Thursday, 11 March 1943
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Cogan: When speaking on this motion last night, I expressed the alarm which the majority of the people of this country feel at the enormous increase which has taken place during the past 10 years in the cost of administration. While allowance is made for the expenditure resulting from the present emergency, an increase of £20,000,000 in 10 years is certainly alarming. The most serious feature of this huge bill which is placed on the shoulders of the people is the fact that, as far as the average person can see, the return given for this expenditure does not in any way justify it. No one can contend, for example, that there has been, in the past 10 years, such an increase in the number of children educated or such an improvement in the educational service as to justify the increased expenditure on that particular service. No one will contend that there has been any improvement in the standard of education over the past 10 years or that the type of education given is suitable to the needs of the country.
I could go down through the entire list of Estimates, pointing out the various sums which are being expended  under the various headings, and I could ask in what way there has been any improvement in the services rendered to the community. In the Department of Lands, for example, it can hardly be contended that there has been any far-reaching improvement in the administration of land division or land improvement. At this time of emergency, when there is a supreme need for the largest possible acreage of tillage, we find that, in my constituency, there are three large holdings in the possession of the Land Commission, upon which no tillage whatever has been done. If any individual farmer were so criminally negligent or so criminally careless of the interests of the community as to fail to comply with the tillage Order, he would be penalised by law and have his land taken over and he would also be held up to public odium and contempt. However, when an offence of this kind is committed by the Land Commission, no action whatever is taken. That is typical of the general slackness which is apparent in so many of the public services.
I know that this country is passing through a very grave emergency, which tends to place additional work on various Departments, and in some ways to disorganise the working of those Departments. I was one of the first who suggested in this House, on the day after war was declared, the desirability of all Parties combining to form a national Government. If that had been done, the services given by the Departments would have been improved to a great extent, and the general morale and confidence of the people would have been strengthened. For some reason, which has not been explained, the Government preferred to place a temporary Party advantage over the national interest.
If we were assured that, out of this huge sum which is being demanded from the taxpayers, a substantial amount was being devoted to increase the productive capacity of the country or to increase production in some way or other, we would have some ground  for hope and we would have something on which we could congratulate the Government. When we go through the list of services in these Estimates, however, we find that almost all the money demanded from the taxpayers is being spent on unproductive work. The money which is spent on the Army —very necessarily, I suppose—cannot be considered productive, but no one would deem it prudent to question it at the present time. Our only question in regard to that particular expenditure on defence is as to whether the Government has any plans in regard to the personnel of our present Army. The Army has been expanded and increased: some of the best of our citizens have given their services voluntarily; and we are entitled to ask whether the Government has any plans for the future of those young men. Are they to be thrown on the scrap heap when the emergency is over, or is there any comprehensive plan to provide permanent employment for them? There is no indication whatever of any plan to deal with them.
If a substantial portion of this money were required for land reclamation, drainage, land improvement, housing, the improvement of roads, of works of national development of a permanent constructive nature, there would be some ground for hope. However, that is not so. We find that the Government is just stumbling forward from one year to another without making any comprehensive plan for the future. So far as agriculture is concerned, the most they have been able to do is to call together a number of professors to study in an abstract way agricultural problems. I am greatly afraid that, by the time these professors have delivered their decision, agriculture will be in a very serious condition.
Many speakers have referred to the after-emergency period. They have spoken of this country facing a serious decline in the value of its agricultural products. I am not prepared to accept such prophecies. I believe that, with proper planning, it is possible to maintain a reasonable standard of  income for those engaged in the production of food. But, whatever may be done in regard to the future, it is, certainly, possible, during the present period of emergency, to ensure that those who engage in the production of food get an adequate return. The Minister may say that the income of those engaged in agricultural production has been materially increased in the past couple of years. I think that that is substantially true but, so long as we have a position in which the income of those engaged in the production of food compares unfavourably with the income of those engaged in industry or commerce, there is no hope whatever of keeping our people on the land. Until we reach a stage when we can raise the standard of income of the agricultural producer to that of the industrial and commercial worker, we shall not have put agriculture on its feet, nor shall we have arrested the decline which has been so serious and so apparent during the past 20 years.
The Minister for Supplies has been going to the country and making rosy promises about what the Government intend to do in respect of works of development. We are told that every detail of post-war conditions is being carefully investigated and that plans are being made. If this planning and investigation bear any comparison with the planning and investigation which the Minister for Industry and Commerce told us he was engaged in before the emergency in order to meet the emergency situation, it does not give much room for hope. Before the emergency, the Minister told us that every detail regarding the emergency situation, including the provision of supplies, was being carefully investigated and provided for. We have seen the result. If his planning in respect of after-war conditions is on a par with his planning for the emergency, we have good reason to be pessimistic. Whatever failures have occurred in regard to essential food supplies during the emergency have been entirely due to neglect, inefficiency and lack of foresight on the part of the Government. Neglect of the agricultural industry did not commence  during the period of emergency. There were years before the emergency in which the present Government were engaged in sabotaging and, I might say, savaging the agricultural industry. The conditions of poverty which they imposed upon those engaged in agricultural production over a number of years paralysed the productive capacity of the farmer. No man who had his capital depleted, who was reduced to a condition of indebtedness, who had his stock or farm equipment cut down to the barest minimum could be in a position to face up to the expansion in production required by the emergency. It is this neglect, this wanton waste embarked upon by the Government, that we may blame for the shortage of so many essential foodstuffs. Bacon, butter, sugar and other food supplies which are at present short would be in ample supply if the agricultural industry had been carefully attended to and catered for even during the past 10 years.
Mr. Cogan: The Deputy is well aware that, so far as the majority of the people are concerned, they cannot get butter for love or money. The same applies to many other animal products—bacon, lard and fats of every kind—which are entirely unobtainable.
Mr. Cogan: There is no use in pretending that food supplies are available when every intelligent person in the country, and even people who are not very intelligent, are well aware that these supplies are not available. In order to produce to its fullest capacity, agriculture required, and requires at any time, a stabilised market and a stabilised price for its principal products. That market and that price were not provided. The live-stock side of the agricultural industry was reduced in efficiency and productiveness by reason of the fact that it was  unprofitable over a number of years. To get the maximum production from agriculture, it is necessary that the farmer be in a position to employ the maximum amount of labour. A good deal has been said—and rightly said— about the shortage of feeding stuffs for live stock, and a good deal has been said in regard to the shortage of artificial manures and fertilisers. However, I believe that, for the past 20 years, there has been a more serious shortage in the agricultural industry —a shortage of labour. The farmer has not been in a position to employ the amount of labour which he should employ in order to get the maximum output from his land. As a result, over the past 20 years instead of an increase in the output of agriculture, such as has taken place in other countries, we have had a steady and progressive decline. The people of the country, in general, are paying for that decline now through the shortage of essential foodstuffs.
I believe that the biggest problem which the Government has to face is the planning of the expansion of agricultural productivity. It can be done, and I believe it can be done most effectively by affording to the agricultural producer the same protection as has been afforded to the industrial producer. In addition, I believe it would be necessary to enable the agricultural producer to establish a nation-wide co-operative system of marketing his produce. Protection has helped the big manufacturer, because the big manufacturer, being a big unit of production, can always direct and control the marketing of his produce, but protection will not be sufficient to put the agricultural industry on its feet unless it is accompanied by a comprehensive scheme of co-operation in the marketing of agricultural supplies. Such a scheme can only be brought about by co-operation between the Government and the farming community. The farmers of themselves cannot establish a co-operative movement sufficiently strong to withstand the difficulties with which they might be faced; they must have the co-operation, the carefully considered co-operation, of the State.
 To ensure that agricultural production and marketing will be planned carefully in the future, it is necessary that there be some centralised control. One form of centralised control is control administered by Governments, such as we had experience of in regard to pig marketing, control of the milk supply position, control of grain imports, and various other branches of production and marketing. Those activities have been controlled to a great extent by Government Departments, and the control has been unsatisfactory. The best and most comprehensive system of control is control administered by the producers themselves through a co-operative organisation of a nation-wide nature. I believe that that is the only hope for the future of agriculture. Through such control it is possible to prevent any recurrence of the condition of affairs which existed after the last war, when agricultural prices were forced down to their lowest possible minimum, or I might say to the level of world international prices. With a co-operative organisation, prices could be maintained, and any attempt to impose upon the agricultural producer the standard of prices which might operate in a world market could be resisted effectively. That, I believe, is the solution of the problem.
In addition, we must have immediately—not in the post-war period but right now—an intensive drive towards the improvement and reclamation of land, and towards proper drainage, and preliminary steps must be taken towards the provision of increased housing in rural Ireland. The Minister for Industry and Commerce is holding out rosy promises of the provision of electric light for our rural areas. We welcome any indication on the part of the Government that they are thinking along those lines, but it seems rather strange that it did not occur to the Minister at any time during the past ten years that the rural community were entitled to this amenity as well as the urban population. He also promised to re-organise rural transport, and to provide a mercantile marine. If a reorganisation of rural transport means concentrating all transport in  the hands of one big vested interest, that reorganisation may not be very welcome to the people of this country, and, instead of being a blessing, may turn out to be the greatest curse that this country has ever experienced. I think the whole policy of the Government, as far as ownership of property is concerned, should be in the direction of decentralisation, and of providing the largest possible number of people with independent ownership of property here. Concentrating the property of the people in the hands of a few does not make for progressive development. I believe that the principle of encouraging and enabling the citizens of this country, to an ever increasing extent, to hold productive property of various kinds in their own hands is the most desirable principle at the present time. For example, in regard to turf production, we have engaged at present a very large army of workers who are in the employment of the State through the local authorities. Surely it would be a wiser policy and better planning on the part of the Government to encourage enterprising young men to acquire ownership of portions of bog faces and to produce turf, on the condition that they will be guaranteed a market for properly-produced turf. I think that better results would be obtained and that we would be building up in this country small owners of property—small employers and producers if you like—who, as independent units, would have greater freedom than the worker who is employed in a camp under the supervision of officials. I hold that it is along those lines that our national planning should be directed. Give the small producer or the small individual an assurance of a market for his produce at an economic price and, at the same time, give him facilities for co-operation with his fellow-workers in production.
Whenever complaints are made in this House with regard to the manner in which the agricultural industry is neglected, it is usual for the Minister for Finance to produce lists of figures showing the amount of public money which is being spent on the development of agriculture. Last year he  produced a figure of, I think, something over £6,000,000 which, he said, was being provided by the general taxpayer for the development of agriculture. I am sure that he could produce the same figures from the present Estimates, if he wished to do so, but the figures he produced are not justifiable. They cannot, justifiably, be regarded as contributions by the general taxpayer to the farmer. For example, he includes the moneys spent on the subsidisation of prices as a contribution by the taxpayer to agriculture. Now, when prices are subsidised, it means, in effect, that the consumer is unable to pay such a price for agricultural produce as would cover the costs of production and enable production to be continued. Therefore, the State has to come to the rescue of the producer by providing a subsidy, but that is not a subsidy of the consumer, but of the producer of agricultural produce. Again, the Minister might refer to certain reliefs that were given to the farmers, in connection with the annuities, and so on, but the fact remains that the farmers paid for that relief, and paid dearly, over the period of the economic war. The Agricultural Grant is also frequently quoted here as a contribution made by the general taxpayer. The Agricultural Grant is nothing of the kind. It is simply an attempt to alleviate an injustice that was inflicted on the agricultural ratepayers as a result of the operation of a crude and obsolete system of taxation.
Thus, those figures which the Minister so frequently trots out to us are altogether unjustifiable. All the money which is being spent by the State is derived ultimately from the producers in this country, and the producers are mainly the farmers. The farmers, however, do not in any way despise the industrial producers of this country. They recognise them as their brothers in production, and the only thing that the farmers regret, and the only thing, I think, that anyone who has the interests of this country at heart will regret, is that there are not more people engaged in production, both in agriculture and  industry. The industrialist, like the farmer, is contributing to the general pool of goods and services required by the people.
We can consider this huge bill in many ways. We may look upon it as a large contribution out of the national income towards the running of the country, but, so far as the amount of money involved is concerned, I do not regard that as the most serious consideration. I think that a more serious consideration at the present time is the number of people who are engaged in this country in public work. Into the public services of this country, every year, are drawn the best brains, perhaps, in this community, and a situation is arising when we will have too many of the people of this country engaged in work which is not of a productive nature, and too few adding to the pool of goods which the people can use and consume. These are tendencies which, I think, ought to be checked.
It is, as I think I pointed out briefly already, an unhappy situation that the man who is engaged in the production of food is not so well paid as the man who is engaged in industry. He should be. It is also an unfortunate situation that the men who are engaged both in industry and in the production of agricultural produce are not as well paid as those who are engaged in distribution and commerce. We should seek, therefore, to readjust the scale so as to ensure that the people engaged in production will be better remunerated than the people engaged in every other service of the community. I think that we can do that if the Government are prepared to direct all their energies, here and now, along the lines which I have suggested, namely, the development of afforestation, of reclamation of land, and of improved housing. That would be direct employment by the State, and, in addition, it would lead to the protection of agricultural production and to the promotion of co-operation amongst agricultural and industrial producers.
Mr. Hughes: Judging by the paucity  of Government speakers and, in fact, the number of Fianna Fáil Deputies interested in this debate, one is forced to the conclusion that the Fianna Fáil Party are taking very little interest in the fact that the Government propose to impose this huge burden of taxation on our people. This Vote on Account, of £13,820,000, represents approximately one-third of the total sum of £40,696,211, which is the Estimate for the Supply Services for the coming year. That shows an increase, in the aggregate sum, of £1,583,910 over the original Estimate of last year, and when we add to this sum an amount of, approximately, £5,000,000 for Central Fund charges, and, say, £1,500,000 for Supplementary Estimates during the year, and, approximately, a sum of £3,000,000 for local taxation, we have the sum of £50,000,000 as the cost of the administration of public services in this country. I think it is a prohibitive figure. It is a staggering burden to impose on a little country whose productive capacity is seriously retarded by the present emergency and the Government's failure properly to organise our national effort.
For their whole term of office, Fianna Fáil hold an unbroken record of a steady annual increase in the spiral of taxation, culminating in this sum of £40,000,000 odd. It appears to me to be a grand record of achievement for a Party who accused their predecessors of extravagance and costly administration on an empire scale, who felt at that time that our people were overtaxed to the extent of at least £2,000,000, and who gave an undertaking to reduce that burden of taxation by at least that amount. So much for Fianna Fáil promises. The hallmark of this Government is extravagance and squandermania, poor and inefficient State services at an exorbitant price, no regard for the interests of private enterprise and the hampering of efficient production by the imposition of heavy burdens of taxation to meet the soaring costs of the huge, non-productive Civil Service which have a paralysing effect on industry. Whatever attempt has been made by the Government to solve the unemployment  problem has usually been made by direct Government intervention instead of by encouraging private enterprise.
We have had a muddling, inefficient and incompetent Ministry. I do not think the country would object so much to the magnitude of the amount as to the fact that we are getting very bad value for the money spent. We have got no achievement, and we have no results in the way of increased production. In fact, we have a declining production. The Government appear to be very complacent about the future, but observing people must view with the greatest alarm the present policy of economic drift. We have to face, under a Fianna Fáil Government, a future which we have been told is dark, gloomy and uncertain. We have, since the emergency, a reduction in our national income, an alarming reduction in our productive capacity, a very serious reduction in the number of people engaged in productive work and an increase in the number engaged in non-productive occupations which hampers our productive effort.
We have within the last three years exported 100,000 of the pride of our young workers who have gone abroad to seek a livelihood. The Fianna Fáil policy with regard to employment within the last three years has been to export our people rather than to use them for productive activity here. On top of all that, we have this spiral of taxation. Fianna Fáil extravagance continues. If we had a properly planned policy and an expanding production, and if our people were so organised that they could avail of the present attractive export prices, one could view the present position with complacency.
Mr. Hughes: We have not, but it seems an extraordinary state of affairs that in a country like this, with a population of less than 3,000,000 souls and with good arable land to the extent of approximately 12,000,000  acres, we are not only unable to have a substantial surplus for export but unable to meet our own requirements. It is an extraordinary state of affairs that, for the first time in many years, we have people like the members of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Irish Industries showing alarm about the agricultural situation. In my opinion, they are concerned not so much with the agricultural position as with the realisation that if surplus agricultural production disappears, the only great medium of obtaining foreign exchange we have —that is, surplus production, disappears. In the post-war period, if our production for the purpose of securing that exchange does not exist, we shall not be in a position to buy the necessary raw materials for industry. From that point of view, these people have shown the greatest alarm.
One would expect the Government to try to avail of this opportunity when prices for agricultural produce in an extern market are so very attractive. Instead, our agricultural position to-day is that four or five great branches of Irish agriculture in relation to export have disappeared. At one time, we exported live pigs and bacon to the value of approximately £5,000,000. Our exports of dairy produce were worth approximately £3,000,000 and eggs at one time reached a figure of £3,000,000. Poultry represented about £750,000 and the value of our mutton trade for export purposes—and I may say that we have not exported any mutton for about a year and a half—was something over £1,000,000. These exports aggregate the very substantial sum of approximately £12,000,000. That trade, as a medium of securing foreign exchange for purchasing our raw materials for industry and essential requirements like coal, iron, steel, tea, coffee and the other things which we cannot produce here, has disappeared, and one can understand the Federation of Irish Industries and the Dublin Chamber of Commerce becoming alarmed about that situation.
In my opinion, no effort was made by the Government to organise the  agricultural industry on an efficient basis. Deputy O Brian, of Limerick, interrupted Deputy Cogan to suggest that our dairy cow population and our butter production were as high to-day as they were ten years ago. It is an admitted fact that they are nearly as high to-day as they were ten years ago, but our competitors in the British market, such as New Zealand, have expanded their production enormously and have made their industry far more efficient than it was ten years ago. Their average milk production is 900 gallons, while our average production is scarcely half that.
