffer if this country were invaded.

Emergency Powers (No. 83) Order is not the type of Order that a native Government, responsible to its people, ought to introduce. That Order has in it the ruthlessness of an invader. It is the kind of Order we would expect from an occupying Power. It is not the type of Order that an Irish Government, responsible to the people, ought to inflict on that people, while at the same time whistling the tune of national unity in order to meet the dangers which threaten from without.

Let me turn for a moment to the unemployment problem in this country. During the 11 months from January to November, 1941, over 40,000 people got passports in the Twenty-six Counties to go to Britain or the Six Counties. The bulk of them will probably stay there; I would say over 90 per cent. of them will stay there and consequently they will not affect our industrial or our agricultural market. In the same period approximately 30,000 people joined our Defence Forces, and the expansion of our defence activities probably absorbed a considerable number of additional people. One would imagine that, with the export of approximately 40,000 people in 11 months —not during the last 30 months of the war—with another 30,000 in the Army and with another substantial but undefined number getting employment in our additional defence activities, we might see an end of our unemployment problem. What are the facts? The Department of Industry and Commerce statistics show that on the 28th of last month, less than a fortnight ago, 96,000 persons were registered as unemployed, and 81,000 of them were men. What would be the position be in this country to-day if 30,000 people had not joined the Defence Forces? What would the position be if 90,000 had not [2575] gone out of the country in the last 11 months and if, probably, another 20,000 or 25,000 had not gone in the preceding 12 months?

The Government's only effort to deal with unemployment has been by means of exporting the most virile of our manhood and womanhood and by the absorption of a certain number in the Army. Even with these types of activity we still have 96,000 persons registered as unemployed, persons quite able and willing to work, but yet denied an opportunity of working in their own country. I should like to ask the Minister for Education, who ought to be concerned with the sociological and the psychological side of this problem, what would his response be to an insistence by every unemployed man and woman in the country that they were born in this country, that they owed allegiance to this country, that they were willing to work in this country and that they would not be exported from this country to solve the Government's economic difficulty. If these people were to insist on remaining in this country, were to insist on their right to live and on their right to a decent standard of living, I think this Government would be compelled to deal with that problem in a much more vigorous way than they have adopted so far.

If we were confronted to-morrow with any kind of epidemic of a contagious or infectious kind, such as foot-and-mouth disease in animals, we would have a great national effort to try to stamp out the plague, because of the loss to the nation. If hunger could be made a contagious or infectious disease, it would probably be better for the people who suffer from hunger, because then some effort might be made to deal with the problem of the hungry in the same way as an effort was made to deal with foot-and-mouth disease. We got rightly scared and alarmed when cattle were suffering from foot-and-mouth disease, because it is contagious and is labelled as such, but we sit calmly by while 90 per cent. of our people, unable to get the barest necessaries of life, are condemned to a position of that kind by [2576] a Government which, in 1932, told us that Fianna Fáil would cure unemployment; condemned by a Government whose leader, in 1932, said in this House that there was no reason why unemployment should exist here, no reason why we should have an unemployed man or woman in the country.

The Government may sit on that powder barrel for a long time, and one member may say to another: “Hold on, my lad; it is not likely to go off for a while.” But it will go off. Hungry men and women will not be prepared to tolerate that condition of affairs very long and, with growing economic difficulties, the Government will be compelled to deal with that problem much more vigorously than it might otherwise do. The Government ought to deal with it while the reins are in their hands. They can deal with it by planning, by co-operation, by trying to get into the service of the central authority the best brains capable of dealing with a situation of that kind. The Taoiseach thinks the best method is to have the Ministers in charge of busy Departments co-operating and providing a solution for our problems. That method in the past has given us 98,000 unemployed after we have exported probably 60,000 or 70,000 in the last 30 months. If the Government still profess any pathetic belief in the efficacy of that remedy, I do not envy them their complacency, but I will sympathise with them when the storm breaks, as it must break, and when they are compelled to realise that they have a much bigger duty than they ever thought likely to the tens of thousands of unemployed in the country.

I should like to refer to the activities of the Department of Supplies, a Department that cannot get supplies. I want to say quite definitely and deliberately that I think that Department has been a ghastly failure. It is the biggest millstone around the Government's neck and there is not a citizen, and I doubt whether there is a Deputy sitting behind the Minister for Education, who has the slightest faith in the Department of Supplies to-day. So far as I can discover, the main activity of that Department is consuming paper. Everybody is advertising [2577] for waste paper and everybody is being urged to save paper. The chief output of the Department of Supplies is not goods, but Emergency Powers Orders, one cancelling the other. It must, in the past 12 months, have consumed thousands of tons of paper in orders and advertisements, and the public seldom know what is in the orders or the advertisements.

Nobody has any faith in the Department of Supplies. If it were abolished to-morrow, nobody would worry about it. I do not, however, think it ought to be abolished. I do not want to see it abolished. I want to see it put under new control, under new direction, under a Minister alive from the chin up—I want to see somebody with some ability and foresight directing it, in the hope that some new director of that kind will be able to retrieve some of the effects of the muddling and messing of the last three years.

Mr. McMenamin: Information on Daniel McMenamin  Zoom on Daniel McMenamin  You want a new Government.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  We may want a new Government, but I have a good deal of faith still that you can find intelligent members in the back benches of the Government Party who would make a much better job of that Department and be much more successful than the present Minister.

I do not think anybody could have been a more tragic failure in the office than the present Minister. We were told in 1938 that a shadow Department of Supplies had been established. Every person, inside and outside a lunatic asylum, knew then that there was likely to be a war. Everybody knew then that we had very few ships if a war came, and that the sensible thing to do was to purchase ships and to lay in a store of those commodities which we could not produce at home. We could have done it easily then. Ships were being offered at the time and could have been bought cheaply. Small countries like Greece and Norway would have sold us ten times the amount of shipping we required for our own needs, but the Minister for Supplies did not believe it would come [2578] to that or that we would need ships. His view, as expressed to a deputation of the Labour Party at the time, was: What would we do with the ships when the war was over? That was his problem then, but if we had these ships to-day we could get in wheat, we could get in tea, we could get in tyres, we could get in petrol, we could get in paraffin oil, we could get in candles, and so on, in these ships. I imagine that nobody would lose a lot of sleep as to what would be done with the ships when the war was over if only we had them now, but that was the mentality of the Department of Supplies in 1939, when the war had started. They could not even then be shocked into a belief that we might want ships —not at all, we did not want them! Then they waited until 1941, until prices of ships soared about 1,000 per cent., and then we searched every port in the world to try to get any kind of hulk that we could repair; we picked up a few of them and did our best to repair them, and it is on that kind of fragmentary mercantile marine that our people are now living from day to day and from week to week.

In those years, of course, we could have bought all the tea that we wanted. We could have had a flood of tea in this country. We could have bought all the candles we wanted. We could have bought all the wheat we wanted. Wheat was then being offered at the world price of 11/- a barrel, but we would not buy it at 11/- a barrel—not at all, we were too proud to do so— and we waited until we had to pay 84/- a barrel for it. We buy it now in America at 14/- a barrel, and we have to pay £3 10s. to carry that wheat across the Atlantic—wheat that cost 14/- a barrel. That is the Irish way of doing it: do not buy the wheat at 11/- a barrel, but wait until it goes up to 84/- and then buy it.

These are some of the kind of activities that characterise the Department of Supplies. I do not suppose there is any use in appealing to any member of the Government to try to stop this insane racket that is passing for administration in the Department of Supplies. I do not suppose that any words that I use here this evening will [2579] have a very great corrective effect on the Department of Supplies or on members of the Government, but surely some members of the Government Party, who should know that what I am saying is true, ought to insist that something should be done with the Department of Supplies, and ought to insist that if we are going to spend something like over £1,000,000 on that Department we are also going to be satisfied that we will get value for no less than that amount and not have a continuance of this muddling and messing that we have experienced in connection with that Department for the last two or three years.

It seems to me that one of the most extraordinary features of the activities of that Department is that while you hear of two or three civil servants, not just of commander-in-chief rank either, being sent over to London every now and again to negotiate with British officials on the question of supplies, we never hear of the Minister himself going. One begins to wonder why he does not go over himself. I do not think we ought to have any inferiority complex in respect of the British. The Minister for Finance might well be sent in any case, as the first member of a deputation, because he whipped John Bull in 1938, and even though the whip was made of £10,000 of good Irish notes—backed by British securities, of course—still I think the Minister for Finance ought to be asked to fight another round with John Bull. The Minister for Finance who, in 1938, was able to knock out John Bull, when John had not the difficulties that he now has, ought to be given another canter around Piccadilly and Downing Street and ought to ask John to come out into Piccadilly or Downing Street and say: “Look here, now, we are not going to put up with the way you have been treating us for the last two and a half years.” But the Minister for Supplies ought to be sent also, because he is the exporting authority in this country and we are sending to Great Britain a substantial quantity of goods and are not getting a sufficiency of goods in return. We are sending to Great Britain goods that our own [2580] people need, and which they cannot afford to purchase, and we are not getting from Great Britain the commodities of which our people are going to be in need.

I should like some member of the Government to tell me why it is that we sent the Minister for Co-ordination of Defensive Measures on a trek, 4,000 miles from this country, when we will not put the Minister for Supplies in an aeroplane and get him over to London in an hour and a half, to discuss trade with the British people on the basis of a barter arrangement. At the present time we are giving Britain more goods than she is giving us. It is true that she is filling up the gap with a cheque, but her cheques, if she loses the war, may be just about as valuable as German marks were after the last war, and in the meantime our people will have given away all these commodities and have got nothing in return. I do not think it is inconsistent or incompatible with our national dignity or sense of independence, or with those characteristics on which we pride ourselves, to send a delegation of Ministers, headed by the Minister for Finance and accompanied by the Minister for Supplies, to Great Britain——

Mr. Costello: Information on John Aloysius Costello  Zoom on John Aloysius Costello  With the whip.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  ——yes, with the whip, if you like—to insist that in our relations with Great Britain we ought to get a fair deal, and tell the British plainly that we are not getting it. You will get less of a fair deal in the next 12 months, if I am any judge of what is happening to-day, or if my views are any criterion of what I know to be happening to-day in respect of supplies for Great Britain. If we are going to export anything at all to Great Britain, let us say to the British people: “If we are going to give you £1 worth of goods, we are going to get £1 worth of goods in return. We are not getting that, and why is it that we are not getting it?” If you are going to continue the arrangement of exports to Great Britain instead of keeping them here for the use of our own people, then you ought not to give them away to the British people but give [2581] them away to our own people instead.

