Wednesday, 17 February 1943
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim breise ná raghaidh thar £11,000 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh Márta, 1943, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire  Tionnscail agus Tráchtála, maraon le Seirbhísí áirithe atá fé riaradh na hOifige sin.
That a supplementary sum not exceeding £11,000 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st, March, 1943, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, including certain Services administered by that Office.
The increase in sub-head A is due to an unanticipated expenditure arising in connection with the compilation of the register of population, the administration of Emergency Powers Order No. 166, and the additional cost-of-living bonus payable to certain classes of civil servants, messengers, cleaners, and the like, as from 1st January, 1943. The increased expenditure under sub-head C is due to a greater expenditure in advertising during the course of the year. Sub-head L (3) relates to advances to the Mineral Exploration and Development Company, Limited. Under the Act by which that company was established repayable advances may be made to a limit of £50,000. Advances to a total of £9,814 had been made prior to 1st March, 1942, and the Estimate for that year provided for additional advances to a total of £30,000. In fact, the company found it needed £39,000 during the year. The additional £9,000 expenditure arose, first, in connection with capital expenditure upon the development of the phosphate-bearing area in Clare, which was higher than anticipated; secondly, because of the urgent necessity of providing the manufacturers of artificial manures with a supply of sulphur ores the company speeded up the development of the programme in the Avoca area and incurred an expenditure in this financial year which it was anticipated would not have to be made until 1943-44; and also because during the year certain exploratory work was undertaken upon a deposit of iron ore which had been located.
Sub-head LL provides money to enable the Geological Survey to remove surface drifts and expose underlying rock formations for the purpose of establishing  whether a mineral deposit is worth prospecting on an extensive scale. In the main Estimate for the year only a nominal sum of £5 was provided for that, but, in fact, a sum of £100 was found necessary. This was due to the fact that the Geological Survey found it desirable to investigate two mineral deposits. One of these was a deposit of molybdenite at Murvey, County Galway, and involved an expenditure of £80. The second was a deposit of lead ore at Hollymount, County Mayo, on the examination of which £20 was expended. In both cases it was decided, as a result of examination, that extensive prospecting operations should not be undertaken.
The only remaining item in the Supplementary Estimate is that for Appropriations-in-Aid. When the main Estimate was being prepared a national figure of £10 was estimated as the amount likely to be received in respect of fees payable under the Trade Loans Guarantee Act, 1939, in respect of loans guaranteed. In fact, because of one guarantee of £200,000 given to Irish Steel, Limited, the fees payable, which are calculated on a rate of one half of one per cent. of the amount guaranteed, amounted to £1,000. That explains the increase recorded in the Appropriations-in-Aid.
Mr. Dillon: There are two or three items arising out of this to which I should like to refer. One arises on sub-head C, and relates to the Minister's record in connection with the distribution of moneys appropriated. I want to ask him how it is that on previous occasions when this matter was raised in the House by Deputy McGilligan, he took it upon himself to say that his distribution of advertising revenue in the County Kilkenny compared favourably with his distribution of the same revenue in the County Louth.
Mr. Dillon: On this Vote. As the Chair is well aware, the Department of Industry and Commerce has wide scope. The Minister on a previous occasion, when dealing with this question, said that the purpose of his Department was to use money provided for advertising exclusively for the purpose of bringing the matter to be advertised to the attention of the largest possible number of the persons concerned. He then explained that his Department would take into consideration the volume of circulation and the class of circulation of the newspaper when determining whether that paper should be advertised in or not, and he went on to say, when pressed as to why his general conduct seems to suggest a marked discrimination against the Kilkenny People, that one of the reasons for this discrimination was because there was another paper circulating in Kilkenny with a larger circulation than the Kilkenny People. His attention was at once directed to the fact that, whatever information was placed in his hands to that effect, was incorrect.
Mr. Lemass: That is a question I could not answer. The only advertising which arises in this connection are those notices which are required to be published under the Emergency Powers (No. 165) Order, of 1942, which relates to the restrictions on flour milling, and under the Emergency  Powers (No. 166) Order, of 1943, the purpose of which is well known to the House.