Mr. Hughes: When the Minister found the dairying industry in a precarious position, he agreed to subsidise it, and we are paying a very substantial sum for that purpose. Some people object to the word “subsidy,” and I am one of them. I do not think the word is properly used in that sense. However, there is State assistance for the dairying industry to the tune of something like £700,000. That is merely a palliative. It is not a solution of the dairying problem. I agree that a subsidy is now essential. If the Minister was anxious to preserve the great dairying industry that we have in the southern counties, he should have immediately examined the whole problem to find out what is wrong and to remove whatever defects exist in the structure of that industry. Instead of doing that, he merely provided the money that was necessary by way of subsidy to ease the situation for the time being, and felt that that was sufficient, but the dairying industry in the meantime is declining, is inefficient, and is not, in fact, capable of competing with the dairying industry in other countries.
 Deputy O Briain drew attention to another aspect of the dairying industry, but if we look at the position in New Zealand, it will be seen that the production curve there runs in nearly a straight line, that there is constant production all the year round with little variation, while here the curve soars when the grass season starts in the month of June, and there is then a steep rise, which levels off in midsummer, falls in the autumn, and is followed by a slight recovery in the after-grass period of late September and October, after which the curve falls during the winter months. If we want to do anything about dairy production, we must attempt to compete in the same markets with other countries where the industry has been improved and made efficient. I have always considered that Sir George Stapleton's visit to New Zealand coincided with the expansion of production there. He convinced them, over ten years ago, of the benefits of grass cultivation. It is only during the stress of the war emergency in Great Britain that those who experimented in grass production have convinced English farmers that there is really something sound in that policy, not only from the point of view of feeding animals and carrying stock, but also of providing the necessary organic matter for the preservation of land fertility. The basis of cereal production is the production of good grass.
Mr. Hughes: I think the fact that we have lost the great branches of Irish agriculture to which I referred is due to Government complacency, lack  of interest, and failure to take alarm at a situation where Irish agriculture was gradually dying or slipping away. Possibly the Government have decided to establish some of these branches post-war, but, in my opinion, it will be very difficult to re-establish branches of an industry that has almost disappeared. Take the poultry industry. Where did we always sell our surplus eggs in the past? Supplies of eggs have been very short in Great Britain during the last 12 months, and were not sufficient to meet the requirements of institutions and sick people in hospitals. As we are close to that country, if we organised our poultry industry sufficiently we could, at least, have maintained production and probably increased it. I feel that when history comes to be written by an Englishman, this country will not be condemned because we gave no assistance in this war——
Mr. Hughes: ——but because we failed to keep up our quota of food exports to the pre-war figures. If we appreciate a good customer for surplus agricultural production, and if we realise that Great Britain is our only customer—one of the things that Fianna Fáil has done is to prove that we have only one customer for that production—I believe that no man can justly condemn us because we decided to remain neutral, and not to take any part in this war, but we can and will be condemned because we failed to put our backs into the effort to maintain exports, and to keep the market that we had for surplus agricultural production.
Mr. Hughes: Economists compute that every acre of land properly utilised is capable of maintaining one individual by producing sufficient food for his requirements and, on that basis, 3,000,000 acres of land should maintain our population. We have approximately 12,000,000 acres of arable land. What are we doing with the other 9,000,000 acres? Does Deputy Hickey think that if properly organised, and with scientific and efficient methods, our present agricultural production could not be extended?
Mr. Hughes: I am talking of them also. Great Britain is the only country in which we have a market for surplus agricultural production, which is the only medium through which we can get capital for the purchase of essential requirements. If we want these essential requirements, and want to keep industry going, the most vital thing is the export of our surplus agricultural production. That is what those charged with responsibility for looking after our people have to face up to. But the Government is viewing the situation quite complacently, so complacently that only two members of the Government Party are interested in this debate. I believe that we will be judged in the future because we failed to maintain exports of surplus agricultural products. How can we hope to get back into the British market with butter, bacon, eggs, pork or mutton, or to sell to a people who have to depend during this war on food which has to face the perils of the seas, if we fail to export the quota of food that was normally supplied from this country in the past? It has always struck me that the one thing above everything else we should have strived to do is to maintain that quota of food, so that no matter what happens  post-war, we should be in a position to say to our neighbours: “We supplied you with that quota of food when you were damned glad to get it in the stress and difficulty of the situation that existed then and we are entitled to that quota of food now.”
Can anyone say whether there is any certainty with regard to the future of these great branches of Irish agriculture? What is the good of talking about organising production in this country and planning for post-war expansion in agricultural production, if there is no market for that surplus production? We are simply wasting our time planning for that production if there is not a market for it. If we fail to get that market, it is due to the fact that there was no organised plan or organised effort on the part of the Government and those responsible to ensure that that production was kept up. Speaking as an agriculturist, and I think I can claim to have more experience than Deputy Hickey, I have no doubt that that production, by a properly-organised effort on our part and by having our people properly equipped and harnessed to the job, could have been kept up.
Mr. Hughes: The Minister for Supplies told Deputies in this House that our power to bargain was nil and the sooner we made up our minds about that the better. The Minister for Local Government, when opening some new houses at Kildare a few weeks ago, attempted to lift the lid from the future of our agricultural industry post-war and envisaged a situation where our exports, even of live stock, would disappear and we would have no post-war exports. That is the result of Fianna Fáil self-sufficiency. If that picture is right, if that is what the future holds for this country, then we will have post-war one of the lowest standards of living in the world.
Mr. Hughes: The Minister for Supplies  told us some months ago here that our power to bargain was nil and that the sooner we made up our minds to that the better. Deputy Hickey appears to have some contempt for that market.
Mr. Hughes: That is my interpretation of your interruptions. The Deputy appears to have some contempt for that market. He may not appreciate this. It is quite possible that the Canadians were able to supply bacon to that market at a lower price than we were able to compete at. At the same time one must realise that the quality of our bacon was far superior to theirs. An eminent authority on British agriculture has called attention to the fact that one of the biggest problems they had to confront during the year 1943 was the provision of milk for their people. It was pointed out that milk, and in fact food, were munitions of war because the war effort could not be carried on without food and men could not fight on an empty stomach. One of the biggest food problems, therefore, was the provision of milk. That cannot be provided without cows, and their cow population had reduced.
It is pointed out by Mr. Streete, who writes continually on British agricultural matters, that there was only one country in the world that could supply in-calf heifers and basic stock for dairy purposes, and that was this country. They could and did get beef from the Argentine, bacon and wheat from Canada, and mutton and wool from New Zealand and Australia. But there is one country, and only one country, in the world where they could get basic stock for dairy purposes, and that is this country. We here in this country had a monopoly for supplying them with basic stock for dairy purposes, and we made no use of that situation. We could very easily have said to them that we realised they had a milk problem, and we were prepared to release the last heifer that we could afford or spare for that purpose, and would  encourage our people to breed more stock suitable for dairy purposes. Instead of that, we had among us some critics opposed to the exportation of dairy stock, who said that they should be used at home. There is no reason why we should not be able to provide for our own requirements in dairy stock and a very substantial number for their purposes as well.
It is obvious that the Beveridge plan—if that plan is to be implemented, and I believe that, in a large measure, it must be, because they must face up to that social problem which is eating like a canker at the very foundation of their civilisation there—means the provision of a minimum standard for the low wage-earners of Great Britain, and providing them with a supply of milk, butter and eggs. That means an expansion in dairy production there. I suggest that we should be laying plans now to meet that expansion in dairy production, because, if they have to breed the stock that they require for that purpose, once they begin to breed that stock and to supply that stock for their own purposes, it is unlikely that they will go outside to buy stock. If we plan to provide that stock, I believe they will continue to buy that stock from us.
We must also realise that post-war there will be the problem of re-stocking Europe and that we, with our climatic conditions and the type of stock we can produce here, will have a definite advantage for many years in providing basic stock for that purpose. There are many other things we can provide as well. We have built up a first-class name for potato seed for export. There is no reason why we should not develop that and extent it to the Continent. It appears to me that these are matters that are being utterly neglected. The Minister for Supplies, the spokesman of the Fianna Fáil Party for this election, goes down the country and talks about planning and says that they are planning for the future of agriculture. Judging by the record of that Party for the last ten years and their capacity to plan for this post-war period or the emergency, no one can have any hope for  the plans they will produce out of the bag for post war agriculture here. As I said before, that situation is alarming many people, particularly when Ministers have gone down the country and publicly adverted to a situation that may develop in which our agricultural exports may disappear. If that is the only hope that Fianna Fáil has for this country, the picture of the situation is particularly gloomy.
In face of the shrinkage of our production, the lack of organisation on the part of the responsible Minister with regard to agricultural production, the failure to maintain our exports, there is no justification whatever for taxation of this magnitude. As I said before, one could feel less disquietude about the whole position if our production had been maintained and, in fact, expanded. It is amazing if, in an effort to produce sufficient wheat for our requirements here and to reorganise that wheat production, we permit it to overshadow every other branch of agriculture, to the detriment of every other branch of agriculture, and leave this country, as at present, with an agricultural export only of live stock, of cattle. Of the many live-stock products we exported from this country in the past, we have only cattle exports left, and that at a time when the production of agricultural commodities was most attractive, when we could enjoy enhanced prices. The people who are charged with the duty of maintaining and extending agricultural production have failed in their responsibility. It is on that aspect, so far as productive effort in relation to the burden of taxation is concerned, more than on any other, that I feel the Government stand condemned.
Mr. Hickey: I have very little cause to disagree with Deputy Hughes, but I was rather surprised to learn that he was concerned about the history of this country's part in the war being written by an Englishman. What I am most concerned with is the lack of effort on the part of the Government to support our own people first and then, if we have a surplus, to export  it. I think the Minister for Finance must be pretty tired of listening to Deputies referring to the lack of production in the country, but I have the same complaint to make. I agree with Deputy Hughes that if our manhood and our brains were applied to agricultural production there would be no need to worry about feeding and maintaining our people at home. We could feed our people properly, maintain the necessary stock and export any surplus there might be. I am quite prepared to agree with Deputy Hughes in that.
There has been a good deal of comment as to the amount of money to be expended for the year. I am prepared to say that it is not the amount of money that we have reason to complain of, but the value that will be got for it. In my opinion, the reason that we have not increased production in this country is that we are not prepared to pay for it. I heard Deputy Hughes talking about what is being done in England. I have a copy of an English paper from which it appears that land girls in England are now paid 45/- a week for a 48-hour week, boys of 14 to 20 years of age are paid from 24/- to 30/- a week; agricultural labourers are paid £3 a week for a 52-hour week in summer and a 48-hour week in winter. I mentioned in the House recently that farmers from the North of Ireland had come to the Twenty-Six Counties and offered as much as £70 for six months' service to agricultural labourers. If we want to increase production—and I am satisfied the standard of life of our people cannot be improved without increased production—we must pay for it. Men can leave this country and go across to England where they can earn anything over £3 and £4 a week on agricultural work and send back money. These men could be usefully employed here in producing goods for the people of this country and creating a surplus for export.
It is hardly fair to say that Fianna Fáil Deputies and the Ministers of the Government are not as anxious to find a solution to our problems as anybody else in the House, but, before  they can do anything effective in that direction, I submit that the Minister will have to break from the present order of things. I am satisfied that what is wrong is that we have not effective control of credit to enable us to get things done. I have heard on some occasions the Minister and the Taoiseach saying there was no question of a shortage of money for anything that it is necessary to do in the country. Does the Minister suggest that it is not necessary to produce more food for this nation, to produce more cattle and live stock for home consumption and for export? That cannot be done by limiting expenditure. If I have £3 in my pocket, and if I cannot get 1-lb. of butter or 1 pint of milk, or a bit of bacon, what is the use of the money? As Deputy Hughes mentioned, we have 12,000,000 acres of arable land. It is a terrible thing that an agricultural country with a population of less than 3,000,000 people, has not sufficient milk, butter and bacon for the people. There is even a scarcity of oatenmeal.
I want to stress an even deeper fact. This Parliament and all Parliaments are on trial to-day. Democracy is on trial. Probably this is its last chance. Why are we not prepared to assert ourselves and to see that our people are properly fed and properly housed? In Cork City we are trying to build a number of houses to cater for people out of rat-infested, vermin-ridden houses. We are told we cannot build them because of the cost. The last number of houses we built was 210. We had to pay 5 per cent. interest to the Hospitals Trust to build those houses. Then we are told there is no lack of money. Of course there is not, if you pay the price for it. The cost, including buying the land, developing the site and building, has worked out at over £525 per house. Before the corporation can put a 1d. rent on the houses, there is a charge of 10/- a week for interest alone on the poor people who have to live in them, whose wages, on a pre-war basis, is £3 5s. 0d. What is the purchasing power of that £3 5s. 0d. to-day? The bond holders, of course, will have the first charge on anything  we have at the moment in Cork. We suggested that we would send a deputation to the Minister, although we sent a deputation three years ago to his predecessor, in connection with the provision of a sum of money to build and make perfect our quay walls and jetties, work which I regard as being of national importance. We have no money now because there is no shipping there now. We want to put men to work. We have the materials and we have the men, but we cannot start that work of national importance because we have not the power to give credit to allow the work to proceed.
I want to say to the Minister and to anybody who is responsible for the present state of affairs, that they have got to break from the old order of things and put men to work and not let a group of people, who are responsible for having this country as it is to-day, dictate what they should be employed at. We cannot put our agricultural workers to work or pay them more than 36/- minimum, although across the water land girls are being paid 45/- and agricultural labourers are being paid £3 for a 48-hour week in winter. That is why we have no milk, no butter or oatmeal.
Mr. Hickey: The figure I have given is the minimum in England. Little boys in England can earn from 24/- to 30/- a week. I am not at all pleased with the spirit among our people to-day. I am not at all satisfied that we have a decent public spirit in any section of our people. For the most part we have a spirit of “grab all you can” and, unfortunately, at the other end of the scale, we can observe crime increasing. There are more crimes being committed by the youth of our country to-day than at any other time in our history, and that is not a healthy sign. There seems to be a great disregard for law and order. Is it any wonder, when we have so much poverty prevailing? Why should we have so much poverty in a country with a population of less than 3,000,000 and with such natural facilities  that we should have an abundance of all the things that we require?
Much has been said about farming interests and about post-war planning, but I should like to concentrate on the people who require our first consideration. I refer to the poorer section of our people. If we do not look after the people who need attention, the people who are depressed and whose condition requires urgent consideration, we cannot have the stability in this country that we would like. I have drawn attention on many occasions to the condition of large numbers of our people, old age pensioners, widows and orphans, and the people who are unemployed, and I have spoken of the miserable allowances that are made to them.
We hear many people talking about the desirability of having one Parliament for the whole country. We should endeavour to set a good example here and show the world that we are well able to cater for our people, just as well as are the people on the other side of the Border. In that section of the country an old age pensioner receives 19/- a week, and, if his wife is entitled to the pension, the two of them receive 37/- a week. Here a man and his wife will get £1 a week, plus two vouchers, plus 1 cwt. of turf. A widow receives 7/6 a week here on a non-contributory, and 10/- on a contributory basis.
We are lacking in our sense of social obligations to those people, and our legislation is definitely operating against them. Take the case of a woman whose husband has been idle for some years and eventually dies. Because of the fact that he was unemployed, she will get only 7/6 a week, with 3/6 for the first child. If she goes out to earn a little money to supplement that miserable income, the pension will be taken away, following a means test. Take the case of a woman whose husband is living. She can earn £3 or £4 a week and there is no State interference. If it so happens that the mothers of two orphans die, the child whose father, before his death, was unemployed, will be given only 4/- by the State—that amount will be paid to anyone who keeps the  youngster—but the guardian of the child of the other man will be paid 7/- by the State. Is there any person who is honestly prepared to say that that is reasonable or just?
I have been told of the case of a man who has ten children. One child went to England and is able to send his father an average of £3 every fortnight. The father was getting 29/- from the State to maintain himself and his wife and six children. The State assistance has been cut off because of the fact that the son in England is helping his father to the extent I have mentioned.
I was told on one occasion by the Minister for Local Government that I was ignoring family responsibilities. I want to emphasise that we do not appear to recognise the family unit in this country. No other country has such hopeless legislation dealing with family life as we have here. The spirit among our people is anything but sound. You have one element exploiting the community and other people are indifferent, bitter and sour because of the way they are being treated. We have not a desirable public opinion and that is largely because of the legislation we have adopted here. We are all responsible for that and we cannot shirk our responsibility. I want to see poverty done away with. Those who are rich are indulging in luxuries. We have too much of that. It has been suggested that the Minister should interfere with those who are making excessive profits. I am not distrubed about what the Minister will do in order to keep people from making excessive profits during this emergency. I believe the greatest crime that could be committed against the community, while this emergency continues, is the making of excessive profits.
Deputy Hughes accused the Government of not organising a national effort. I think Deputy Hughes and others who want the Government to do that must be prepared to allow the Government to exercise every means at their disposal to control the elements that prevent them from organising the national effort. Until  the Minister breaks away from the present order of things and makes some necessary alterations with regard to the control of the issue of credit, we cannot hope to make much progress. I am not one bit disturbed about the £40,000,000 that the Minister is asking in order to carry on the administration of this country. All I am asking is that, in a democratic State like this, there should be legislation under which the most helpless sections of the community will be guaranteed a decent standard of living.
Mr. Dillon: The Deputy must have made one of the best speeches he ever made since he came into Dáil Eireann. There is very little in the substance of what Deputy Hickey said to-day that any rational man could rebut. There are certain things he did say which are manifestly absurd, and he knows they are absurd; but the bulk of his speech is unanswerable. I think it is time for the House, and especially the Minister, to face the fact that in this and every other country usury should read the writing on the wall. It may take a considerable cataclysm to precipitate the change, but the time is coming when the good, sound, old Catholic doctrine will be re-asserted through out the world, and that is that money may not be lent at interest and that to charge interest on money is usury and is therefore wrong.
