Tuesday, 14 July 1942
Dáil Éireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £10,012 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1943, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of the Taoiseach (No. 16 of 1924; No. 40 of 1937; and No. 38 of 1938).
Deputies will recollect that a sum of £5,000 has already been granted by means of the Vote on Account. The sum now asked for is required to complete the total of £15,012 which is the estimated expenditure for the current year. Last year the Estimate was for the sum of £13,767 and there is thus a net increase of £1,245. This increase  occurs mainly in sub-head A and is primarily due to the fact that the post of director of the Government Information Bureau was filled on an acting basis during last year by an officer seconded from the Wireless Broadcasting Service, whose salary was borne on the Vote for that service. In consequence of the definitive transfer of that officer to the post of director provision has now been made in this sub-head for his salary, £900 and bonus thereon. A further small proportion of the increase is due to normal increments in the salaries of the staff of the Department.
The provision under sub-head B— Travelling Expenses—is the same as for 1941—42 and previous years. The provision under sub-head C—Incidental Expenses—is £30 less than 1941—42 and is based on the experience of previous years. The provision under sub-head D—Telegrams and Telephones, £270—shows an increase of £20 due, in the main, to a percentage increase in the cost of telephone charges.
There are two matters of major importance that, in the judgment of this Party, fundamentally affect the whole economic structure of this State and because of the significance of the one and the reactions that the other must inevitably have on the whole future economy of this country, we feel this opportunity should be availed of to bring to the notice of the Taoiseach, in his dual capacity as head of the State and Minister for External Affairs, consideration of these matters, so that the Dáil and the country as a whole may hear from him in unequivocal terms what, in fact, is the true position and what his policy is with regard to them. The matters I refer to are, first, the question of our power to bargain and, secondly, the fact that one great branch of Irish agriculture, the pig industry, has been permitted to die, and another, the dairy industry, to decay to an  alarming extent without any effort being made to save either one or the other. We are of opinion that these are matters of such vital import to the whole community that they should command the immediate attention and consideration of this House.
“If, by going to London to discuss matters of trade, and assuming that discussions in London could be confined to matters of trade, supplies from Great Britain could be improved then some indication of that fact would have been given during the many official contacts with the administrative heads of British Departments. No such indication has been given.”
I suggest that the obvious reply to that is that they were quite satisfied with the type of trade they were getting from this country, that we were prepared to give them all our surplus agricultural produce and, to a great extent, take a credit in their books at the other side. Further on in the same column he says:—
“There is no point in disguising the fact that in present circumstances our bargaining power is practically nil; our production of bacon and butter has fallen to the point where there is no export surplus, where in fact it is inadequate to supply even the whole of our own requirements.”
Notwithstanding the fact that the exports of two well-known commodities of Irish agriculture, namely, bacon and butter, have disappeared, as the Minister has pointed out, we feel it right to express the view of many people in this country that there are still left with us weapons to bargain with. I feel that the Minister who made such a statement is responsible for a very grave indiscretion and has earned the severest censure of this House. A great many people were amazed at the  stupidity of such a statement being made in public when they considered the advantage the British were likely to take of it in the future, and our neighbours must have regarded it as a matter of much importance when they gave such prominence to it in the B.B.C. news. I think the House is entitled to full and frank information on this whole question of bargaining; what efforts have been made to bargain, what use is being made of our present exports as a bargaining counter, through what channels did representations pass, and why did not the Government consider this matter of sufficient importance to warrant the sending of a Minister or Ministers on such an important mission.
“In point of numbers and in point of value, our main cattle trade is in store cattle, that is in exporting what is in fact a raw material of the British agricultural industry, store cattle which go on to British farms, there to be fattened. Because of the scarcity in feeding stuffs in Great Britain, they announced that they would have to restrict the importation of store cattle from us. It is not that the British are so anxious to get them, the position is the reverse; their circumstances require a restriction upon their movements.”
Now I should like to ask the House what is the position with regard to the cattle industry and what is the position in regard to the type of cattle that the British require. I suggest that it is a total misrepresentation of the actual position when he says:—
“Because of the scarcity of feeding stuffs in Great Britain, they announced that they would have to restrict the importation of store cattle from us. It is not that the British are so anxious to get them, the position is the reverse: their circumstances require a restriction upon their movements.”
Some officials of the British Ministry of Food came across some time ago  and entered into a price arrangement with officers of the Department of Agriculture here with regard to the price of cattle and the price of fat cattle for export to Great Britain was arranged, one might say, almost on the basis of last year's price, notwithstanding the fact that the price of British beef has been raised by 6/- per cwt. The price of British beef to-day is 76/- per cwt. for best grades and the price of Irish is about 57/-, or 11¾d. a lb. Between the price of British fat cattle and the price of Irish cattle converted into beef in England after a two months' stay, there is a difference of 5/- per cwt., leaving a margin of about 13/- per cwt. between the value of Irish fat cattle landed in England and the value of Irish store cattle converted into beef in England after a stay of two months there.
I want to make this position clear. The policy of the British Government at the present time with reference to the export of store cattle from this country is contrary to what the Minister for Supplies represented here the other night. It is not because they are short of food, or that there is any restriction whatever on the export of store cattle, or any restriction on the export of fat cattle. It is because the British have very considerably increased the amount of land under cultivation. They have increased the cultivation of their arable land by 6,000,000 acres. The Minister of Agriculture boasted about that figure recently. From the huge amount of land under cultivation in England—some 6,000,000 acres of an increase compared with what they tilled in pre-war days—they expect to reap a huge fodder crop. Their root crops are quite promising. They are already looking for stores to consume that huge fodder crop and root crop. Those stores will be converted into beef in British stalls and they will be used for the purpose of producing farmyard manure, which will go back into the land in Great Britain in order to preserve the fertility of the soil.
That is an aspect that the British, with their foresight and vision, took into consideration. They considered it  would be good policy for them to secure a difference in price between Irish stores and beef, so that we would be forced to adopt a policy of exporting our cattle as stores and not as fats. That would enable them to utilise their fodder and root crops and so produce ample supplies of farmyard manure in order to preserve the fertility of British soil. Are we, by allowing the machinery of the Civil Service to operate, going to permit the British to force on us a type of trade suitable to their own economic requirements without any regard to its reactions on our agricultural economy, or will there be any attempt on our part to secure, in the goods that are available there, a quid pro quo?
The House is aware that recently the British lifted the ban on the export of young Irish cattle, any cattle that had not two prominent teeth. What was the implication behind the lifting of that ban? The greatest problem that the British have in the matter of food requirements is the production of sufficient milk. The British Minister of Agriculture has given precedence to the production of milk. A well-known authority on British agricultural matters, Mr. A.G. Street, writing in The Farmers' Weekly on the 24th April last, in reference to “Dairy Cows for 1945,” with this as a second heading: “It's impossible to get a milk production increase without them... but where are they to come from?” said:
“The great concern of the authorities to-day is the provision of an increased supply of milk for next winter... Therefore, there are only two ways to increase next winter's milk supply. Firstly, to increase the number of autumn calvers by importation from Ireland; secondly, to see to it that the available autumn calvers find their way into the hands of the most efficient dairy farmers in the country.”
“Again, if autumn calvers cannot be imported from Ireland, dairy stirk heifers can be. Every extra stirk  heifer that is bulled next Christmas will mean a definite increase in the milk supply for the winter of 1943, and every arable farmer can somehow manage to see a bunch of bulling heifers through next winter. He may not want to do this, but if milk is now—and is likely to continue to be—a munition of war, it is difficult to argue against his being compelled to do so.”
“This week I have been asked to mention something that is puzzling some of my friends. Apparently, under existing regulations, no beast can be imported from Ireland unless it has moved its first two broad teeth. This rules out the bulling dairy heifer, 15 to 20 months old. Not only does this age make the best dairy cows, calving at 24 to 30 months old, but it is impossible to guarantee the older heifers from Ireland as being barren. In fact, somewhere about 60 per cent. of them always come over in-calf but with no dates. Would it not be possible to permit the importation of young Shorthorn dairy heifers that have not moved their milk teeth, and retain the present ban on beef cattle —Hereford, Polled, and all steers?”
Very shortly after that was written the ban was lifted on all young cattle here. The House will appreciate that Mr. Street advocated the lifting of the ban on Shorthorn cattle only, the type of cattle suitable for dairying purposes, and that the ban should be held on Hereford. Polled and all steers. The British Government, in lifting the ban, were not so bare-faced about it as Mr. Street suggested they should be. They lifted the ban on all young cattle from this country. In effect, that means that the British intend to pick the plums of our herds for the purpose of supplying basic stock for their dairying industry.