I just want to say that while I am not terribly worried about the amount of this Estimate, as an Estimate, I am worried about the way in which it is being spent and about the results that we are getting from its expenditure. I see no evidence whatever that the Government have a plan or have a grip on the situation, or that they have sufficient enthusiasm or courage to rouse the people to brace themselves for the trials that lie ahead. I see no indication that the Government are going to use their powers to succour the weakest and most helpless sections of the community. It is because I have these fears that I think a lot of this money is wasteful expenditure. As I say, I would not mind an Estimate that was very much larger than this, if I could feel assured that the expenditure of that money was designed to obtain equal social advantages for the sections of the community who need these social advantages most.

For the past two and a half years this Government has acted the role of a very tired and weary Government and the country cannot afford tiredness or weariness in Governmental circles in these critical times. With the realisation of what is before the country and the dangers that threaten it from within and without, I hope that on the tenth anniversary of their assumption of office the Government will at least bestir themselves and in this really serious crisis make some effort to arouse the country with a policy which will command universal admiration and enthusiasm. The present policy is only creating despair and misery and offers no light whatever to the people at a time when they need light and courage and enthusiasm more than ever before.

Mr. Coburn: Information on James Coburn  Zoom on James Coburn  It is true to say that this Vote is very much larger than the previous ones. It is also true to say that the sum that the country is asked to find this year by way of taxation is a very big one. One's memory goes back to the days when the taxation imposed on the 32 counties of Ireland was somewhere in the region of £11,000,000, and at that time there was [2582] a very strong feeling that we were being overtaxed by the then Government. Of course circumstances have changed and we are passing through very critical and dangerous times, and I am willing to admit that a good deal of the extra money that is required is due to these conditions.

It is quite true to say that the principal item responsible for the very large increase in this Vote is the Army. We have adopted a policy of neutrality and it is necessary that we should take all the steps necessary for the preservation of that policy. Therefore I suppose very much criticism cannot be offered with regard to this Vote, except that I should say in passing that I hope we are getting value for the money and if, unfortunately, the occasion should arise when the Army has to go into action that it will give a good account of itself.

I am perfectly aware that one of the other factors responsible for the increase in this year's Vote is that the people have shown too great a tendency to look to the Government for everything. There seems to be an utter lack of that essential characteristic we used to boast about some years ago, namely, self-reliance. The Government are now asked to do the most trivial things when, as a matter of fact, the people themselves could do them more economically and efficiently. However, we have got into that state and the result is that taxation has increased year by year.

I should not like to subscribe to all the things which have been said here in regard to the position of this country. It would be a catastrophe if the position was as outlined by Deputy Norton. In justice to the good name of the country, I think I might say that, with the exception of certain sections of our people, the position on the whole is not too bad when one takes into consideration the times through which we are passing. Deputy Norton bewailed the fact that 40,000 or 50,000 of our people have had to go to Great Britain. One would imagine that these people were getting nothing for going to Great Britain. Great Britain is not asking those people to go across there for nothing. They are getting [2583] very good wages and, while I deplore the fact that they have to go, yet it is much better that they should go and get work there than remain here without work. After all, there is a great deal of money coming back from Great Britain to the mothers, wives and dependents of those people, so that it cannot be said that these 40,000 are lost to this country. Deputy Norton also expressed the view that we are exporting more goods from this country than we are getting back. Let us carry his argument to its logical conclusion and say that no cattle will be exported to Great Britain. I wonder what would be the position of the farmers.

Mr. Everett: Information on James Everett  Zoom on James Everett  We will get manure in return.

Mr. Coburn: Information on James Coburn  Zoom on James Coburn  I want to put this question to the members of the Labour Party, because they have supported in the main the policy pursued by the Government for the last ten years.

Mr. Everett: Information on James Everett  Zoom on James Everett  Not for the last ten years.

Mr. Coburn: Information on James Coburn  Zoom on James Coburn  I do not blame them for that. We should not run away from a policy; we should rather stick out our chins and face whatever the future may have in store for us and not become too pessimistic, even though we may meet with certain disappointments. We are very fortunate to be in a position to keep up the trade we have at the moment with Great Britain and to have our exportable surplus sent to that market. Deputy Norton seemed to think that if we had the ships it would be the simplest thing in the world to get petrol and other commodities from other countries. If we had all the ships we required to bring all these things to this country, could we get them? Great Britain has a very large number of ships at her disposal, and yet at the moment she cannot get wood pulp from Norway. I suppose it cannot be said that the United States is short of ships, yet, owing to the course the war has taken, that country cannot get rubber from the sources from which she formerly obtained it, and she has to adopt other [2584] means of supplying her needs, namely, the production of synthetic rubber. In the difficult times through which we are passing it does not follow that, even if the Government had all the ships required, we could get all the things we need. Therefore, I do not think there is very much use in blaming the Government for everything. We have arrived at the point, and the sooner we recognise it the better, when we have to stand or fall together during the critical times that lie ahead as we are really only at the beginning of our difficulties.

There is one suggestion I should like to make to the Government, and particularly the leaders of the Government, and that is that they should come out and tell the people that this war may last for the next ten years, and that we should make our plans accordingly. There is no use in saying that God will help us. Let us also remember that God only helps those who help themselves. There is a great deal of apathy and indifference prevailing in the country as well as lack of co-operation, and the sooner they disappear the better it will be for the country. With a view to facing the future with some confidence, I say to the Minister, and to the Government, that if they want to restore confidence and to get the co-operation of all the people, a feeling that is now abroad must be removed. I mix with the working classes of the constituency I have the honour to represent, and I have come across a great many cases of hardship owing to the operation of the Emergency Order that is at present in force. At a meeting of Louth County Council last week an application was received from road workers for an increase in their wages of 30/-. The council gave an increase of a few shillings the previous year, but it was not sanctioned. The application was renewed this year and the council acceded to it, but a letter has been received from the Department stating that the increase will not be sanctioned. I hold that that is bad policy and a dangerous policy to pursue.

In the case of a man earning 30/- weekly, with a family of five persons, it means that 15 meals have to be provided [2585] daily, or 100 meals weekly. If five members of a family sit down to breakfast provided out of 30/- it would work out at an average of 3½d. per meal. I ask any fair-minded man to explain how any family could exist on a 3½d. meal, taking into account the cost of food and other necessaries, not to mention clothes or boots. The question was brought forcibly to my mind last week when working out my own household budget. I found that I paid 5/- for one meal for a family of six persons. In all seriousness, I ask the Minister for Finance, in the interests of peace, to take that position into consideration. I know the feeling that prevails among decent elements here. I also know that certain people would criticise and always be in trouble no matter how good the times were, but speaking of the honest working people, I say there is a feeling of resentment amongst them that they are denied a paltry increase of 2/- weekly, while Deputies could vote themselves an increase in their allowances of £2 10s. 0d., weekly, on top of £7. The resentment, it will be understood, is all the greater when one considers that the cost of living is much greater than it was a few years ago, and that it shows no sign of diminishing. On the contrary, it is ascending week by week. I ask the Minister, as he is in charge of the purse, to get in touch with the Minister for Local Government with a view to amending the Order made by that Department in so far as it refers to wage increases granted by representatives of the people. Remember that these representatives come, in the main, from the farming community. The constitution of the county councils consists of about 90 per cent. of the farming community. They are cute men who do not throw money away, yet everyone of these representatives, to their credit let it be said, unanimously passed the little increase that was given. In the interests of peace, I again appeal to the Minister to have that Order amended. I sympathised with the idea behind the Order when it was passed, namely, to keep down prices.

I have made a study of the position since the Order was put into operation [2586] and I find that it has not kept down prices. It was passed with the express intention of helping the unemployed. It has not helped the unemployed. Accordingly, the only decent thing the Government can do is to withdraw it. There is an added grievance about the Order, inasmuch as it was not put into operation in the case of all workers. The Government has differentiated between the workers, and while I wish those who benefited luck, I believe that if a vote were taken here, as to whether an increase should be given, on principle some of us would have to vote against the Order on the ground that there should be no differentiation. If an Order is good it should be put into operation without fear or favour, and if bad it should be withdrawn, so that all classes could get rights to which they are entitled, and to which their employers agree.

I wish to bring another matter to the Minister's attention to which reference has been already made. I appreciate the point of view expressed by you, A Chinn Chomhairle, that there will be ample time to deal with it on the appropriate Estimate, but fearing that it may be then too late, I want to refer to the need of providing supplies of artificial manure. The Minister may not be aware that there exists in County Louth what is known as the Cooley area. That area stands out as the one in the Twenty-Six Counties in which there is most intensive tillage. As far as I understand from a deputation of farmers from that area it will be impossible for them to grow the acreage of cereals and especially of potatoes this year without artificial manure. If it is at all possible some concession should be made to meet the requirements of these people. Deputies and the Minister know that farmers in that area are considered to be amongst the best in Ireland. For its size there are more people to the square mile in Cooley area than in any other part of Ireland. Owing to the prevalence of black scab they have been prohibited from exporting potatoes to any other part of Éire and have to export to the British market. At present there is a factory in Cooley for dealing with small potatoes and it is an asset there. I [2587] impress upon the Minister the necessity for having some extra quantity of artificial manure reserved for farmers in that area.