You have to bear closely in mind what you mean by lending money at interest. You cannot get funds administered or controlled and a record kept of them for nothing. It will be necessary to make administrative charges in connection with the control of credit. That is not interest; it is simply the cost of administration, and it must be distinguished carefully from usury, which is lending money at interest. That will go, and the sooner people make up their minds to that the better, because if they make up their minds to it in time we can  despatch that evil system prudently and carefully, so that no violence will be done to the social structure in the process. If we wait until it is smashed by violence, its elimination may be a very costly operation for the community to which we belong.
Frankly, I am not aware of the discrimination that Deputy Hickey has described between a contributory widow's pension and a non-contributory widow's pension, but I cannot believe that the Minister for Finance, who was Minister for Local Government for a long time, will defend the proposition that if a man is out of work for five or six years through no fault of his own and then comes to die, leaving his widow with a non-contributory widow's pension and his orphans with non-contributory orphans' pensions, and there is a next-door neighbour in insurable employment at the date of his death, leaving his widow in receipt of a widow's pension, in this case a contributory widow's pension, and if the two widows go out to supplement their allowance by doing a charwoman's work, the widow of the man who was in an insurable occupation at the date of his death will, in that case, have no deduction made from her widow's pension, but the widow of the man who has borne the suffering of carrying on an unemployed man's household for the five or six years before her husband died is stripped of her pension altogether, simply because she goes out in the same way as her neighbour to supplement her allowance. That is an anomaly that I do not believe any member of the House foresaw, and one that, I suggest, should be removed without delay.
Now, on the general question, and apart from the points raised by Deputy Hickey, I want to emphasise two points. The first is that I am not alarmed by the figures that appear in the Book of Estimates. I believe in being practical. There is no use in the members of Dáil Eireann expecting that you are going to get now the strict economy in public administration that was desirable and appropriate to pre-war government. Why, the nations of the world are printing  money as fast as the presses can work in order to purchase armaments for their mutual destruction. The expenditure in Great Britain is now about £4,000,000,000 per annum. The bulk of that money is being spent on warlike operations which yield no return at all in the economic sphere. It yields a return of infinite value to the British people and to the Irish people. It is the price of freedom. We occupy the dignified position of reaping all the benefits of freedom at no cost to ourselves because we are letting the other fellow do the fighting for us. We have to review our economic position from that dignified point of view. Far from urging the Government to stringent economy at the present time, I say quite deliberately that if I were Minister for Finance in this country I would beg, borrow and steal all the money that I could get and spend it on assets of permanent value to the community.
Mr. Dillon: I am not going to argue what the Leader of the Opposition believes in, in his absence from the House. He can speak for himself when he comes in, but that is my understanding of his view. It is a very understandable view, and a certain school of economists here would cordially agree with him in that view. I do not. I would spend £80,000,000 a year, or £120,000,000, and I would borrow it all, if I could secure for that currency assets of a permanent character  that would be useful to our people now or hereafter. I do not agree, though, with statements of that kind if they are divorced from any concrete suggestions as to how such money ought to be spent. I want to make three concrete suggestions on plans which could be put into operation forthwith, upon which you could spend a very great deal of money, and upon which, in my opinion, we ought to spend all the money that we can borrow. First amongst them I would put in a suggestion for the drainage of land.
I agree that arterial drainage is a thing that calls for a great deal of preliminary planning. I would like to remind the Minister for Finance that when King Leopold I of Belgium was declared to be the personal proprietor of the Belgian Congo, and when its revenues were appropriated to his privy purse, he said that he welcomed that news because it gave him the opportunity of putting into operation a scheme that he had in his mind for many long years, and so set at defiance the economists who sought to compare the economic cost with the social value of land reclamation. He said that he did not care whether he got any revenue from this £15,000,000 a year, that he regarded it as a gift from God, that he was going to go out on the land occupied by the Belgian people, that whether a farmer was rich or poor he was going to look on his land as Belgian land, and that his object was to drain and reclaim the land. Without any cost to the occupier the land on which he lived was turned into the finest arable land in Europe. The King said that he was not going to argue with Treasury officials as to whether it was proper Treasury practice to spend public money in this way or not. He said he knew that, if the land was benefited as result of carrying out this reform, ultimately the Belgian people and the Belgian nation would be a very much happier, a much more prosperous and a more stable nation than it was when half the people living on the land were living on the border line of starvation. Where there was inadequate drainage, or where  there was reclamation work of any kind to be done, King Leopold did it out of his privy purse. That is what I would do here.
Mr. Dillon: May I remind Deputy Victory that what I am trying to do is to make some suggestions to the Minister. I do not want to hold for a moment that the whole of the Fianna Fáil Party are a gang of dastards. I think you are very incompetent but it is not for want of the will; it is for want of capacity to do the job. I am trying to make a concrete suggestion to the Minister. There is an old tradition in this country, and indeed in Great Britain, that the Treasury must not spend public money on improving a private individual's property. You must not go in on his close and spend money on his close, without fixing some system of recoupment for the Treasury. On that basis you will never get anywhere. What I am afraid of is that the time during which we have an opportunity of doing this work will pass. Frankly, I believe that there must be a re-valuation of currency post-war. I believe that the £100 sterling you have in your possession or in your bank account now is not going to be worth £100 post-war because the inflation that is going on in Britain will reduce its value. Therefore, any money you save now and put by will be comparatively useless in post-war conditions while in respect of any money you borrow now and spend on fixed assets, your liability on the loan is going to be reduced post-war and the assets which were purchased will, in a time of inflated currency, appreciate considerably in value.
In your niggardly and half-hearted way of dealing with drainage, you still wonder whether the farmers should get a grant for draining their own land independent of the big arterial drainage schemes. I implore the Government now not to hedge around such schemes with every conceivable kind of precautionary deterrent that can be conceived by the official mind. Either  let the Government themselves go out and employ men to cut drains on the land or persuade the smallholders that it will pay them to do it. It is fantastic to imagine that there should be 65,000 men in rural Ireland on the dole at the present time, but there are. It is monstrous; it is ludicrous. There are vast tracts of country which are growing rushes and flaggers. There is a pile, a mountain, of money available for borrowing by the Government if they want to borrow it to-morrow.
Mr. Dillon: I do not think we would have the slightest difficulty in raising a loan of £40,000,000 or £50,000,000. Anybody who studies the present situation must know that the external assets of this country are simply soaring up. Any part of that money which is invested in fixed interest securities in Great Britain, if it remains there to the end of the emergency, will be paid back to us in the ratio of one to ten. Does anybody in the House doubt that? Why do we not use that money? Of course, many silly people imagine that it is a matter of perfect simplicity to use it, but the moment you set out to use it you are up against the supply difficulty. There is a shortage of raw materials the world over, which affects all schemes, notably housing. It would be an admirable thing at the present time to embark on housing schemes, but you cannot get steel, timber, or a variety of other necessary materials.
There are, however, some works you can do. One of the reasons why drainage appeals to me so much at the present time is that it involves very largely manual labour and little or no raw materials except stones, of which, goodness knows, we have enough, spades and shovels. I do not say that, if we were living in normal times, I  would not describe my present suggestion as putting the car before the horse because one would be inclined in normal times to get arterial drainage done first and then take on local drainage rather than do the local drainage before the arterial drainage is completed. But we are not living in normal times and arterial drainage is out of the question at the present for the simple reason that the machinery necessary to carry out arterial drainage is not available. Local drainage, however, it is perfectly possible to do. It is extremely urgently required and will pay a dividend for all time. Land which is worth £10 per acre undrained to-day could be made worth £25 an acre adequately drained and that land raised to the value of £25 an acre is going to be land of good quality no matter what the currency valuation is post-war. That is one suggestion I make.
The next suggestion I have to make will not appeal so much to country Deputies as to city Deputies. I was born in the City of Dublin. I was born in the middle of a slum and, indeed, the Minister for Finance and I are very familiar with the poorer parts of the city. If there is one thing that strikes anybody who spends his life in this city or, indeed, in any other city—it is true not only of this city but of New York, London, Sydney, Chicago—it is the horrible conditions under which young children are compelled on hot summer days to play on the dusty streets. The country child may be very much confined to the house in winter by bad weather, but one has always the feeling that when spring and summer come they will be as much out as in. The Dublin slum child is confined all the winter to the wretched rooms in which its parents live and in summer he goes out to play in the dusty streets. The mothers of these children who have to tramp up and down the tenement stairs to carry out their household duties at all hours, find when summer comes that the best amusement they can get is to go out and sit on the steps in the front of the house to try to get a breath of fresh air. I have often looked at these women and wondered  why they go on living. They never seem to get any relaxation or to have an opportunity of enjoying any of the amenities that make life tolerable.
What have other great cities done for such people? They have tried to develop local amenities so as to provide free relaxation for them. The first thing they have done is to give them access to the sea, to make that available in an easily accessible way to the poor of their cities. This city has the finest coast-line of any city on the globe. From Bray Head to Howth Head there is the most superb coast-line along which any city could be built. Sydney, in Australia, with a coast-line that does not compare at all favourably with ours has spent millions in developing that coast-line so as to provide for the poor, as well as for the rich, some resort to which they can repair in summer weather and spend the greater part of their recreation hours, to enjoy the sea air and the sunshine with immense advantage to the health of that city. New York has spent countless millions in developing the sea coast adjacent to Long Island and Manhattan, and in developing every conceivable facility to enable the poor of Manhattan Island and Brooklyn to get to the sea where they can enjoy the sea air for nothing.
Mr. Dillon: All that the poor get here is the opportunity to go to Merrion Strand where they are smothered with the smell and poisoned by the cockles if they venture out on to the sand to get them. Chicago has developed the course of the shore of the lake, as the Minister for Finance well knows, from away down on the south side right up to Rogers Park. Of San Francisco the same story can be told. Here are we, with a coast-line  from Bray to Howth Head, with one of the poorest populations of any city in the world, who can walk from any part of the slums of Dublin to Dollymount or to Sandymount. Why on earth do we not take this time, not to carry out the permanent structural improvements that might be deemed desirable if we had ready access to the raw materials necessary, but to begin acquiring these foreshores and preparing by doing the preliminary work on a full-scale plan, in order to turn those foreshores in to an invaluable asset to the City of Dublin which will endure for all time? Why can we not make the necessary plans now and lay the foundations now to turn the whole coast-line into one of the finest recreation grounds that any city could have? Will not that pay us dividends? Will not the improvement in the public health, in the social amenities of the poor of the City of Dublin, pay ample dividends for all time, whatever it costs?
When we realise that we are going to pay for that now in money that, according to human powers of foresight, will be worth only one-tenth of what it is worth now, will we not feel we are getting good value, no matter what we spend on the scheme? But we must do it now. If we do not do it now, we may never get the chance again to do that work. We will be faced with the difficulty that the men who might be put to work on this scheme have had to go to England. The continued inrush of British wages into this country will make the problem of inflation more and more acute for us with every envelope that arrives.
I have another point to make. I believe that, if you get up to attack your political antagonists, you should be fecund of suggestions. I have the best plan of all. I will buy now, not enduring assets, but immortal assets —assets that will go on for ever. The Minister has an unexampled opportunity to imprint his name for ever in letters of gold in the history of the country. We can purchase for posterity healthy generations of children, which will do him credit in their children and their children's children  and their children's grandchildren. There are thousands of children in this country who will grow up cripples, who will grow up to pass on disease and deformity to succeeding generations that they beget, if their parents are constrained to rear them in the poverty that at present afflicts them.
There are thousands of children who have not got enough food and nourishment to enable them to grow up as healthy citizens. That is a fact well known to the Minister. The reason is that the mothers have not got the money to buy the food necessary to ensure that they have healthy bodies. If that situation is allowed to continue, it will have to be paid for, not only in the deformity and disease of these under-nourished children, but the children that they beget and their children's children will levy toll on this nation for that failure.
There is not a single one of those children whom we cannot rescue, for whom we cannot buy now abundant health and strength and the capacity to pass on those characteristics to succeeding generations. We can buy it with money which, if we hoard it, will be lost to us as to nine-tenths of it. That money, spent as I suggest we should spend it, will come back to us a thousandfold, not in the depreciated currency in which we spend it, but in the currency of current value in whatever generation those children happen to be born. That is what I call an immortal investment, the finest investment of all, an investment that can never die.
What sociologist in the world will deny that where there is destitution and poverty there is crime and that where there is crime there is the death of the immortal soul? I am asking that the atmosphere which begets crime and the condemnation of souls should be purified by the expenditure of money. Do I overstate that case? I do not think so. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that poverty and destitution beget crime and that crime begets vice, and vice begets the perdition of the soul. I think that is literally true. I am asking that the breeding ground of crime, poverty,  destitution and misery should be assailed with the weapon money. Thus not only do we purchase succeeding generations of healthy men and women, but we actually purchase souls. How many souls are worth £100,000,000 sterling? Will any Deputy contest that, if we could purchase redemption for one soul, our £100,000,000 would be well spent? Will any Deputy challenge that poverty begets crime, that destitution is the mother of vice? Will anyone deny that crime and vice are the perdition of souls? That is a logical truth. I am asking the Minister to beg, borrow and steal all he can in the name of this nation and to spend it now, not only on Sandymount Strand and on drains in Monaghan and elsewhere, but in the purchase of souls, in the destruction of poverty, destitution and misery. The money can be used directly for the destruction of those things by the institution now of a system of family allowances. That would guarantee to every mother that, whatever other misfortunes should befall her, she will not be called upon to see her children hungry or sinking in disease because she is unable to purchase the food to keep them well.
I do not know what queer inhibition prevents the Government from going straight ahead with that scheme now. I do not believe there is a single Deputy who, individually challenged on that question, would disagree with me. I do not believe that there is an individual Deputy in this House at the present moment who would sooner see a child become tubercular, grow up a cripple or die, than increase the Supply Estimates for the year 1943-44. Deputies would say: “If the scheme is physically possible, by all means use it; our natural reluctance in this matter is lest the thing could not be done, lest, in trying to achieve our purpose, we make matters worse than they were.”
If we were living in normal times and not confronted with a steady spiral of inflation which we could not control, if the country were stabilised and we could look far ahead and a member of this Dáil stood up and  urged the Government of the day to borrow the cost of family allowances and finance a scheme of family allowances permanently as a feature of our social life on borrowed money, I would say the man was mad and was advocating something which, if executed, would ultimately bring upon the country far greater disasters than the poverty he was concerned to abate.
When we return to normal, and when the currencies of the world are restored to some form of equilibrium —God knows when that will be—we shall have to recognise the well-established fact that you cannot take more out of a pot than you put into it. We shall have to recognise that the Micawber philosophy is true, at least, in substance—that if you earn 19/11¾d. and spend £1, the result is misery, but if you earn £1 and spend 19/11¾d., your future is one of rosy prosperity. But we are not living in normal times. We are living in very abnormal times. We are living in times when the currency under which we operate is not under our control and cannot be controlled by us. We are living at a time when world inflation will take place whether we like it or not. We have got to make up our minds whether we are going to be swept to destruction by that storm of inflation, or whether, by prudent tacking in the storm, by wisely meeting every contingency as it arises, and salvaging as much as we can during the economic blizzard, we shall be able to come out at the other end equipped for the conditions of normal times. Unless we can assemble a fund of enduring assets with the inflated money which is pouring in on us in a deluge, we shall find ourselves “holding the baby” at the end of this crisis.
As Deputy Hughes said, with external markets lost or diminished in value, we are liable to find that, even with our much wanted independence, we shall have a lower standard of living than any other nation in Europe, with a stream of emigration calculated to strip the country of virtually everybody able to do it service. Therefore, my advice to the Minister is: Borrow boldly now and spend wisely. I made  three suggestions. Other Deputies will probably make many others. The Minister need never shake his gory locks at me and say that I criticised but did not offer any constructive suggestions?
Mr. Dillon: But they may be gory still. I have made three comprehensive proposals which would involve very substantial expenditure of money and the administration of which might, reasonably, occupy the mind of any Government for one financial year.
I want to say a last word on a topic touched upon by Deputy Hughes. Have many Deputies thought of what they are going to do post-war? They are all riding along, trusting to God. Do they remember what the Taoiseach said on his Estimate last year? He said that, having got so far in life, he wanted to place on record that he was never more convinced of the desirability of the policy of economic self-sufficiency than he was then. I want to warn this House, as I have often done before, that the doctrine of national self-sufficiency is political schizophrenia. Any individual acting according to the principles of political schizophrenia is a lunatic. The person suffering from schizophrenia begins by being nervous and by imposing restraints upon himself. He does not want to go out lest he be knocked down by a taxicab. He says that one cannot go out when taxicabs are flying about as they do. Next, he cannot be got out of his bedroom. He fears that dangerous people may be coming into the house. In a short time, he will not get out of his clothes. Then, he gets into bed and will not get out of it. Finally, he gets under the bed-clothes and will not get out. He winds up like a hibernating polecat in his winter warmth and he does not venture out at all.
The doctrine of self-sufficiency is founded on the basis that we are all so delicate that we cannot go out and meet the blast of adversity that contact with the world outside would involve.  Talk about external trade and somebody roars from the Fianna Fáil Benches: “Are you going to let in Chinese bacon?” Talk about sugar, and you hear somebody bellowing: “Do you want sugar grown with coolie labour?” We all recognise that, in the matter of sugar, we cannot enter into competition with anybody. I heard a responsible Minister say that there is nothing we can produce in this country that cannot be produced better and more cheaply somewhere else. Did anybody ever hear anything more mad than that? The danger is that they have this “kept” newspaper, the newspaper financed out of the American Loan—the Irish Press—and it has been hammering away—fortified by this subsidy from the American Loan, which has been called upon for its sustenance in lean days—at this abominable doctrine that nothing is produced in this country that cannot be produced better and more cheaply outside. If those views were held by those who went before us, Guinness' brewery would never have been built, neither would Harland and Wolff's, nor Workman and Clark's. The Barbour linen trade would never have been established, nor would our woollen mills ever have been built. Jacob's biscuits would never have been manufactured here.
