Wednesday, 20 February 1946
Dáil Éireann Debate
An Ceann Comhairle: A discussion arose here the last day as to what is relevant. Deputy McGilligan asked me some questions about wages generally and I said that as the questions arose they could be decided. The Minister's power to see that road workers' wages do not rise above the agricultural wages naturally caused a discussion on the wages of agricultural workers and road workers. That should not extend to wages generally. The Minister did introduce one extraneous matter, which appears in columns 107 and 112, in eách of which there is a paragraph referring to the wages paid on the Shannon scheme about 1925—two paragraphs out of 16 columns. It would be a new theory  that, when a Minister, in a speech of 16 columns, had a paragraph referring to extraneous matters, the debate then may be dealing only with the extraneous matters introduced by the Minister.
Mr. D. Morrissey: No. Allow me to say that there were 16 columns of extraneous matters and two paragraphs —which were absolutely incorrect. The Minister spoke on Friday until he fell down exhausted and was not able to stick the last five minutes. He stopped at five minutes to 12, having delivered himself of the most rambling and, if I may say so, the most irrelevant, deliberately irrelevant, speech, I have heard for a great many years.
Mr. D. Morrissey: Yes. You will recollect that, on a couple of occasions, I put a point of order to you, on which you made a ruling and, of course, I accept that ruling fully. The point I was making on Friday, or trying to make, in the course of the point of order, I now want to make clear to-day. The Minister, through practically the whole of his long speech, did not utter even two paragraphs about the section under discussion, which has nothing whatever to do with the rate of wages paid to agricultural labourers. Fortunately for them, the Minister has no power to deal with them or exercise or withhold his sanction in regard to their wages.
There was a reference made to agricultural labourers in the course of the debate leading up to the Minister's speech, that the Minister was seeking to justify the withholding of his sanction of reasonable increases on the grounds that it was Government policy to see that no maximum remuneration in a rural area would come up to the minimum rate agreed upon for an agricultural labourer.
 I am not going to follow the Minister through the 16 columns, but he did lay down this as Government policy, not for the past, or the present, but for the future, in so far as the present Government will control the future, that the standard of living in rural Ireland outside the cities must be below the lowest standard of living obtained by the lowest paid agricultural labourer. That was the sum and substance of the Minister's speech. We know where we stand. As a matter of fact, the Minister at one point went so far as to say that it was our duty to see that no other worker in a rural area would have his employment half as attractive as that enjoyed by the agricultural labourer.
I want to say for the information of the Minister—he apparently does not understand the position, or if he does, he does not wish to state it—that there is a minimum rate of wages agreed on for the agricultural labourer of £2 a week. It is well known that many farmers are paying far in excess of that. The Minister tried to make capital out of the fact that the rates of wages of agricultural labourers prior to the setting up of the Agricultural Wages Board were very low. We are all agreed on that, and the fact that farmers have been able to pay, and are paying, £2 a week and over is not due in any way whatever to Government policy. It is due entirely to circumstances over which the Government have no control that agriculture is to-day paying, and able to pay, £2 a week and over.
The Minister referred to the road workers as a privileged class. They have the privilege at present, and had it for the past five years, of being the lowest-paid workers of any grade in this country, and that position is allowed to exist only because the Minister has steadfastly refused to allow the employers, in other words the local authorities, to increase that standard of wages in some way to meet the enormous increase in the cost of living. The privileged class are privileged to be the lowest-paid grade of workers in this country to-day.
The Minister said the road workers' job was often more secure than that of  the agricultural worker. The Minister again is either withholding the truth, or he does not know it. It is not. The road worker is absolutely at the mercy of the weather, and it is quite a common thing for road workers to go out at 8 o'clock in the morning, travel from four to ten miles to their work, get wet through and then have to return home, and they get no allowance in the way of pay for that day. I venture to say there are very few farmers who are not able to find, and will not find, even on the wettest day, some work in and around their buildings for their workers to do, and there are very few farmers who will deduct anything for broken time from the wages of their workers. The Minister tried to justify holding back those men to a 5/- a week increase to meet a 72 per cent. increase in the cost of living, on the ground that if he allowed the local authorities to increase one shilling beyond the £2 a week wage, road work would become so attractive that all the agricultural labourers would leave the land and go on to the roads. That is the most absolute bosh.
What are the facts? I was at a meeting of my own county council yesterday. Two years ago for a special scheme of road work on by-roads, we provided a sum of £10,000. I asked yesterday what became of it. The money was to be spent on special work within the last two years. The county surveyor told me that only £4,000 out of the £10,000 was spent. I asked him why, and he replied: “Because I cannot get the men”. I asked him if he would specify the areas where he could not get the men, and one of the areas he mentioned was Thurles. A member of the county council who lives in Thurles said: “That is very strange. The sugar beet factory gives employment during the season to about 600 men and they have no difficulty in getting the 600. Not only have they no difficulty, but in order to get one of the 600 jobs you must be prepared to have a letter from a Fianna Fáil T.D.” They have no difficulty in getting men because they pay a decent rate of wages.
Mr. Morrissey: When the Deputy raises a point of order, it is a good point of order. The Minister never succeeded in doing that even once since he came into this House. I remember when the Minister sat over in these benches where I am now. He used to have a copy of the Standing Orders under the bench and even then he could not make a good point of order.