Mr. Dillon: In order to rebut the obvious fact of discrimination against the Kilkenny People, dictated exclusively by the fact that the Kilkenny People could not be purchased or intimidated into supporting the Fianna Fáil Government, the Minister sought to persuade the House that these were not the motives that moved him, but rather solicitude for the wider dissemination of the facts which he desired to advertise, and that, considering how best to disseminate the information he wanted to spread in County Kilkenny, he had regard to the relative circulation of the newspapers in the County Kilkenny and discovered that another journal in Kilkenny had a larger circulation than the Kilkenny People. His attention was directed to the fact that this was not so, and that, as so frequently happens in this House, what he stated in the House, to the House, was untrue, and demonstratively untrue, and that if he was stating this on the authority of those who advises him, the sooner he changed his advisers the better, and that, if he was stating it on his own initiative, the sooner he changed his bad habits, the better. Has it made the slightest impression upon him? Not at all. He is doing today precisely as he has done in the past.
I am sure this House will have great patience with any Minister who suffers from temporary lapses, but I think the House ought to indicate to the Minister for Industry and Commerce that their patience with a Minister who  habitually falls back into evil ways, of which he has been warned time and time again, is coming to an end. His conduct in the County Louth was far different from his conduct in County Kilkenny. In County Louth, one of his colleagues—the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures— was interested in a newspaper. He is a shareholder and director of a Dundalk paper with a microscopic circulation. Were any errors perpetrated in regard to the circulation of the newspaper concerned? Yes; but here, astonishingly, the error was exactly the reverse of the error made in Killenny. In Kilkenny the paper with a large circulation was deemed to have a small one and the paper with a small circulation was deemed to have a large one. In Dundalk, the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures' paper, which had a circulation almost invisible, despite their own claims to a circulation of 7,000 copies a week——
An Ceann Comhairle: Regarding the business connections of Deputies or Ministers, it would be better to go cautiously. The Deputy has alleged that some paper is owned by a Minister. The Chair does not know whether such is the case.
Mr. Dillon: Not only by myself, but by the Minister, Deputy McGilligan and by a variety of others. The sole concern is to secure that where a paper is a violent protagonist of Fianna Fáil it shall not be preferred for the receipt of public advertisements before independent newspapers who are not prepared to be bought or intimidated by Fianna Fáil. Surely that is a reasonable contection. Surely it is reasonable and right to inquire in this House why a paper which is controlled by a Minister of State receives preferential  treatment over newspapers which are independent of the Government and insist on retaining their independence? Is there anything indecent or improper in discussing that question in the House? I think it would be right and proper on occasions when obvious discrimination was shown in favour of the Government-kept paper, the Irish Press, that the fact that the Taoiseach was a director of that paper should be mentioned and repeated in this House until the alleged discrimination ended.
Mr. Dillon: But I have seen it in connection with the Kilkenny People and I have seen it in connection with the paper of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures in County Louth—his constituency—and I think it ought to stop. This splashing of public money about for the purpose of keeping rickety, political rags on their legs until the pending general elections are over is becoming something approximating to a public scandal and the attempt to purchase or intimidate the independent Press of the country is a very serious menace to free institutions in the State. I think responsible Deputies on Government Benches as well as Opposition Benches should be solicitous to put an end to it because it is highly likely that, after  the next general election, whatever Government will be in power, it will not be a Fianna Fáil Government and whoever comes into their place may start the same game.
I will deprecate the victimisation of the Irish Press just as I deprecate victimisation of the Kilkenny People. I would like to see them all getting a fair “do,” and being allowed to fight their corner as best they can without interference by the Government of the day using State funds for a purpose for which they were never meant to be used. I know when men have been in office for a protracted period they get into a state of mind when they imagine that they are never going out of office, and, therefore, any villainy they can perpetrate with public funds they think it safe to do, because they never contemplate the morrow when somebody else may take example by their activity. Therefore, I suggest to Fianna Fáil Deputies that they ought to interest themselves in this matter. It is not for the purpose of calling for favouritism for anybody, but merely to ensure that everybody will get a fair “do.”
I will be interested to hear the Minister for Industry and Commerce deal with this question, most especially with the information which was supplied to him that the circulation of the other Kilkenny paper was larger than that of the Kilkenny People. I shall be most interested to hear the Minister tell the House whether he still believes that information. I shall be interested to hear him tell the House whether he regrets having communicated that as a fact to Dáil Eireann, and having stated in the Dáil that his judgment in allocating other amounts on a previous occasion was influenced by that so-called fact. I shall be interested to hear him tell us if all the facts by which his judgments in this and other matters are affected are as reliable as that particular fact, and I shall be interested to know if, in the future, when he tells us of certain facts, we are to attach the same importance to them as we are to his allegations in this matter.