If Mother Arsenius had gone down to Foxford and said to my grand-aunt: “We should not establish a factory here because nothing we could make but could be made better and more cheaply elsewhere,” would there be any factory in Foxford to-day? A nun out of the cloister, fired by zeal to help poor people in Foxford, had more courage, daring and enterprise than the Minister for Industry and Commerce of the Fianna Fáil Government. Did any of you ever go into Harrod's, of Brompton Road, and ask for the best quality of blankets they had in stock. If you did, you were offered blankets made in Foxford, without any tariffs, protection or quota, in the full blaze of competition from England, Scotland, America and everywhere else. It was Mother Arsenius' blankets that commanded the highest price in Brompton Road. The tender little  sapling, born of self-sufficiency, will not dare to make an infant's diaper without the aid of a 30 per cent. tariff and a quota as well. According to the doctrine that the Party opposite are preaching, we are a gang of incompetent louts in this country, who dare not compete with anybody; if we tried to manufacture anything, people would laugh at us and our only hope of keeping the wheels of industry turning is to charge two prices for everything we make and tell our own people to purchase the goods.
I warn this House that, if that doctrine is to prevail in this country, you are not going to get the adventurous youth of Ireland to live on 36/- a week. That is all that would be left to them. If the only prospect in Ireland is agricultural wages at 36/- a week, the labourers and the other men here who are declared incapable of producing anything in this country that could not be produced better and cheaper somewhere else can go to England, to America, to Australia, to New Zealand, to the Argentine, and produce things there, cheaper and better according to ourselves. Are wages any lower in Australia? Are conditions any worse in New Zealand? Are costs of production lower in the United States of America than they are here? Not that I know of. Arthur Guinness did not find they were. He was not afraid to tell the breweries of Chicago to come on, or to tell the breweries of the midlands of England to come on; he was not afraid to go to their market and compete with them and beat them. Is not that so? Did Jacobs ask for a guarantee that, in any market in which they were to trade, there should be no competitor? I used to see their produce labelled for Bangkok, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and the four corners of the world, in competition with anybody who cared to compete with them. How many cargoes of their produce will you see bound for Chicago or Rio de Janeiro before this war is over? We preserved them the market in Ballyjamesduff and stripped them of the market of the four  corners of the world. We nailed to their door what no foreigner had ever dared to nail there, a notice saying: “This factory is incompetent to compete with anyone. Anything they make can be made better and cheaper somewhere else. Therefore, we must provide them with a tariff wall and a quota. We must secure that no biscuit is allowed inside Eire to compete with them.” That is the firm that swept the five continents with their produce before Fianna Fáil was ever heard of.
Is that policy to go on? If it is, all that will be left in this country are dirty little back-room workshops, with vultures from the four corners of the earth, coming in to pluck the vitals out of our people so long as they have any vitals to pluck, and their pinions spread ready to fly away gorged with our people's blood when they have sucked them dry. That was going on, and we all know it was going on, before the war. There were fellows landing in here from the four corners of Europe, with good reputations and reputations that were not so good; with names that you could pronounce and names that you could not pronounce; some of them working under their own names, and some of them assuming the names under which they worked. But they all had a common purpose, and that was to take advantage of the doctrine of economic self-sufficiency in this country to pluck our people and plunder them, and plunder them they did. There is not one of them who would not fly away out of this country in the morning if he could get out of it, but most of the countries from which they came have been overrun by the Nazis since, and they are damn glad to stay here. As soon as they can get out, when there is no more plunder for them here, they will go. They care nothing for this country. They never did, and they never will, except for the plunder they can get out of it.
Deputy Hickey, in the course of his observations here to-day, asked why we should have poverty in this country when we can produce all that  we require. Who ever alleged that we can produce all that we require in this country? What is it that has us all running for the bus at 9.30 at night, queueing up and not able to get on it? What has caused the situation in which we stand on the street to stop a bus, and seven times out of ten it passes us by because it is full? Why is it that the trains are running late? Why is it that there is a shortage of boots in the country? Why is it that clothes are rationed? If we can produce all that we require in this country, why are we short of anything? Why go on sticking our heads in the sand and repeating ad infinitum the absurd doctrine that we can produce everything we want in this country? Seventy per cent. of the things we use in our normal daily lives are brought to us from outside. This is one of the poorest countries in the world from the point of view of natural resources. We have nothing in this country except 12,000,000 acres of arable land. Properly used, that 12,000,000 acres of arable land ought to be able to buy for our people a higher standard of living than any agricultural people in the world outside this country can buy, but it must be properly used. It must be used, not to produce all the things we want, but to purchase them.
To go on repeating the ridiculous doctrine that we can produce everything we want in this country is to lead our people further into the political schizophrenia of economic self-sufficiency. Seventy per cent. of what we use must be brought to us from abroad, and it must be paid for. Have you ever asked yourselves: “Post-war, what are we going to use to pay for those things? When we want to replace the tyre, the railway rolling stock, the steel and iron we use in our building, the wide variety of raw materials which our manufacturers require if the factory wheels are to continue to turn, what are we to use to pay for them?” The only possible way you can pay for them is by agricultural exports, and remember you cannot pay for essential imports with agricultural exports unless you can find someone to buy your agricultural  exports. There is no use in piling up an agricultural surplus at the North Wall and waiting for someone to take it away. You have to find someone who is prepared to take it, and who is prepared to pay for it. Do you remember the salad days of Fianna Fáil when we were sending crates of chickens all round Europe on a Cook's tour to try to find an alternative market? Do you remember the crate of chickens that cost £27 15s. 0d. in freight, and we had to wring their necks in Brussels? Do you remember the butter that we paid £15 to get admitted into Belgium, and then the Belgians would not eat it, but sent it back and charged us £7 freight on it? By the time it arrived in Dublin, having gone to Havre, Brussels, Ghent, and I think it even went to Paris, it cost 7/6 a lb. in Dublin and was sold as car grease.
Mr. Dillon: I am talking about alternative markets. I am talking about Cook's tours for agricultural produce. Our bullocks were sold at 17/- a cwt. on the German market. Do you remember that? They were sold at 17/- a cwt., and did we think the Dublin market wonderful when the price went to 20/-? We thanked God the German buyers were there, because they actually raised the price of cattle to 20/- per cwt. Those were the gala days when the Fianna Fáil Government were looking for alternative markets. Surely they learned through the bitter experience they then had that it is not enough to have an agricultural surplus; if you want to pay for essential imports with your agricultural surplus you have to find a willing buyer, and a willing buyer who will pay you a reasonable price. Who is the willing buyer? Let us face the facts. Seventy per cent. of what you use here must be brought in from abroad. How are you going to pay for it? It is true that you have your accumulated sterling assets abroad. You can exhaust them, and it will take quite a time to do it, but when they are gone your necessity becomes all the more urgent because the invisible  exports that their income represents will be gone too. What are you going to do then?
I want to warn you of this: Post-war—as certain as we are in this room —when the Nazis are flattened and eliminated from the body politic of Europe, and remain nothing but an evil memory in the minds of civilised men, there will be some form of collaboration between the Commonwealth of Nations and the United States of America. If we are in on the ground floor when that happens, then we shall have a market in which to dispose of our agricultural surplus, but if we are not in on the ground floor, then we shall not have any market. Where are we going to be then? It is as certain as anything can be that, after the war, there will be some form of collaboration between the Commonwealth of Nations and the United States of America, and if we are in on the ground floor in that collaboration, which is coming as certainly as tomorrow's dawn, then we can secure for our people a standard of living that will at least be tolerable and, perhaps, even good. If we are not in on that collaboration, it will only mean the piling up of our agricultural surplus at the North Wall, and what will become of it? It will mean leaving it there until the rats eat it, because there will be no other way to dispose of it unless we shovel it into the sea.
If you continue to adopt the Fianna Fáil attitude of so-called self-sufficiency, where are you going, when this war is over, to buy the iron and steel with which to equip your railways and build your railway coaches? Where will you get rubber, or tyres for your cars? Where will you get oil with which to light your lamps, or petrol with which to turn the wheels of your motor lorries and cars? None of these commodities is to be had here, and do you contemplate carrying on that policy indefinitely? If you do, you are daft, and if you do not take prudent measures now to secure post-war supplies of these things, which are believed to be essential, then you are daft also. I do not believe that you are daft. I think it is that you are afraid—just afraid to face the future.  You do not want to think of the future. You want to go on curled up under the bedclothes and say that everything is lovely so long as no bombs are dropped: that we ought to be grateful to God for that, and let to-morrow take care of itself. Now, there can be a worse misfortune than the dropping of bombs. There can be the servitude and slavery of a people, but there can be worse servitude than that of one people under the yoke of another. God knows, that is bad enough, but the servitude of a people to destitution and misery, with the contempt of the world for having failed to make a success of their own country, the first time that they ever got control of it, is a servitude and slavery of a far more humiliating kind, and a more diabolical slavery than anything that has been devised by the Nazis in their most extreme phantasmagoria.
Is there a single Deputy in this House on the Government Benches with the courage to get up and tell this House what he envisages the post-war picture is going to be like, and what plans he would advocate for the contingency that is before us? There is not one of you. I notice that there are eight Deputies on the Government Benches, including the Minister, and I venture to say that the whole eight of them would only get up and say: “Thanks be to God, the bombs are not falling on us; we will wait to see what the future holds.” Not one of them, however, will dare to say what they believe the world will be like when this war is over, or what plans they have to meet the situation that will then arise—because they are afraid. They know that it is a problem to which they have no answer, and they themselves must realise that the silly cat-call of economic self-sufficiency is pure nonsense. There is no sufficiency for anybody in this country. The yowls and the howls of the Fianna Fáil Party themselves portray that. What are you going to do, post-war, when you try to make up the deficiencies—as we must try to do— that at present exist? With what will you pay for the artificial manures that we require? With what will you  pay for the raw material of agricultural machinery? With what will you pay for tyres for motor lorries and motor cars? With what will you pay for the metal that must be put into forks, spades, scythes, and so on, that are needed for agriculture? With what are you going to pay for those things? There is not one of you who dares ask himself that question and answer it honestly, but some day you will be forced to answer it. Events will compel you to face the situation and, if I am not greatly mistaken, when that day comes, you will run away and leave it to somebody else to clean up the mess that you made, because you have not the courage, and I do not suppose you have the wisdom, to face that problem now.
I would not mind if you lacked wisdom; I would not mind if you lacked capacity; but that you should lack courage, and run away from the problem simply because your teeth are chattering in the presence of that spectre, and simply because you find yourselves impotent in the face of the emergency, is a great tragedy for the Irish people. A distinguished Irish ecclesiastic said recently, in effect, that although it might be a great tragedy for the Irish people to have a Government which they did not like, they had not much to complain of since it was their own votes that put that Government there. There has never been a more extravagant exercise of electoral power by a people who were anxious to assert their right to freedom than the election of the Fianna Fáil Party to Government. The Taoiseach once went on record as saying that the people had no right to do wrong, but the Irish people elected 78 Fianna Fáil Deputies to this House to demonstrate to Eamon de Valéra, the Taoiseach of Ireland, once and for all, that they had not only the right to do wrong, but that they were going to do it. And did they do it? I'll say they did, and so will unfortunate posterity.
Mr. Briscoe: Well, the Deputy used the word “daft” very often in his speech. He said that everybody was daft, and the only conclusion I can draw is that if one Deputy gets up and accuses all the others of being daft, he must conclude that he himself is sane. We have heard two contributions to this debate here just now: one from Deputy Hickey and this last one from Deputy Dillon. In the case of Deputy Hickey, I think it should be quite obvious to everybody in the House that he spoke quite sincerely, that he meant everything he said, and that every fact he adduced in order to try to get the Government to meet certain situations was actually a fact, known to us all and known to himself. He did not draw upon his imagination or tell us what was going to happen for all eternity, and so forth, and I want to say that I believe that everybody in this House, and certainly everybody on this side of the House, feels to a great extent that if those things could be done, to the extent to which Deputy Hickey asked that they should be done, it would be a very good thing for this country.
Now, with regard to Deputy Dillon, I do not know that there was one part of the world or one particular subject or item which he did not drag into his speech. He gave us three plans—at least, he called them three plans—but I would suggest to Deputy Dillon that instead of giving us three plans, as he did in the space of about five or six minutes, he should draft them in detail and examine them from all the angles from which they should be examined, and then present them, if he likes, in the form of an election address in the coming election. I am convinced from the manner in which he approached these plans that he would never get them into any form more complete than the form in which he put them forward here. They were just statements by the Deputy to the effect that “this should be done” and “this is what I would do”, without his having the slightest idea of how to set about doing these things. He talked about  borrowing millions and, when asked to what extent he thought borrowing should be made, he said £40,000,000. He wants to borrow £40,000,000 to do certain things. First, he wants the Government to spend all the nation's money on the abolition of slumdom amongst one section of the community. I am a representative of Dublin City. I know the extent of the hardships and difficulties which face a great many people in that constituency, and, while I would use every means of persuasion I might possess, publicly or privately, and any form of advocacy which I could use to help me to improve the situation, I would not for one moment suggest that all the nation's resources should be spent exclusively on the abolition of the evils which exist in this constituency.
Mr. Briscoe: I am not talking about them. I am coming by degrees from Manhattan and Long Island to Sandymount Strand. The Deputy spoke of what happens in New York and said that every poor person in New York gets a free opportunity of enjoying himself during the hot weather in Long Island and other places adjacent to the city. I do not know how intimately the Deputy knows New York. Some of us have been there occasionally for short periods and have seen it in the cold and in the hot weather. I have yet to be convinced that all the poor who used to exist in New York had Long Island made available to them, free, gratis and for nothing. I have seen, in the hot weather there, the local authorities turn out their fire brigades and hose the children of the city to keep them cool because they were not able to get away to Long Island. As a matter of fact, Long Island is not the hunting ground of the poor of New York City and the Deputy ought to know that.
The Deputy talks about spending and believes that by borrowing money and spending it on his three plans or schemes, a Utopia can be created here. If he drafts his schemes in  detail, together with the methods by which he is to apply them, and then reads them to himself, he will probably realise that, no matter how foolish the policy of Fianna Fáil may seem to him, his schemes are, in fact, more foolish, if that were possible for him to conceive.
Mr. Briscoe: I will come to them by degrees. I want the Deputy to understand this: I am satisfied that Deputies on this side believe that this Government is really alive to a great many of the difficulties which have not been fully dealt with, but with which there is a desire to deal, so as to bring alleviation of suffering to the masses of our people. I do not pretend for one moment that, during the years of office of the present Cabinet, every evil which one would desire to see abolished has been abolished and better conditions brought to our people. I believe a very honest attempt has been made, but that certain situations arose during their period of office which prevented their carrying out their schemes in the normal way. We had an economic war.
Mr. Briscoe: The Deputy referred to certain things which took place during the economic war. Whether or not the Deputy thinks it was unwise for us to withhold the land annuities and to bring down on ourselves the economic war, or whether we think it was right, the results are there. There have been  very heavy losses, but there is a net gain. That matter has been discussed on many occasions and it is not for us to deal with it now. Then we have this emergency, brought about by the international situation, which is surely a matter beyond our control. I do not think that anybody in this country desires to be a party to the solving of situations by the methods adopted by the big powers of the world.
The Deputy devoted a great portion of his speech to an advocacy of the borrowing of money on the ground that he was satisfied that in the post-war situation sterling was going to have at most one-tenth of its present value. Believing that, he advocates that we should spend ten times what we would normally spend, because, when the war is over, we shall have to pay only one-tenth. He then talked about the evils of poverty and the crime which results from it, and suggested that every attempt should be made to eliminate the conditions which bring these about. He wound up his argument with the suggestion that in order to eliminate evil and crime, we should go out and steal. That is the kind of logical thinking we get from Deputy Dillon.
Mr. Briscoe: The Deputy talked about Fianna Fáil running away from the post-war situation. The Deputy has the habit of making a speech, wildly waving his arms, and then when somebody gets up to deal with him, of running away, as he probably will hide after the next election. The Deputy has now left the House. He talked about stealing for the purpose of remedying evils, and he talked about borrowing on the ground that we would not have to repay. He argued that we should do these things because of the urgency of the situation and for the security of the souls of our people, not for 1,000 years but for eternity. He then went on to deal with items, forgetting that he described as “daft” the growing of wheat and the growing of beet in this country. Then he says that were the situation normal, were  the position such that, at the end of the war, the pound would be worth its present-day value, he would tolerate all the evil, all the hardship and all the poverty, because, in normal circumstances, you must carry on in a normal way and spend only 19/11¾, rather than £1 0s. 0¼, when you have £1. That is the kind of talk we listened to.
I feel that Deputy Hickey made a very reasoned appeal to the Government for the remedying of particular situations which, in my opinion, deserve remedying. I do not know to what extent the Minister will be able to meet some of the suggestions, but they are matters which have come under the notice of every Deputy, and there are many of us on these benches who will always welcome proposals which will bring about improvements, no matter from whom the initiative comes. Whether the initiative happens to come from the Labour Deputies, from the main Opposition Deputies or from Fianna Fáil Deputies, the chief thing is to see that hardships are made lighter.
I agree with certain things Deputy Dillon said. I agree, from my own knowledge, that there is a certain amount of dangerous under-nourishment among a section of our young people, particularly in the cities. I do not know to what extent the Government is aware of it, or has the facts before it, but we can judge them only from what we see ourselves. The answer may be that it is due to the fact that certain foods hitherto imported and certain vitamins which are necessary are no longer available, but the reason probably is that because of the very severe increase in the cost of living and the small amounts available as incomes to certain classes of our people, they are not able to purchase sufficient of the essential foods which go to keep children properly nourished.