Mr. Morrissey: I agree, Sir, and least of all by children. May I say, with all respect to the latest addition to this House, that when I came in here I, too, thought I knew it all. The only difference between myself and the Deputy——
Mr. Morrissey: It is, usually, and  that is the difference between some of the Deputies opposite and myself. When the Minister tried to side-track me by suggesting that I was being irrelevant, I was merely exploding his argument that, if he allowed an increase of even 1/- per week in the wage of £2 per week to this privileged class of workers, there would be a rush from the land to the roads. The Minister went on to talk about the privileged class and about the attractiveness of work on the roads. What is the position? The Minister has spoken about the scarcity of labour in rural areas for work on the roads. It is so scarce that we have still to keep in force a rotation scheme. We have so many workers that we cannot give them a full week's work, but can give them only three, four or five days a week. That is the answer to the Minister and may I submit to the Deputy opposite that it is not in the least irrelevant.
Mr. Morrissey: I put that point to the Minister, who had the nerve to talk about emigration over the last five years. He had the audacity to talk of Deputy Mulcahy acting as recruiting sergeant for people to go out of the country and seek employment on the other side. He talked about the attractive posters provided in the old days in the grocers' shops and the “blowers” but this Government provided State machinery to facilitate emigration out of the country. The State machinery provided was in the form of the employment exchanges all over the country, and the Minister knows that.
I want to ask the Minister and the Deputy opposite who, I hope, will have a long and useful membership of the House: are we going to keep people in this country on a standard of living represented at present by a maximum wages of £2 per week? Are we going to keep men here when we pin them down to a maximum increase of 5/- per week on a pre-war wage of 35/- a week to meet a 72 per cent. increase in the cost of living? I challenge the
 Minister and Deputies opposite to say that it is possible for any man with dependents to-day to provide an existence, much less a livelihood, on the present cost of living on a wage of £2 per week.
The Turf Development Board issued its report recently. They run canteens for the workers employed on the bogs. They have a sum of something like £25,000 and the cost per man of food alone, of providing three meals per day in canteens for over 4,000 men, buying in bulk at wholesale prices and without taking into account rents or other overheads, works out at over 21/- per week. Then we are told that the man who is pegged down to £2 per week to provide a livelihood for himself, his wife and his family is a privileged person in this State.
Mr. Morrissey: And that he reached that position only because he was an organised force able to use political propaganda and political pressure to bring him into the grand position he occupies to-day as the lowest paid worker in the State.
“Take care. If you stand for an increase in the ordinary workers' wages, you cannot do it without giving the increase to all other employees right up to the very top, and that may mean something very substantial.”
We have the extraordinary position in regard to local authorities already—let me again draw the attention of enthusiastic Deputies on the other side to this—in which, under Government Orders, a local authority is not allowed, even when the members are unanimous, to increase the wages of its employees, but under which officers of a local authority drawing salaries up to £1,000 per year qualify for and receive the maximum bonus of 15/- per week, so that it is justice to give a man with £1,000 per year a bonus of 15/- per  week, and, I suppose, equal justice to peg a man on 35/- per week down to an increase of 5/- per week.
We ought to ask ourselves what we mean about this business. We ought to ask ourselves whether this country is so poor, so badly run, so economically lop-sided, that, after 24 or 25 years of self-government, a Minister of State has to come in here and say that the highest standard of living we can provide for thousands of our workers and their families is that represented by a wage of 39/- or 40/- per week. We boast about our social services, about our hospitals, about our Public Health Bills, about our new sanatoria and about the hundreds of thousands of pounds we are to make available for the treatment of tubercular people. Is it any wonder that we want more hospitals and more and more sanatoria, or that we have more and more tuberculosis, when there is an ever-growing wave of disease in this country brought about by a standard such as that? I believe that this country is able to provide and can afford a better standard of living than that and I would have very little hope for the future if I thought that the best that can be afforded.
The Minister rushed in, badly briefed, as I have said, in that utterly irresponsible way he has and charged that the previous Government had entered into an agreement with the contractors for a great national scheme by which the contractors would pay a wage not higher than 15/- per week. I challenged that immediately and said —I want to repeat it now—that I was much more conversant with the conditions and the wages paid on the Shannon scheme at that time than the Minister. That wage which appeared to us low at the time was princely in comparison with what workers are now being tied down to, but it is on the records of the House that no member opposed the rate then being paid by the contractors more than I did. It is, however, right to say that the rate of wages was not 15/- per week, but a minimum rate of 32/- per week. It is only right to say also that the Minister, when challenged, could not produce the agreement which he alleged was in  existence. He then fell back on the statement that it was propaganda by the Labour Party and the remainder of his speech consisted of irrelevancies and abuse—some of it personal—of myself. The Labour Party are well able to answer for themselves, but I want to say that there is as much truth in what the Minister said about the Labour Party propaganda in regard to the wage of 15/- per week as there is in his statement about a Government agreement.