I do not cavil at that. I think our attitude should be to make every possible effort to supply them with the type of stock they need. What I do suggest is that, as that is the type of  stock that we can supply, we should use it as a bargaining weapon and get some goods of which we are short as a quid pro quo. The British can get wheat and bacon in Canada, beef and maize in South America, wool, chilled lamb and mutton and butter from New Zealand and Australia; but there is only one country where they can get basic stock for dairy purposes, and that is Éire. We hear the Minister for Supplies saying that our bargaining power is nil. We permit the British to lift the ban on the importation of our stock for the purpose of replenishing their herds, without consultation with us. We have not made any effort to utilise that situation.
Mr. Hughes: We should appreciate the fact that that type of stock is urgently needed in Britain at the present time and we should make representations along the lines that we are prepared to release that stock but that——
Mr. Hughes: Other people in the House also have more experience than I have but, from what I know of deals made by this country with the British, I do not think they ever proved to be Shylocks. I do not think they ever looked for their pound of flesh. I think they are, essentially, business people and if a proper deal is put up to them they would be prepared to meet it squarely as man to man. I feel that  no proper approach has been made to this whole problem of a deal with the British in regard to the essential commodities that this country, and this country alone, can supply them with—young heifers of the right shape, make, quality and colour, to replenish their dairy herds. The Taoiseach asks what can be done about it.
Mr. Hughes: I am not saying any such thing. I think the Taoiseach ought not to misconstrue what I have said. I am putting it to the Taoiseach that that sort of situation ought to be used and exploited to the full extent and I suggest to the Taoiseach that that is not being done, that we have simply sat down and permitted the British to bring in regulations and orders to suit their particular economy without adverting to the reactions of such orders on our agricultural economy. I admit I have no experience whatever, but from what I know and from what I have read about deals made in the past, I do not think the British are the type of people who have always looked for their pound of flesh without giving anything in return, and in this case I am satisfied that a proper approach has not been made in the matter, and I say that civil servants are not the right channel through which to make it.
Mr. Hughes: We are not living in the past. We are facing the grim realities of the present and we want to know what is being done about it. We are simply looking for information and making suggestions that ought to be adopted. I can assure the House that there are few businessmen in this country that are satisfied that any proper attempt has been made to secure a deal on the lines I suggest, and many businessmen question whether we have a Minister with the capacity and ability to do it.
Mr. Hughes: The Taoiseach may ask what supplies the British have that might be made available to us. I am quite satisfied that they have stocks of sulphate of ammonia, a most essential raw material for agriculture, which this country requires to-day. We know that last year supplies of sulphate of ammonia went into the North of Ireland and that it came over the Border into this country, into the black market, in hundreds of tons——
Mr. Hughes: ——at £50 a ton, when the normal price was £10 a ton. Is it possible that that situation can continue? Is it possible that the British have that surplus stock and that they cannot make available an allocation of sulphate of ammonia to this country? That is the one artificial manure that is not rationed in England at the present time. Other artificial manures, phosphates and potash, are rationed. There is one commodity that they have an ample supply of as far as artificials are concerned and that is nitrates. We want to know what is being done to secure an allocation of the supply that is available there. The Taoiseach wants to know what should be done  about it. I say to the Taoiseach that we should say that we are prepared to make available all the heifers of the type they are looking for that we can, and that, furthermore, we are prepared to breed the type of heifer that is essential for the British dairying industry and to ensure that our people will produce the right type for export purposes and, at the same time, that we should ask what considerations are we going to get for that. Are we not entitled to some consideration?
Let us turn to the other side of the picture, to which I have referred already, namely, the fact that two of the greatest branches of Irish agriculture are dying, in fact, you might say one of them is already dead. I might say three branches of Irish agriculture, including eggs and poultry. No attempt has been made to preserve the pig industry and the dairy industry during this emergency. We know that, as far as the pig industry is concerned, we have now available in this country less than 40 per cent. of our requirements and it is very doubtful whether we will produce this year sufficient butter for our own requirements. When you remember that these industries stood the storms of world upheavals and economic reactions for many years, and political controversies at home, and that they are now, as far as exports are concerned, things of the past, it is a very sad commentary on the present position of Irish agriculture.
Mr. Hughes: Not at all. That is what is in supply. If the Deputy was listening to a question that I had down to-day as to factory killings he will know that our killings at the present time are in the neighbourhood of 5,000 a week. That is a matter that I do not want to go into in detail because we have a motion on the Order Paper. I am just touching this in a general way.
Mr. Hughes: What was the position in respect of those industries ten years ago? In 1931 our exports of live pigs were worth £2,185,000; bacon exported was worth £1,135,000; fresh pork, £1,187,000; hams, £81,000; other pig meat, £98,000—making a total in live pigs and pig products and bacon of £4,680,172. Our butter exports in the same year, 1931, were worth £2,086,035; eggs in shell exported were worth £2,227,452—making a total, in round figures of £9,000,000. That £9,000,000 worth of exports has disappeared.
Mr. Hughes: I was waiting for that question. Deputy O Briain, I suppose, will tell the House the enormous increase in the consumption of bacon in this country due to the Fianna Fáil influence on the appetite of our people. Strange to say, side by side with that disappearance of our export trade there has been a decline in home consumption. We consumed in 1931, 825,844 cwts. of bacon.
Mr. Hughes: I want to ask the Taoiseach what are his plans for the future of this country. Evidently we  have no plan to deal with the emergency position here, with the great branches of Irish agriculture that we permitted to die a natural death without any attempt being made to save them. What is going to be our position in the post-war period? What is going to be our position if in the post-war period we are not permitted to touch our sterling assets? Supposing, and it is quite on the cards, that the British Government say that owing to the fact that they have enormous financial commitments in the post-war period, they will have to freeze our sterling assets. They may say: “We are prepared to honour these debts, but we cannot honour them for a period of years, and any trade that takes place at present between the two countries must take place on an exchange of goods basis, goods for goods.” What position will this country have to face, in the event of our exports having dropped to a very low level? If we have to purchase essential commodities or the raw materials for our industries, and that we must export native products in order to procure these essential supplies and raw materials, if the wheels of industry are to continue, are we going to permit the disappearance of such native products to leave us in a position in which we shall have not any commodities to export should a situation of that kind arise? I think it is time that this House should get full and frank information from the Taoiseach on questions of this sort, whether it is necessary in his opinion that these commodities which this country is so well endowed to produce should be permitted to disappear from production, so that we may find ourselves in a situation in which we will not be able to export commodities of that sort in exchange for essential commodities and raw materials for our industries.
I agree, Sir, that we cannot compete at the present time with the Canadian price so far as bacon in the British market is concerned. The Canadians found themselves at the beginning of the war with a huge surplus of wheat and substantial supplies of maize. The normal market for the sale of that wheat and maize was cut away by the operation of the blockade. Having  vision and foresight, and a keen appreciation of what was going to happen during a war of this sort, they decided to convert this surplus grain into bacon. At the very inception of the war, they offered to supply huge quantities of bacon, something like 7,000,000 lbs. a week, to the British market and they made a deal on that basis at a price with which it was completely outside our power to compete. It is, however, quite on the cards that Canada as a source of supply of bacon for the British market may disappear to a very great extent after the war is over because then the world will be faced with a starving population in Europe. The huge stocks of wheat in Canadian granaries at the present time will be required to feed these starving people and it will be more profitable for the Canadians to revert to their former position, under which they were able to supply the finest wheat in the world to European countries. In such a set of circumstances as those, this country should not find itself in the position of being unable to make available any supplies of bacon to the British in any shape or form or to any other countries which might sorely need supplies of bacon when that time arrives.
I think now is the time to examine all these problems. It is a time when we should look ahead, when we should plan and lay the foundations, particularly for our agriculture and agricultural production during the post-war period. It seems to me that in all these matters the policy of the Government is a negative policy. It is a policy of drift, a policy of incompetence, a policy of failure, a policy of despair. They have complacently permitted some of the finest young men of the nation to be exported without making any effort to lay the foundations for a better, a more scientific and more intensive method of agricultural production by eliminating all waste ground and bringing into production every possible acre that could be made available in the country. The planning and the organisation of that sort of post-war economy, in our opinion, should be done now. The foundation for that post-war economy must be laid now if we are going to  survive. We are entitled to ask the Taoiseach what examination has been given this problem, what plans have the Government in respect of this problem, what efforts are being made at the present time to plan ahead against the situation that as far as we can possibly see may develop in post-war Europe. We are anxious to hear from the Taoiseach what he has to say on the matter. If he has any information to give to the House, we shall be glad to hear it. I invite his views on this most important and most vital subject. I think the time has come, as I have said, when that sort of preparation must be made and any information the Government can give the House should be made available now.