I suggest that the Minister should bring the matter to the notice of his colleagues, particularly the Minister concerned, with a view to having a proper examination of that situation. It has been mentioned to me from different sources that there is a certain amount of under-nourishment, and  when I asked certain dispensary doctors if that had come within their knowledge, I must say that they agreed that there is in a very small area in the south city.
I am sorry Deputy Dillon has left the House, because I wish to refer to the other plans he mentioned. I feel that there is an abnormal situation existing now, and that when the Deputy talks about the post-war position, he wants us to design some form of regulations which will guarantee a proper standard of living then. I do not think it is possible for anyone to forecast what the post-war situation will be. On the one hand, Deputy Dillon stated that as we have not participated in this war, we cannot expect any consideration in the post-war period from people who he knows are going to be victors. Later on he more or less indicated that as we did not go into the war we may have to undergo a form of servitude, poverty and hardship. It is a very strange thing if, after what this war is being fought for, the belligerents on either side should have the right to impose hardship on people who do not see eye to eye with them. No matter what we design now it is not going to be effective post-war. There is then going to be a very serious situation in all countries. There is also going to be a long period of reconstruction, not only in the countries directly affected by the war, but by its impact. In that period of reconstruction we all hope that there will be a new and a better outlook abroad. We heard over the radio last night the announcement of a super-Beveridge plan for the United States of America. A Beveridge plan has also been proposed for Great Britain. All kinds of new orders of life are being proposed by the different Governments and by the different dictators. We should concern ourselves in trying to design a form of life for this country which would ensure decent standards of living for our people as far as our resources and our ingenuity will permit.
Deputy Dillon said that we will have to face that situation. The majority of the people and the majority of Deputies approve of setting a headline as high as possible which will supply  this country's needs and do the greatest good. Deputy Dillon talked of selling our surplus production to a willing buyer. What price are we getting at present for our goods from the willing buyer? There is no certainty about the price we will get at any time. We have seen that attempts were made to provide employment by the establishment of new industries. These industries have had to face very hard times because of the emergency and the scarcity of raw materials. Deputy Dillon made ridiculous statements about a crowd of vultures coming here from different countries, gorging themselves on the life blood of the nation and then clearing out. This Government tried, with the help of all sections in this House, to devise ways and means of controlling industries and to make them permanent features of our national life. We have now reached a stage where it is recognised that services rendered, if you like, by private institutions become almost social services, and that they are controlled when not actually taken over by the State. That is what we hope for. We do not know what form of government will succeed the present system. Since the management of our affairs has been under native control the tendency has been to try to regulate them for the greater good of the majority of the people.
I welcome the contribution of Deputy Hickey to this debate. I was very much impressed by it. I am convinced that there was no electioneering, no flamboyancy, no histrionics and no hysterics about his remarks, but that they came from one who knew the facts and faced them. He knew the circumstances that arose in the case of certain orphans. We all hope that the Government will be able to find ways and means of dealing with such cases. To undertake some of the public work to which Deputy Dillon referred would require supplies of raw materials which he admits might not now be available. There are works on which people could be employed, but there is the question of how they are to be recouped. On the one hand the Deputy wants to have all the money  that can be borrowed spent on the creation of new assets, yet the Deputy's plans suggest doing certain work which could not be regarded as assets. Very few items of Government expenditure can be regarded as assets that are likely to be reproductive or to give a return for the expenditure. I was very pleased when the Minister in his Budget on a former occasion introduced a provision granting vouchers to provide a certain minimum quantity of food for the poor, rather than giving a small increase in the shape of money to meet the increased cost of living. I hope the Minister will bear that matter in mind in the coming Budget and that we will have a further development of that experiment as part of our national life. I regret that such a thing is necessary, but while the emergency lasts, while we cannot make a normal approach to the solving of certain of our problems, I suggest that the Minister, rather than thinking in terms of shillings and half-crowns and so on in connection with the very poor or persons who are wholly dependent upon State assistance, should see whether certain additions cannot be made to these substitutes for money.
We should recognise that we have this situation. With the one exception of Deputy Dillon, I think we are all agreed as to the necessity for the preservation of neutrality. In the maintaining of our neutrality Deputy Dillon said—I think this is a fair interpretation of what he said—that bombs might not be the worst thing that could happen to us. Whether he means to convey that by way of a threat I do not know. So far as I am personally concerned, I have a fair appreciation of hardships, difficulties and causes that make me personally have certain views. But, allowing for all these things, judging this matter from the point of view of what is best in the national interests, I say that there is no other course open to the Government or to the country except a policy of neutrality, preserving that neutrality as long as we can, and keeping our man power organised in case an invasion might be tried. Our best security is to see that a certain amount of  money is spent on securing the preservation of that neutrality.
I could go into certain matters in more detail, but I do not wish to do so. I feel that, because of that decision, we have to realise that we cannot have everything as we would wish. We cannot have all the advantages of being neutral and none of the disadvantages. It is up to us to try to see how best we can meet the immediate needs of our people; how best we can try to visualise the post-war situation as it may develop from day to day. When the post-war situation comes, once we know what the future is likely to be so far as we are concerned, then let us try to find ways and means of improving on what has been done in the past.
Mr. Dockrell: Some of the previous speakers seemed to suggest that they would like a very, great measure of Government interference in certain directions. I should like to point out to the Government some of the results of their regulations in regard to certain industries and to suggest to them that there ought to be a greater measure of discrimination and intelligent anticipation. In considering the Estimates put before us we have to look upon them as a very big business problem. In connection with this Budget of £40,000,000, the Minister is just as well aware as I am that when the Budget was half that amount he and his colleagues suggested that it was too much. I suggest that when we have got a Budget of over £40,000,000 we have neither got efficiency nor economy. As a passing instance of what I would call economy gone mad I should like to refer to a question I put yesterday about the settlement of a claim by the Land Commission. An unfortunate claimant —I do not suppose he is unique— happens to be kept out of his money for over six years. There must be a very trifling amount of work involved in dealing with that claim and yet the Minister when replying pleaded shortage of staff. I see from the Estimate for the Department of Supplies that certain officials have been transferred from the Land Commission to that  Department. I suggest that there is no economy in transferring officials from a Department where they are efficient at their job and leaving work undone there. Everybody knows that when a person is transferred to another Department his efficiency drops. When officials are taken away from the work they do in their own Department and put into another Department they are not half as efficient. I suggest that there is no economy in taking people out of a Department and leaving a whole lot of work that will have to be cleared up in the post-war period. That is economy gone mad.
There is another matter to which I should like to refer merely in passing. Why is it that as soon as a concern passes under the control of the Government it seems to get into Government methods? Yesterday I asked the Minister for Agriculture what were the latest accounts presented to the Government by the Dairy Disposals Board. He told me that the latest accounts were for the calendar year 1941. I suppose that means up to the 31st December, 1941. I suggest that there are very few industrial concerns in this country which close their accounts up to the end of December that have not presented a balance sheet up to December, 1942. Why is it that the minute a concern comes under Government control it must get about a year behind a commercial concern? The Minister suggested to me that I could get some particulars in reference to that board in the report of the Public Accounts Committee. I suggest to the Government that these were supplied because members had called for explanations, not because the information was voluntarily presented to the House.
Expressed in its simplest terms, it seems to me that one of the principal things we are suffering from at present is the aftermath of the economic war and certain phobias from which the Government suffer. I think I am right in saying that no Minister has paid a visit—certainly not in recent times— either to Belfast or to London with a view to arranging for co-operation. I think when the Government have been  twitted with that in this House they said: “Have we not a High Commissioner in London? The officials are in constant communication.” I would like to suggest that, there are only a few countries with which we can have any dealings—Northern Ireland, Great Britain and America. I say that Ministers have never paid a visit, or certainly not in recent times, to Belfast or London with a view to trying to improve our trade relations.
There is one way in which one can judge as to how America thinks of this country at the present time. There is to be a conference in regard to post-war problems. I do not know whether the Government have received an invitation from America or whether they wish to participate but, in my opinion, it is only part of the policy of “no co-operation.” I would like to suggest to the Government quite frankly that what they are afraid of is that if they go near a Minister for Northern Ireland or somebody in England, they will come back with a declaration of war in their pocket. I think the Government ought to face up to that situation and get rid of the phobias of the past. Remember, this country cannot continue indefinitely in the way we are going. For instance, iron in prewar days cost about £12 a ton; it is now £20 a ton. How long will we stick that?
I read in the paper the other day a report of a speech of a Minister in which he said the Government had a plan for dealing with the post-war situation. If they have a plan it ought to be communicated to industry. Remember, it takes more than the Government to make a plan. No matter how perfectly the Government may draw up a plan, it will have to see the light of day some time and then it will be for the people who are co-operating with them to try to work it. I hope their plan is not like the plan that was promised in posters at a previous election. The posters said: “Fianna Fáil has a plan.” I hope we are going to see what the plan is, for this reason, that this country is denuded of supplies. The Government will say that is not their fault. It may not be their  fault but I am afraid they cannot entirely divest themselves of blame for some of the shortages.
Industry at the present time is sewn up in a sack. It cannot move hand or foot. What is the present policy of the Government? If any person sees a prospect of getting supplies what must he do? He must go to the Government Department with an invoice. I do them the justice of saying that they are immediately prepared to issue a free import licence. They will say: “You are very good to have got that from China, or wherever you have got it. Here is a free import licence for you; you can bring it in free of duty.” You cannot conduct negotiations with people in other countries along those lines. At the present time what does one find happening amongst the commercial community? If you walk into a shop where you want supplies, they probably take a quick look at you and ask: “Are you a regular customer here? I do not seem to know your face,” and you are told: “We have no supplies.” If you are a regular customer, probably some small supply is produced. The position is the same in purchasing goods or raw materials. People in other countries want to know what the policy is. They want to know if this is one single isolated transaction on the part of this manufacturer or is it a basis of a goodwill policy. That is, I suggest, where the co-operation of the Government is required in dealing with our only sources of supply.
There is another aspect of the situation. We all know that the finished product of one industry is the raw material of another but, without quibbling along those lines, nobody knows whether raw materials or finished products are going to arrive in this country first. The Government cannot be expected to solve that problem, and I suppose they would say—and very properly say—that they are anxious to protect a number of native manufacturers but the state of affairs in which, as I have said, industry is sewn up in a sack, will be worse in post-war conditions. Even if the Government guess wrongly, if they allow in finished products and if they  come in first, the country will get going quicker than if the Government kept a strangle-hold on imports and dole out the stuff when large quantities are required to start industry going.
The Government may say it is not their fault that there is a war on, or that there is a shortage of supplies. That is perfectly true, but I shall tell you where I would like to suggest to the Government that they went wrong, and why the country has had to pay dearly for it. There was a period just before the war when most intelligent people guessed that either a war, or a very tense situation, was coming, and those people thought that they ought to lay in supplies. Where supplies could be brought in, there were conversations with the Government. I heard of one industry where there was a suggestion that the cost of materials had gone up, and the heads of that industry asked, if the war situation blew over, would they be allowed to calculate as their cost what they had paid for the materials. I think they were told by the Government that as the price of the raw materials fell, so they would have to reduce their price. I think that had a fairly bad effect on the accumulation of goods in that particular line.
There is another aspect of that matter. There were quotas issued, and those quotas were designed so that the native manufacturer could be protected. In a number of instances the rate of production of the native manufacturer, while it might have been adequate for a peace situation, was totally inadequate to supply a country that was trying to stock-up because of a shortage of supplies. Tariffs also militated very much against the supply of goods to this country. There were tariffs on certain goods. I think the tariffs were taken off the goods just after most of the available sources of supply had dried up. We all know that shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, when the British were most anxious to keep up their export trade, supplies could have been purchased, and were purchased, in large quantities. But I do not think the Government had sufficient foresight and knowledge, and by  reason of quotas and keeping on tariffs they handicapped very seriously the supplies of commodities coming into this country.
I suppose it is no good crying over spilt milk. What we have to consider is whether the Government are going to let industries get on their feet as quickly as possible after the cessation of hostilities. I do not know whether I am a super-optimist, but I think the danger of invasion of this country has lessened. I think we are definitely passing into a period when, while we will have to carry on as we are for the present, the Government might, with advantage, produce their plan for dealing with the post-war situation, at least in so far as allowing owners of industries to make inquiries for the raw materials they will want the minute hostilities have ceased, and to tell the people from whom they are going to get those supplies something about the prospects of repeated orders.
Mr. Norton: The House is being asked by the Government to pass a Vote on Account which is approximately one-third of the annual amount required to carry on the Supply Services of the country. The total bill in that respect exceeds £40,000,000. When one remembers that the Estimates make no provision for the financing of the Central Fund services, one will then realise that the amount we are being asked to pass is approximately £45,000,000. I think that is the largest bill that has been presented to the House by this Government during the past 11 years and it is, perhaps with one exception, the largest bill presented to this House in the past 21 years. I am not so much worried about the size of the bill, because Supply Services or Central Fund services are all relative things.
In a country where the national income is high, where the national income per head of the population is substantially higher than it is here, a bill of this kind would not be a very serious drain on the resources of the people, nor would it make a very heavy demand upon the productivity of the country. What we are faced  with to-day is this, that the bill which is being presented to us represents a very substantial portion of the national income and, to the extent that this bill is a demand on the national income, there is less of that income available for the personal benefit of those who help to produce it.
Even if the bill represents a substantial portion of the national income, that fact again, in itself, is not wholly dangerous. It seems to me that the real danger arising from this expenditure is that the demand is made at a time when, in fact, the national income is tending to get lower than at any previous period. Not only has the national income fallen, but, so far as one can see into the future, that income, having regard to our wealth-producing capabilities, will tend to diminish still further. We are, therefore, in this position, that we are making a heavy demand upon the taxpayers in the form of this Vote on Account, and we are making that demand at a time when the national resources are lessening and at a time when, because of our inability to plan our national life in a comprehensive and efficient way, we are spending approximately £8,000,000 on services which, in effect, are just injections of charity for the people in the form of unemployment insurance, unemployment assistance, home assistance, maintenance in hospitals due to malnutrition, workhouses and schemes covering social services of that kind. Not a single one of these services is a substitute for a decent wage. At the worst they are danger signals because they represent such an unhealthy economic condition that it is necessary for the State to make provision for the destitution which is the inevitable outcome of an unplanned national economy. The multiplication of workhouses and of hospitals, the giving of unemployment assistance, of home assistance and of national health insurance benefits, is all due to the fact that the recipients are unable to get normal employment in industry or agriculture. We have, therefore, to sustain them when they are idle, and  when, through under-nourishment when employed, they are unable to stick the pace which industry and agriculture demand.
It seems to me that all this has its roots in three big problems. The first is unemployment which, when left unsolved, radiates in all directions. Secondly, we have the problem of under-employment, one which is particularly acute in this country, and, thirdly, the problem of a low standard of living among many of our people, not merely in the cities and towns but particularly in certain rural areas. It seems to me that, unless we can bend our energies and enthusiasm to compel a solution of these problems, we are going to have in perpetuity all the evils, miseries and privations which have been with us for too long a period.
I do not want to go economic ghost hunting. I do not want, for instance, to inquire where is the famous Fianna Fáil plan under which all our folk were going to be put into employment and under which the Atlantic Ocean was to be studded with ships to bring back the emigrants. Neither am I going to be inquisitive by asking where the Minister for the Co-Ordination of Defensive Measures found employment for those 80,000 people whom, as he said at Dundalk, we should be glad to have at the work that Fianna Fáil was going to make available for them. I do not want to indulge in any excessive curiosity in these realms to-night. I want to review the position without desiring to make either an election speech or a Party speech on this merely by looking at the economic facts as I see them. The net result of the application of the Government's energies, or what has been masquerading as the Government's energies during the last 11 years, has been this: that although the plan was to put everybody who was idle in this country into work, and at a kind of work that envisaged prosperity, the fact remains that during the past two years, notwithstanding the fact that 100,000 people have gone to Great Britain and the Six Counties in that period and that another 30,000 have been absorbed into the Army during the past three or three and a half years, we still have,  the plan notwithstanding, approximately 90,000 persons registered at the employment exchanges and thousands of others unemployed who do not register because of the distances which they would have to go to sign for the miserable pittances payable under the means test regulation.
That is a very serious situation. If this were some mammoth State capable of immense, technical, industrial and commercial expansion, one could afford to look with equanimity on a situation where you have 90,000 people idle after exporting 100,000 who could not get a living here, although promised it by this Government when it was seeking power. Where you have a small State of less than 3,000,000 people in which the national income is not only low but tending to fall still further, the position of having 90,000 persons unemployed, according to the Government's own figures, in spite of the fact that we have exported 100,000 people and absorbed another 30,000 into the Army, betokens grave economic chaos. Such a situation at this period of our national life, and in the circumstances in which we are compelled to live to-day with the flames of war raging all around us, demands some indication from the Government that they are prepared to deal with those problems by methods different from those which have been followed up to the present.
I regard unemployment in an undeveloped country like this as the greatest possible source of waste. Idle men and women must be fed, clothed and housed, and that can only be done by taking from the working section of the community something which it creates for itself. If you are going to tolerate a continuance of a state of affairs in which you will always have 100,000 persons idle with a low and a falling national income, then you may rest assured of one certainty, and that is that those who work in the country, low though the national income will be, will inevitably have to sustain the 100,000 persons whom the State allows to remain in a condition of involuntary idleness. Any solution of our basic economic problems must necessarily  embrace this question of unemployment.