There was no question, either in the Government agreement or in the Party propaganda, of giving 15/- a week on the Shannon scheme. It is only fair to say that at that period, when the cost of living was probably not half what it is to-day, the average rate of wages paid on the Shannon scheme was far in excess of £2 a week. The question before the House is, whether the power originally conferred to cover the emergency and exercised under Emergency Order No. 216 is going to be put into our permanent legislation. I think the House ought not to do that. If we do, we ought to cease talking, either inside or outside this House, about having a Christian Constitution; we ought to cease talking about the sanctity of the home and of family life; we ought to cease putting into our Constitution words indicating that we aim at a condition of affairs in which the mother could remain in the home to look after her children; we ought to cease all that cant and humbug, and get down to what we are doing. What we are doing is, condemning thousands of people to the lowest standard of living that obtains in this State, at a time when the least progressive countries in the world aim—and to some extent are succeeding, in present circumstances—at lifting far above the pre-war standard, the livelihood of their people. Apparently, we want to peg it down to a lower standard than there was, even before we got our freedom.
Mr. Hughes: The section we are discussing is a very significant one, and is clearly indicative of Government  policy. The Government tried to justify their low-wage policy during the emergency. They stated they wanted to peg down and to prevent a spiral occurring, and promised when controlling wages that they would also control prices. They were successful in the attempt to control wages, but they failed lamentably to control prices, with the result that grievous wrong was done to people who had to live on wages and salaries. This section does not merely give power to the Minister to control the remuneration to paid local officials, but sets out and embodies in permanent legislation the power set out in Emergency Order No. 216. It is a very grave matter, and one that the House should be concerned about, because we are being asked by legislation to enter positively on a low-wage policy. It appears to me that the Minister and the Government have not learned anything from the policy that is being attempted to be operated here, or what has been said about it by economists all over the world. We know that if the ban on emigration were lifted to-day, this country would be actually denuded of man-power. The difference between the wage level here and the wage level in Great Britain is a very serious one as far as the future of this country is concerned. Our close relationship geographically, and the intercourse of our people with the people across the Channel, makes it imperative that we should strive to have an appropriate level of income here. The moment the income across the Channel is raised excessively over income here, it is inevitable that big numbers of our people will be going across there. That represents a very serious loss in our productive capacity.
As a matter of fact, I was disgusted with the anties of the Minister on the last occasion, and with his attempt to defend policy as far as road workers were concerned. I am anxious to discuss this matter in a calm way. I am quite satisfied that the low-wage policy now operating means that many decrepit old men are at work, and that the roads have suffered in consequence. The men are also discontented, and have no interest in their work. Many  of them are there, merely because of conditions under which they have to work, and are doing as little as possible. The Minister said he could not allow a privileged class to grow up here. He went on to illustrate that by saying that, before the present Government came into power, these people were privileged, that they were a political force, and used political pressure to ensure that they were preserved as a political class. That is utter nonsense. I am wondering if the Minister really believed what he said. The policy the Minister wants to embody in the Bill is to depress road workers below the level of the lowest paid agricultural workers. He wants to argue that road workers had better conditions and shorter hours, and were in a better position all round than agricultural workers. Surely the Minister appreciates that there is a considerable loss of time in the case of road workers as a result of wet weather. That is not the case on the farm.
The vast majority of agricultural workers are employed whole-time, regardless of weather conditions, as farmers find inside work for them on wet days. There is much more give-and-take between farmers and agricultural workers. Nobody could succeed in an attempt to compare the position of road workers and agricultural workers. It is a peculiar thing that the policy we appear to be pursuing is one of reducing the income and purchasing power of the wage and salaried class, and to make up the shortage in the family income by providing more and more social services and State assistance through the medium of family allowances, free boots, and all that sort of thing, as if any compensation could be given for a reduction in family income. From my observation of what has been said by economists and statesmen on this whole question and of the policies that have been adumbrated by statement, I believe the present Government has learnt nothing about what other countries are attempting to operate in the matter of increasing the incomes and raising the standard of their communities. All over the world that has been clearly  set out by public men. Here we are pursuing a low-income policy, with the inevitable consequence that we are exporting the best of our people. I know, Sir, that it is not a simple matter. When we talk about the low agricultural wage, we know, and the Minister knows, very well that, as compared with wages generally in other countries, it is a low wage but I believe that that low wage is the inevitable result of the policy we are pursuing. We are pursuing a restrictionist policy and, therefore, the output per man and the capacity to produce is very low. If we can convince the Government that their policy is fundamentally wrong, that the policy should be an expansionist policy, the first thing we have to do is to correct the output per man. While other countries, even Great Britain, the country that is taking our people from us, have succeeded in increasing output very substantially during recent years, our output has fallen considerably and, consequently, the output per worker on the land has fallen considerably. The net result of that is that we have low wages and are pursuing a low-wage policy. While we continue to pursue that restrictionist policy it is inevitable that we will continue a low-wage policy.
The Minister, on Friday, appeared to be quite pleased with the situation and suggested that it was ridiculous to compare conditions here with conditions elsewhere so far as wage rates were concerned, and that the real test was the amount of food and the amount of real income that was available. It is all very well for the Minister to suggest that there is ample food in this country, but the Minister knows very well that the standard of nutrition here for a large section of our people is very low because of low incomes. The Minister is attempting, and the policy of the Government is to attempt, to cure that by providing more social services, by direct State assistance in one form or another.