With regard to sub-head L (3), is  there any Deputy here who has ever succeeded in extracting from the Government a clear and categorical statement as to who owns the Clare phosphates, or what are the Clare phosphates in terms of intrinsic value? I never yet discovered anything in that connection. Sometimes I am told that they are owned by private citizens, and again I am told that they have been acquired, or are about to be acquired, by the Government for compulsory exploitation. Sometimes I am told that the deposits there are of substantial value, and again that they are barely worth while developing. Surely if we are going to spend more and more money in connection with investigation and development work around these deposits we ought to have an authoritative statement as to their true value? We ought to be told who owns them and on what basis it is intended to get them exploited—that is, provided one is satisfied that they are really of value. Perhaps the Minister will give us information on those two points, which are the only two points I would be interested to hear about in regard to this Estimate.
Mr. Davin: I should like to have some assurance from the Minister regarding the allocation of the moneys provided for under sub-head C. I listened to the Minister's statement—I am not sure if it was on the occasion Deputy Dillon referred to—concerning his policy with regard to the allocation of money for advertising purposes and I was surprised to hear him say that the Kilkenny People had not as big a circulation as another paper circulating in the same area. I have no political interest in the Kilkenny People and no interest in the extent to which it may get a share of the funds at the disposal of the Minister for Government advertisements, but I know that the owner of the paper, who is a very keen political opponent of the Government Party and of the Labour Party, is a very good employer. On another occasion, and in another place, I raised this question and a colleague of the Minister gave an assurance that, in regard to the advertisements issued by another Department of State, this  paper would in future get its fair share, on the ground that he was convinced that it was the paper that has the biggest circulation in the County Kilkenny and in portion of the adjoining county, which is in my constituency.
In the allocation of the moneys provided by the House for this purpose, I am concerned only from this point of view—that the advertisements will be given to the papers with the biggest circulation. I think it is desirable that the information which it is desired to get into the heads and hands of the people will be given to the papers that are most popular, and that have the biggest circulation in the area. I think that is the way the Minister should look at the distribution of this money. I should like to have an assurance that he will in future, like one of his colleagues, see that justice is meted out to the owners of the Kilkenny People on the ground only—as I am satisfied, and as a colleague of his is satisfied— that it is the paper with the biggest circulation in the County Kilkenny, and in portion of the adjoining county. I know nothing whatever about the other paper that Deputy Dillon referred to, but I daresay he speaks with some authority on the matter.
I am interested in sub-head L (3). Is any of the money provided under that sub-head being set aside for the purpose of making investigations in connection with the resources of the Leinster coalfields?
Mr. Nally: I am anxious to get some information in connection with lead ore at Hollymount, County Mayo. I should like to know in what townland is the mine located, who owns the land where it is situated, and what are the prospects of having the mine worked. Very few people in the district seem to know anything about it.
Mr. Cosgrave: I do not think the Minister gave us any information as to the advertisements. He mentioned  Emergency Order No. 166, which arises out of Emergency Order No. 83. If my recollection is correct, there are six amendments of that Order. Those ought to be codified. It is rather unfair to anybody who has any concern with the matters involved in those Orders to have to read through them all. As the Minister is aware, an instrument that is out of commission here entirely, at least for the period of the emergency—what is called the Constitution—is most elegantly arranged, and every effort is made so to modify any section that is amended that the chief advisers of the State are all saddled with responsibility in connection with it—I think even the Chief Justice is brought into it. It is of little use at the moment. It may have political or other uses at another time, but just now it is out of action. The last time I looked at Emergency Order No. 83, there were six amendments to it. It might possibly save some expense with advertisements if there was a single Order framed and if the rest of them were put out of commission.
I share the views that have been expressed by Deputy Dillon and Deputy Davin in connection with that paper that circulates in the County Kilkenny. Outside of whatever information was given to the Minister, there is no other person in this country who believes that the circulation of the Kilkenny People is less than the circulation of any other paper in that area. I believe it is greater. When the auditors issued certificates in connection with that matter, the Kilkenny People got a certificate, and the paper that the Minister is under the impression has a larger circulation got no certificate. Apart from that, anybody in that district could inform the Minister that the Kilkenny People has the largest circulation. Assuming it had not—and that is assuming a good deal —there would not be a good case for the Minister's discrimination against it. It would be much better if we would not have that type of thing in this State. Even if there are political opponents of persons who are in authority, it would be better not to make any discrimination. The Minister must be succeeded some time or other.