I refuse to believe that it is our conception of Irish life that our unemployed people should be condemned to go to the employment exchanges, to the work houses or to the emigrant ship in order to fulfil such conceptions of human dignity as we have had. I realise, of course, that in the circumstances under which we are living it may not be possible to apply, in 1943, to the solution of the unemployment problem the remedies which were available to us in the years of peace, due, in the main, to the fact that whilst we had adequate notice of the danger of war and an abundance of sterling assets to purchase raw materials and ships while they were being offered for sale all over the world, we failed to take advantage of those opportunities. Because of that we necessarily have lost many of the opportunities which ought to be available to us now of taking steps to solve our unemployment problem. As Deputy Dockrell pointed out; by repatriating our sterling assets, we could have bought ships in abundance, we could have bought raw materials in abundance in 1938 and 1939 all over the world, and in France up to 1940, but the Government took no steps whatever to utilise our excellent creditor external position for the purpose of importing the commodities which we then so badly needed. It is because the abundance of opportunities then available were lost that we have to be more circumspect now in our application of remedies to the unemployment problem. Notwithstanding the handicaps under which we are suffering, because of the Government's inertia in the years 1938 to 1940, I believe there are still schemes of work which if attempted by the Government, would provide employment for a substantial number of our people, schemes of work which are a thousand times more preferable, no matter what their cost, than the involuntary idleness disclosed in the employment exchange figures, and the destitution that goes hand-in-hand with the appallingly low rate of benefit provided for those who satisfy the  rigorous test of the labour exchanges that they are genuinely unemployed.
We have in this country to-day a very serious afforestation problem. Probably ours is the most timber-denuded country in Europe. Even in some Pacific islands you would get a greater tree density than you get in this country to-day. At all events, compared with our European neighbours, we are the most tree-denuded country in Europe. Even after 21 years of self-government, very little has been done in the way of providing employment on large-scale schemes of afforestation. I know the story which the experts will tell you. They will tell you the difficulties that confront you in carrying out large-scale schemes of afforestation. But we, on these benches, refuse to believe that our land has been inoculated by some kind of virus which prevents its growing trees while other countries in Europe can grow trees to an increasing extent. I believe the opinions of the experts are as nothing compared with the vital necessity of finding employment for our people, and one of the best schemes on which we could afford employment would be large scale afforestation schemes throughout the country. That could be done if we took good care to ensure that the punctilio represented by impediments in Land Acts was not allowed to stand in the way of the desirability of afforesting the country on the one hand and, by doing that, providing regular employment for thousands of our workers on the other hand.
Deputy Dillon has referred to the necessity for drainage. I assume he means land reclamation as well. If it pays a country like Holland where the land is 60 and 80 feet under the sea level to carry out extensive schemes of land reclamation, surely it ought to pay a country such as this to engage in such schemes? A few arterial drainage schemes have been introduced in the last 21 years, but no serious effort has been made to engage in a scheme of national drainage or national land reclamation. Even though it may be said that in normal times schemes of that kind  have not got the economic content of other schemes, at present we have not the choice of doing other schemes of greater economic and labour content. We are now driven to the position in which we must undertake for our unemployed people the best type of work we can provide for them, and at a time when we want to exploit our land to the fullest, it seems to me that land reclamation and drainage constitute schemes which would enrich the nation, create new permanent national assets and would be amply justified by the results.
We have in many parts of the country schools which are wretched dens, schools which blight children's lives, which dwarf children because of the appalling conditions in which it is sought to educate them. In a country where there is an abundance of building material, and where we are too poor to neglect education, it should be possible to utilise the present opportunity to put large numbers of people in employment in the erection of proper schools in which we could decently educate our children and equip them for the stern battle of life which will come when this emergency ends. In the realm of the erection of new hospitals, new houses and general improvements in towns throughout the country, a vast amount of work remains to be done. If the Government could only realise it, it is much more preferable that our unemployed people should be put to work on schemes of that kind rather than be exported to Britain, sending back here British financial vouchers which give the recipients of these vouchers a lien on our wealth and food which give the recipients do not produce—a situation which obviously must mean a policy of naked inflation so far as this country is concerned. These men and women, whom we send to Britain, find employment on credits issued by the British Government, credits which have no gold or metallic backing of any kind. credits which are backed only by implements of war which may be of no value whatever five years after this war ceases.
If Britain, Germany, Russia and  America can issue State credits and provide an abundance of work at high rates of wages for their people by such methods, how much more economic is it, how much more nationally sensible is it, for us to put our people into employment here financed by State credits, these credits in the end being backed by the creation of new capital assets in the form of afforestation, drainage, land reclamation, new hospitals, new schemes and decent schemes of housing for our people? Alone probably among any of the European nations, this Government clings to financial methods which give us the miserable results we see before us to-day.
It is not alone in the field of public utility schemes such as afforestation, drainage and the other items to which I have adverted, that we could provide employment for our people. We have here, happily, another asset which may well be, and in fact is, the envy of many other countries. We have 12,000,000 acres of arable land which is the finest land in Europe, possibly finer than any other land in Europe outside the Ukraine. We have no problems of dust bowls to contend with here. Agriculture employs approximately one half of our people. Every farm in this country is really an agricultural factory. If we have an industry employing approximately half our total population, an industry which gives them employment of a type indigenous to the soil, prudence and common sense demand that steps be taken to improve that industry in every way. Examination of agricultural statistics will show that our agricultural productivity has not risen in the past 30 years, that we have in fact a very stagnant agricultural position. While we may be growing more wheat now than formerly, there has been a corresponding loss of tillage in other directions. In present circumstances, obviously sensible economics demand that we should do everything in our power to intensify agricultural production and to provide more food for the people, more wealth for the country, and at the same time more employment for the population.
It seems to me to be a rather sad  commentary on the way in which we have exploited our agricultural position that even in this fourth year of the war there is still some doubt as to whether we shall have enough wheat to carry us over to the next harvest. Notwithstanding the fact that we have 12,000,000 acres of arable land, it is difficult at the present day to get milk in many parts of the country. People who have milk vouchers are not able to get milk because there is no milk to give them. It also seems strange that in the fourth year of the war there is not sufficient sugar in the country although we have a number of big factories capable of manufacturing all the sugar that we require. If there could be any greater indictment of the inert way in which we are applying our energies to the development of the potential wealth of the country, it is to be found by advertence to these facts, that after four years of war and with 12,000,000 acres of arable land at our disposal we are still short of agricultural produce, and that dairy produce is unobtainable in many areas throughout the country. I do not think we can remedy that situation unless by frankly recognising that the farmer, just the same as the industrial worker or an investor in industry, is entitled to a fair return for his labour or on his capital. There has been a good deal of commotion about paying 25/- a barrel for oats. Oats could not be got at 25/- per barrel. When the Irish farmer does not produce the oats, or sufficient oats, we have no hesitation whatever in importing 54,000 barrels of oats for which we pay the American farmer, between the price of oats and shipping costs, approximately 54/- a barrel. That means 54/- for American or Canadian oats landed in Dublin, but 24/- a barrel for the oats produced by Irish farmers.
Whether you like it or not, you must face up to the fact that, if you want to utilise the land to the fullest possible advantage, you must encourage the people who own the land to give the best that can be got, and that cannot be done while you pay low prices to farmers and pay such low wages to agricultural workers. They leave this  country in droves to try to get to Britain, where they will be paid decent wages, which are a passport for themselves, their wives and children to a better standard of living than they can know by growing produce on the land here. If you can absorb the thousands of unemployed workers into productive employment on schemes of national utility such as those I have indicated, and if you can exploit the fertility of the soil to such an extent as to produce more agricultural wealth and at the same time provide more employment, then inevitably you drive up the national income and make more wealth available for all our people. Just as in the case of a family that is wealthy, certain expenditure of a luxury kind can be afforded, so you drive up the national income by the creation of more wealth, through an intensification of the exploitation of our land and the production of new capital assets which enrich the national estate.
It is along those lines, and along those lines only, that you can hope for a substantial improvement in social services. Those services may be necessary here, to some extent, but so long as we are satisfied to allow the national income to fall and to carry a permanent army of 100,000 idle men and women and another army of periodically employed men and women, and so long as we allow a growing core of endemic poverty to eat into the economic fabric that we have, then I am afraid that inevitably there must be a low standard of social services, as there is not sufficient wealth production to maintain a high standard of social services. The new wealth created in the manner I have indicated would enable us to bear new social services, which would succour many of our people from the adversity which blows their way from time to time. Those who are sick, those who reach old age and those who are chronic invalids, might well find substantial help from the State by a scheme which would provide pensions for the sick and the chronic invalids, and decent pensions for old people.
We could, as is now being advocated by all Parties in the State, finance a  decent scheme of family allowances, which would constitute a redistribution of the national income, and help us to maintain not merely the large families but the family unit which, in our circumstances, must be our main hope for the preservation and development of our race.
Instead of planning along those lines, the Government appears to have exalted that Dickensian character, Wilkins Micawber. There seems to be no appreciation by the Government of the necessity to grapple with problems on vigorous lines, on new lines, and the whole policy seems to be: “We can do nothing; wait and see what happens.” You can wait too long in circumstances like these, and all the indications are that the Government is waiting too long before applying enthusiasm, energy and foresight to the solution of our problems. The present position of the mass of the people is utterly deplorable, and it could not, of course, be otherwise. According to the Minister for Industry and Commerce the cost of living has increased by 60 per cent. between 1939 and 1943, whilst the wages of workers and the incomes of those who are not precisely describable as workers, where they have increased at all, have increased by not more than 10 per cent.
If you have an economic situation in which prices rise by 60 per cent. whilst incomes rise by only 10 per cent. in actual and not real wages, then inevitably you have a situation in which the standard of living of the mass of the people is substantially depressed. The effect of the present increased prices in 1943, as compared with 1939, is that, if you want to buy what 20/- bought in 1939, you have to spend 31/7. If you take people whose wages were £1, 30/- and £2 per week, and apply that economic fact to their methods of living, the fact that they have to spend such a substantial additional sum shows the extent to which they are being hit by the rapid increase in the cost of living for the past four years. It must be obvious to the members of the Government that their price control policy has failed appallingly.
There appears to be no effective  control over prices, as is manifest by the fact that prices have increased on an average by 60 per cent. over the past four years. In fact, a whole lot of commodities has increased by much more. If one takes, for instance, a commodity like fuel, to say that it has increased by only 60 per cent. during the past four years is just to rave. The turf which is being sold in the City of Dublin to-day at 64/- is really equivalent to coal at £8 per ton and its quality is such that a decent horse would not lie down in it for bedding.
There is widespread indignation and bitterness at the manner in which the Government has failed to control prices. That bitterness is intensified by reason of the fact that the Government has been efficient in only one respect—in the unreasonable control of wages. Whilst they have permitted prices to rise with apparent impunity on the one hand, they have been maliciously efficient in keeping the wages of workers low, on the other hand. If the Government cannot control prices, I suggest that, in all decency, they must provide for the adjustment of wages and incomes to enable the people to purchase goods the prices of which have risen skywards. The present policy means telling people that the more they can be made prosperous, the more they must starve, that they will be wealthy so long as they can get the lowest possible wage. That is the way of life that will result inevitably from Government policy.
Those people who have to depend on social services, such as unemployment assistance, widows' and orphans' pensions, particularly the noncontributory pensions, and home assistance, are living in a sea of poverty. It is hard to imagine that, in a rural area, a woman whose husband is dead has to maintain herself and four children on a widows' and orphans' pension of 10/—5/- for herself, 2/- for the first child and 1/- for each of the other children.
To imagine that a woman of that kind can keep five persons—herself, an adult, and four children under 14 years —on 10/- a week is to do violence to all intelligent thought. When you consider  the situation of a person of that kind and then read Article 45 of the Constitution, in which we are told that the State will endeavour to enable people to provide for their domestic needs through their various occupations, you get an interesting sidelight on the uselessness of the Constitution in such a condition of poverty. Yet, this Government is drifting along gaily, quite unconcerned about the sufferings of people such as the woman to whom I have referred. I ask the Minister or any Fianna Fáil Deputy how they can expect, in 1943, with the cost-of-living index figure at 273 as compared with 100 in July, 1914, a woman to keep herself and four children on 10/- a week? If you cannot expect her to do so, obviously, the responsibility is upon the Government to remedy the situation.
If you take the position in respect of unemployment assistance in rural areas, you find that the maximum rate of payment is 14/- a week without vouchers. A man, his wife and six children are expected to live on 14/- a week. How can it be done? It may be said that there is no unemployment in the rural areas, but the official figures show that 90,000 persons are unemployed throughout the country. It passes my comprehension how the Government, knowing the rapid increase in the cost of living, knowing that the struggle for a living is sterner and keener than at any time for the past 25 years, can drift on, apparently indifferent to the sufferings of these people and do nothing to remedy their plight.
I do not grudge the expenditure on the Army in the present circumstances; far from it. But it is rather remarkable that when we can, in an emergency, find close on £9,000,000 for the Army we cannot raise money to relieve the plight of widows, orphans and unemployment assistance recipients who are suffering hardships such as the figures I have mentioned clearly demonstrate. The rates of benefit to which I have referred are maximum rates. They are rendered of less value by inquisitions in the form of means tests, applied by a vast army of people let loose on the country for the purpose  of interrogating those unfortunate applicants for benefit. In this connection, I have seen the most extraordinary estimates of income. I saw a case the other day where an old age pensioner, living in a labourer's cottage, with a half acre of land, had his net profit from the half acre—taking no account of the outoffices which this man had put up—estimated at £26. In other words, every acre of land in the country was estimated to yield a net profit of £52. The investigation officer who compiled profits on land at that rate ought immediately to be made a Minister for Agriculture. I have seen other cases in which these investigation officers had the most inordinate conception of the egg-laying capacity of hens—so much so that one would imagine they should be given jobs as super-poultry instructors, or, in any event, be snapped up and brought to the Agricultural College in Glasnevin to impart to the less learned poultry-keepers knowledge of the methods they employ to multiply the productivity of hens. It is means tests of that kind which are most irksome and most onerous so far as the applicants for this type of benefit are concerned. Bearing in mind the low rates of benefit which we pay to these people and the cost of investigating what fragmentary means they are supposed to have, I suggest to the Minister for Finance that he might well call off the inspectors, whose main function seems to be to squeeze out of these unfortunate people any type of information they are likely to part with in order to reduce the low rates to which they would be entitled under the Act if they had no means at all.
Reference has been made to the post-war period, and every Deputy has rightly stressed the importance of planning for the post-war period. The post-war period will not come when we so decide. We cannot afford to postpone the planning. The post-war period will be that following the laying down of arms by the belligerents, and the signing of the peace. That will be decided by others; we cannot decide it. Bearing in mind that we  shall have no voice whatever in determining when the post-war period will commence, prudence demands that we should arrange to plan for the post-war period now. In many other countries, new departments have been set up to plan for the difficulties which will be experienced in the post-war period. By providing for those difficulties, they hope to arrange for the switch from war to peace and for the orderly change from war-time productivity to peace-time pursuits. Are we doing anything of that kind here? Not a single Minister has indicated here what the Government hope to do in respect of the post-war period. Occasionally, at meetings of Fianna Fáil Cumainn in the city, the Minister for Supplies, who might now be called the Minister for Promises, tells us what the Government intends to do in the post-war period and what plans they have. I do not believe a single word the Minister for Supplies says in this regard. If I were ever tempted to believe it, the fact that he told us in 1938 that he was planning to insulate this country against the ravages of a probable war and that, in 1939, we discovered that he had done nothing except imitate Nero, would cure me of any desire to place faith in what the Minister for Supplies says.
Frankly, I do not believe that the Government is doing anything in the way of planning for the post-war period. I can see no evidence of that planning but I think it is vital that there should be planning and that it should commence at once. We may think that we can control the post-war period. We may think that, in the situation into which we shall be projected at the termination of the war, we shall be able to find a solution for our problems. But the problems may not be of our creation and they may not be of a kind that we shall be capable of mastering.
I suppose in the last four years close on 200,000 of our people must have gone to Britain and the Six Counties. A large number of them had been there already; they went there in a period prior to the last four years. We may have a strange situation developing  after the war. We may not have to send for those emigrants. We may not have to bring those emigrants back in ships. The British may well draft them back here. They may produce the ships for us, and say: “Here are your 250,000 emigrants. Thanks very much. They were very good men while they were here, but now you can take them back and look after them.” One day we may wake up and find all those emigrants in ships moored outside the harbours of the country, perhaps deported back here, or perhaps, because of conditions imposed on them in Britain, desirous of coming back. Have we any plan for dealing with that situation? Can anybody imagine what will happen in the post-war period when those 250,000 people suddenly make up their minds that, in view of the conditions in Britain, they will go back to Ireland, the land of their birth, claiming their heritage here, claiming their right to live here, claiming their right to be fed and clothed and housed here?
Has anybody contemplated the economic problem that is going to create? When they come back here, they will not have been accustomed to unemployment assistance payments. They will be expecting something more than the low wages paid to turf workers and agricultural workers here. They will come back, after five or six or ten years in England on £5 or £6 or £10 a week, and the first week they do not get that £5 or £6 or £10 here there will be trouble. When you tell them to go to the employment exchanges and put up with 14/- a week for themselves and their wives and five or six children, there will be more trouble. Obviously, that is a situation for which we ought to be planning a remedy. Has anybody thought about it? Has anybody any idea of what is to be done in circumstances of that kind? I think it is a very real danger, and a very serious problem. It is a problem to which the Government must apply itself. It is a problem which only the Government can solve, with the resources which are at the disposal of the Government, and not at the disposal of any other Party in the country.
 My complaint in the main is that the country is allowed to drift on in a rudderless fashion. There is no planning. No effort is being made to generate enthusiasm for a plan. Such plans as we hear about from time to time seem to have no objective. One cannot discover what the particular goal is under any plan which has been adumbrated from time to time. I think there is a rude awakening ahead of us. We cannot go on in this drifting fashion for ever. One day, on the termination of the war or perhaps before it, our people will have a rude awakening. They will realise that the peace-time methods which have given such appallingly bad results in the past were no remedy for the specially accentuated difficulties that have grown up owing to the war situation. The Government, if it likes, can continue along its present road. It can simply paddle along, keeping people on low rates of benefit, exporting our unemployed to Britain, paying a low standard of wages to those who are left behind, keeping agriculture in a depressed condition and failing fully to exploit our agricultural potentialities.