Mr. Corry: I thought that this was the Vote for Agriculture judging by the way Deputy Hughes spoke. Deputy Hughes is in the very happy position to-day of carrying out the old policy of blowing hot and cold. He complained about the type of cattle that Britain is buying from us, that she buys to suit herself. Then he says we should step in and make a bargain. There is one way of doing it, but Deputy Hughes kept very carefully away from that.
Mr. Corry: When Deputy Hughes was asked whether he was prepared to advocate the prohibition of the export of that live stock, he very wisely kept silent. I think the people of this country have rather vivid memories of the shouts from the benches opposite: “Give us back our markets,” when on another occasion this Government thought it right that money which was leaving the Irish farmers unjustly to be paid over to Britain in annuities should be held by the Government of this country. We know what happened then. If this Government stepped in in the morning to prevent the farmers from getting the best price they could for their cattle—by prohibiting their  export—we would very quickly have the same howls again and the same cries of: “Give us back our markets.”
Deputy Hughes went on to deal with the pig and dairy industries, which he said had gone wallop. He is the very man who told us to-day that he is prepared to sell bacon to Britain at 62/- a cwt. —that is the price Britain will pay for the bacon exported to them—or to sell butter to Britain at the rate of 4d. a gallon for milk at the creamery; that is the price Britain is prepared to pay for butter. Let us face this thing frankly. Show me the farmer who is prepared to do either of the two.
Mr. Corry: We have a market enough here at home at the present time for everything we can produce on our land. Feed our people; that is remedy No. 1. I gave an instance here a short time ago of the reason why there is not the same production of bacon at present that there was pre-war. If Deputies took the trouble —it would not take them ten minutes —to walk down to the library and study the figures there, they would not be coming in here to this House with nonsensical statements. The imports of maize, maize meal and cotton meal into this country in the year 1938 were 500,000 tons. On the basis of 25 per cent. compulsory tillage, the increase in the acreage of oats and barley last year was only 267,000 acres. Take it that every acre produced a ton, which it did not, that gave us about 50 per cent. of the grain that we previously had for feeding pigs and cattle and poultry. Have we tried to increase it? For two days last week we had Deputies opposite hammering at the Government because they insisted that a man who did not till his 25 per cent. should be fined and properly fined. You cannot blow hot and cold on this  job; if we want sufficient production in this country to feed our own people we must not only till 25 per cent. of our land but we must have compulsory tillage of 40 per cent.
Mr. Corry: And I suppose he realises that you cannot fatten the same number of pigs on 267,000 acres of oats and barley as you could on 500,000 tons of maize meal previously. Deputies over there who come along with shouts of this description to-day are the very same Deputies who were on their feet last week protesting because the Taoiseach insisted that a man who refused to till the required amount of land should have a proper fine imposed upon him by the district justice. Where is the good in that kind of thing? Is that the co-operation we are going to get? Let us be sensible, and face this matter as we should face it. First of all, we want bread enough in this country to feed our people during this emergency. My only fault with the policy here is that we have not compulsory tillage of a sufficient acreage, and, secondly, that we have no proper policy in regard to forcing the people to till a sufficient amount.  The land should be taken from them if they will not use it. I am speaking as a farmer from a county where 40 per cent. of the land is under tillage. We can do more if it is wanted, and we were not waiting for any Compulsory Tillage Order to make us do it. We produced enough wheat in Cork County this year to feed five counties. We are doing our job there. For two days last week I sat here listening to Deputies opposite shouting about the fines, and about the poor men who could not till. Then they come along asking why the Taoiseach has not bacon for export at 62/- a cwt., and why he does not make a bargain with the British.
The one way of making a bargain is by having a weapon with which to meet them if they are not ready to make a bargain with you. Have Deputies opposite the pluck to stand up here now and say: “We will prohibit the export of those young cattle out of the country unless Britain sends us sulphate of ammonia in exchange”? I saw a notice last week to the farmers of Northern Ireland telling them that in the coming season they would get only one-sixth of the sulphate of ammonia they got last year. That is the stuff which the British are going to make us a present of, or give us in exchange for our cattle—something that they have not got for themselves. What is the good in talking nonsense? Furthermore, no farmer within ten miles of the Border will get any sulphate of ammonia except on the certificate of the district inspector that he has land and will put it into it and will not send it across the Border. That is the commodity which Deputy Hughes thinks we should get from Britain in exchange for our cattle.
There is no use in closing one's eyes to things. Let us face the position frankly. I am as anxious to see artificial manures coming in as any man alive. I know the necessity for them but you cannot take breeches off a Highlander. I do not see how you can get artificial manures from Britain if she has not sufficient for herself and I cannot see any farmer engaging in the export of bacon to Britain during this  emergency at 62/- a cwt. Deputy Hughes told us that we could not hope to compete with Canada in the production of pigs. That is his latest. After the war, he said Canada will go back to the production of wheat and maize. A lot of things will happen after this war which will open the eyes of Deputy Hughes, if I am to be taken as a prophet. I do not believe that the market across the water will be of much use to Deputy Hughes or anybody who thinks like him after the war. That is why I am anxious to see all the industries we have maintained here and why we should, if possible, even during the emergency, build up other industries to give employment to our people and to provide a market for our produce. It will be the only market we will have when this war is over, although we might get away with a year or two on the continent immediately after the war.
The Deputy spoke in the same old strain—keep the old farmer one jump ahead of the bailiff. That was the policy of the British Government and that is the idea behind their prices— the price at which maize will come in and the price at which the pig will go across. Deputy Hughes thinks we should export agricultural commodities to Britain so as to import from there the raw materials for our industries. That is what is at the back of his head. As I asked Deputy Belton last week, how long is the Irish farmer to be a hewer of wood and a drawer of water for the rest of the community? It is time that position was changed. If those industries require raw materials, let them do as we do—export a share of their industrial products to pay for the raw materials they require. Do not have the blooming old farmer doing all and every twopence-halfpenny jackeen from the city sneering at him and telling him that everything he produces has to be subsidised. Less than three years ago, over £750,000 was paid in subsidies on butter going across to Britain in order to keep our dairy herds here, provide Britain with cheap butter, and enable material to be imported for the industrialists.
Mr. Corry: That was the only way— by taxing you to feed them cheaply. Now that that is not being done, we have Deputy Hughes and other Deputies like him howling. The price of bacon here is about 80/-. In Britain, it is 52/-. Are we to produce for that price? If any fellow from the town wishes to try that game, I will give him a couple of pigs, but I would not go in for it myself as a farmer. Deputy Hughes's idea is that this country should always be the fruitful mother of flocks and herds for Britain. I never believed in that and I do not believe in it now. I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but when I came in I thought it was an agricultural Vote that was being discussed. When I heard the heresy preached from the other side, I had to intervene. These are the people who object because the Government insists on 25 per cent. of the land being tilled. They know that, this year, we are short of bacon, even for our own needs, because we did not grow sufficient grain to fatten the pigs. That is at the root of the shortage. Any Deputy who so desires can get the figures from the Library. He can get the figures of the imports of maize meal and cotton meal in 1938, the last normal year. He can get the amount of barley and oats grown that year and the amount grown last year. Let him remember the 100,000 tons of bran and pollard representing the residue of the wheat, which residue we have not now. Let  him, then, consider what is necessary to provide the people with enough bacon and poultry for their own needs and come in with me and advocate 40 per cent. compulsory tillage, the land to be taken from the fellow who does not comply.
Professor O'Sullivan: There was a time when I used wonder whether Deputy Corry was not the indiscreet mouthpiece of the Government. For the past 12 months, I have been somewhat doubtful about that. Consequently, I am not as ready to give consideration to Deputy Corry's speeches now as I was in the past, when he used come out rather bluntly with a number of things which were in the Government's mind but which the Taoiseach was a little more discreet in publishing to the Dáil. I do not know if he regards Deputy Corry as his mouthpiece any longer or whether he agrees with a number of the doctrines propounded by Deputy Corry this afternoon.
I rose to speak because of the failure of a number of Departments of Government and because of a piece of very subtle and persistent propaganda which is being widely indulged in throughout the country by supporters of the Government. Everybody is familiar with the statement, coming from many supporters of the Taoiseach: “We admit that the Minister for Supplies is making a mess of his job; that as a result of the policy of the Minister for Agriculture, agriculture is on its last legs; that nobody can get any satisfactory replies from the Department of Local Government and Public Health; and that the staff of the Land Commission is so depleted that it cannot do anything.” In fact, all the Minister but one or two are severely criticised.