Reference has been made to the rationing of flour and tea. Possibly some people may say that a black market only exists here. That market exists in England where there is rationing. It does not follow that rationing is carried out 100 per cent. or as the Government would like to see it carried out. Possibly there is the same complaint in England as there is here. There was a great deal of excitement in the City of Dublin last week about the bread supplies, but it subsided after one or two days. We are an excitable race at certain times. In parts of the country I do not know of any great shortage of anything. Now and then there may be a shortage, but taking everything into consideration we are not doing too badly. There are difficult times ahead and my advice to all concerned would be to work together. We have to rely upon ourselves. While the big nations are engaged in a life-and-death struggle there is no use in thinking that we can get all we want. Deputy Childers spoke about reserving space in ships from America to the exclusion possibly of wheat. I should not like to have a bet on the results. Judging by the world situation I doubt if we can get any raw materials from America in order to keep our factories going. Let us make the best of the situation here. We will not get anything by crying. It would certainly be a mistake on the part of the Opposition to pass this Vote on Account without saying something about it. It is our duty to do the best we can, because we must think of the nation as a whole and be a little more optimistic. Let us show that we are prepared to meet the future with courage. Our ancestors made sacrifices. They knew what want was and they came through the ordeal. I am sure the people of to-day are just as good as those who lived through trying times 100 years ago.

Mr. Everett: Information on James Everett  Zoom on James Everett  Deputy Coburn when referring to Deputy Norton's remarks [2588] should know that Deputy Norton was referring to ships that could have been purchased some years ago. As to people being prepared to make the sacrifices our ancestors made, it must be remembered that the circumstances are quite different now. People are now being asked to make sacrifices because the present Government has bungled, and had no plan from day to day beyond making announcements over the wireless that created a sensation in the country. The constituency that Deputy Coburn represents must be a paradise compared with other constituencies, because he stated that there is no shortage of anything in that area. Is there not a black market on the Border? Deputy Mulcahy and Deputy Hickey brought to the notice of the Government the serious position that exists elsewhere. I was one of those who 12 months ago refused to ask any man in the rural areas to join the Army or the Defence Forces, because I maintained that Ministers were not very keen about having these men in any other organisation. If the Government were serious in asking for the co-operation of men in the rural areas why did they deprive the unemployed in these areas of the paltry amount allowed for unemployment assistance? Why ask unemployed men to be out at night to protect the coast, or to act as guards for well-off and well-paid officials, Ministers and Deputies, who were comfortable in their own homes while unemployment assistance is denied them? Deputy Mulcahy and Deputy Hickey warned the House that these men are taking up this attitude, asking themselves what is the use of making these sacrifices. I am satisfied that many members of the Government do not want this Parliament. Their actions would seem to be more like those of a totalitarian dictator. I am not alluding to the Minister for Finance, but I suggest that certain Ministers and members of the Government Party do not want the Dáil to meet, do not want any elected representatives and are trying to stifle public opinion in this House and in public administration. Even speeches of Deputies have been censored. Criticism of the Government [2589] by public boards has also been censored.

Where public representatives had the courage to criticise the administration the public boards were either abolished on some slight excuse and a county manager or commissioner was appointed. The County Management Act was put into operation so that the public would have no direct voice in the control of their affairs. The same people would abolish the Dáil and abolish representatives on public boards. That is what is in the minds of some of the present Ministers. A Deputy in the Fianna Fáil Party stated that the Dáil is only a nuisance, that there was too much time devoted to criticism of the Government. I have criticised the Government and probably did more than other Deputies to bring them into this House, but that does not mean that I am not prepared to criticise them for their want of a plan to deal with the present crisis. What plans have we had in connection with the public boards? The Department of Local Government issued a circular urging these boards to economise, but while advocating economy, over 50 forms were sent out to county surveyors and others dealing with road maintenance, road grants and turf administration. With the exception of one or two parts the information asked in the first of the 50 forms had already been given. In County Wicklow we had to employ a special clerk to fill up forms and reply to queries about turf schemes. Yet, there is talk about economy. It is no wonder the number of civil servants has increased in all the Departments. It is no wonder the Government are unable to carry out the plan that they put before the electors in 1932, when they undertook to reduce numbers in the Civil Service by half, and to carry on with the other half. We have now two or three times as many civil servants. I would prefer if the lower paid members of the Civil Service were given a decent salary, instead of having others sending out forms and wasting the time of the local officials who look after the roads and turf production. These forms come from Departments that urge the public to economise.

[2590] The Government are economising by reducing the amount available for unemployment insurance by £215,000. I maintain that large numbers of people in the rural areas who are unable to find employment with farmers will be thrown on the rates and on to home assistance. In the towns a new Order provides that all public works are to cease, that no road work is to be carried out, except for the transport of men for turf production. I admit that where turf is convenient to a town the men should be employed there, but where they have to travel 20 miles to a turf area it is necessary to find employment for them and that can only be done by giving grants to county councils. Deputy Coburn referred to the dissatisfaction that he found existing in the country over Emergency Powers (No. 83) Order. He went on to point out the serious position that exists, even in his constituency, as a result of the operations of that Order. What case can the Minister, on behalf of the Government, make for refusing to give forestry workers who are doing national work more than 29/- a week? You ask them to maintain a family on 29/- a week, less insurance, while at the same time you have, in the Construction Corps working beside these experienced foresters, young men who cost you something like 37/- a week. You are giving to an inexperienced boy, who has to learn his work from the experienced forester, something like 9/- a week more than that forester gets. No wonder there is general dissatisfaction in the country.

I have known of the case of a forester who was out all night on work in connection with the Local Security Force. His bicycle was punctured on his way to work next morning and he had a quarter stopped because he was ten minutes late for work. Is that not poor encouragement for a man who was out all night on the duties of the Local Security Force? Let us contrast that with the treatment given to officials in the Local Government service. I know a case in my own constituency where an engineer was given an increase of £150 a year but, instead of calling it an increase, the Minister called it a personal allowance. [2591] The labouring man or the forestry worker does not care what you call an increase given to him, let it be a personal allowance, a bonus or anything you like so long as you give it to him, but of course he will not be given any such increase. In the case of the engineer it was called a personal allowance, but no matter what excuse the Minister may make, the forestry worker, the unemployed man or the widow is not going to accept that excuse. They can only see that the ordinary labouring man is refused recognition while a well-paid official can get £150 a year of an increase in his salary. So much for Order No. 83.

I should like to ask what the Minister for Supplies or the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures does. We, of course, receive nothing but courtesy from the officials of the Department of Supplies but what have they to supply? Only certain sections of the community can get whatever is going. We have appealed here from time to time for extra supplies of petrol for dispensary doctors who have to attend the sick poor in mountainous areas, but that appeal has fallen on deaf ears, while you have professional men in the Local Security Force—teachers and journalists—who are exempted from the payment of road tax and who can get more petrol than dispensary doctors, simply because they have the excuse that they are engaged on national service. Does the Minister know what is happening at all in the country? It is impossible, I admit, to know everything that is taking place but the duty of the Government is to act fairly between all sections of the community.

We were told to-day that it cost £20 a year to maintain a criminal, but still we would not give even that allowance to the non-insured contributor's widow or to the aged person. I have had experience of a case in which a man who had seven in family was in receipt of 7/6 a week disablement benefit, but he received a food voucher only for himself. He was informed that he was not entitled to receive a food voucher in respect of the other members of his [2592] family because they were not receiving home assistance. In order to qualify them for food vouchers, home assistance had to be given to them. On the other hand, if he were an unemployed man, not paying any insurance, his family would be entitled to a food voucher. Simply because of the fact that he was ill, his children were not entitled to food vouchers. That is the sort of treatment that is playing into the hands of certain elements who do not want any representative Government in this country, who want to have a Fascist State at a time when you will probably have a Socialist State in the neighbouring country. We are told that State will receive support from certain high dignitaries. I do not mind what happens in other countries, but one has to be very careful knowing the seriousness of the position in this country. I say that, notwithstanding the treatment the poorer sections of our community have received, if the country were invaded by another Power, 99 per cent. of these people would respond to the call to resist that invasion. I do not wish in any way to exaggerate the facts. If these were ordinary times one could make certain statements without restraint, but this is not the time to make wild statements or even statements that one could justifiably make in normal circumstances. I would, however, ask the Minister to realise the position of Deputies who have to meet the people who are affected by these grievances. If things get out of control, it will not be the fault of these Deputies.

I am somewhat worried by the question whether the Government has any plan for dealing with the food situation from the month of June to the end of July. Does the Government think that there will be as much food available at that time as we have now? Have they any plan for conserving supplies of potatoes to meet the crisis that may arise then? I know that in other countries silos are provided for preserving potatoes so that they can be used from one end of the year to the other without becoming soft. Have any such arrangements been made here? There are plenty of potatoes and root crops in the country, but have any plans been made to ensure that [2593] these supplies will be equally distributed, particularly in the cities, pending the arrival of the produce of the next harvest? A Deputy who spoke here to-night said that there was no shortage in his area and that foodstuffs were plentiful. It is very comforting to hear that, but we do not know that some other countries may not decide to threaten us that unless we take a certain course we may be compelled to starve.

We are not in that serious position, thank God. I have no fear that our people will starve, if they do not take up a certain course. We are all pledged to neutrality, and we all wish to remain neutral. We have our own individual feelings in respect of many of the things happening, but, notwithstanding the hardships we may endure, we intend to remain neutral, or at least we must all hope that none of the belligerents will interfere with us. If that should happen, I am sure that the greatest critics of the Government will be found to support the Government, because we all recognise that it is not the Government but the nation which will then be involved. The Government could go to-morrow, but the nation will remain. That is the attitude I take up. I was one of those who objected to the Government getting the powers they sought in 1939, and I have no apology to make for doing so. I hold the view that I would not give a Labour Government the powers given to this Government that night, and I have seen the way they have used these powers. If the Labour members had the opportunity again, they would not accept the guarantees given on that occasion without some further assurance. These powers have been used against the very classes which always supported the Government. It is the plain people, the workers and the small farmers and the small business people, and not the owners of the factories, who have always helped any Government with a national outlook, and they are the people on whom we must rely in the future.