The House is aware that there has been a very substantial increase in the incidence of disease in recent years. We argue that that is due to the low-income policy, the low-wage policy, and that no matter what social services  are provided and no matter what State assistance is given, it is no solution to the problem. The only real solution would be a policy that would have the effect of raising the standard and the incomes of the family. The House should vigorously condemn this whole policy of embodying in permanent legislation a policy that has been operated by emergency Order during the emergency and which, it was argued, was essential in emergency conditions. Now, we are to have as a permanent feature of our legislation a low standard for our people and, therefore, the suggestion that the capacity of our small population is no higher than this very low standard would indicate. Surely it is a reflection on the whole Administration. If we are blind and if the Government is blind about the policy for the time being, that matter must be faced up to. There is nothing like taking time by the forelock. Now is the time to face up to it. Now is the time to say that we should not have a policy of this sort embodied in permanent legislation and that we must have a fundamental change of policy. Our policy should aim at raising the standard for our people and expanding productive capacity.
Mr. Hughes: When the Minister attempts to relate his wage policy and bases it on the wage policy of agriculture and the wage rates of the agricultural worker, the moment he does that, I submit, there is a very broad issue raised. This is a very serious matter for the whole country, and, as I have said, I do not think the House should let this pass. The House should protest against any attempt to embody in permanent legislation a policy of low incomes, low wages, and low productive power.
Mr. Cogan: This section seeks to incorporate in the Local Government Bill a principle which this House should unite in condemning. The section raises very broad issues. It raises the question of whether people engaged in a most essential work of the State should be paid a miserably low wage. It should be the first principle of Government policy to encourage the best of our people to engage in the work that is most essential to the life of the nation. If we consider what is the work most essential to the life of the nation, we find that it is the production of food, housing, clothing, and the provision of means of transport, roadways.
Mr. Cogan: There is essentially priority but ought not our first principle be to realise that there is priority of essential work over work of a non-essential character? If the Minister will take the time which he so frequently wastes in this House with long-winded speeches, to consider the national income and to consider what proportion of that income goes to those engaged in non-essential work and to those engaged in essential work he will find that those engaged in the most essential work receive the lowest proportion of the national income. That is the problem that the Minister should be tackling rather than trying to place a ceiling on the wages of the lowest paid workers of the local authorities and of the State. He based his entire case for this amendment on the fact that agricultural workers are lowly-paid. He knows perfectly well that agricultural workers are lowly-paid because the income of the agricultural industry is low. If the income of the agricultural industry were divided equally between all the people engaged in the industry, they would only get a weekly income of a little over £2. The Minister knows that. The problem that the Minister and his colleagues should be seeking to solve is the raising of the standard of income of those engaged in agriculture so as to make it possible  to raise the standard of income of other essential workers, such as road workers.
For a long time we have all believed that there was a privileged class in this country. Some people thought that the black marketeers were the privileged class. Some people thought the industrialists were the privileged class. Other people thought that the middlemen were the privileged class. Others, I think, have expressed the view that civil servants were the privileged class. I think there have been some people, heaven forgive them, who have expressed the view that Deputies were the privileged class. But the Minister has at last put his finger on the privileged class. According to him, the road workers are the privileged class— the people whose income is not to be allowed to exceed £2 per week. If the Minister was a worker on the roads and had to get up at 7 o'clock in the morning and cycle five or six miles on a bad bicycle to work, if he had to do heavy manual work with pick and shovel all day on the roads in all kinds of weather, I wonder would he say he was a privileged person? If the Minister had to sit down in the middle of the day to a seven-course dinner out of a black tommy-can on the side of the road, would he say that he was a privileged person? These are the conditions under which the worker on the roads has to exist and the Minister knows it. Yet, he has sought to convince the House that the road workers are the privileged class in the country.
Road workers are essential workers in this State and are doing a very useful and essential work. If we are to get the work done properly, it is necessary that we should attract to that work the best of our manual workers, the ablest and best young workers we can get. There is big development work to be carried out on the roads and the Minister knows and every Deputy knows that the output of work per man on the roads is not as high as it should be. To a large extent, that is due to the fact that the low-wage policy is not attracting the best workers. It is also due to mismanagement, lack of equipment, and other reasons. But, if we are to make a fresh  start in the post-war period and to get better work done on the roads, we must get the best workers, we must pay them a decent wage, and we must give them a prospect of decent conditions of living.
I agree with Deputy Hughes that we will not be in a position to provide a better standard of living for our lowest paid workers without increasing the national output. But we must inspire confidence in our road workers if we are to increase the national output. I believe that before we can increase the national output there must be some redistribution of national income. We must ensure that those engaged in the most important work are the best paid in the State. That is the first step that must be taken, not a policy of restricting the income of those who should be highly-skilled workers and who are engaged in the most important work of road construction and maintenance.
I was astonished to hear the Minister's reference to the wages paid before the present Government took office. I was under the impression that he would avoid that subject. I was particularly astonished that he referred to the Shannon scheme workers as having received 15/- a week, because I thought that at least the Minister would remember the eloquent propaganda of the Fianna Fáil Party in regard to the wage paid on the Shannon scheme, which was 32/- a week. That wage of 32/- was eloquently and loudly denounced for years from every Fianna Fáil platform. It is surprising that the Minister should forget so quickly his own Party's propaganda. It is just an indication of the weakness of the case for this amendment that the Minister had to fall back on such a foolish, absurd, and false argument. He could not even get the facts right. I think the local authorities are quite competent to decide a matter of this kind. They are certainly more competent than the Minister has shown himself to be up to the present and, unless we get an improvement in the standard of Minister for Local Government, I think we would be safe in leaving the power of deciding what the wages of road  workers should be to the local authorities elected by the people.