Everybody—including some of the Deputies here—is familiar with the formula that the Ministers are no good but the Taoiseach is all right. I cannot subscribe to that particular doctrine, though it is clever propaganda, I admit. I believe that the Taoiseach is fully responsible for the failure of his Ministers. No more severe criticism could be passed on the head of any Government than that the  Ministers whom he has appointed and for whom he is responsible are now objects of general criticism from practically every Party. It is to that that I would like to call attention.
I wish people would disabuse themselves of the particular delusion that the Head of the Government can be separated from the blunders, mistakes and incompetence of his Ministers. He cannot. The fact that he has Ministers of that kind who have mismanaged things in a fashion altogether unexpected—even by their opponents—is the severest criticism which could be levelled against him. I will say this for the Taoiseach—as far as I know he has always stood over the conduct of his Ministers, and he has not countenanced the particular type of propaganda to which I refer. He has taken responsibility for their mistakes. I put this to him and to the House: either he saw their continued blundering and took no steps to see that they should do their work properly, or he did not see their blundering. In either case, to my mind, he stands condemned as the head of a Government.
How many people in the country, independent of Party, are satisfied with the conduct of, say, the Minister for Supplies, or the Minister for Agriculture—and these are two of the most important Ministries in the State at the present moment? I take these two Departments as typical. There are some Departments at which criticism is not levelled; and one or two Departments more or less run themselves, and are, therefore, not in a position to make many mistakes. In regard to these two Departments, where really solid hard work had to be performed, and where initiative was required from Ministers, can anybody honestly pretend that these Ministers have performed their tasks as they should, or that they have shown initiative in facing problems? I am not going to discuss—it has been discussed already—the result of the policy of the Minister for Agriculture; but here is the position as revealed by Ministerial statements: many of the important branches of agriculture have collapsed and have no future  before them. The Taoiseach must be aware that one of his Ministers stated that the cattle trade had no future, that it was practically dead, certainly as an export business. With all respect to Deputy Corry, I ask how we are to import raw materials for agriculture or for industry in the narrow sense of the word, unless we export something else. Another Minister proclaimed that the dairying industry was dead and, quite recently—perhaps the Taoiseach's attention was drawn to it—at a meeting held in Limerick, independent of any Party bias, one of the principal speakers—who was, and still is, I believe, a strong supporter of the Taoiseach—gave it as his deliberate opinion that it was the policy of the Government to destroy the bacon trade—that is practically what the statement amounted to. That same man, a big bacon curer, giving evidence in court on oath, stated that he was a member of the bacon board, that he knew a certain price had been fixed as a maximum price for pigs, to the fixing of which he had agreed, and yet he had given a higher price. When asked why he did so, he answered that he was compelled to do so, as he now killed only a couple of hundred hogs per week; where previously he killed a couple of thousand. Therefore, on unimpeachable evidence —statements from two Ministers and from a man who cannot be accused of any political bias against the Government—we have it that some of the principal branches of agriculture are, if not dead, at least moribund.
I put that to the Taoiseach as a very serious situation, which requires the attention of the whole Government, and especially his own attention. More than once in this House we have advocated that the Government should turn their minds to these things and make an effort to envisage the policy of the country when peace comes—what the position in agriculture will be and if that collapses, even from the despised export point of view of which Deputy Corry speaks, what will become of our secondary industries, no matter how important they may be? That problem requires care. Does anybody who has watched the course of events for the  last couple of years under the direction of the Minister for Supplies and the Minister for Agriculture expect that that problem will be fully and squarely examined and tackled? That is the problem that faces us all. Let anybody consider the lack of policy and lack of foresight of which we have continually complained here in the last three years. We must assume that the Taoiseach is fully satisfied with the conduct of those Departments. They are of vital importance at the moment and, to a certain extent, may be of great importance in the future. Yet what is their history? Lack of foresight all the time, in regard to practically every one of the larger commodities. No wonder we are short of certain things. There has been blunder after blunder, each blunder surpassing the previous one. When efforts were made to point out these mistakes, what was the general attitude? It was: “Well, yes, granted, mistakes were made in the past, but that is past, what are you to do at the moment; face that, with the situation we have got now.” I have listened to that plea time after time here—“with the situation we have got now.”
Professor O'Sullivan: The result has been that bigger blunders were made by the very same men in the next couple of months. If they get away with their blunders without criticism, they are encouraged; and the Taoiseach who has been sponsoring such a course of conduct shows that he does encourage them to make bigger mistakes. There is no effort, it seems to me, on the part of that Minister either to get a grip of the situation or to do anything but indulge in propaganda, and no effort on the part of the Taoiseach to get him to do his duty.
Deputy Hughes and Deputy Corry referred to the matter of negotiation and bargaining. I do not know whether the Department of Industry and Commerce, the Department of Supplies or what particular Department was responsible for such negotiations  as took place, but if anything like the same spirit was put into these negotiations as, for instance, was behind the recent clothes Order, could anybody be surprised that no satisfactory result was achieved? It is all right to browbeat your own people and to treat them with contempt, but when you are trying to make a bargain with other people, you are not in that happy position. It is because I completely repudiate the slogan that the Ministers are no good, that one is worse than another—that is not fair to all of them, but it is what one hears—but that the Taoiseach is all right, and because I think that slogan misses the real responsibility of Government I am opposing this Vote.
A crisis did come upon us, and I fear that what happened was that, for one reason or another, Ministers left matters largely in the hands of civil servants. It was not the business of civil servants to meet a new crisis of that kind. The Civil Service is an excellent machine, fitted for many things, capable of doing many things and of doing many things well, but it is not a responsibility which any Minister should have thrown on the shoulders of his Department. The policy and the initiative in a crisis of this kind should come from the Minister. He can get advice, if he likes, from his Department, but especially in a new crisis of this kind he was the man to give the impetus and to give the guidance to the Department. I may be wrong, but I certainly have the feeling that in this crisis Ministers rely too much altogether on the Department and thrust on them a task which should not fairly have been thrown upon them.
No matter how long the war lasts, or how soon peace comes, we are facing a particular situation, and it seems to me that if the Taoiseach does not get his Ministers to accept their responsibilities in full seriousness, even though we may, as we hope, avoid the disaster of being pulled into the war, we may face dangers which will not be so catastrophic but which will certainly be very great.
Mr. Bennett: It was not my intention  to take part in this debate, but the fact that one or two matters in which I am interested were discussed induces me to add my few words. Deputy Hughes referred to the statement of the Minister for Supplies that our bargaining power is practically nil. He went on to argue, and I agree with him, that we possibly could have made efforts to bargain in the past few years for better terms than those which were secured, and he suggested that now there was an opportunity to make a trade on the young stock of this country against goods from England. That is the matter to which I want to refer. I think Deputy Hughes selected a rather inappropriate subject to point his moral when he selected young heifers. There is a tendency at the moment in England—from our point of view, a rather dangerous tendency—to purchase young dairy stock from this country. Our agricultural industry as a whole is practically dependent on the existence of a strong and healthy dairying industry here, and at the moment that industry is in the rather unfortunate position that the output of butter has been considerably reduced in the last few years, until we have arrived at the present position in which it is scarcely probable, and, in fact, I would say, altogether improbable, that we shall have sufficient butter for our home needs this year.
That is bad enough, but the diminution in our dairy herds will have far greater adverse effects on the nation than a mere shortage in our butter supply during the coming winter. If our dairy herds continue to diminish as they are diminishing, one can envisage what our agricultural exports in a few years' time will be, because, for years past and at present, they are mainly direct or indirect items of the dairying industry. Butter will likely be short this year and store cattle inevitably short in years to come. I believe that bad as the butter position is this year, it will be infinitely worse next year. Since the British have allowed young stock into England, there is at the moment an intense sale of the very best of our young dairy stock—young  dairy heifers and in-calf heifers. I am not advocating that the Department should stop it. I do not believe they can stop it, nor do I believe it would be right to stop it, if they could, unless they could in some way recoup the farmer who has to sell that stock; but I am pointing out the effects it will have on our greatest industry.
There are undoubtedly being purchased at the moment—I sold them myself in the last week—young dairy heifers at war prices, at prices which the dairy farmer as such cannot afford to pay for dairy cattle and, to my mind, it will be almost impossible for the ordinary dairy farmer who is short of dairy stock next spring, as many of them will be, to make good the shortage. He cannot afford to do so. The economic position of his industry will not afford it. Young dairy heifers— two-year-old heifers in-calf, which are immature dairy stock from our point of view—are at the moment making anything from £26 to £30 or £31 each.