I want to point out to the Minister the really serious position in my county. I do not want to exaggerate, [2594] but there is distress and unemployment, and the Employment Period Orders are going to create more hardship and more trouble for the ratepayers. There are areas with which the Minister is familiar, like Avoca and such places, in which the farms are so small that the farmers are not able to employ extra men. These Employment Orders will be applied to these areas, with the result that the board of health will have to come to the rescue. The Compulsory Tillage Order has not given much extra employment because Wicklow is a county of mixed farming.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  How many are employed in the mines?

Mr. Everett: Information on James Everett  Zoom on James Everett  About 25 or so. That is a great help, but, while I admit that, at harvest time, more men than are at present employed will be necessary, there is the fact that with the use of tractors and other mechanical equipment, the number of men formerly required is not now necessary. Where the grant has been stopped, what is to happen? Are you going to have more men emigrating? Deputy Coburn says it is no loss to the country, but I maintain that if the Government were in earnest there would be no need for any man to emigrate. There is plenty of work available in the matter of tillage, drainage and other activities. With regard to the huge expenditure on the Army, the Minister, if he travels in my constituency at all, must meet the Army lorries I meet, many of them with two or three soldiers in them. What are they doing but using petrol? I would prefer to see them, instead of wasting petrol, drawing turf or timber to Dublin. There seems to be no purpose in it, except the wasting of petrol. They carry no loads or anything else. Where you have a large army, you are bound to have waste, but it is best to let the Minister know that public men realise that there is waste, and, while the officers may not be able to do everything they would like to do, they will know that people are watching and will be more on the alert to see that there is no waste and that, if petrol is provided, it will be used for essential purposes [2595] poses like the drawing of turf or timber.

Emergency Powers Order No. 83 is really the grievance. I know of one saw-mill owner who has made plenty of money. He is a very decent man, and he was anxious to meet the high cost of living for the workers who have been in his employment for ten or 15 years. He was, however, debarred from giving an increase on the 30/- wage, in spite of the profits he is making. I refer to the Glenealy sawmills, the owner of which came to me to see if he could increase the wages of his workers in any way. Knowing the serious conditions of the times and the high cost of living, he was satisfied that the wages he was giving his workers were not sufficient, but he was precluded by this Order from increasing them. That being so, there is no use in the Government saying that the Order is designed to benefit the unemployed. It has not worked for their benefit and it has been used chiefly against the smallest and the lowest paid workers. The intention may have been to apply it to the man with £500 or £400 a year to prevent increases in his salary, but I have given cases in which the Department has sanctioned salaries well over that figure while refusing increases to others.

I hope that nothing we have said here will give any nation reason to think that we are not determined to remain neutral. If we are invaded, it will be found that the people will take their places as they did before. My fears are more in relation to our internal position and in relation to the serious position of our people who are unemployed, who are unable to get fuel, or who have to pay high prices for wet logs. I am more worried about the danger that they will be prepared to accept the doctrines of people who will say: “What has Parliament been doing? Is it not useless?” and who will drive such doctrines into their minds. If the Government will not realise that, I think there is a danger of a fire being enkindled, and it will be too late to co-operate then because all the cooperation [2596] given by this House will be unable to extinguish that fire.

Mr. Corish rose.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I understand that it is the desire to finish the business to-night and there is the Central Fund Bill yet to be considered.

Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  I shall require only five minutes.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I want to say that we agreed generally to treat any aspect of the business after 9.30 p.m. as unopposed and to sit for any length of time necessary to finish the Vote on Account and to give all stages of the Central Fund Bill.

Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  We are agreed to give the Minister all the facilities he requires.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Some hour must be fixed for the adjournment.

Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  The Parliamentary Secretary mentioned not later than 11 p.m.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  A lot would depend on how long the Minister would require. He has some distance to go to-night.

Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  I shall take only a few minutes.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I suggest that we could fix 12 o'clock.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I presume that the agreement is unanimous. Otherwise, at this late hour, there could not be any such decision.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  It is understood that there will be no vote after 9.30 p.m.?


Ordered: “That the Dáil sit later than 10 p.m. to-night and that the order for the adjournment be taken not later than 12 midnight.”

Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  The Vote on Account which has been presented this year is a huge bill, but, great as it is, the [2597] country would, in my opinion, welcome it, if it revealed any inclination on the part of the Government to do something constructive in the interests of the people. Looking over the Estimates, we have tried in vain to find out if there is any change in Government policy over the last ten years which would give us any hope that it was proposed to do anything for the poor and needy, commensurate with the hardships through which they are going at present. Unemployment is rife in the country and profiteering is rampant. The Minister for Supplies, when questioned about profiteering from time to time, refuses to admit that there is such a thing as profiteering in the country. In so far as the black market is concerned, I think it is generally known that in various parts of the country it is operating to a very great extent.

Within recent weeks a communication was sent by the Department of Local Government to local authorities asking that they should economise. This Vote on Account which the Dáil is presented with is in striking contrast to the attitude of the Minister for Local Government. In so far as local authorities are concerned, they are at their wits' end to try to secure reductions in their estimates. I think it would be found, as a result of an examination by any independent person such as an auditor, that Government policy is responsible at the present time for anything up to 5/- in the £ on the local rates. I am not saying that useful work is not being done in consequence of that rate being struck, and that certain subsidies are not being given by the Government to supplement the rate that that 5/- brings in, but I think it is only right to point out that that amount of 5/- or 6/- in the £ is due entirely to legislation passed by the Government in recent years.

There was one piece of legislation passed here in 1932 or 1933 called the Unemployment Assistance Act. At the time it was passed it was laid down, in one section, that certain cities and towns in Éire should contribute a certain amount of money each year to supplement [2598] the Unemployment Assistance Fund. In the City of Dublin the amount was, I think, 1/6 in the £, later increased to 1/8, while in towns like Wexford, Sligo, Kilkenny and other places the amount fixed was at the rate of 9d. in the £. But, owing to rebates, the effective valuation would not bring in the equivalent that 9d. in the £ would be on the gross valuation, so that it was necessary in these towns to strike a rate of 11d. in the £ in order that the Minister will get what he set out to get under the Act. It will be within the knowledge of the Minister that some towns only sent the amount which 9d. would produce upon the effective valuation, and so it was necessary that the Act of Parliament should be amended within the last four or five years to enable the Minister to get the amount he required.

When the Unemployment Assistance Act was passed in 1933, it was the intention I think—at least we were entitled to infer from that measure that it was the intention—of the Government to pay unemployment assistance in both urban and rural areas all the year round, and for at least five years after the Act was passed it will be found, I think, that unemployment assistance was paid continuously in both rural and urban areas. In recent years the Government have made what is known as an Employment Period Order, and under it the rural workers have been taken off the register and are not eligible to draw unemployment assistance. Up to last year the people taken off the register in rural areas were single men, but last year and this year—early in this year as a matter of fact—both married and single men were taken off the register. The application of that Order was debated in the House last year and the year before and probably will be again this year. I am not going to debate it now, but what I do want to draw the Minister's attention to is the fact that although relief has been given to the Unemployment Assistance Fund, which the Government control, no relief at all has been given to the local authorities who have been levying this rate, some of 9d., others 11d. and more 1/8 or 1/10 in the £ in our cities and [2599] towns. I submit that, when the Unemployment Assistance Fund is being assisted by the fact that no unemployment assistance is paid in rural Ireland over a period of six months of the year, some relief should be given to the local authorities which have been striking a rate of 9d. or 1/6, as the case may be, continuously since 1933. I suggest that some proportion of that rate should be taken off because every penny that a local authority can save at the present time is very welcome to the ratepayers.

Now, last year and the year before when we were discussing the application of the Employment Period Order it was pointed out by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that all the men who were being taken off the unemployment assistance register would be absorbed in the rural areas. I indicated at the time that I would be very much surprised if that were so. Time has proved that I and others who had those doubts were right in the contentions that we advanced. The Minister can find out—the Minister for Local Government can definitely—that during the last three or four years the fact of rural workers being put off the Unemployment Assistance Fund has been responsible for thousands of pounds being spent by the local authorities through the medium of home assistance for which they had not estimated. The debts incurred have accumulated over years, and in consequence of that accumulation it was necessary to strike an extra rate. I think the Minister ought to take that into consideration and afford some relief to the local authorities which have had to strike that rate in order to provide the home assistance and help the Unemployment Assistance Fund.

We find from a rough examination of the Estimates for this year that the Unemployment Assistance Vote has been reduced by about £250,000, and that the Vote for the execution of certain works under the Board of Works has been reduced by £35,000. Now, we find that at a time when I think the Minister will admit the tendency is for more people to become unemployed—[2600] I know the Government cannot be held responsible—but a great number of people have been put out of employment in consequence of the fact that raw materials are not available. I think the Government are playing with fire when they reduce estimates of this kind, and that the members of the Government are inclined to be rather complacent as to what the actual position in the country is. I think it is due to the Minister that the back benchers of the Fianna Fáil Party should reveal to the Minister what the exact position in the country is. We know quite well that, owing to the fact that we are in the midst of an emergency and have at our doors one of the biggest wars ever waged, the Ministry are not in touch with the country in the same way as they might be in normal times. Therefore, it is necessary that they should be advised by Deputies from their constituencies in the country. I feel certain that, if those Deputies were to speak their minds, they would paint a picture such as I am painting now. I am not one of those who appealed to the L.D.F. or the L.S.F., or the Army, not to do what they should do in this emergency. I have no apologies to offer for the part I took in going out with the members of other Parties to encourage people to join bodies like the L.D.F., L.S.F. and the Army, so that they might help in this emergency. Everyone knows that this is not a political matter, but rather that the men who are joining those bodies are helping their country: that they are helping to maintain the freedom and the independence won by the sacrifices made by their brothers or fathers, as the case may be. The Government is rather complacent in this matter.