Mr. Murphy: I confess I am quite unable to understand the Minister's attitude on this matter because, in the ordinary way, there would not be any great discussion about his sanction being required for certain steps taken in connection with matters of this kind if we did not know what happened in the last two or three years. The fact is that, within the last two or three years, local authorities all over the country have brought this matter forcibly to the notice of the Minister without result. I do not want to travel over a field which has been very largely covered already, but surely the Minister must agree that there is strong force in the point—taking him on the basis he is working from—that the agricultural wage in this country is a minimum wage and that, in many cases, a wage substantially in excess of that wage is paid to the agricultural worker and that he is, in many respects, rather different in regard to security of employment.
I am not quite familiar with the practice in many counties, but I know fairly well the position in Cork County. I think the Minister will find, if he makes inquiry, that employment for a large number of road workers in County Cork is irregular and uncertain. I am aware that in many areas all over the county road workers are off work at the present time and that they will remain off work until the 1st April; that, in fact, the months between 1st January and 1st April are months in which, generally speaking, a great many of them are not employed, for the simple reason that the road estimate has been expended. Surely in a situation of that kind one ought to have regard to the total amount earned in the year. I remember a statement made by the chairman of the Cork County Council who, I am sure, is regarded as a very responsible member of a local authority and a very moderate spoken member of this House. He certainly is not prone to exaggeration in one form or another. The chairman of the Cork County Council stated emphatically some years  ago that the average wage in County Cork, having regard to the irregularities I have mentioned and to other factors, did not exceed 24/- a week. I suggest that the Minister will find, on investigation, that the wage earned in that county through and through at the present time would not be much in excess of 30/- a week. I was almost tempted to say 30/-, but I wish to be as fair as I can. No matter what may be said in discussion in the House and no matter how he may revel in an argument, surely the Minister does not seriously defend a rate of that kind for an individual, or very often for a family? I put it to him that it would be unfair to give even the appearance, in a measure of this kind, of a desire to make such conditions permanent for the future.
The road workers in the part of the country I come from would never recognise themselves as the aristocracy the Minister describes them to be. There is no foundation whatever for that and the Minister must realise that that was a picturesque exaggeration which creeps into speeches from time to time and was an entirely unreal and an entirely inaccurate picture of the position. I am quite satisfied that; in many parts of the County Cork at the moment, there is actually a shortage of workers. I know definitely that there is a great shortage of carters. The labourers or the small farmer who has a horse and were employed carting for the county council are good judges in their own business and find it is impossible to maintain a horse and cart and a man on the road at a wage of 12/6 per day at present. A great many of the road workers have left the country. It is true that there are elderly men who have not had the facilities for going away, but there is certainly no evidence that this is privileged employment—and I am fairly conversant with the details of local administration in my own county.
I do not want to engender any heat in this matter, but I suggest that, on the facts, the Minister will see it is manifestly unfair to continue to defend the line he has taken in this matter. If sections of workers in rural areas in certain types of employment  are able to go to a tribunal to exercise their rights, either as individuals or as groups of workers, and can have adjustments made, it certainly puts their neighbours in the employment of local authorities in a very peculiar position. If there are objections to allowing that procedure to operate in the case of road workers, I endorse what has been said that the Minister should allow the local authorities to have the ultimate voice and decision in this matter. I am quite satisfied, in spite of what has been said to the contrary, that the local authorities will analyse this position fairly. The Minister has, and can always have, the advice of county managers in this matter. I do not know what their opinions would be, but the justice of the case, having regard to local conditions, the irregularities of employment, the broken time, the distance from work on many occasions—as the groups of workers are taking in an increasingly larger amount of territory in the work they cover—all these factors go to show that there is a case for allowing local authorities to adjust their wages fairly and reasonably, in accordance with the increase in the cost of living, which has gone up by over 70 per cent. It is a case which the Minister should meet fairly, and I do not think there is any need to make any question of political advantage or capital, one way or another, out of this matter. It is a clear question for the Minister to decide and if he approaches it on its merits, free from any heat engendered here in the past, he will concede that local authorities should have special knowledge in this matter and, generally speaking, where they come to decisions on it, the Minister should give facilities for those decisions to be made effective.
Mr. O'Leary: The Minister said last week that he had been engaged in politics for 30 years and did not think it a dishonourable occupation This section is the most dishonourable one that any Minister should present to an Irish Parliament. The wages of road workers are tied down to 37/7 per week, after stopping insurance and National Health charges. At the same  time, we have the highest cost of living in the world, with bacon 3/- a lb.; flour 4/- a stone; butter unobtainable; without counting the rent of the cottage at 2/6. The worker may forget about clothes and about boots at £2 a pair.
In this remarks to our fellow-workers in Britain, the Minister said they had money to burn and one dried egg a month. The road workers here, during the emergency, have been living on dried bread, not to talk of dried eggs. He also said the extra money would have to come from the farmers' pockets. I wonder that the Government did not think of that when they were paying the head of this State a salary of £61 11s. 1d. a day in Árus an Uachtaráin. The farmers or ratepayers were not considered then. When Fianna Fáil took office, they raised their own salaries, though they said when they got into power they would reduce taxation. What is their answer to-day? Taxation never was as high.