Again it does not require any great effort of imagination to think of the price of dairy cows next spring, or of the chance of the ordinary dairy farmer purchasing cattle at such a price. It cannot be done. The whole future of dairying and of agriculture, because it is dependent on the dairying industry, is in a parlous position. I cannot refrain from making reference on every possible occasion to this aspect, that some arrangement should be made to prevent the decay of the industry. I do not want to go into the agricultural position now, because this is not an Estimate that deals with agriculture, but every Deputy who spoke made particular reference to dairying and to the export of dairy heifers. I do not advocate definitely that if we are to bargain we should bargain on the basis of dairy heifers. I am against that. On the other hand I cannot argue that the Government, as Deputy Corry suggested, should put a ban on the export of dairy heifers. I say that we dare not do so, but by some inducement farmers should be urged to keep their dairy heifers. The inducement must be on the lines that  Deputies on this side have argued for a considerable period, that dairy farmers must be put in such a position that they can economically produce. The Taoiseach is the head of the Government, and this question has certainly such an important bearing on our economic position, that he should turn his brain to it. If we are going to preserve an agricultural export industry of any sort in the years postwar, it is incumbent that we should keep our dairying industry going because, to say the very least, there is every danger that it may be nonexistent in five or six years if the present rate of reduction continues.
There must be an inducement by the Government now or during this winter to encourage dairy farmers to keep the best heifers. I am not referring to monetary encouragement or grants to purchase heifers, because a man might be induced to buy heifers at an uneconomic price, and that would not be good business. I do not advocate that. I do not think there is any advantage in persuading a dairy farmer who wants two extra cows to buy them if it would not pay him to do so. That would not be sound business. There must be an attempt by the State to resuscitate the dairying industry. I pointed out in other Votes, that until the production of butter, which is an essential part of the dairying industry, is made an economic prospect, the decay of that industry will go on with all its ill consequences. In the first place there will be no exports of butter. I do not think we have been exporting butter for some time. The position is that we will have no butter here. I wonder if the House realises how serious the position will be next autumn. I am familiar with some creameries, and the fall in their supplies this year has seriously perturbed the managers, who have practically made up their minds that unless there is a sudden change for the better there will not be sufficient butter to carry us over the next nine months. That is something serious to contemplate but it will be much more serious for the future of our agricultural industry which, willy nilly, is bound up with the success or failure of the dairying industry.  I ask the Taoiseach, as head of the Government—as his partner seems to have failed in the effort— responsible for the prosperity of the various sections of the community, and of our industries, to take a special interest in this problem, so that our primary industry will be put in such a position that it will flourish in the post-war period or, at least, enjoy average production.
It is well for people to realise now, that after the war conditions all round will probably be adverse, and that it will be very hard for this country to carry on. It is now that an effort must be made if we are to be ready to face post-war conditions. Some Deputies said that we should not accept British credit, and that if we export goods we should get goods in return. The average farmer is prepared to take John Bull's I.O.U. He is quite satisfied to do that. Whether he is a dairy farmer or any other class of farmer, if he has anything to sell that he cannot dispose of here, and sells it to John Bull he is prepared, if he cannot get goods from John Bull, to take John Bull's I.O.U. as he is quite satisfied that it will be paid some day. He may be wrong. Many Deputies will argue that he is wrong for various reasons, but I am quite content to throw in my lot and to rely on the judgment of the ordinary farmer. To my mind we are definitely bound up economically with Britain. I do not think anybody realises that more than the members of the Government. They made drastic efforts in the last ten years to get outside the economic relationship with Britain and could not. I do not think any other set of men in their place will do so to any great extent in years to come. Willy nilly we are bound up economically with Britain. I am afraid that we failed in the last few years to build up the greatest volume of trade that could be built up with that country, because the greater the volume of trade between the two countries, the greater will be the prosperity of both, and the better the relationship between the two peoples. Let us, at least, when we are talking of the economic conditions of this country, get away from the trash that British credit is worth nothing.
 I do not want to go into any other matter except that to which I have referred. I am primarily interested in the agricultural industry of this country. I am intimately concerned, myself, in the dairying industry, but I think that other Deputies in the House, who are members of the agricultural community, but who are not members of the dairying industry, can be quite certain in their minds that if the dairying industry goes under, it will have very serious effects on agriculture generally. This is a matter that must engage the attention of the Taoiseach himself. As head of the Government of this country, he must realise that an industry which is in such grave peril as the dairying industry of this country is in requires very drastic efforts to resuscitate it. On a previous occasion I suggested that a committee should be set up—I said on that occasion that I was prepared to accept a committee, even, of Deputies of this House—to go into all the circumstances of the dairying industry in this country and consider it with open minds with a view to putting forward the best suggestions that they could for a solution of the problem. I am quite certain that such a committee could arrive at a solution. One of their suggestions might be—and I think it is going to come to that in the end—that there must be an economic price paid to the dairy farmer for his product. If it is not done, then you are going to have what is now a rapid decay in the dairying industry becoming a complete runout.
In connection with any barter arrangement that the Government may enter into, as I said already, I do not think you should try to make capital out of the export of our dairy heifers. They will be sold, of course, and I do not want to stop anybody from selling them, because the farmer must sell something, but we should endeavour to persuade the farmer to keep his heifers so as to provide the raw material for the larger industry which should be there, and which we all hope will be there, in the coming years.
Mr. Davin: ——on this motion, but I take it that in any case Deputies who take even a passing interest in the present position of the country may be excused if, on a Vote of this kind, they refer again to matters that might have been dealt with previously on Estimates for the different Departments concerned. I agree with Deputy O'Sullivan that a certain amount of confusion is being caused in the country as to who is responsible for the things that are being done wrongly, or who is responsible for doing whatever planning is supposed to be done by the Government elected by the people of the country. I read the local papers pretty carefully every week— the papers that circulate in my own constituency—and for some months past I notice that the people who are authorised to speak on the local bodies for the present Government Party, whenever a discussion arises in connection with the present position or with the effect of the different emergency Orders that are issued from time to time, are constantly blaming—and I can produce the papers to prove what I say—civil servants for the effect of these emergency Orders. During a discussion, on a recent occasion, on the effect of Emergency Powers Order, No. 166, I noticed that leading spokesmen of the Fianna Fáil Party referred to this matter at a meeting of the Offaly County Council—one of them is a member of this House—and blamed “the Civil Service brass hats” for the policy enshrined in that Order. Therefore, it is imperative, on an occasion of this kind, when we are discussing the Vote for which the head of the Government is responsible, that the  head of the Government, who is the Taoiseach, should make it clear to the House and to the country whether it is or is not the civil servants, or whether it is or is not the Ministers, who are responsible for implementing Government policy and for the issue of the various Orders under the Emergency Powers Acts.
Now, the main responsibility for the state of affairs that exists in the country at the present time must be placed at the door or doors of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who is also the Minister for Supplies, and the Minister for Agriculture. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has been given charge of a Department and of the responsibility for finding a solution for our unemployment problem. The Minister who is now in charge of that Department informed us here in the House, many years ago, that he had a detailed plan for the solution of that problem. I realise that when that plan was prepared the Minister did not take into consideration the situation with which the country is now confronted, but is it to be understood that the only solution for the problem of unemployment that is now before the country is the policy of emigration? How many thousands of our able-bodied citizens were allowed to leave this country during the past 18 months or two years while, at the very same time, these people were required to produce more food and fuel for the country? It is a terrible state of affairs, it is true—and we will see it carried to a greater extent as time goes on and as the harvest approaches —that the best class of rural workers to be found in this country were, during the past 18 months, leaving the areas where they were most badly needed. If there has been a shortage of turf workers in any of the turf-cuting counties this year, it is due to the fact that the Minister for Industry and Commerce and his colleagues in the Government made it possible, by their policy, for the people to leave the country when they should have been induced to remain at home.
Mr. Davin: The Minister for Industry and Commerce is also responsible for the Wages Standstill Order, which has a good deal to do with the fact that such large numbers of our people are leaving this country. They are leaving because they are unable to get the wages to maintain themselves and their dependents here at home which they are able to get in another country under war conditions. Many of the able-bodied rural workers who have left this country in the last six months were able to go to England, with the permits given to them by the Government, and get three times the amount of wages they were offered here at home. The issue of that Wages Standstill Order has caused a good deal of irritation amongst our working-class people. The Minister for Industry and Commerce recently admitted in the House that he was responsible for the chaos that we have in our transport industry. The remarkable thing about that is that the Taoiseach, when speaking here on an amendment put down by Deputy Norton to the Emergency Powers Bill, did not appear to realise the seriousness of that problem —the effect which our uneconomic system of transport is having on the price the poor people in our cities and towns have to pay for fuel. The Taoiseach spoke in a rather heated way, and charged the leader of this Party with going down to the country and telling the turf workers that they were not getting enough wages, and of coming back to the city and telling the poor people who have to pay 64/- a ton for turf that the price they are being charged is a scandal. He challenged the members of this Party to indicate how that price of 64/- per ton could be reduced. Is the Taoiseach aware—if  he is not he should be—that one-third of the mileage covered by the lorries taking turf from the turf-cutting counties to the cities is light running? That costs something. The cost of it has to be added to the price charged for the turf to the people in the cities.