A great deal has been said about Order No. 83. When it was introduced, the Minister for Industry and Commerce told us that the reason for its introduction was to prevent inflation and that the application of Order No. 83 in itself would help the working class and the unemployed. I differed with the Minister at that time and I am differing with him still. One could understand that kind of answer if any serious effort were made by the Minister [2601] for Supplies or the Minister for Industry and Commerce to secure that there would be no profiteering, as there is at present. We all know that the cost of living is soaring all the time.

In that connection I would say, in passing, that, when the Minister for Supplies publishes from time to time the cost of certain articles of food, he should be a little more explicit. I have in mind one particular article of food that is contained in the list—I refer to butter. On referring to butter on the list, you will find the Minister says that the price of butter should be the same as it was in October, 1940. How many unfortunate people remember the cost of butter in October, 1940? Surely it would be quite easy for the Minister to find that out from statistics in his Department and publish the actual price. From time to time, people are asking me for elucidation on that point, and I am sorry to say I cannot give it, and so it would be hard for others to do so.

In so far as food prices are concerned, on two or three occasions I, with others, put down questions to the Minister for Supplies and the Minister for Industry and Commerce, asking that local committees be set up to watch the matter of food prices on behalf of the people. The Minister turned them down emphatically several times. On the last occasion he said he was giving the matter favourable consideration, but up to now nothing has been done. When Deputy Childers was here to-day, he doubted if he could get sufficient public-spirited people to come forward to form these committees. So far as my town is concerned, I know that the corporation has asked the Minister to permit them to set up a committee from their own body, to watch the position on behalf of the poor, and we are prepared for whatever action is necessary in order to secure that profiteering shall be stopped.

Under present regulations people must act individually. If a person comes into a shop and asks for a certain article of food and he is overcharged, he must ask for a receipt and send that off to the Minister for Supplies. [2602] In a great many cases, some of those unfortunate people have not the 2½d. stamp to send away the letter. Again, some of them may be in debt in that particular shop and may be afraid to take the necessary action to secure that they shall not be treated in that way in future. If there were a local committee, where they could voice their complaints, that local committee could, in a collective manner, submit the evidence they have secured to the Minister for Supplies or the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I believe that would give better results.

Here in the City of Dublin last week we know the panic there was in so far as the bread situation is concerned. I am glad to see that, to a great extent, it has been settled, though not completely settled. On the second day of the bread shortage, potatoes in greengrocers' shops in Dublin were immediately increased by 2d. per stone, simply because the shortage of bread was there. Surely something should be done to prevent people taking advantage of the situation created in the homes of those unfortunate people who could not get bread. If there were local committees in various cities and towns in Ireland, that kind of thing would be checked.

Again, in regard to Order No. 83, Deputy Coburn and others have pointed out that various county councils all over the country, about a year and a half ago, agreed—unanimously, I think, in many cases—to concede an increase of 2/- per week to road workers. I think the average wage of the county council road worker is 30/- per week. The Minister refused to sanction that increase. We all know how conservative the farmers are, and, when the county council unanimously agrees to concede an increase of 2/- per week, there should be no hesitancy in the Custom House or in Merrion Street in agreeing to that increase. I can assure the Minister that the man with 30/- a week to-day finds it absolutely impossible to pay his way, when he has to get for himself and his family the necessaries of life. I again appeal to the Minister for Finance to ask the Government to reconsider the position in so far as the application of Order [2603] No. 83 is concerned. It certainly is creating a very bad impression in the minds of people all over the country.

On the question of raw materials for industry, for some considerable time past there have been appeals by certain Departments, asking that people should save waste paper. I know various people—myself amongst the number—who have been saving waste paper for some time, but there is no effective machinery in any part of the country for collecting this paper, and that is a very serious problem. We happen to have two newspaper offices in Wexford and the position there at the moment is very serious. I think it is only a question of a couple of weeks' supply of paper. I asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce some time ago as to whether representations had been made to him by the newspaper proprietors all over the country that they should be permitted to collect waste paper themselves, and the Minister said that was under consideration. I do not know if he has given any final answer to the newspapers yet, but I do know that no machinery has been set up, at least in the provincial towns, to collect this waste paper.

I understand that various conferences have been held between the Minister and at least the provincial newspaper owners, if not with the city owners, and that certain suggestions have been made regarding newsreel. I understand that the Irish mills are not now manufacturing newsreel paper at all, as they are engaged in manufacturing cement bags and things of that kind. I am not saying that these are not necessary, but I think it will be admitted that newspapers are also very necessary, even if we do not get very much space in them. It would be hard to imagine the country without a paper, whether they agree with us or not.

I am given to understand that a proposal was made by the Ballyclare people in Northern Ireland that, in return for waste paper sent from here, they were prepared to send in immediately some newsreel. I do not see anything wrong with that proposal, [2604] if the paper mills here are not in a position to supply newsreel to the newspapers. I would like that matter to be examined again, as I can see no reason why the concession should not be granted. All the waste paper need not be sent out of the country, but if we are to get in some newsreel necessary to enable the newspapers here to carry on, that concession should be granted.

The question of emigration has also been referred to. Nobody who thinks anything about this country wants to see the people leaving it. Deputy Coburn either misunderstood or deliberately misinterpreted what Deputy Norton said in connection with the question of emigration. Deputy Norton indicated that during the last 12 months about 40,000 people had left this country in search of employment and that over the last year and a half about 60,000 people had left this country in search of employment. Deputy Norton very definitely pointed out—and I want to emphasise it—that the reason these people went to England to seek work was that they were running away from poverty, running away from the condition of affairs which left their wives, their children and themselves in poverty, with hunger staring them in the face. He suggested that the Government should try to find some means to get these men employed in their own country, engaged in production which would increase the wealth of the country. There is one thing that has come out of this question of emigration which I think anybody who thinks anything about the working class in this country will welcome.

It used to be said that a lot of these men merely wanted to draw the dole, that they did not want to work, that so long as they could get soft money they would not offer themselves for work. Here we have a situation where the majority, if not all, of these men were drawing unemployment assistance or unemployment insurance or were in a position to draw it, but who preferred to go to England, into a danger zone, to earn money to send back to their wives and families. I think that gives the lie to those who were always [2605] taunting the working class with merely wanting to draw dole.

I hope the Minister will take into consideration and take serious notice of the recommendations that have been made from all parts of the House in so far as Order No. 83 is concerned. Both from the Fine Gael Benches and from the Labour Benches, I think practically every person who spoke on this Vote asked the Minister to consider the position into which Order No. 83 has brought the workers of this country. I feel certain there are men on the Fianna Fáil Benches who, if they spoke their minds, would give the same advice to the Minister. Nobody wants to see serious inflation. Nobody wants to see anything happen that would place the country in jeopardy in so far as finance is concerned, but it is absolutely necessary that something should be done to enable the working class to get some increases in the wages that they are at present drawing. I think the Minister will find that, if there is relaxation so far as Order No. 83 is concerned, the working class will not be unreasonable, but will merely endeavour to get increases sufficient to enable them to live as Christians.

Minister for Finance (Mr. O Ceallaigh): Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  We have had a long debate, running into the best part of three days and a great many suggestions have been thrown out to the Government. Deputy Corish says he hopes we will take note of all these suggestions. I think most of them have been noted——

Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  I did not say all, Sir. I said the suggestions in regard to Order No. 83.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  It would be very difficult for the Minister for Finance or for the Government as a whole to find—with the exception of one or two, maybe three or four of these suggestions—any kind of definite unity of opinion in the House. In the main Opposition Party there is anything but unity as to what the Government ought to do. We have had a great spate of criticism of the Government. I have never listened to a greater volume of [2606] it than during the course of this debate. We had all the heavy guns and light guns roaring and thundering, I might even say with regard to some of them, bellowing, criticism from some, abuse from others. With all that, one of the heavy guns of the Party opposite said that this Party resented criticism, objected to criticism; could not understand being criticised. To quote the words of Deputy O'Sullivan: “there was a demand truculently put forward by some Ministers that they be free from criticism or advice.” If a foolish demand of that kind was ever put forward, it certainly has not been listened to in this debate. But nobody ever put forward such an idiotic demand—nobody from this side—and if he did he certainly never thought it would be listened to. I admit—and I said in my opening remarks introducing this Vote—that it was a big sum of money we were asking for, the biggest sum that was ever asked for in the Book of Estimates, and the biggest sum that was ever asked for in the Vote on Account in this House. I admitted that, and I would like the House to know that. I am anxious that the House and the country should know it. I do not object to criticism on that score. I want the House and the country to realise the times we are living through and the difficulties we have to face and the cost we have to pay for these times and these difficulties. It is the times and the difficulties and the dangers of the situation that to a great extent are responsible for any increase there is in the Vote on Account this year and in the Book of Estimates.

Deputy O'Higgins, I think, grossly misrepresented the Minister for Local Government and Public Health when he said that he practically told untruths in saying that the Army was solely responsible for the huge increase in expenditure. I was not here when the Minister for Local Government and Public Health spoke, but this is what he said, according to the Official Report: “If we proceed to examine the separate Estimates which make up the aggregate of £39,000,000 we find that the most remarkable increase”—the most remarkable increase—“is the increase which has [2607] taken place in the Vote for the Army.” Those are his words and there is no misrepresentation there. I suggest to Deputy O'Higgins that he was responsible for the misrepresentation, not the Minister for Local Government and Public Health.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Would the Minister read that quotation a little more fully?

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I will read it again.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Continue, I mean.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  “If we proceed to examine the separate Estimates which make up the aggregate of £39,000,000, we find that the most remarkable increase is the increase which has taken place in the Vote for the Army.” Then he goes on to give the figures. This year for the Army the Dáil is asked to provide so much, which is so much greater than previously. I do not say the Deputy was telling a lie but he should not charge the Minister with telling a lie. That is what he did and it is not borne out in the report.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  The implication is that it is the Army.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  It is not borne out in the report. The Deputy cannot get away with it now.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  It is, if you read it all.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  The Deputy referred to his remarks on the Army and now he has been told that, if there is any lie in it, it was he himself who told the lie.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  That is another thing.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  It is all very well to hurl charges of that kind but they can be hurled back, and I will hurl them back if anybody brings them forward here against myself or my colleagues or the Government.