If it chooses to do that, it will find disillusionment and privation for our people at the end of the road. But the Government could even now take a new road, by putting our people to work on the creation of new assets for the nation, by intensifying agricultural productivity in the country, by giving the farmer a fixed price for his produce and requiring him in return to pay decent wages to his agricultural workers. A policy of that kind can be financed with much greater financial security here than in any country engaged in the war to-day, whether in Europe or in Asia. Even now, although we have lost much valuable time, I suggest to the Minister that, either on its own or in co-operation with minds which are willing to cooperate, the Government ought to insist upon planning our national life. In planning our national life, the aim ought to be to raise the standard of living of our people. We have, in short, a choice between two roads. We can go on drifting, with a low standard of living, with large-scale unemployment,  with endemic poverty in many places throughout the country, or we can take another road by utilising whatever resources we have to the full, financing the operations of our brains and our brawn on those resources by State credits, and by aiming at giving our people a decent standard of living, recognising that a decent standard of living for our people represents our best passport to prosperity.
Mr. Bennett: I do not want to speak lightly of £40,690,000, and, if we add certain other services to come, probably a total of £45,000,000 or £46,000,000, representing nearly £1,000,000 a week, or, if we accept the 66 to 1 ratio which was at one time propounded in this House, a sum proportionately as heavy as the burden borne at the moment by Great Britain, a country engaged in the world war. That is the bill with which we are presented—£15 or £16 per head of our population, £60 or £70 per family. We are supposed to consider that lightly, in a country which is mainly agricultural, and the net output per head of whose agricultural workers of every sort, including farmers and labourers, is estimated to be under £70 yearly.
The question is: are our people getting an adequate return for this immense expenditure, either in the manner in which our internal government is conducted and the provision of necessary supplies in the emergency, or in preparation for what I might term the post-war war that is to come, the fight in which all the countries of the world will be engaged in an attempt to expand their trade and exports? Looking through this Book of Estimates one is almost forced to the conclusion that some of the services here could be dropped altogether without imposing any loss on the country. Take, for instance, the Department of Supplies, which will cost the country £2,700,000 odd this year. If the work done by that Department had been entrusted, in the early days of 1938, to the regular business concerns which ordinarily provide for the necessaries we have to get from overseas, I venture to say that those business people —who had vision enough to anticipate the hostilities which were approaching and the difficulties with which they would be confronted in the matter of providing for imports—would have made a better job of it than the Department of Supplies has done, and that the resultant cost to the people of the commodities put at their disposal would not have been any greater than it is to-day. There would certainly have been more supplies in the country in the last two or three years. One could refer perhaps to other Departments in the same way.
What struck me most in connection with this Vote of £40,000,000 odd, in a country like this which is mainly agricultural, is the paucity of the sum devoted to agriculture. I have adverted to the post-war period. Have the Government, as Deputy Norton and other speakers asked, considered what the position is likely to be in this country after the emergency? Have they made any sort of investigation, or made any plan whatever to meet the situation that is likely to arise? If we are to continue as a solvent nation, and if we are not to take our headline from the Government—that we can live on ourselves and continue with the policy of self-sufficiency— then we shall have to deal with outside nations and shall have to have exports. Have the Government considered whether we shall have any exports when the war is over? I think that over 90 per cent. of our exports have been agricultural exports, and at the moment we are exporting no agricultural goods of any sort except cattle. Are the Government satisfied that we shall have any cattle to export when this emergency is over?
Deputies have referred to the difficulties under which our people labour at the moment in getting supplies of milk or butter. I want to put it as forcibly as I can to the Minister for Finance, and to the Government generally, that the reason there has been a limitation in the supplies of butter and milk, and indeed other agricultural products, is that dairying in this country—and dairying is the chief branch of agriculture here—is not  a paying proposition. At least, it was not a paying proposition until the emergency arose, and it produces very little profit now—certainly less profit for the farmer than if he were to use his land or his brains in any other kind of farming. In my own county, which is a dairying county, I am sorry to say that there is every tendency for people to get out of dairying.
In every paper one sees, one reads of whole herds of cows being put up for sale, and, on the other hand, where people are not selling out of cows completely, they are reducing their herds. I think that one could travel the length and breadth of my county and other dairying counties, and one would see very few large herds. Where, formerly, there would be as many as 20, 30 or 40 cows in a herd, there are now only very small herds, and the reason why the small herds continue to exist is that some of the small farmers have their own labour. Now, I have never contended —as was suggested, I think, by somebody here—that the small farmer has not as good a right to a fair profit as the man who is in a position to employ labour. Recently, I had in my hands a copy of the accounts of a particular farm over the last six, seven or eight years. It was a farm that was conducted in such a way as any member of the Government would wish it to be conducted. As far as was humanly possible, it provided the best herd, made all arrangements for cow-testing, and so on. The accounts of this particular farm were referred to the Revenue Commissioners, and it was found that in every year, until 1939, the farm showed a loss. There was a small profit in 1940, and a somewhat larger profit in the succeeding years, but there was never a sufficient profit to give the owner of that farm even the wage that one of his labourers received.
Under those conditions, is it likely that dairying is going to continue here? I warned the House 12 months ago that if certain things were not done immediately, we ran the risk of having not only no butter for export but not enough butter for the people of this country at the end of last year. There was an agitation at the time for a  higher price, to which the Minister did not give in, and I said that he would be forced to give the higher price before the end of the year and, if so, why not give it then? In fact, he was forced to give the higher price before the end of the year, when, perhaps, it was too late. I repeat the warning that, short as the products of the dairying industry are now, they will be shorter in the coming winter if definite action is not taken to make dairying a more profitable occupation for the people engaged in it.
I recognise the difficulties with which the Government are confronted, just as well as any Deputy in this House, but whatever the difficulties are, the question is so vital for the Government, for the House, and for the people of this country that it cannot be shelved, remembering, as we do, and as anybody who has any knowledge of the subject knows, that if dairying, as a part of the agricultural industry of this country, breaks down, then every other vestige of agricultural activities will break down also, and probably all the other industries in the country as well, because they all depend on agriculture in the end.
I refer again to the post-war period. If, as I said, we cannot exist in ourselves—and I think that very few will now say that we can—we have got to export in order to pay for the goods that we import or, as Deputy Dillon said, pay for them out of our accumulated reserves. Now, there will be a limit to what our accumulated reserves can stand, and eventually we will come to the point when we will have to pay for imports with our exports. Are we satisfied that we shall have anything to export at the end of this emergency? Deputy Hughes said to-day that the export of butter, milk, and other things might be difficult: that we shall have the competition of other countries. We shall have that competition. He said that there was nothing else left for us to export but cattle. I agree. The only thing that we have to export at present is cattle, but will we have the cattle to export when the war is over, if the dairying industry declines as rapidly as it is declining to-day? Remember, we cannot  produce cattle without a dairy cow, and, as we are now short of butter, milk, sugar, and other items of agricultural produce in this agricultural country, with which to supply our people, we may not be able, in a year or two, to provide more cattle than we need for human consumption in this country, and we may arrive at the position when even cattle will fail us as an export.
Until some Deputy or some group of Deputies or other people can find a substitute for our agricultural exports, then it is incumbent on the Government, on the Opposition, and on every Party in this House, to see that we are at least able, when the emergency ends, to continue in some way in the export market. As I think I have proved—and no Deputy can disagree with the statement—our main industry is agriculture. The main branch of the agricultural industry is dairying, and the production of practically all our exports forms some part of the dairying industry and it follows that unless we can in some manner preserve that industry, our whole economic structure breaks down.
I want the Government to consider, or to set up some body which will at once consider, in what way we can meet that situation, in what way this vital branch of agriculture can be kept going, because if the effort is not made now and if provision is not made for the post-war period, it will be too late, and, instead of having any agricultural produce, even cattle, to export, we shall probably have to resort to the export of certain sections of the population. The choice lies with the Government, and it is for them at once to consider the full portent of what faces them. I cannot do more than raise my voice in the matter here and elsewhere, but the matter is as important for every Deputy who represents an agricultural district, and, I might say, every Deputy representing a metropolitan district, as it is for me. I hope my appeal will get some consideration and that the Ministry will recognise the absolutely vital need for dealing with the situation.
Mr. Byrne (Junior): I wish merely to refer to two aspects of expenditure. The cheap fuel schemes which were recently introduced have proved a great boon to the people who make use of them, and I would suggest to the Minister that they are as much in need of the cheap fuel after 31st March as they were in the past few months. They will need a bit of turf and a bit of timber to make a fire to boil a kettle, and I ask the Minister to consider extending the scheme. I do not know whether there is sufficient money in the Estimates to operate the scheme during the whole year, but, if not, I ask the Minister to consider providing it: I notice in sub-head J (4) of Vote 41, in which there appears to be one branch of the scheme—“grants to local authorities towards the supply, during the winter, of fuel”—the words “during the winter” are used and I say again that that fuel is as necessary during the summer as during the winter.
The other matter to which I want to refer is that every little item proposed here which may cost a few pounds is opposed on the ground that we cannot afford an increase. When proposals are put forward in respect of such matters as unemployment assistance, unemployment insurance, decent allowances for the wives of soldiers— I could spend from now until half-past nine mentioning them— all these are met with the plea that we have no money and cannot afford increases. For the past 21 years, we have been spending millions on the furtherance of the Irish language in various ways, and I think the time has now arrived to take stock of the results of that expenditure. In practically every  page of the Book of Estimates, there is some provision designed to bolster up the Irish language.
I want to emphasise that I am not against the teaching of Irish, but I think it ought to take its proper place in the school programme and be put in the same position as the teaching of French, German, or other languages. Deputies have often referred here to the overcrowding, the under-staffing, and the bad heating of schools, and at a time when hungry pupils are attending schools which are overcrowded, under-staffed and badly heated, and when they have insufficient books, because their fathers or guardians have not sufficient money to buy all the books necessary, at a time when young toddlers have to undergo these hardships, we make them try to learn “through the medium.”
It is very hard for any one Deputy to get up here and talk in this strain, because the majority of the members are men who fought for Irish freedom, and one of the things they had in mind was, that when they got Irish freedom, as they did, they would move heaven and earth to further Irish culture.
I want Deputies seriously to consider the results, and to see how far we have succeeded. Should we not have a change of methods? My principal concern is the overcrowding of schools, understaffing, and the condition of the buildings. A terrible monster, as it appears to the minds of those concerned, is being forced on pupils who have to try to learn subjects through the medium of Irish. We have succeeded in lowering the standard of education and of general knowledge for an ideal. As we have illiteracy with us still to some extent, the efforts that have been made up to this have not succeeded. We have boys and girls leaving the schools whose vocabulary is very limited. Solicitors' apprentices are compelled to have a very high standard of Irish for their examinations, and as a result most of them state that they have to devote so much time to the study of Irish that they have not the opportunity of completing their legal studies. Scholarships that were competed for annually formerly have not  been awarded for some years past. Many apprentices state that the explanation is that they had to devote so much time to the study of Irish. I pointed out earlier that I am not opposed to the study of Irish, but that I want the subject to be put in its proper place. I do not want it to overshadow other subjects. A competent knowledge of Irish is prescribed for the legal examination of witnesses.
Mr. Byrne (Junior): Very well. I wish members of the Government would ask themselves what possible advantage has resulted from the present method. They might also ask themselves in how many jobs or professions Irish is required, or in how many jobs it will be required 20 years hence. I repeat that I am not against the teaching of Irish. I am against what I describe as the torture that little children have imposed upon them in learning it. Deputy O Briain stated yesterday that the revival of Irish was national policy. I ask when and where was any mandate given for having Irish thrust on school children? This is not the time to suggest that a referendum might be held to decide the question. Perhaps later on it might be a good idea if such a referendum was held. My concern in this matter is that we seem to be doing our best to throw away what will be our greatest asset in the future, a knowledge of the Anglo-American language. One of the greatest assets that any nation could have is a good knowledge of the Anglo-American language.
Mr. McGilligan: This particular Vote-on-Account is not exactly the end of the chapter, or of the Estimates on which it is based. When the Budget comes along, as no doubt it will, showing the same lack of imagination, lack of appreciation of growing new ideas, lack of appreciation of the difficulties the country is under, then it is hoped the last chapter will have been written. After that there will, probably, be the epilogue which, we hope, after a brief period to reach, and then we can  decide on a record over the last ten years of wasted opportunities, destroyed resources, expectations raised high only the better to dash them to the ground, and hopes so falsified that the country is, at the moment, in such depths of desolation as, since self-government came to this country, was never experienced. One wonders to see Ministers so completely lacking any appreciation of what is going on outside. It can only be put down to the habit they have acquired recently of shutting themselves up in what would seem to be the close seclusion that permanent officials have to live under.
They do not appear even to be listening to Deputies, or listening to what the people are saying. With regard to the present, most people feel that, bad and all as have been the mistakes up to date, considerable rectification might be made in regard to difficulties that some of the community suffer from, if only some attention was paid to their difficulties and some attempt made to make the burden lighter for the backs that have to bear it. These things are borne patiently; people have got used to tolerating quite a lot in the last two or three years, and they would bear them with still greater patience if they could only feel that by some members of the Government, or in some document they will bring forward in the Dáil, they will be shown something to give them hope for the future.
You can search through the Book of Estimates to the toll of £40,000,000 on the people of the country and you will find nothing new in it beyond, say, what was in the volume produced three years ago. Members of the Government do not seem to realise that in the greater world outside this country there are new ideas springing up; that a lot of old things that were regarded almost as idols that had to be worshipped in connection with finance, distribution, industrial activity and trade are being cast aside and, if they have not come to the point when they can put the new things in their place, at least new things are being sought for.
 So far as this record of expenditure of money is concerned, there does not appear to be any tendency to devote any great part of the money that is being taken from the people of the country to doing anything good for the future. People are not fools. They are not bothering so much about the present or the immediate past, but they are pondering on the future. Some of them are looking to it with anxiety, remembering the bitter worthless years some of them had in the past and wondering whether these will recur. The chief mood in the world and the chief mood among a great many of the people of this country is not so much anxiety, but expectation. They are hoping that something better will come out of the present situation. When they look outside this country they can read many speeches and pamphlets and programmes upon which they can found that expectation. But they will get very few here. I suppose one of the things said about the present war, when people turn to a comparison between the present day and the war of 1914-18, is that never in the whole history of the world were human resources under better control by the people who are in control, that the war has at least brought this about, that there has been amazing progress made along certain lines of development and, if the war were to end to-morrow, we would find ourselves, so far as transport, materials for house building, and other things are concerned, well into a period which we would only reach in the 60's if it had not been that the impetus of war drove people forward on the road to betterment. People are looking to those in control, who boast that the controls are better than ever in the history of the world before, not to relax their grip and allow a period of despondency to occur at the end of this war as it did in the years after the last war.
Who in this country shows any appreciation of the kind of control that can be used and turned to better purposes? It is bad enough to think of the mess we are in at the moment. What have Ministers to offer for the future? One of the Ministers sitting  opposite me told an audience in University College, Dublin, that after the war it was likely we would have to look forward to a period when the live stock industry as such would have, if not ceased, certainly diminished very much in volume. The Minister for Agriculture told a Cork audience that we could not compete after the war in certain types of agricultural exports, and he picked out for special eminence in that way dairy products. We all know that a couple of years ago the Minister for Supplies told us in this House that we had got to the point then that there was no good in either himself or any other Minister travelling across the Channel to England, because we had no assets with which to bargain; we had no bargaining power. The Minister for Supplies' attitude was that live stock was our only asset, and that is the asset which the Minister facing me now thinks will disappear either completely or to a large extent after the war. That is the post-war future that is held out by the members of the present Government, if they are allowed to be in control of things at the end of the war.
Quite recently at another university meeting, the Minister for Supplies was asked to pass comment on some schemes for social security that we hear talked of outside this country. He laughed at the idea of any of these being introduced here and said we had to consider that the wealth produced in this country per man in agriculture was only some £69 per annum, and in industry was about £168. He regarded that as static. There was to be no increase in that. Whatever was produced in the way of wealth per head in 1937—that was the year taken—our situation will be much worse at the end of the war, so far as these Ministers are concerned.
Recently in a book I was reading my attention was drawn to the fact that it was just about 100 years ago when a movement was set on foot in England to put an end to child labour in factories and mines. It took an exposure of the terrible conditions under which children from six to 12 were operating in these factories and  mines to bring about a revulsion of feeling that led after some difficulty to the abolition of such employment in England: Those objecting were the conservative type of people that we have here ensconced in the Government at this very moment. They pleaded that it was only by the use of that cheap labour they could get anything in the nature of national wealth and great productivity. There were marginal returns, and if child labour was not allowed, then English industry would collapse. Child labour was done away with about 100 years ago.
Then a movement was started to cut down the ordinary hours of work in the week, and they ran to well over 60 in those days. It was pleaded again that, if the five-hour margin were taken off, English industry must collapse, because that represented the profit; everything else was only meeting the cost of production. But the hours were cut down and industry still went on. Later there came a movement to compensate workers who might meet with accidents in the course of their employment. Again the conservative mind rose to the occasion. It was pleaded that, if industry had to meet the expense of compensating the unfortunates who fell by the way owing to some accident not caused by themselves, the cost would be so great that it would cripple industry. That view held sway for a bit. But again it was got over and again industry flourished. There were other smaller movements, these being the three big ones. When an effort was made to do away with casual labour in certain trades, particularly amongst dock labourers, again the same outcry went up, that if the small remnant given to people in the way of profits was taken away there was no hope for them and English industry would collapse.
We had that mind operating from about the time that Napoleon ravished the Continent. We have that mind here now. The Minister for Supplies, who is regarded as the most progressive mind amongst the Government, laughed to scorn the idea of any plan of social security in this country, because our output of wealth per person  is only £69 in agriculture and £168 in industry, and he apparently regards that as static, that there can be no improvement on it. Apparently he does not recognise the mood that prevails elsewhere, the mood that certainly prevails in the country with which hereafter we will have to do our trade. We must live up to it, and if we cannot live up to it, we will find our producers leaving us and swarming to the other side even in greater numbers than during the emergency.