Mr. Davin: The Minister for Industry and Commerce has stated, and I am sure the Taoiseach is well aware of it, that we have a shortage of transport, and at the same time we have this light running of lorries over one-third of their mileage.
Mr. Davin: I tried to argue this on the Vote for the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Perhaps I should explain what I mean by giving an example to the House. Take the case of a lorry that is carrying four tons of turf. The distance from the bog in the turf-cutting county to the city is 84 miles. When loaded, the consumption of petrol is calculated to be ten miles to the gallon. Transport experts calculated that the light running consumption is 12 miles to the gallon. Therefore, there is a petrol wastage of seven gallons when the lorry is returning light from the city to the bog. That means £1 or £1 1s., so that the wastage of that amount of petrol, on the return journey, has to be added to the price charged for the turf to the poor people in the City of Dublin.
Mr. Davin: While we have that wastage going on, we have at the same time thousands of tons of traffic here which the railway companies are unable to carry owing to the shortage of coal or some other necessary fuel. Why, in the name of goodness, cannot we have some central system of control that would eliminate that wastage? The 12,000 lorries operating on the  roads, when they come to the city with a load of turf, have to return idle. Why could not some system of control be introduced which would enable the lorries to take back a load to their own areas? That would save the cost of petrol and, in fact, would enable the lorries to earn money. Instead, we have this wastage of petrol, the cost of which has to be added to the price which the poor in our cities have to pay for the turf.
Mr. Davin: I am not going to answer Back Benchers who probably have never given any consideration to this aspect of the question. I would advise them to bring the matter up at their Party meeting next Thursday and ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce to look into it.
Mr. Davin: Is not that a very intelligent question to ask? I suppose the only excuse that can be offered for it is the Deputy's ignorance of prevailing conditions in the city. I want to assure the Deputy I do not mean that in any offensive way. If we had in existence some sort of central control in regard to our transport system, we would not have this wastage of tyres and petrol at a time when, to use the words of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, this shortage of tyres and petrol is likely to lead to a major economic crisis.
Mr. Davin: No, Sir. I am raising a question which was not properly dealt with by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and I am asking the head of the Government, who appointed the Minister for Industry and Commerce, to tell the House whether anything is being done by that Minister, or by the Government as a whole, to put these things right.  If, according to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, a shortage of tyres and petrol is likely to lead to a major economic crisis, can we be told what is being done by the Government to prevent that crisis coming about? Something, at any rate, should be done to deal with that situation before the crisis actually comes upon us. I am merely referring to the matter now in order to make it clear to the Taoiseach—he challenged Deputy Norton to show how the price of turf could be reduced to the poor people of the city—that if the light running of lorries on the return journeys could be eliminated, it would, in my opinion, reduce the price of turf by 5/- a ton as a minimum. In some cases, the reductions would range from 7/6 to 10/- a ton, according to the distances travelled by the lorries in taking turf from the turf-cutting counties to the cities.
I had high hopes, when Deputy Flinn was put into the position of Turf Controller by the Government, that he would face up to the position of finding the necessary number of men required to provide fuel for our people during the coming critical six or 12 months. I understand that 60,000 workers will be required to do that over a period of four or five months.
In the discussion that took place in the House some days ago on the appropriate Estimate, we were told that the maximum number of men employed at that time was 23,000. On that basis it looks as if we are going to have a shortage of turf for the people during the coming winter and spring of next year. Who is responsible for that state of affairs? Does the Taoiseach put the blame for it on civil servants as some of his supporters in the country are, apparently, endeavouring to do? Can we be told if there is a Cabinet Committee sitting for the purpose of dealing with this problem? I suggest that it could be solved if given proper consideration by people who understand it. There has been a good deal of contention, and rightly so, in connection with the scandalously low rates of wages which are being paid to turf workers. This has led to a considerable  number of persons refusing to take up that kind of employment. Last year we had a good many men employed cutting turf for the Goodwill Fuel Company, the Irish Hospitals' Trust, and for co-operative societies. I could cite one case that I have personal knowledge of myself. If my statement is challenged I can give proof. This was the case in which workers were employed by the Goodwill Fuel Company cutting turf in my constituency at £3 15s. a week. As a result of an Order issued some time ago by the Turf Controller, those workers have been prevented from taking up that employment this year at that reasonably good rate of wages, and have been ordered by the Turf Controller to take up work with the county surveyor at 33/- a week for a 48-hour week.
Mr. Davin: I am referring to the matter now to suggest that the Emergency Powers Act has been used for the purpose of enforcing industrial conscription upon certain classes of workers in the turf-cutting areas, with the result that the number of men who could be employed on turf cutting, were it not for the issue of these ridiculous Orders made by the Parliamentary Secretary and his colleagues, could be considerably increased. I think the production of turf could be considerably increased were it not for that kind of interference by the Turf Controller and for the fact that he was endeavouring for a long period, and failed in many cases, to impose that standard rate of wages on the workers in rural areas.
We have had a discussion this evening in connection with the agricultural position. Some explanation must be given by somebody some time, whether the Minister for Agriculture or the Taoiseach, as to why in this agricultural country there is at present such a shortage of bacon, butter and eggs, and why we have such a high percentage of our people unable to buy these commodities even at any price.  The reason they are unable to buy bacon, butter, or eggs is because of the very low rate of wages which prevails over the country as a whole, and particularly in rural areas. But the position is likely to get worse instead of better, so far as I can see. The position of the pig industry is very serious in my constituency and the same thing applies to the dairying industry, which is gradually disappearing. Who is doing the planning or thinking in connection with these matters? Is it civil servants in the Department of Agriculture or is it a Cabinet Committee? It should be done by the Ministers elected by the representatives of the people in this House to do the job. But the job is not being done, or the position would not be as it is to-day.
The question of supplies has been discussed in this House over a period of four days, and all I want to say is that, if the Government had given financial assistance to the big industrial concerns of this country at the beginning of the emergency, the supplies position would not be as bad as it is to-day. The Government, and the Minister responsible particularly, relied entirely upon private enterprise, and it is because they relied upon private enterprise and failed to give industrialists the necessary financial State guarantees that the supply position is serious to-day.
I want to raise one other matter, which may be regarded as of minor importance. I am raising it because it is evident that the responsible Minister has failed to take any notice of the complaints made to him, both directly and here in the House, from time to time; and that is the question of what is the Government policy in connection with alien penetration. I have been informed that representations have been made to the Minister for Justice by bodies like the National Agricultural and Industrial Development Association and other bodies that the question of alien penetration is not being dealt with on proper lines. The Taoiseach is well aware, as every Deputy must be aware, that within a  week after the outbreak of the war thousands of aliens came to this country and are rambling around this country ever since doing better for themselves than a big number of our own citizens and getting many privileges, so far as I know, which our own citizens apparently are not getting.
I should like to know what is the policy of the Government in connection with the question of alien penetration and what is the procedure generally followed in dealing with the admission of aliens into this country, either directly from outside countries or by way of the Six Counties. I was informed during the last few days that an alien arrived in this country some time ago via the Six Counties and succeeded, under false pretences, in getting a number of contracts of a valuable kind. The alien concerned was unable to carry them out, but having received the contracts he passed them on to other people to get the work done. I think there is pretty good reason for suspecting that some of these aliens are getting privileges to which they are not entitled. I took note of a statement made by the Taoiseach when introducing the Estimate for the Department of External Affairs. Dealing with this matter he said: “Strangers become the object of suspicion,” and that is generally true so far as these aliens in this country are concerned.
Mr. Davin: There should be a tight grip held by the Government over aliens here and over their activities. I should like to have an assurance from the Taoiseach, who I am sure understands this problem very well because of his acquaintance with it as Minister for External Affairs, that if legislation cannot be tightened up to keep these aliens under a better system of control, something will be done, at any rate, to compel them to make public their activities and the influence which they exercise in the business life of this country. Is the Taoiseach aware, for instance, of the thousands of shops in this city and other cities with Irish names over the doors where Irishmen have no influence whatever? I have  been shown a list of shops in a number of streets in this city with such names as Murphy, O'Sullivan, and other well-known Irish names, where the business is actually being carried on by aliens. I think the legislation should be tightened up——
Mr. Davin: There is legislation in existence which, if administered properly, would compel these aliens who are carrying on business in this country to operate under their own names so that everybody would know who they are. All I am suggesting is the tightening up or more efficient administration of existing legislation. I have come across some of these aliens in connection with the administration of business concerns and, speaking for myself, at any rate, I want to say that they are bad employers, and introduce a very bad influence into the business life of this country. I do not want to go any further into the matter than to appeal to the Taoiseach to look into it and to see to it that any legislation at present in existence for keeping effective control over aliens coming into the country and over their operations while in this country with the goodwill of the Government will be administered as effectively as it possibly can be in the interests of the people of the country.