Deputy O'Higgins went through the Estimates for this year pointing out, in a number of cases, the big increases in the Votes for this year as compared [2608] with some other years, and, very innocently, like the “gom” he likes us to believe he is on occasions, he said: “I took the only book to my hand.” But he carefully selected his book to suit his point. He carefully selected it, and he is no fool, I need not tell the House. However, I took the year selected by most of the Deputies in this House offering criticism on those accounts, and that is the last year of the Opposition Government, 1931-32. Deputy Mulcahy made a lot of fun, jeering at the Minister for Local Government because he talked about 1938-39 as a normal year.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I gave you a lot of fact.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  It was a normal year compared with the year we are living through now. We are living through a war year now. There was no war then. And that is what the Deputy calls fact, if you please. I will take 1931-32, and I will show the actual expenditure of that year—the actual expenditure, not the estimated expenditure—compared with the estimated expenditure for the year that will open on 1st April. I will show the increases, and the big increases, that there are on several Votes there, comparing the 1931-32 actual expenditure with the estimated expenditure in the financial year about to open. There are many Estimates on which there are increases, small increases. I will not bother with those, in general, except perhaps to speak about one. Deputy O'Higgins—I am addressing him first because I like to speak to a man who is facing me; I will have to talk to others who are not here, but I will talk to Deputy O'Higgins first because he is present to hear what I have to say— talked about the cost of the Taoiseach as compared with the cost of Deputy Cosgrave, who occupied a similar position some years ago as head of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, and he said that the Taoiseach cost £4,000 more. That is not true. Even on the Deputy's own figures, he was £700 out, and that is a good deal in £4,000. In 1927-28 the provision for the Department of the President of the Executive Council was £11,714.

[2609] This is the year Deputy O'Higgins selected because it suited his book. I will give him the figures in comparison with that. In 1942-43 the provision for the Department of the Taoiseach is £15,012. The difference is £3,300 and not £4,000. Will the Deputy agree to that?

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  It is a good difference.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  The provision in the year 1926-27, that is the year before, was £13,846, and compared with that year the increase for 1942-43 is only £1,166. Now we see why the Deputy selected 1927-28 rather than 1926-27. It made a difference of a couple of thousand pounds in his calculations. Even taking the year selected by the Deputy, an examination shows that about half the increase of £3,300 on the Vote is accounted for by the setting up of the Government Information Bureau. That is a separate office not administered by the Taoiseach, but, for convenience, the Department of Finance put it down to him and asked him to account for it. There was —I do not think it was called an information bureau—a propaganda bureau in 1926-27, but it was not charged up to the Department of the then President of the Executive Council. It was paid for out of another Department. Had it been put into his account it would probably have swelled by £1,200 or £1,500. I believe that a bureau of the kind is absolutely necessary in the present circumstances, but, however we might disagree about that, the figure is in there, swelling that Departmental account, although it could be put in as a separate item. There are more officials, admittedly, in the Department of the Taoiseach normally than at present. Since the emergency, four of them are employed elsewhere, and that reduces that Department by another £1,500, so that as far as the Taoiseach's Department is concerned there is no increase, and nobody will compare what we are getting from the Taoiseach with what we got from Mr. Cosgrave in the way of service.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  You would not like the comparison?

[2610]Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I would be prepared to compare them with anybody opposite any hour of the day or any day of the week, and well the country knows that what I say is true.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  The comparison cost £19,000,000 more in the year.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  It would be wiser not to enter into comparisons of that kind.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  It would; sure.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  It would, because somebody would come out of it very badly, and normally I do not like to be personal.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  It would help us to be clear on the important matter we came here to discuss.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I am discussing the criticisms put up, and you will get back more than you bargained for, as you usually do, I think, from me. As to the other Departments, if the House likes I will go through the whole list, and I will take the principal items— whether they are for or against my case—where there are increases. The first big increase here is in the sixth Estimate in the list, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. That shows a big increase—£291,000. Admittedly it is a big increase. Use it against me and the Government as much as you like; it is there—an increase of £291,000, largely due to the cost of additional staff that were brought in to administer the new customs duties. Make all the capital you like out of that. There is the figure there for you, an increase of £291,000 over 1931-32. It is there because of Government policy. The next one is there too because of Government policy—largely, but not entirely; other matters enter into it also. It is old age pensions, and the increase is practically £1,000,000. The increase, in exact figures, is £972,932. That is a large increase. Would the Party opposite abolish that increase if they came in? I am certain they would not. They know very well that there is a clamant demand, under present circumstances, for an increase in the old age pensions, as well as in other [2611] payments of a similar kind. They could not get out of that £1,000,000 no matter how they tried.

The next figure, No. 10 in the book, refers to public works and buildings. The increase there is £509,142, and I do not think that could be reduced under present circumstances. The increase is largely due to the cost of aerodromes which are needed for our defence, for our position in the world. That is what they are there for and they are very costly. They are not revenue-producing to any extent, but there they are, and, whether it be a Labour Government or any other kind of Government that will be here in the days to come, they will have to support that expenditure to some extent. It might be reduced, but I doubt if it could be under present circumstances.

The next item is not so large, comparatively speaking. It deals with stationery and printing, and the amount is £42,909. That has gone up frightfully in the last year or two. The next item deals with widows' and orphans' pensions. That item did not exist in 1931-32 but it now costs us £450,000 a year. Would the economists opposite wipe that out? I think the payments towards widows' and orphans' pensions are poor. I would love to see them much more generous, but this thing is only in its initial stages and I am sure that it will have to be increased. Deputies opposite certainly dare not wipe that out.

The next item relates to agriculture and there is an increase there of £292,089. Listening to all the grousing about agriculture not getting its due, I take it for granted that that is the last item the Opposition people will touch. While on that, I might refer to Deputy Cosgrave's speech. He mentioned agriculture and suggested that it was not getting full consideration from this Government. I am a city man, born and reared in the city, the same as all my people for a good many generations. I do not know a lot about agriculture; although I learned a good deal as I grew up and visited the country, I do not know very much about it. But, as a Minister, I realise [2612] the importance of agriculture in our general economy, and anybody occupying my position must do that. It is the basic industry of this country and must be nurtured and looked after. But we have to measure our beneficence to the agricultural community just as we have to every other class of the community. We have not been unreasonable or ungenerous to agriculture and we are here because of the fact that we have not been unreasonable or ungenerous.

Agriculturists, the farmers, are the people who influence and who make or unmake a Government in this country. They have elected and re-elected this Government over and over again. The gentlemen opposite tell us they are the spokesmen of agriculture, they are the friends of the farmers. Who kicked them out but the farmers? Who re-elected us over and over again? And they will continue to do that because they know that we give them a fair do. They do not get all they want, and may be they do not get all they need, but they get what we can reasonably afford, and, if we can afford more, I think we should give more to agriculture, as well as to the widows and orphans and others.

I collected some figures to show exactly what agriculture was getting. I am not going to produce them and say: “There you are; look at all you are getting; you are getting too much.” That is not my attitude. Here are some of the figures I took out, showing the expenditure on agriculture in various ways. The Estimate this year for the office of the Minister for Agriculture, which is there for the benefit of agriculturists, an advisory, consultative body that works for the benefit of the farmers, is £666,768. The Vote for agricultural produce subsidies is £500,000; grants for the relief of rates on land, £1,870,000—the city man has no such relief; reduction in land purchase annuities £2,200,000; approximate amount which farmers will receive from the flour and bread subsidies, £503,000; farm improvement schemes, £250,000; seed and lime distribution scheme, £70,000; improvement of estates under the Land Commission, £250,000. That totals £6,309,768. In addition, the price of dairy produce [2613] has been kept above the world level by charging consumers in the home market a higher price for butter. The amount made available for the dairying industry for 1942-43 is £771,000. We heard to-day and yesterday that the farmers who are in the butter industry are not getting enough.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Did the Minister mention £6,000,000 by a slip of the tongue?

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I said £6,309,000 —that is the total. In addition, as I have said, we are giving £771,000 for the dairying industry and the total of all these forms of assistance is £7,079,000. There are two main cash crops for the farmers, wheat and beet. In 1938-39 a sum of £1,728,000 was paid to wheat growers for wheat sold to the flour millers and a sum of £918,000 was paid to beet growers by the Sugar Company.

That went to the farmers and it totals £2,646,000. For wheat and beet harvested in 1941 the farmers have received, up to the present, approximately, £5,402,000, and that was made up of £3,402,000 which was paid by the millers to the farmers for wheat, and £2,000,000 paid to the farmers by the Sugar Company for beet. These are exact figures. As regards the coming harvest, it is estimated that more than 300,000 tons of wheat will be delivered to the millers and, as the fixed price is £20 a ton, the amount which the farmers will receive will be in excess of £6,000,000. That will be for millable wheat. The 1942 beet crop will be worth £2,000,000 to the farmers. Any decline in the acreage or yield will be more than offset by the increase in price from 60/- to 70/- a ton. In view of these figures, which show that farmers will receive more than £8,000,000 for the 1942 wheat and beet crops, as against £2,646,000 for the 1938 crops—the last year prior to the outbreak of war—I do not think that Deputy Cosgrave or anybody else can contend that we are treating the farmers unfairly. Other elements of the community, certainly, have not had their remuneration increased to the same extent.