Here we are being presented with a section to keep down the lowest paid people in the country. Is it because they are not organised? Every highly-paid official in the county councils, from the doctors down, may come along with the Minister's own Order and get 15/- cost-of-living bonus, while the road workers still try to bring up their families on the present wages. Is that not dictatorship? If it were the case of an attack on the industrial workers, we would have strikes and every industry at a standstill. The unfortunate road workers, because they are unorganised, must suffer. The Minister is going to carry this section by means of the majority of the Fianna Fáil Party, steamrolled into the lobbies, when this comes to a division, and so prevent this, the lowest-paid section of workers in the world, from seeking an increase. At the last elections in the Wexford constituency, they promised that, if their candidate was put in, the old age pensions would be increased and something would be done for the road workers. That was to get their votes, but now in 1946 they are being tied down. The agricultural worker cannot leave this State, the turf  worker must remain here at starvation rates of wages. It is said they have children's allowances. They are told that they have a good family allowance. There are many of the road workers that I know in my constituency, and many farm labourers, who have no benefit under the children's allowances scheme, although they have two youngsters under age and two over. They do not get anything. They must live on the 37/7 a week. In other cases men have to go on the dole.
The whole cry here is about the ratepayers and the taxpayers, and where the money will come from. Where, we are asked, will the 37/7 a week come from? If we take up the paper we observe that the rates are increasing in every county. These workers, who also will have to pay that increase in their rates, will not get an increase in their wages. I knew the Minister when he was a clerk of works, or when he was supervising an electric scheme. I am sure that at that time the workers under him were getting more than 37/7 a week. It is a crying shame to have us talking from the benches here to people who should know the difference, and who advocated all classes of bread and honey if they got into power.
I may tell the Minister that if he insists on putting these sections through, he will succeed in putting the Fianna Fáil Party out of power in a very short time. There is no doubt about that, because he is making himself and his Party very unpopular among the working classes, and it was the working classes who put Fianna Fáil into office first, on promises. Because of the high cost of living, we are fighting here in an effort to persuade the Minister and his Party not to deal so unfairly with these unfortunate men. There is no single man to-day, not to mind a married man, who can live on 37/7 a week.
The Minister must have it at the back of his head that in the rural districts the road workers can live on haws and sloes in the summer time— that they do not want an increase of pay at all, or that they can get everything for nothing simply because they  may get a new house and half an acre of ground. The Government expect those unfortunate people to live on all the great social services we are told about. In my own area this week a man left road work and went to work with a dairy farmer, and he is getting 50/- a week.
This Bill is supposed to induce the men on the land to remain there, to prevent them from undertaking road work. Any decent farmer is giving more than £2 a week to his employee, in kind if he does not give it in cash. The road workers can get nothing. They have to work for a fortnight in my own county before they get paid. I think the Minister ought to reconsider the position. He has heard different views from the Farmers' Party, the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party. Those Deputies are not all wrong, and the Minister should give some consideration to unfortunate men who are struggling to rear their families. They have to send their children to school, and the youngsters have to walk three or four miles along the rugged roads to get there, no matter what the weather may be like. The fathers have to buy boots for them, and how does the Minister think they can supply the youngsters with boots, in addition to feeding and clothing them? How does he imagine these people exist? I appeal to him not to force this legislation, because it is most unfair to tie these men down, as it were. The ordinary farmers, and even some very small farmers, pay their men £2 a week. The unfortunate road workers are the lowest paid of all.
Mr. Harris: I was surprised at the remarks of Deputy Hughes and Deputy Cogan, who claim to represent the interests of the agricultural community. Listening to them, it seemed to me as if the speeches were coming from the Labour Benches, they talked so much about low-wage policy, starvation wages and all the rest. Looking through the section, I do not think there is anything in it to prevent the wages of road workers from reaching £5 a week, or even more. From the speeches of those Deputies, who claim to represent agriculture, I could come  to no other conclusion than that they are satisfied that the position of the agricultural worker will remain a very low one, that the standard rate of wages payable to agricultural workers must remain very low.
Mr. Harris: Deputy Hughes and Deputy Cogan gave one the impression that the conditions of the agricultural worker will remain low, and they said that the Government had not done much to improve the position. Agricultural workers are unorganised, and, from the political point of view, unable to give expression to their demands in the same way as organised workers. I agree with the section, and I think that, in embodying it in the Bill, the Minister is safeguarding the country's interests. It is only right, just and sensible that, in fixing rates of wages for public employees, regard should be had to what people in private employment or private enterprise receive for the same type of work. All the section asks—and I think the country will be satisfied that it is reasonable and just —is that the wages of road men shall be related to the wages paid to agricultural workers. Deputy Hughes said that the wages paid to agricultural workers in his constituency were in many cases greater than the minimum rate. If he has a case to make that the minimum rate fixed by the Agricultural Wages Board is not as high as it should be, it is another matter. He should go to the Agricultural Wages Board and advocate an increase, but it is sound policy to relate the wages paid  to road men to those paid to agricultural workers. If we are not satisfied with the wages paid in rural areas, we should make some effort to raise the standard all round. The agricultural worker is the most important worker in the community at present and the hours of work fixed for him are longer than those fixed for any other workers, but they are not, unfortunately for themselves, organised, and the politicians feel that they do not count and can be passed over. I think the Minister is to be commended for his courageous attitude in standing up for fair play and justice to all sections.