 These things are sometimes seized by others as precedent. They are unworthy and dangerous precedents. After 20 years we should be sensible enough in connection with these affairs of public administration to have a fair and honest line. On the moral side of it, the Minister has no right to discriminate in this case against some person who perhaps disagrees with his Party, and it only adds to whatever political hostility there is.
Only this morning there has been issued to some members of the Dáil a very interesting publication from the Swedish propaganda body. They have set a high standard there with regard to propaganda and have put the entire responsibility on the persons in the industry. I take it, from the way in which this publication is phrased, that it is rarely that there are cases in the courts in connection with abuses on the part of journalists. It is very undesirable that allegations such as we have heard here now and on other occasions should be made to Ministers in connection with the manner in which they administer office. Surely, we are old enough to get rid of political discrimination. The sooner we do so the better.
Mr. Byrne: I would like to hear a declaration by the Minister that certain newspapers will not be discriminated against when State funds are being expended on advertisements. Regardless of the views expounded by the writers, I think they are entitled to equal treatment. Mr. E.T. Keane, the editor of the Kilkenny People, has been an outspoken critic of the Government and its policy. One must have regard—as Deputy Davin has said—to the fact that he is a good employer. He has been an outstanding Nationalist for many years. He is fearless, he is a lover of freedom, and in his desire to expound the policy of freedom for all classes he should not be discriminated against.
I would like to hear the Minister say that, in future, all the papers, regardless of their political views, will get a fair share in the distribution of State  moneys for advertising purposes. They are entitled to that, regardless of Government favour, by the fact that you get good value from the circulation of the advertisements. It is an unwise policy of the Minister to select papers for his patronage and discriminate against others, and, with Deputies Davin, Dillon and Cosgrave, I think that the Kilkenny People is worthy of better treatment than has been given to it by the Government.
Mr. Lemass: The question of newspaper advertising has been raised on this Supplementary Estimate. I suppose it could be raised on the Supplementary Estimate for any Department, but it has been raised now, and it is no harm to tell the Dáil the principles on which the Government works when advertisements have to be published. They are given to all the daily newspapers and to a selection of the provincial newspapers. It would be an easy matter for the Minister for Finance or any Minister to decide to give the advertisements to all provincial newspapers, big and small, important and unimportant. That would avoid the possibility of charges of political discrimination being made by people with the minds of Deputy Dillon and Deputy Byrne. I am accustomed to allegations of that kind from these Deputies but, in so far as there is any annoyance, I could easily avoid that by spending public money and giving these advertisements to all provincial newspapers who apply for them. A large part of that money would be wasted, and the Minister for Finance would object.
In fact, only about 40 per cent. of the provincial newspapers get these advertisements. The selection is not made upon political grounds. The implication of Deputy Dillon that, by giving these advertisements, we have purchased the allegiance of provincial newspapers which receive them, will not stand an investigation of the leading articles of some of them. I do not know if Deputy Dillon still reads The People's Press.
Mr. Lemass: It is true that some provincial newspapers, which are strongly opposed to the policy of the Government, receive Government advertisements. I think it is an insult to the proprietors and editors of those papers to suggest, as Deputy Dillon suggests, that the mere giving of Government advertisements will buy their political allegiance. Deputy Mulcahy has made a reference to a particular advertisement. I am not responsible for it. The deliberate policy of the Government is to refuse to give advertisements encouraging people to grow wheat to newspapers which, in their leading articles, give contrary advice to the people. It would be sheer stupidity if the Government took the people's money and spent it on putting advertisements into newspapers which devoted every other part of the paper to propaganda to deny the truth and counteract the advice given in the advertisement.
 So far as the Kilkenny People is concerned, I have no particular animosity against Mr. Keane, as editor. He has succeeded, in my opinion, with skill amounting almost to genius, in dodging the libel laws for years. The information which came to me as to the relative circulations of his paper and other papers circulating in that locality, and of the provincial newspapers of the country, was supplied by a reputable firm of advertising agents. At the present time, none of these papers will supply certified circulations. In normal times, some provincial newspapers had their circulations certified; others had not, and in respect of those who had not, those who were engaged in the advertising business had to take the word of their managements as to the size of the circulation. I stated, however, when this matter was under discussion before, that the size of the circulation is not, and cannot be, the only consideration in the matter. We must also take into account the area in which the paper circulates, the class of people who purchase it, and any special features which may make it a necessary medium to employ in order to get Government advertisements to the public. We even cater for the class of people who vote for Deputy McMenamin. I heard his guffaw.