Now, as I say, I do not want anybody [2614] to get away with the idea or to misrepresent me as saying that the farmers have got too much. In the present circumstances, they have not got too much, in my opinion, but I want to let the farmers of the country know what amount of money exactly is being distributed amongst the farming community for their assistance. I have the figures here for 1938-39, 1939-40, 1940-41, and 1941-42, of the amounts received by farmers for wheat and beet. In 1938-39 the amount received for wheat was £1,728,000, and for beet £918,000, making a total of £2,646,000. For 1939-40 the amount received for wheat was £2,052,000, and for beet £975,000, or a total of £3,027,000. For 1940-41, the amount received for wheat was £2,702,000, and for beet £1,912,000, or a total of £4,614,000. For 1941-42, the amount received for wheat was £3,402,000 and for beet £2,000,000, or a total of £5,402,000. The 1941-42 figure is not entirely accurate, because it might be an over-estimate; it is merely an estimate because the period has not been quite completed yet.

I would agree with Deputy Cosgrave that the farmers deserve well of the community, and I should like, if we could afford it, to see them being treated better, just as I would like, if we could afford it, to see other elements of the community being treated better also. Now, to show that that money is getting around the country, that it is in circulation, I got the figures for the total monetary circulation, including coins and notes of all kinds, during the months of December in each of the years from 1938 to 1941. In December, 1938, the total amount in circulation was £18,225,000; in December, 1939, the total amount in circulation was £19,294,000; in December, 1940, the total amount was £22,826,000, and in December, 1941, the total amount in circulation was £26,038,000, an increase of over 40 per cent. in the moneys in circulation in four years.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Who is spending that money?

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  The farmers and [2615] all the other people who have been in receipt of it, including the friends in the Labour Party of Deputy Hickey.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I am not prepared to accept that.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  The money is in circulation.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Not in active circulation.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Yes, in active circulation—very active.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Would the Minister agree that over £2,000,000 of that last figure came back from Great Britain?

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Now, the Deputy had his chance to talk and he should let somebody else talk now.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I asked a question on an important matter.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I listened for three whole days to a lot of “guff” and a lot of nonsense being talked. I am not saying that Deputy Mulcahy talked nonsense, he does not usually do so, although, like myself, he probably does so sometimes.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I am simply putting a question.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Cannot you let somebody else talk sometime?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I am prepared to let the Minister talk at any time, but I am simply putting a question.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  The Deputy is not showing much sense now.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I asked the Minister one question on an important matter.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  The Deputy is grumbling and grousing and snarling all the time, and it would be better if he would keep quiet for a while.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I asked the Minister one question on an important matter.

[2616]Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I was asked by every Deputy to give answers to this, that, and the other thing, when I would be replying, and now when I get up to talk I will not be let talk. Well, I stopped at agriculture, and I shall go on now to the Gárda Síochána. There is a big increase there, £331,000, and I know that I will be hit back with that figure again, some time or another. However, that is all in the game, and I do not object, but there is that increase, and I believe that, under present circumstances, all the Gardaí we have are needed, and these men also, some of them, at any rate, could do with more pay, but we cannot afford to be generous these times. The next big increase is in Local Government and Public Health. There is nearly £1,000,000 of an increase there, as compared with 1931-32. It is an increase of over £917,000, and how is that made up? It is made up largely by the cost of housing, public health services, school meals, additional grants for unemployment assistance and the vouchers. That is how that amount is made up, and, therefore, it is largely an emergency figure—largely so, but not altogether; probably half of it would be an emergency figure, and the other half would be a normal increase largely due to housing and public health services. Nevertheless, with all the money that this Government has spent, and properly spent, in housing the people during the last ten years, there is still plenty of room for improvement in housing in all parts of the country, both urban and rural, and more money will have to be found to provide housing for the people. In this connection, may I digress for a moment to answer some criticism by Deputy Davin, and, I think, although I am not sure, by Deputy Hickey also, when they both suggested—they did not say so flatly—that housing was not going ahead because money had not been provided. That is not correct.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  That is so.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  No housing scheme was stopped because of want of money.

[2617]Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  The Minister knows that it is so.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  No. Housing schemes have stopped because of want of materials.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  And 5¼ per cent. interest on money for housing.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  That is another question. I have said that housing schemes have not stopped for want of money, so far as the Minister for Finance is concerned. They have got the money.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  Some of them have the money but cannot use it.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  That is true. Deputy Allen says that some of them have the money but cannot use it, and that is because they cannot get the supplies; the material is not there.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I know that that is true.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  The next three items in which there are big increases —I shall take them all together—are Primary Education, Secondary Education, and Technical Instruction. These three items, roughly, account for about £500,000 between them. The Opposition will not wipe out that £500,000, if they have the power. They could not do it. In connection with Technical Instruction, the big increase is due, primarily, to a Bill which was passed in their time and which made the cost of education increase automatically. Deputies who are members of local authorities, members of country councils and urban councils, who are on these technical or vocational education boards, know that what I say is true. We are blamed for that addition in the cost of technical instruction, amounting to £159,000; we are told: “Look at your increase there”, but we are administering an Act that was promoted here and passed by the previous Government, and that cost increased automatically. We could not stop it if we wanted to, unless we brought in a Bill to alter the Act on the Statute [2618] Book. There is £500,000 there that I believe they would not change.

The next big item is Lands—£724,000 of an additional cost. That is a very big item. But there are demands from all parts of the House, and from nowhere more vigorous demands than from the Opposition, for the acquisition or division of estates. There is no day on which the Dáil meets that there are not one or two or even half a dozen questions down to the Minister for Lands. I have often counted the number of questions asked by Deputy Nally about estates in Mayo. He will ask the Government: “What are you doing?” He is never checked by any member of the Opposition for clamouring for greater expenditure in the division of land and the improvement of estates. Everybody wants it. That applies to this side of the House as well, and sometimes to the Labour Party, but not so often. As I say, everybody wants it and probably, if we could afford it, that increase should be much bigger. I doubt if any Government would reduce it.

The next large increase is for Forestry. Here there has been relatively an enormous increase, from £60,000 in 1931-32 to £204,000 for the coming year, an increase of £144,000. Deputies will agree with me when I say that there is everywhere in the country, from all classes of people and every stratum of society a demand that this country should have more afforestation. Everybody says that it would be a good economy. We would be much better off nationally, economically, financially and from a health point of view if the country had ten times the amount of forestry it has at present. But it is a costly item and forestry is a slow thing to build up. This Government has gone in for an enormous increase, believing that forestry is a good economic policy and a good investment for the country as a whole. Although we have gone in for it to that extent, we have not half satisfied some of our critics in this House and outside.

The next item is Industry and Commerce, and that has gone up from [2619] roughly, £99,000 to £266,000, an increase of £167,000. That is also a big increase. That Department has rapidly developed our industrial resources, although according to some people it has not developed them quickly enough. We made up our minds to try to put into operation the old industrial policy of Sinn Féin. Deputy O'Higgins, like myself, was a member of the old Sinn Féin Party and I am sure he often preached that gospel; perhaps not as often as I did, because he is not as old as I am, but certainly he stood for it, as the leaders of Sinn Féin stood for it and preached it in season and out of season. There was not a week in which Arthur Griffith did not preach that gospel. We tried to put it into operation. Nothing has brought on us more vigorous condemnation from the erstwhile disciples of Sinn Féin on the Opposition Benches than the putting into operation of that industrial policy of the Sinn Féin organisation that brought us all into political existence. It could not be done without expenditure and there is an addition of £167,000 so far as next year's Estimates are concerned.

As to the next item—Transport and Meteorological Services—there is the considerable increase of £56,000 in the ten years, due largely to the development of aviation. The meteorological service costs us a big sum of money. Then there is the Marine Service with an addition of £41,000. If we were to adopt the policy preached to us by the Opposition and the Labour Party that increase should be £400,000 rather than £41,000, because we ought to have a merchant shipping service of our own. However, we have made a beginning.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Even though late.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Even though late, we made a beginning. That was another item in the old Sinn Féin programme. It may be that we started too late. If we had started nine or ten years ago, that figure should now be largely increased. Then there is Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Assistance, which has gone up [2620] enormously in the last ten years. There is an increase there of £765,000.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Which is a bad indication.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  That will not be dropped by any Government that comes into office, but probably will be increased. Deputy Hickey would not abolish it. He would add to it and double or treble it if he had his way.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I would put them to work.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I would do the same, but you will not get rid of that figure.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Not under the present system.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  For Posts and Telegraphs there is a large increase of £449,000. I do not know to what extent, but that is due to a considerable extent to an improvement in the pay of workers. There is also an increased staff in that Department. In Army Pensions there is an increase of £399,000. That will not be abolished. The next big increase is in Relief Schemes, £593,000. Then there are others which are entirely new services. Agricultural Produce Subsidies, £500,000, which I have mentioned already; Department of Supplies, £1,757,000, which is largely the bread subsidy; Institute for Advanced Studies, £16,000; Emergency Scientific Research Bureau, £19,000; Special Emergency Schemes, £1,250,000; Food Allowances, £400,000; Damage to Property (Neutrality) Compensation, £260,000; Personal Injuries (Civilians) Compensation, £25,000. The last items are purely emergency items, namely, Emergency Scientific Research Bureau, £19,000; Special Emergency Schemes, £1,250,000; Food Allowances, £400,000; Damage to Property (Neutrality) Compensation, £260,000; Personal Injuries (Civilians) Compensation, £25,000; Supplies, £1,757,000. These total £3,711,000 and are all purely of an emergency character.