If the Minister reads anything, he can hardly fail to come across amongst so many of the plans some plan which founds itself not upon static production as it is founded at the particular moment but upon some increase in production in the world. The hopes certainly of the main publicists in England and in America are founded upon getting an increase in productivity far beyond anything that has been thought of up to the present and men of all minds, men of all types of politics, Conservatives, Liberals and Labour, churchmen and laity, men who have been dyed deep in the traditions of old-time industry in England, are freeing themselves from all the old stagnant views that were held and are trying to get a movement towards betterment while, I suppose, we can sit here quietly and say cynically that all these movements are doomed to failure. But, whether they are or not; we are taking no part in them; we are going to remain here with a community producing per man in agriculture £69 and in industry £168; we have to build whatever our little house is on that foundation, but we cannot build that foundation any better or any greater than it is at the moment.
I saw recently a letter chiding certain politicians who in this country would be regarded as advanced but who in England were being chided for being conservative on certain points. The gist of the letter was that apparently the view still prevailed in certain circles in England that wealth depended upon the symbols of wealth, upon fittings, and did not depend upon resources and the use of  resources. Resources, as they were very briefly described in that letter, amounted to the men, materials and machinery that any country had or could supply itself with. The man who gave that concise description of what wealth amounted to did not know this country but he took for granted that in his own country there was some capacity to handle either men or machinery or materials—a thing in which we are sadly lacking as far as the Government here are concerned.
In any event, that is the point upon which the whole letter went, and it is the point upon which many men are founding themselves both in England and America at this present moment— namely, that there are resources that the community has, and those, if properly handled, can be made to produce a still greater amount of wealth, and that that wealth is not to be measured by what is static productivity at any time. We learn nothing from that. We are simply in the stage where the post-war period is going to be sadder, productive of even more destitution than what we have lived through, because our live stock exports are going to decrease, if they do not disappear entirely; as far as dairy products are concerned, we cannot live in competition with people from far-off Australia and New Zealand; and we are at the point now and apparently going to remain at the point where we have no bargaining capacity with the other side, no assets with which to trade.
That being the situation that faces us, we are presented with a bill for £40,000,000 and another £5,000,000 to be added when the Central Fund services come to be considered. What is the £45,000,000 expenditure for? The point has been stressed too often to need repetition—to enable so many people to go across the Channel looking for work that they cannot get here, to enable a certain other number of people to get some sort of sustenance in an army which will not be needed in a couple of years, to get a certain number of others kept as a hard core of unemployed 90,000 strong, to get conditions of under-employment along the farms and conditions of a very peculiar type of employment here and  there in some of the new industrial growths around the city.
For all that, if you please, with a diminishing national income and with diminishing productivity, the country is asked to pay about £5,000,000 more than what is provided in this Book of Estimates. £45,000,000 for what? For a future that is as bleak as anybody could well imagine. Certainly for no hope, for no expectancy, but for greater destitution than we have at the present moment because that bill, piled up on what the country has already had to bear, will drive out of production some of the few still left in it. Then, again, the emigrants, will go and the roll of the unemployed will increase and the number of people who are under-fed and partially destitute will also increase and the year after we will be presented with a still bigger bill because they will require a little more in the way of doles, helps and sustenance.
People here would be glad to see £45,000,000 and £50,000,000 asked for from the people of the country if the Ministers could point to any items in the Estimates and say: “That is £10,000,000 more than last year but it is going into production and, even if it is only five years hence, we will see some return for it.” People are looking to the future, not any longer with the expectancy that is outside but in timidity because they know that as long as the present régime lasts that type of crushing expenditure will go on without any hope of increased productivity in the future.
Minister for Finance (Mr. O Ceallaigh): Deputy McGilligan is a past master in destructive criticism. We  are well used to his eloquence in that direction in this House but, for constructive or helpful criticism of any kind, we need not look to him. We need not look to him for any suggestion that would put one of the unemployed that he speaks about, or one of the emigrants that have gone, unfortunately, from us any time in recent years, to work at remunerative wages at home. We need not look to him for any suggestion as to how the position of the workers that he mouths so much about and has sympathy for now, for whom he did nothing when he was for five years Minister for Industry and Commerce, is to be relieved or how their social conditions are to be improved. Not a constructive suggestion of any kind has he to offer to us as to how we can improve the lot of one of those impoverished people that he speaks about. Gibes and jeers in plenty, but not a suggestion, in these difficult times, when suggestions would be welcomed by me and by anybody else on these benches, as to how the trying times that we have gone through since the emergency started, and that we will have to face for another period, long or short, are to be met and passed through with least hardship to our people. He talked about the dismal speeches of some Ministers recently. I never listened to more discouraging speeches than those of the main Opposition Party and some of the Labour members—not many of them spoke—during this debate. Dismal Jimmies, every one of them, and Deputy McGilligan one of the worst. There was not a sign of hope, not a gleam of sunshine anywhere. Thanks be to God, we do not feel a bit like them—not a bit.
This country has gone through many trials, through troublesome, difficult and dangerous times, even in the last quarter of a century, and it has surmounted them all. What it has done in more difficult and dangerous times it can do again, and it will do it this time. In the coming years, under prudent and courageous leaders, it will surmount all difficulties. The nation will be headed by the same men who headed it during the past 11 years.  For at least five years, if I am not mistaken, Deputy McGilligan was Minister for Industry and Commerce. We have heard him talking about the lot of the workers and the various social services that should be introduced here. Something similar was discussed in England, but no legislation was introduced. The Deputy asked why are we not to have that in this country— why is there no hope for the social amelioration of the working classes here, such as is held out in other places. I should like to know if there was a single piece of social legislation of any kind introduced by Deputy McGilligan for the benefit of the workers when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce.
Compare what he has done with the record of the man he was criticising. I suggest that there is not a Minister for Industry and Commerce anywhere in Europe who has introduced, and who has succeeded in passing into the law of the land, more social legislation for the benefit of the working classes than has the present Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Lemass. Deputy McGilligan, when he was Minister, did not introduce one piece of social legislation which could now stand to his credit. He cannot deny that. There is not a man in this country who has won greater respect, and who receives greater respect—I might say almost affection—from the workers of the City of Dublin, from the trade unionists of the City of Dublin, who are the best judges, than has Deputy Lemass, Minister for Industry and Commerce. I challenge Deputy McGilligan or any of his colleagues to claim anything approaching that.
The workers know the man who has done so much to improve their status in life and to make their conditions of service more secure. The trade unionists have not shown much appreciation of Deputy McGilligan's efforts on their behalf when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce, but on many occasions they have shown their appreciation of what Deputy Lemass has done for them through their votes in his constituency. They elected him  as their representative and they will elect him again.
There have been remarkable differences of opinion among Deputies, even among the members of the main Opposition Party, as to what they want. That was evident from the discussions on the Vote on Account and the Book of Estimates. On one side we have the claim that the country is being ruined, that the country will be sunk financially because it is being asked to provide £13,800,000 in this Vote on Account and £40,600,000 in the Book of Estimates. Deputies sitting side by side with those who make that claim of extravagance and maladministration, clamour for greater expenditure. Is there any unity of thought among the members of the Opposition? Is there anything that they can agree on politically? They have not shown much sign in the past two days, any more than they did in the past few months, of agreement on any line of political policy.
I do not object in the least to people underlining the fact that we are asking for a huge sum of money. That is quite true. The Book of Estimates asks for well over £40,000,000 and, as Deputy McGilligan and others have reminded us, that is not the whole bill. There is a Central Fund Bill to come along later. But very few Deputies have mentioned the fact that that very big sum of money is being asked for mainly because we are going through an emergency. It may be claimed, with truth, that if we take out the Defence item and other items that arise by reason of the emergency, there could be a big reduction in the amount asked for. It might not be so very wise at the moment to carry out such a suggestion. It might be wiser, and it might be the best thing for the country, that the sum we are asking should be largely increased.
If we were to take out of the Book of Estimates all the items for the various Departments that we are obliged to ask for because of the emergency, I agree that the sum required would then be very considerably reduced. But it is worth considering whether such a course would be a prudent one at this juncture. We must  remember that we are going through a period of emergency and it should be obvious to Deputies that any Government would have to ask for such items as appear in the Estimates under such conditions, yet not 1 per cent. of those who spoke dwelt on that aspect.
Deputy O'Higgins started off by comparing the amount asked for this year with the amount asked for in 1932-33, the year when this Government came into office. The amount asked for in March, 1932, Deputy O'Higgins reminded us, was only £21,969,000, not quite £22,000,000. He said that in 11 years this Government almost doubled the amount the country was asked to pay in 1932. The people are entitled to know how the increase of £18,735,000 was brought about—what was responsible for it. It is an enormous increase —nearly £19,000,000. I will give the House some details in order to account for the difference. The estimated cost of the Army in 1931-32 was £1,318,000, in round figures, and the Estimate this year is £8,507,000, a difference of well over £7,000,000. That is a very big sum of money. To be accurate there should be other sums, comparatively small, added to it. To get the proper figure for Defence, the cost of the Security Force should be, added. At any rate, let us take the £7,000,000 as the difference there. The next item— the cost of the Department of Supplies —is for a purely emergency service. That Department did not exist a couple of years ago. The cost of it for the coming year is, in round figures, £2,731,000, and, of that, £1,580,000 is to be expended on food subsidies, and £380,000 on turf subsidies, both purely emergency services.
The Vote for the Department of Agriculture includes the large sum of £634,000 for an emergency service—to enable fertilisers to be imported and sold to the agricultural community at reasonable prices. In addition, the large sum of £518,500 is being made available for food allowances. Out of the total increase of £18¾ million over the figures for 1931-32 that Deputy Dr. O'Higgins spoke so much about, the sum of £11¾ million on major services is directly due to emergency conditions,  and could reasonably be taken off the £40,000,000 which appears on the cover of the Book of Estimates. That sum is to be taken without counting in the emergency bonus payments to persons serving in State Departments and certain minor expenditures. Grants for the supply of fuel and other assistance to necessitous families, also an emergency service, might well be added. Another emergency service is the Emergency Scientific Research Bureau, so that when all the items that are purely emergency are included there is a total of £11¾ million that could be taken off the £40,000,000.
That reduces the increase from £18,000,000 to £7,000,000. How is that increase of £7,000,000 over the 1931-32 figures to which Deputy O'Higgins has referred made up? Deputy McGilligan is very keenly interested in looking after the unemployed now, in seeing that they will not be hungry, but when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce there was not a halfpenny provided for unemployment assistance. This Government is providing this year £1,240,000 for that social service. In 1931-32 not one halfpenny was being provided for employment schemes, but this Government is now providing £1¼ million for the unemployed. Old age pensions were being paid before this State was set up. The cost in 1931-32 was £2,777,000. This Government is providing an additional £1,020,000, giving back at least the 1/- that the last Government took off the old age pensioners for whom Deputy McGilligan is weeping such salt tears now. Everybody is interested in housing. The Opposition, as well as others, talk about the necessity of providing more houses for the people. The sum provided in 1931-32 was £11,500. This year we are providing £621,000. We are not weeping salt tears, but are providing the money to build more houses for the people.
Certain people talk a lot about the widows and orphans being neglected, and say that their condition should be improved. I should like to see much better provision made for them, but in 1931-32 Deputy McGilligan, whose heart is so soft now, had not one penny to spend on widows and  orphans. His heart is very soft, and the tears come to his eyes for the poor and the unemployed when he has not to provide the cash. The Government of which he was a member did not provide a penny for them, but we are providing £450,000. Army pensions cost £197,000 in 1931-32. This year the cost will be £620,000. The grants for public health purposes in 1931-32 were £196,700, and this year the figure is £445,000. It is probable that, even at that figure, we are not spending near enough. Deputy Dillon is interested in all matters relating to public health. I am sure he will agree that to give adequate public health services to the people we are probably not spending near enough. In addition to the £445,000 which is being provided for these services out of the Exchequer, there are also the sums raised out of the rates by the local bodies.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: I will look into it. In addition to the services that I have mentioned, there are two more services which are of direct benefit to the agricultural community for which provision is being made. Deputy Hughes and other Deputies who say that little or nothing has been done for the agricultural community will be interested to hear this. In the Estimate for the Department of Lands we are making provision to the extent of £635,000 to meet deficiencies in the Land Bond Fund, arising from the reductions made in the payment of the land annuities in the Land Act of 1933.
Deputies know that we reduced the land annuities by 50 per cent. This charge of £635,000, which we are putting on the Exchequer, and which will be provided by all classes of taxpayers—farmers as well as others— will go to the benefit of agriculture. As well, there is an additional £700,000 to provide subsidies for the dairying industry, a very important one, which Deputy Bennett was speaking about a short time ago. These two sums give a total of £1,335,000, both of which go to agriculture. If you add to the sum of £5,241,000 for these services of  which I have already spoken, this figure for agriculture of £1,335,000, you get a total of £6,576,000, which is close to the figure of £7,000,000 I have mentioned. That is where the difference of £18,000,000, about which Deputy O'Higgins was so voluble, has gone. There is not one halfpenny of it that would be taken off by any Government that might come in after the next general election; they would, in fact, be all looking for more. No matter what side of the House he was on, Deputy Hughes would demand more for agriculture. I do not say it should not get more, or that it will probably not need more.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: If it were not there, you would have no butter. There would be no butter were it not for this subsidy. This Government saved the butter industry. It was in a parlous condition when we came in. The last Government did damn all for it; we saved the industry. They refused to give one halfpenny of a subsidy to the farmers of Limerick or to the farmers anywhere else for butter. We provided this money and saved the industry. What would the farmers of Limerick and the dairying industry have done, were it not for this Government? There are a few more minutes left to me and I should like to deal with a few further figures. I enjoy rubbing it in to these fellows; they do not enjoy it half so much.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: The Deputy does not require much butter rubbed into him. I have given some of these figures before and I shall give them again and again. I want to see agriculture saved. I want to see agriculture prosperous. I want to see the farmers getting production out of the land because it is for the good of the country.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: The Estimate for the Department of Agriculture in this book is £1,353,000—a very big sum. The Department of Agriculture is outstanding, one of the best Departments we have in this country. We have officials and experts in charge of that Department who are quoted as experts on their subjects wherever agriculture is held in honour.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: The Estimate for the Department is, as I say, £1,353,000. I believe it is money well spent and well earned by the Department. The Department gives excellent advice and assistance to the farmers in the country. I shall tell you a story about one official with whom I happened to be abroad on one occasion. That one official was offered by the Minister for Agriculture of another country double his salary—after he had taken him round to visit a few of his model  farms—if he would stay there. The official would not accept the offer. The Minister then said to him: “Name your figure and we will keep you here.” The man declined the offer and said he would prefer to remain here.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: He knew he could not get that official at any price that wealthy State could offer. I want to give the figures for the expenditure on agriculture and then I shall stop. We shall have another day and I hope that then Deputies will give me a little more time. Under the heading of agricultural produce subsidies there is a payment into the Prices Stabilisation Fund of £690,000. Then there is a grant for the relief of rates on land amounting to £1,187,000. The estimated amount required for loans to meet deficiencies in the Land Bond Fund arising from the reduction in land annuities is £635,000. For farm improvement schemes there is an Estimate of £350,000. That was one of the items which Deputy Dillon had in mind though he did not mention farm improvements specifically. We are giving a sum of £350,000 for that purpose and if more is required it will be forthcoming.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: Under the seed and lime distribution scheme there is an estimated expenditure of £75,000. Under these various headings there is a total sum of £6,270,000 going directly into agriculture and production. There is one other item in which Deputy Davin was interested. He talked at great length as to his inability to get £200 to improve a bog road. He spoke of the fact that the people at Portarlington had turf all around them and said that they were unable to get it out on account of the condition of the road. I never heard of the existence of any such condition of affairs in any place where there was turf available, if all that was required was £100 or £200 to make a road. I know that money has been spent, and generously spent, in the last 10 years  on improvements of that kind, on private roads, bog roads, etc. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent in that way. This year under sub-head U of the Local Government and Public Health Vote —development work in bogs acquired by local authorities—the grants to local authorities for road, drainage and other works designed to facilitate the production of turf amount to £94,000. That answers completely Deputy Davin's statement—£94,000 for roads and drainage designed to facilitate the production of turf. Sub-head V.—Reconditioning and Repair of Public Roads subject to heavy turf transport—£50,000; that is for the roads that Deputy Davin was then so voluble about, but does not want to hear about now, as neither he nor any of his colleagues is here. Provision is also made, in the Vote for Employment and Emergency Schemes in this coming year, for roads again, another sum of £50,000.
Not alone in this Book of Estimates have we been generous in that regard, but for all the development schemes that Deputies talk about, for any kind that can be found, there is some provision in the Book of Estimates. For forestry a large sum is provided, as much as that Department is able to spend; it was provided in the last few years and has been provided year in and year out. The same thing applies to the erection of national schools, to which Deputy Mulcahy refers. I agree that a great many schools in the country need to be rebuilt, that many new schools are required and that many need repairs. Deputy Mulcahy was for many years a member of the Government: how much did that Government provide at any time for the building or repair of schools? Not very much. We provided a great deal more money for that purpose. There are new schools in every corner of the city—not enough, I admit, in some cases—as a record of the progress of this Government in school building. You would need to go very far before you would find any school to compare with the schools built in the last ten years by the present Government. In  that period, £1,572,000 was spent on national schools, to build 365 new schools. I would like to see more spent and every parish in the country with a decent school, and the children well fed.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: You need larger schools if you are to have smaller classes and more teachers. While Deputy Mulcahy was complaining bitterly about the condition of the schools and the number of children in a class, his colleagues were lambasting us all the time for the heavy expenditure, even on education. I am sorry that I must conclude now, as there are many other things I should like to say.
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