Mr. Cafferky: The previous speaker seems to be rather bewildered as to why Deputy Hughes and Deputy Blowick—and perhaps if I had spoken before this he would have included me —seek an increase in the workers' wages. I have never heard Deputy Hughes or Deputy Blowick—and I have not done so myself—claiming to represent the farming community, but we have pointed out the importance of the farming section and that farming, being the only visible wealth of the nation and being the mainstay of the nation, should receive its due consideration. That we still maintain and believe, but it does not follow that because Deputy Morrissey, Deputy Hughes, Deputy Blowick or I stand up here to vindicate the road worker that we desire to see the farm labourer in any worse position than that of his colleague, the road worker. On the other hand, we do not desire that the road worker should be punished in order to satisfy the farmer. That would be unjust and that is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from the references of Deputy Harris—that if the farmer who employs labour finds himself unable, due to the price he gets for his produce, or to market facilities, to pay his farm labourer, we must persecute the road worker as well. That would be unfair, and I do not think it follows at all that we could not get sufficient labour to meet the needs of the farmer and at the same time pay a reasonable wage to the farm worker.
We take exception to Section 29  which states clearly that the word “employment” shall be construed “as including, in addition to employment of a servant of a local authority, an office other than a major office”. The Minister can act on any definition he likes and can apply the section to the road workers and so prevent a local authority from increasing its road workers' wages. That is why we oppose it. We recognise fully that the farm labourer is not receiving the wage we would like to see him receiving, but we are not prepared to go hand in hand with the Minister and give him the power to prevent, for one reason only, the road worker from getting an increase, because the farmer is unable, due to circumstances which the Deputy knows as well as I, to pay his labourer a wage sufficient to provide him with the necessaries of life.
It has been pointed out that the life of a road worker is very hard, and I believe that, in this matter, the Minister has in mind the road scheme he intends to put into being in the very near future. He regards this as an ideal opportunity for taking powers to himself which will enable him to force these workers to build these roads at the very lowest minimum wage, at a wage which, in my opinion, is nothing short of slavery. It is to make sure that workers will be available for these modern highways which he contemplates and the proposals for which our county manager laid before us on Saturday week, and to make sure that they will construct them for the rate of wages he will suggest and that the local authorities will have no power to grant increases, should the workers demand them, that this section is inserted.
I was not here last week, and so I do not know the lines upon which the debate proceeded, but I want to make it clear that while we as a Party, and I believe every other Party, recognise the importance of farming, while we recognise that it is the principal industry and that every other industry is subsidiary to it, and, being the principal industry, those who help to work the land and to produce should be paid a decent wage, the fact that they are not paid a decent wage does  not mean that the man who works on the road or who drains the land should be victimised or that in order to have sufficient men for employment on the land, we agree that the right of road workers should not be recognised. It is almost a system of blackmail because you are blackmailing workers who desire to engage in work on the roads into accepting employment on the land and denying the right of a local authority to increase wages, if they so desire.
Deputy Blowick stated that in Mayo road workers only get 38/- weekly, while in other counties they get 40/-. That is correct. But road workers are not at all satisfied with present conditions. I wonder what the people of Ballinrobe would say to the Minister if he announced to them that road workers were a privileged class, and that they were far better off than other workers. I wonder what kind of reception he would get if he said that at some Sunday morning meeting? I know the reception he would get. I should like to hear the Minister speaking outside some Church in the West of Ireland or in any county, telling the road workers that they were a privileged class, that the rate of wages they were receiving was sufficient, and that he was about to go back to Dáil Éireann to seek powers which would prevent local authorities, if they desired to do so, from granting them increased wages. Nobody with common sense would consider giving such powers as the Minister asks for in Section 29. I believe the Minister's desire is to have men constructing modern highways, which have already been started in Mayo, at a wage which is not much above what I term a slave wage.
The Minister talked about workers who went to England, and painted a kind of picture which could be an inducement to them to take up employment on the other side of the Channel. There is no need to paint a picture of better employment across the Channel. Workers have more knowledge of the position in England than many Deputies. They only go to England because they can get better employment and more security there, notwithstanding the fact that they may get only one egg a month. They prefer to  do with one egg a month, rather than to be going with no money in their pockets, or to have to work for the miserable wage that they will have, if the powers asked for in this section are granted. I know no worker in this country with a weekly income of £3 who would give up his job here to take up employment in Great Britain. The Minister stated that agricultural wages had been increased in pre-war days. As to the Minister's reference to my return from England, may I remind him that before I came back I did not seek a commission in His Majesty's Forces? That cannot be said about the Minister.
Mr. Cafferky: I believe if a free vote was taken that even Fianna Fáil Deputies would not be in favour of this section. Deputy Killilea and other Deputies represent the West of Ireland. They know the condition of road workers and farm labourers, and I believe they would walk into the Division Lobby with all fair-minded Deputies in opposition to this Bill if the question was left to a free vote. On the other hand, we know that these Deputies have not got that freedom. We know that they are tied to Party and that they have to walk behind the Minister, although they do not agree in forcing workers in Mayo to work for whatever wages they are offered. Notwithstanding that these Deputies have to toe the line. If this section passes I should like to know what the result will be if the Minister exercises these powers to prevent local  authorities increasing wages. I believe it will be found that rural workers will organise, and that the Minister will meet an organised body which will demand decent wages, whether he exercises the powers given in this section or not. I believe that day is coming. I ask Fianna Fáil and other Deputies to cast back their memories to the period prior to this Government taking over the Administration, to the propaganda that was spread, and then to say if they thought they would be seeking the powers that this section gives.