Mr. Curran: I am availing of the Taoiseach's presence here to say a few words in connection with this Vote. In the first place I want to refer to the dairying industry. I am aware that representatives of the dairying industry met the Taoiseach some time ago and put every aspect of the case before him, and that recently a deputation met the Minister for Agriculture and put before him new facts in connection with the whole problem. A good many people are very concerned about the condition of the dairying industry and its decline. I do not intend to go into figures, but we know what the condition of the pig industry is. In country towns at present you cannot get bacon. Is the dairying industry to be allowed to get into the same position? The country cannot do without the dairying  industry and, apart from the dairying industry, it cannot do without the young stock. I know it has been the policy of the Government to restrict bacon and butter production because they did not want an exportable surplus as they did not consider the price in the export market was sufficiently attractive. That is quite true; it was not attractive. The price paid to-day for bacon and butter does not cover the cost of production. This year the farmers are supposed to get 7d. a gallon for the milk which is converted into butter. The British farmer can get the equivalent of 1/6 a gallon for his milk.
Mr. Curran: In the case of the British farmer, the milk is not converted into butter. What is being paid to our farmers for milk does not cover the cost of production and one of the results of that is that our young stock are being exported and farmers are turning their attention to other forms of agricultural industry. The farmers are certainly cutting down the numbers of dairy stock. I appeal to the Taoiseach to review the situation before it is too late. He should endeavour to see that a better price is given to dairy farmers. Anybody who understands the dairying industry is aware that it involves hard work, late and early. People in the towns and cities can have their half-days, but those engaged at farm work have to be on the farm at all hours of the day. They have not a 9-hour day or 6-day week; they have to carry on, day in, day out. The farmers should get a more attractive price for milk. If they do not, the dairying industry will go down like the pig industry. The Government should take some action before the dairying industry reaches the stage at which we see the pig industry to-day. There is not much likelihood of the pig population reaching normal figures for a long time.
Mr. Belton: There are certain matters troubling the producing elements among the agricultural community. The Taoiseach was rather  quick on the up-take when Deputy Hughes was speaking. I should like to draw the Taoiseach's attention to the statement that we are going to export our Shorthorn heifers. If we are, I suggest that we should estimate their value properly and those animals should not be allowed to go over as ordinary stores. I am not saying that many of those animals are going to be exported. As a matter of fact, the population of dairy Shorthorn heifers is limited. For a very long time the Shorthorn was not so much in favour, except in a few areas. Generally in beef-producing areas the Whitehead and the Polly were in great favour. Now there will be a demand for the dairy Shorthorn and, if we are going to export it, it will have some bargaining power. I do not say that we should export it—I am not dealing with that aspect—but if we do, it will have a definite bargaining power.
The Minister for Supplies did not elaborate his statement that our bargaining power is nil. Perhaps the Taoiseach will be a little bit more hopeful in that respect. I can foresee a very gloomy situation. We have not enough bacon or butter and there are not enough eggs. I doubt if we have sufficient of these commodities to meet our own requirements. If we even eliminate the people mentioned by Deputy Davin, the people who are not able to buy, those who are able to buy will not be able to get the goods. I know shops and even chain stores that cannot get bacon. I wonder how anybody can visualise the future with composure?
The Parliamentary Secretary tells us that we have practically lost our foreign investments, that we cannot put our finger on the £170,000,000 that we had in foreign investments. I should like the Taoiseach to explain how we are to get over that difficulty. I regret that I was not able to take part in that aspect of the discussions on the Central Bank Bill. If the £170,000,000 that we have invested abroad is to be frozen for the time being, how are we going to plan for post-war developments? That is a very serious matter.
Deputy Corry gave some useful  figures. Before the war we imported 500,000 tons of feeding stuffs. He said that, in addition, 100,000 tons came from milling offals of wheat. I would be prepared to put that figure at 200,000 tons. That represents 700,000 tons of feeding stuffs that we have not available now. Our increase in barley and oats, if we average the crop at one ton an acre, gave us about 250,000 tons, not much more than one-third of what we have lost. From the start of the war I have realised that our main agricultural problem was, not only to make good the human food but to make good the live-stock food, because live-stock food becomes human food in the shape of bacon, eggs, poultry, beef, butter, etc. I think there was bad planning in regard to this matter, for which the Minister for Agriculture is responsible to this House. The Government did not apply itself to the task and say: “We must get it.”
Mr. Belton: I am not saying we should not do it, but I am arguing that there was not proper planning. The Government should plan for an acreage under wheat to produce enough bread, for an acreage under crops that will provide feeding-stuffs in substitution for the 700,000 tons they lost, and for the maintenance of the live-stock population. Because of their neglect to do that, we are to-day without bacon, without butter or, at least, without  sufficient quantities of butter, without eggs and, according to the Minister for Supplies, because of the neglect to maintain the live-stock population, the Government have lost their bargaining power. I could rake up, as I have done before, the point that artificials were not stored here. In a long war, I think if artificials were stored here they would deteriorate to a considerable extent and a time would come when they would be exhausted. We have to rely on whatever substitute we have for artificials in this country. I do not know if we have any. Our only mainstay is farmyard manure. That is where the value of live-stock comes in. If we cannot keep up a sufficient supply of farmyard manure, no matter what effort we make, no matter what area we put under the plough, the law of diminishing returns will operate and a time will come when, no matter what effort we make, our production will decline.
I want the Taoiseach to think this point over: the key to the problem of food production is the maintenance of our live-stock population and the production of sufficient farmyard manure. The Taoiseach may not be a practical farmer, but he can put this to any practical farmer friend of his—that one acre properly tilled and manured is worth ten acres scamped over. We have only one source of supply now, namely, live-stock. I remember reading a speech delivered by the Taoiseach, I think at Tullamore, a year or two ago, in which he said if it comes to a choice between the people and the live-stock, the live-stock must perish. In a sense, yes, and in a sense, no. That question is one that would face a besieged garrison. A soldier might kill his faithful horse in order to get a square meal for his comrades and himself, but that is the last resort.
The Taoiseach: Was not that the purpose of that speech—to get the people to do exactly what the Deputy is advocating? Was it not the point that if they did not produce food for the live-stock and if there was only a certain amount of food left, what was left would have to go to the humans?
Mr. Belton: Excuse me, no. They said you must put 25 per cent. of your land under the plough for this year, but a farmer could sow white turnips in 25 per cent. of his land, and what good would that be? He would be within the law. We could grow too much potatoes and not enough wheat; we could grow too much wheat and not enough potatoes and oats. I think the Taoiseach was quite right, and that it was his duty, to interfere with the farmers so that the land of this country would be used for the production of food. We are on common ground there. But why not go further and plan what the nation wanted?
Mr. Belton: I consider that money was wasted and that there was too much public service given to this business of allotments. Of course, it was good political stuff. You need never have any anxiety about cabbage and potatoes and little things like that. There will be always enough of them grown here. The food problem here was in relation to wheat, oats and barley and there was no provision made for putting any percentage of our land under wheat, oats and barley. There was provision made for 25 per cent. of the land to be tilled. I want to put this question to the Taoiseach: having 20 per cent. of tillage last year, was there enough wheat, oats and barley? We were short of wheat, short of oats, and short of barley both for feeding and for brewing. There is a shortage of stout and porter at the present time because there was not enough barley and there is a shortage of the by-products of brewing which are used as feeding stuffs for dairy cows and which, around Dublin, constitute one of the principal feeding stuffs for dairy cows. There is a shortage even now.
I think it was a mistake to aim so low. It was a mistake to aim at just enough wheat to give us a 100 per cent. extraction loaf. We should have aimed  at a 70 per cent. extraction loaf and, if we got that, we would have saved 200,000 tons of feeding stuffs, so vitally important for the production of milk, pork and bacon. If we did not reach our goal, like throwing the rings at a racecourse in the country, if we did not reach the high mark at which we threw the ring, we would catch in something before reaching the bottom. If we aimed at enough wheat to give a 70 per cent. extraction loaf, no matter what happened, we would get enough to give us a 100 per cent. extraction loaf.