Mr. Lemass: Those people require some money to be spent on them, and require to be exhorted to do their duty, same as other people. They also require information as to the methods the Government is adopting to protect the national interests, and they get it. Having regard to his experience in his own constituency, Deputy McMenamin should be the last to suggest that political considerations determine the giving of public advertisements. No Deputy here would make that assertion. There are about 60 provincial newspapers which get no  advertisements from the Government, and they are of all shades of polities; but, for obvious reasons, one newspaper has been singled out here as a source of attack, to support the contention that the Government, in giving advertisements, is animated by political motives. There is a very substantial number of newspapers which are strong supporters of the Government which do not get advertisements from the Government, which newspapers Deputy Dillon could go out and look at.
Mr. Lemass: That is an allegation that the Deputy has made before. It is possible that I may be misled, but I do not think it is likely. Deputy Dillon suggested that an advertisement was given to a certain newspaper because a colleague of mine was interested in that newspaper. I think that if there was any mean charge to be made against anybody, Deputy Dillon would make it.
Mr. Lemass: Deputy Dillon loves to wallow in mud. He loves it, but he seems to forget that you cannot keep dabbling in mud without having some of it stick to your fingers. He loves to throw mud, but it does not do us any harm; it only harms himself. The  Deputy asked for information about the County Clare phosphates, and again, of course, his assumption, that everyody is as ignorant as himself, is completely unfounded. These phosphates are the property of the State. Of course, they can be leased by the State. It is, perhaps, true to say that all the undiscovered minerals beneath the soil of this country are the property of the State. It has, however, always been the policy to provide that the people who discover these minerals and work them through their own resources have a right to a preference in obtaining a lease of them, subject to royalties and conditions. In the case of the Clare phosphates, the individual who discovered them and who undertook their development at his own expense, was granted a licence to work them. Subsequently, when the present crisis necessitated the greater development of our mineral resources, the Mineral Development Company, Ltd.—a Government Company—secured the greater part of these deposits and also secured a licence from the State to work neighbouring deposits. That company is now working the deposits.
Mr. Lemass: I understand that they are producing 500 tons a week. In that connection, however, I should say that any deposits of that kind are almost invaluable at the present moment. Certainly, it will be almost impossible to import the fertilisers that we require and, therefore, any fertilisers that we can produce or make for ourselves are practically invaluable. The phosphate rock produced at Clare, mixed with whatever phosphate rock we can import from other countries,  will be the basis of production of all the superphosphate available to this country.
Mr. Lemass: I could not answer that question without notice. I was also asked a question about lead ore in Hollymount. I cannot say who owns the deposits there but the result of the examinations carried out by the Geological Survey was a decision that extensive operations should not be undertaken there. Deputy Cosgrave referred to Emergency Powers Order No. 166—I do not know whether his question was inspired or not—and asked whether anything was being done towards codifying that and the amending Orders. The codification of these Orders is being proceeded with, and I hope the new Order will be available in the near future.
Mr. Cosgrave: Yes. For instance, in the case of one of the Minister's own Orders, there are amendments, going into five or six paragraphs, but no information is given as to what Order is being amended.
Mr. Lemass: I think it is an exaggeration to say that Order No. 166 has been altered to such an extent that people cannot understand it. The  Order was amended to deal with minor matters and small groups of workers. There was only one major amendment. I agree that it would be desirable to have a codified Order, particularly when such an Order is in daily use by a large number of employers and workers. It is important that there should be one document, in such a case as that, which would make it easy for the people concerned to deal with the matter, and I am arranging for that.
Mr. Davin: I can assure the Minister that the legal people connected with trade unions have the greatest difficulty in interpreting these Orders and I think it is only right that there should be an up-to-date codification.
Mr. Lemass: I could not tell the Deputy, at the moment. A number of district justices are called upon and get no fee—that is, in certain cases. In other cases, a number of senior counsel get so much per day, but I cannot say how much. However, I can let the Deputy know what the amount is.
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