If the increase for the Army, which Deputy O'Higgins was so interested in, [2621] and which is £7,171,000 over that for 1938-39, is added to the £3,711,000 for purely emergency services, there is a total of £10,882,000. That is a big sum of money, but it is due directly and entirely to the war situation. If that sum were taken off the total of £39,112,000 in the Book of Estimates, it would bring it down to £28,230,000, practically the same figure as in 1937-38 or 1938-39—not £100 in the difference.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Let us hope that the £10,000,000 will be used for constructive purposes in peace time, as well as preparing for war.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  It is not preparing for war we are, thanks be to God, but preparing to keep peace in this land, if we can do so. I make up the total of the big increases that I mentioned, £6,578,000, including Old Age Pensions, £972,932; Widows' and Orphans' Pensions, £450,000; Agriculture, £292,089; Gárda Síochána, £331,533; Local Government and Public Health, £917,569; Primary Education, £186,030; Secondary Education, £160,911; Lands, £724,376; Forestry, £144,408; Marine Service, £41,447; Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Assistance, £765,154; Posts and Telegraphs, £449,224; Army Pensions, £399,102; Relief Schemes, £593,794. There are other items. That is the increase for which this Government is, to a very large extent, responsible. I do not believe there is one big item in the list that any Government to-morrow would do away with. Let us say that they take £1,000,000 or £1,500,000 off. If they reduced the total by £1,500,000 it would not make much difference. We would not be much richer, and many sections of the people who are now kept in employment because of that expenditure would be much poorer. I think that blows sky-high a lot of the codology that we have listened to for three days about the gross extravagance of the Government, and the enormous additional expenditure we are responsible for. We are responsible for the items that I read out, amounting to £6,578,000, but certainly with regard to £5,000,000 of the amount not 1d. could be taken off.

[2622] Our policy has obliged us to increase staffs. Deputy Everett stated this evening that we had trebled the number of civil servants. I shook my head at that statement. I do not like people to make exaggerated statements of that kind. The Deputy then stated that we had double the number. We have not. We have increased it considerably. We had to do so, and, of course, the cost has increased considerably. We had to increase the cost to carry out our programme. We are living in a period of Socialism. We cannot get away from that. Living in a period of Socialism, everything is being gradually centralised, in my opinion too much centralised. The Government is expected to do everything, to control everything, to run everything, to find machinery for everything, and that demand is coming from every side of this House, and from every class in the community. You cannot do that without increasing staffs and without increasing expenditure.

We are not, as some people suggest, in favour of doing away with the Dáil. It was suggested to-night that there were members of the Government who wanted to do away with the Dáil. That is not true. The Dáil, I hope, will continue to direct the affairs of this country, and be the apex of the machinery of government of this State for many, many years. That is the system we have adopted. It is the system that our people believe in and want to keep. There are people, I think, on all sides—perhaps not many in this House, but certainly supporters of all Parties—who are infected and inoculated with new ideas, who have new-fangled ideas about government which for a time are a success in parts of the world and which they think ought to be adopted here. I hope they will not have their way. I hope the system we have here will be fully and freely used by our people for the benefit of the country.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  And made a reality.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I agree. As it is we have had a good example for three days of people being free to speak their minds. God knows they spoke them [2623] freely enough. I listened for three days to every possible criticism that Deputies could think of, and to every kind of abuse, as far as some are concerned, that they could hurl at the Government. The greatest amount of abuse came on the shoulders of the Minister for Supplies. The Minister for Supplies is a great, and a big figure in the public life of this country, a young man full of vigour, of intelligence, of energy and courage, one who has done a great job in most difficult circumstances. No man in this House, in any part of it, would have handled his job more efficiently and more courageously than he did, faced as he was with terrific difficulties. With perhaps one exception I have never known in my period of public life such vile abuse to be poured out in public and in private with regard to any man, his work and his character. Everything that could be done to asperse even his private life has been done.

Dr. Hannigan: Information on Joseph Hannigan  Zoom on Joseph Hannigan  Not in the House.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Not in the House. Listening to some of the speeches that I listened to for three days I have some idea where some of the things must have originated.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Does the Minister suggest they originated here?

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I have said what I have said.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Zoom on Dr Thomas Francis O'Higgins Snr.  Say it out boldly; do not hint.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Quod dixi, dixi. Everybody knows what I mean and knows it is true that, as a man and as a politician, he is a clean man, a straight fighter, a courageous fighter, one who stands up anywhere to anyone to fight and defend his cause. The abuse he got from some sections of the House was unworthy. I do not mind— I am sure he does not mind—and I do not think any member of the Government minds getting a good hammering in the House. It might be a good thing for us to get a good hammering once in a while to make us lively on our job. [2624] We are aware of what is expected of us. I welcome, and I am sure the Minister for Supplies welcomes that just as I do, in fact more so. He is more of a fighter than I am. I certainly felt humiliated at some of the charges unjustly, unfairly and improperly levelled in this House against the Minister for Supplies for his work during the emergency. I certainly was much more humiliated at some of the things which were said outside and which were carried to me. I know the Minister for Supplies and his family.

I knew his father for a very long time. That family can stand up anywhere in Ireland. Lemass can stand up in his constituency or in any other constituency and fear no man for his character, or for his work as a politician or as a statesman. There were a great many speakers, and I would like to pay the compliment to each of them of answering some of the points that were made, but I do not think my time is going to permit me to do so. However, this is not the last debate we are going to have on this matter. For the next couple of months we shall have further opportunities of replying to the criticisms that have been made.

One other matter that I should like to mention was referred to by Deputy Cosgrave in a speech that, if I might be permitted to say so with all courtesy to him, was not an unreasonable speech. He criticised and hit out—I do not object to fault-finding, criticism, or hard hitting—but there was no innuendo or suggestion that the Government was doing anything in an unjust or dishonourable way, such as came from other sources. I am sorry I was not here for the whole of Deputy Norton's speech. I was out of the House in the last two days only for half an hour, but I heard only the tail-end of the Deputy's speech. The Minister for Education, however, told me that Deputy Norton had raised a question, to which Deputy Cosgrave, Deputy Costello and others had also referred, namely, why we do not make a trade treaty with Great Britain. First of all, it takes two to make a treaty. We are not a bit ashamed or afraid to meet anyone, to meet people [2625] on the opposite side of the Channel, members of the British Government, or others, to meet them over there, here, or anywhere else, and to discuss our problems with them. We have done it often with great benefit, economic and financial, to this country. We have done it often, and we did not bring home a “damn good bargain” that cost us £5,000,000 a year either. We brought home something of real benefit and value. No later than 1938, before the war started, a treaty was made which saved this country and enabled us to remain neutral in the present war. Where would we be to-day if we had not made that treaty? Where would we be if the advantages that we were enabled to secure——

Captain Giles: Information on Captain Patrick Giles  Zoom on Captain Patrick Giles  Who gave you the right to make it?

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  This Dáil and the people of Ireland gave us that right. We are not a bit afraid or ashamed to make a treaty and, as I say, when we go to make one, we shall come home with something of value to the people but it takes two to make a treaty. We have something to offer, to trade with. We have frequent talks and discussions between Irish Ministers and British Ministers. We have had discussions at any rate——

A Deputy:  When?

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  Our civil servants have frequently—the complaint has been that they have too frequently— gone to England. If there is a bargain in trade to be made, we shall not sell the honour, the freedom or the political sovereignty of this country. I should like that to be known. We are prepared to trade, to bargain and to exchange goods for the benefit, the welfare and the profit of this country but there are prices which we are not prepared to pay and which we would be unworthy of the offices we hold if we thought of paying. Certainly I should like everybody in Ireland and outside to know that, as far as trade is concerned, we are business men and we are prepared to make a bargain with anybody. We have goods to offer here and we are prepared to trade with [2626] them. That has been made known over and over again but it is no harm to make it known once more. We are prepared to trade, to drive the hardest bargain we can and to do business with anybody who is prepared to do business with us.

Deputy Cosgrave suggested that we should ask rich people to reduce the consumption of bread and flour. That has been done in public talks, at meetings and over the radio. I am glad to say that it has been conveyed to me, verbally and by writing, by a number of people in all walks of life that the advice tendered has been adopted and that many people have reduced their consumption of bread by 50 per cent. I know some who have reduced it by 75 per cent. and I know one or two who told me in the last 24 hours that they have reduced it by 100 per cent., that they now use no bread. That is a policy that those who can afford to make the sacrifice should adopt. I am glad that Deputy Cosgrave referred to the matter and gave me an opportunity of repeating the advice that has already been given several times, asking people who are better off in life and who can afford to use substitutes, to cease using bread for the time being and use something else. Potatoes are an excellent substitute, as I know myself. I was glad to hear Deputy O'Higgins dealing with the subject and recommending people to use potatoes. I think he as a medical man would agree that they are an excellent form of food. Several Deputies referred to this matter and asked had anything been done about it. I have been eating potato cakes in the restaurant for quite a long while.

I know that the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures is an enthusiast on this subject and has been propagating this idea for six, if not for 12 months. He has spoken in public and in private in furtherance of it and has got bakers in his own constituency to make potato-flour bread. He has brought some samples of it here and those of us who used it enjoyed it. I would recommend as many people as possible to adopt the same substitute, to substitute potatoes as far as possible [2627] for bread. I would ask them to see that whoever bakes the bread-the housekeeper or wife at home or the baker—puts as much potato flour or potatoes as possible into the dough mixture. I know that for some months past demonstrations have been given in the central vocational schools. At the new school in Cathal Brugha Street, the ladies in charge of the school of cookery have been demonstrating to large and enthusiastic audiences how potatoes can be used in a variety of ways to make them more palatable and how they can be used in the making of bread. That is all to the good.

I think, with the permission of the House, I shall not deal with any of the numerous other questions that were raised to-night. I am quite prepared to go on but we have to finish about 11 p.m. and to get the Central Fund Bill through afterwards. I would be quite prepared to go through the voluminous notes I have made of the speech of every Deputy who spoke and to answer them, but perhaps we could postpone further discussion of them and deal with them again in some of the other debates we are bound to have in the next three months on various aspects of the financial measures that will come before the Dáil.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I do not know whether Deputy Brennan raised the point or not, but, as we are not meeting next week, perhaps it would be as well to mention it, in case he did not. Motor tax becomes payable on 25th March for the coming quarter, and it was his desire to suggest that an early announcement should be made, if possible not later than 20th March, as to whether the petrol ration would be the same for April as for the current month, so that cars could be taxed early.

Mr. O Ceallaigh: Information on Seán T. O'Kelly  Zoom on Seán T. O'Kelly  I shall call the attention of the Minister for Supplies to the matter.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  And an announcement will be made?

Question put.

[2628]General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  We are not dividing on it at this hour.

Question declared carried.

Vote reported and agreed to.

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