Deputy Davin, who has spent all his life dealing with transport, was discussing transport when I entered the House. Deputy O'Sullivan singled out two Ministers who, in his opinion, have not acquitted themselves with distinction in their ministries—the Minister for Supplies and the Minister for Agriculture. A year ago I was one of a deputation from the Dublin Corporation to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Local Government on the question of food and fuel. The discussion was not long in progress before we all agreed that the food position was fairly satisfactory and gave nothing very much to worry about, but that the fuel position was bad and was causing the Government great anxiety. That was a year ago. At that time the Taoiseach informed us that the Government was getting in 1,500 tons of turf into Dublin and Dún Laoghaire per day, and that Dublin and Dún Laoghaire were two places about which the Government were anxious at that time. They saw great difficulty in supplying these two places with fuel. There is less petrol to-day, less coal, and, I think, less reserves of fuel in both Dublin and Dún Laoghaire. Transport forms the bottle neck of the whole position.
I should have said that the Taoiseach got a request from the Borough Council of Dún Laoghaire to receive a deputation about the food and fuel position—the Taoiseach smiles, but I do not know why this matter should be a subject for laughter—about a fortnight ago and he has not granted that interview yet. This morning I got a letter from a man in Wicklow in which he  says that lorries are sent from Dublin to Brecknock, at the base of Lugnaquilla. The double journey, there and back, is 100 miles and the lorries each bring back four tons of turf. The same Ministry refuses to give petrol for the transport of wood to Dún Laoghaire, although three journeys could be covered and on each journey six tons of timber could be carried, if petrol sufficient for a haul of two miles were made available. It is calculated that it would take 14 gallons of petrol to bring four tons of turf to Dún Laoghaire from the district which I have mentioned, whereas 18 tons of wood fuel could be brought to Dún Laoghaire with a similar quantity of petrol. The Minister for Supplies will not give 14 gallons of petrol to bring 18 tons of wood to Dún Laoghaire but he will give 14 gallons of petrol to bring four tons of turf there.
Mr. Belton: Through you, then, a Chinn Comhairle, I say, without any offence, that if the Taoiseach will not receive the deputation to get those facts put before him or to give him or the Minister an opportunity of refuting these alleged facts——
Mr. Belton: I put it this way. Without disputing the ruling of the Ceann Comhairle, I wish to ask the Taoiseach if he gets those facts on a sheet of paper can we be sure that we will get anything more than an acknowledgment?
Mr. Belton: The Taoiseach is the head of the Government and this is the time the Taoiseach comes to ask the House for money to finance his Department. Before we give him that money, I think I am in order, subject to your ruling, A Chinn Comhairle, in asking how he is going to spend that money and in asking whether it is being spent to the best advantage——
An Ceann Comhairle: Each Minister is given responsibility for a certain Department for which he is responsible to this House. The timber to which the Deputy referred, if my surmise be correct, has been discussed three times already on other Estimates. The matter of a letter or a deputation to the Taoiseach's Department is surely a very small question of administration, not of general Government policy—the only question which may be discussed on the Taoiseach's Vote. Surely the Deputy or other Deputies do not expect the Taoiseach to answer questions regarding every small matter of administration connected with every Department of Government? He would be very busy, if he were to attempt to do so.
An Ceann Comhairle: I do not propose to argue the matter. Ministers are responsible to this House for their several Departments, the Taoiseach for his. Questions only of general policy may be raised on this Vote.
Mr. Belton: Whoever is responsible for its use, if there is anything approaching gold dust that we have in this country at the moment it is petrol, and, finding that the Minister for Supplies did not treat this matter as it should have been treated, I am bringing it before the Taoiseach's notice. I am not bringing before his notice any class of timber belonging to any particular person. I am dealing entirely with the use of petrol and I say deliberately that the Ministry of Supplies has given 14 gallons of petrol, which is used to transport four tons of turf to Dún Laoghaire, while it refuses to give a similar quantity which could transport 18 tons of wood fuel there. If petrol is our life blood at the moment, so far as transport is concerned, then I submit that is a waste of petrol. I am not going to say what should happen to the Minister concerned, but I am bringing it before the Taoiseach's notice, and the suggestion he has made satisfies me. If he is prepared to consider the case, if it is put before him on paper, supported with documents, I am satisfied. I should like also to bring before the Taoiseach's notice the waste involved in holding local elections at the present moment.
Mr. Belton: I just want to bring this point to his notice and I shall pass from it then. From both sides of the House last week we had an assurance that by holding these elections we would get business men to come forward to dispel the political atmosphere that was there. The promise that was then given is now dishonoured by both big Parties. In face of the emergency, in face of the fact that volunteer forces have sprung up in the country to stand by the country in the emergency—and I am speaking on  behalf of people whom I have met outside, labouring men, business men and every type of man—I ask who wants local elections?
Mr. Belton: They have just as much right. I will pass away from it. Others have raised the question of planning for the period after the emergency— when peace is restored to the world. I should like to hear the Taoiseach on how we can plan for the post-war period when the Bank of England has complete control of our money, and he does not propose to improve on that.
Mr. Belton: No, but I should like the Taoiseach to adumbrate at length on how we can plan if some other fellow has control of our purse. I could not make any plans if I had not my own purse in my pocket. I will take off my hat to the Taoiseach as the greatest man I ever saw or heard or read of if he can plan big schemes of work for the future while he gives to—I will not put it any stronger—a competitor the control of his purse.
Mr. Belton: I cannot see how planning can be done while our money is tied to another bank, and while the control of our money and credit is in the hands of that other bank. I do not want to prolong the debate, but the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Hugo Flinn, raised an interesting point when he said that our surplus population who go over to work in Great Britain get slips of paper in payment for that work but are prevented from buying up the food there, so they come back here and, with those bits of paper, buy up our reserves of food here.
Mr. Belton: No. I am surprised to hear the Deputy asking that question. None of us would refuse them, but, if we had not goods to exchange for those bits of paper, what good would they be? I do not think that the Deputy, if he were in charge of the Government of this country as he was for ten years: would long allow that situation to remain. Though I might not agree with his views on finance, I am quite satisfied that he would not allow paper to be worth more here than the same kind of paper is worth in Great Britain.
Mr. Norton: I do not want to refer at any length to the local elections, but it has apparently been decided that we are to have local elections this year, and I raise this matter now because it is probably the only opportunity which will present itself, as the Dáil may adjourn this week.
Mr. Norton: I will reach it very quickly, and I can assure the Chair that I will not loiter there too long. An indefinite date has been fixed—if I may use that phrase—for the local elections. I am told it is to be between the 12th and 15th August.
Mr. Norton: I want to put this consideration to the Taoiseach, because it really ought to be a matter of Government policy. We are to hold those elections this year under difficulties never previously experienced in the lifetime of most of us. There will be no transport available for the purpose of bringing voters to the polling booths; there will be no transport available for the purpose of bringing speakers to the different meetings; there will be only limited paper supplies available for the purpose of making appeals to the electorate. All those difficulties will be capped by a new system of local government which, if anything, is likely to damp enthusiasm on the part of public-spirited people to serve on local councils, because complete control of most matters is in the hands of county managers. Those are difficulties which, I think, will result in persons having very little interest in the local elections.
It is desirable, therefore, that the elections should be held under such circumstances as will induce the maximum number of electors to record their votes. The difficulty about holding those elections on a week-day is that most folk at that time of the year will be attending to their own private business. Local elections which are not enthusiastically carried out will probably produce a kind of deadening of conscience in respect of the necessity to vote. I should say, therefore, that an ordinary week-day poll would not be a good poll, and you might get an unrepresentative result. The 15th August is a Catholic holiday, a day upon which many people would, in any case, be absent from their business, particularly in the rural areas. That is a day upon which people in the rural areas will come into the towns to attend to their religious duties. Unless there is some difficulty which I cannot comprehend and cannot at this stage foresee, I would suggest to the Taoiseach that he might give consideration to the question of holding the local elections on that Catholic  holiday, which, in rural areas and in some small provincial towns, is virtually a day of abstention from work.
Mr. Norton: Yes, but at that stage and up to now we believed that we would get an opportunity of knowing the date. We have not got that opportunity and, if the House adjourns this week, we will have no opportunity of expressing any further opinion on the matter. I would urge the Taoiseach to give careful consideration to the desirability of selecting that date for the holding of the local elections. It is the date upon which we are most likely to get the greatest number of people to vote. Having regard to the difficulties which are confronting us at the moment, insuperable difficulties, apparently, in regard to paper and transport, even the advantages which would accrue from holding the elections on that date would help in some measure to outweigh the disadvantages flowing from those unusual circumstances. Do I understand that this debate will be interrupted at 7 o'clock?
Mr. Norton: I wanted to ask the Taoiseach whether he has entirely lost his affection for the establishment of an economic council in present circumstances, but, as the debate is to be interrupted at 7 o'clock, I move to report progress.
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