The Opposition was accused of encouraging emigration, but the present Government is facilitating it through the labour exchanges and through big contractors from the other side of the Channel. It is the Fianna Fáil Party and the Government that are encouraging emigration. It will be encouraged still more if the powers given in this section are passed. I want the Minister to understand that if he thinks he can stop emigration, or can force men on to the land, to turf production, to road construction, or to laborious work at £2 a week, he is mistaken, because these men will organise —I will be one of plenty others to organise them—in order to defeat the powers asked for in this Bill, which seeks to prevent local authorities granting increased wages to road workers. The way to supply the necessary labour for the farmers is to make agriculture pay and to have better prices for produce. Farmers would then be able to pay their workers, and there would be no need to introduce a reactionary measure like this in order to provide workers for the land.
General Mulcahy: The Minister when reacting to a suggestion from the Chair on Friday, that people ought to keep to the section and to the amendment, showed that he realised the importance of what we are discussing, because he said, “There is no limit to this discussion”, and that is, in fact, the position that we find ourselves in.
General Mulcahy: It is well that somebody read the section. We did read the section and it is well that somebody read it closely and that somebody was curious to know what it all meant, because, lifting this bit of stone in the mosaic of the Local Government Bill, we find that we are actually dealing with the most fundamental thing that we could deal with at this particular time in our country's history. It raises the question, what does anybody want to live in Ireland for and, particularly, the question, what does anybody want to live in rural Ireland for? I think it is an important question. We ought to know something about the answer at this particular hour of our history, February, 1946.
Mr. MacEntee: I suggest the Deputy's organisation ought to address a questionnaire to 2,970,000 people in the country and put the question to them, if it is really agitating him. I do not think it can be discussed on this section.
General Mulcahy: Some of them have come back then. There were only 2,944,000 a year or so ago. At any rate, the Minister has indicated that there is a lot more in the back of his mind than  appears in the section and he has indicated that we can have plenty of time to discuss it. I think we ought to discuss it in a reasonable and congratulated the Minister on his courage in standing up for fair play and justice for every section of the people. Now I should like to know what signs are there of fair play and justice for a fabric of workers that are kept continually working from one end of the year to the other on a very necessary service, that is, road workers, in requiring them to spend their lives in rural Ireland and to rear their families there on an income of 40/- a week? I think we ought to get some kind of information from the Minister or from those who support him in this House on that subject.
I asked the Minister, by Parliamentary Question, the other day, whether any examination had been carried out into the cost of living or as to how people exist at all in the country that would warrant his overruling the unanimous opinion of a body such as a county council, particularly the county council in South Tipperary, that that was not enough, and overruling it to the extent that, although they, under pressure of the Department in keeping their recommendations down, only asked at the moment for 42/-, he decided that he would not allow the manager to pay them 42/-. Do we accept—I do, at any rate—that those who work month in month out, year in year out, in keeping our Irish roads in a proper condition, maintaining and constructing them, are entitled to a wage that will enable them to settle down in their rural areas, to marry and to rear a family, and to do it out of their wages? Can we have an answer from either the Minister or his supporters to the question: Do they agree that the wages paid to road workers throughout the country should maintain them and their families in such a way that they can live a happy, fairly comfortable life in rural Ireland as permanent dwellers there?
Our objection to this section is that the Minister, over the last 12 months, has vigorously taken up the attitude that not only will he pin them down  to 40/- a week but that he will not be prepared to receive local representatives who are prepared to come to Dublin, in the interests of the country generally, and to discuss the matter with them. The Minister has indicated that the Government have formally taken a decision on this matter because, in column 1103 of the Dáil Debates of 15th February, he states:—
“Therefore, the Government decided that as a matter of fundamental policy the rates payable to manual workers under public authorities in rural districts would be brought into line with what the agricultural industry could afford to pay.”
In carrying out the fundamental policy of the Government he has prevented local authorities from paying more than 40/- a week to road workers. I think we are there up against one of the basic facts and basic ideas in the whole of our economic and social policy. The Minister has indicated—column 1106— that he appreciates that the agricultural worker is “perhaps the essential element in the industry in which they are all interested.” He accepts the fact that the minimum wage which has been fixed for agricultural labourers is in the neighbourhood of 40/- as an indication that no other workers in rural Ireland should be paid a wage more than 40/-. If we are accepting that as a basic fact or as a piece of basic policy in facing the economic conditions of to-day, it is an extraordinary thing that we only come up against that in the phraseology of the section that we are now discussing. I think it is a shameful way of treating both the House and the country.
The Minister and his colleagues have at various times injured the whole mind of this country. Now, after a disastrous war lasting over six years, we are facing a new world and people who have been struggling through the difficulties of those years are trying to get their perspective right with regard to their lives from the material and from the spiritual side. We ought to be helped in our discussions here to help the people of the country to realise  what is in front of them in Ireland, what efforts they have to make, what objectives they have to work to, how they are to work towards them and how they can co-operate with one another and with the Government in order to do that. Here, in the background, we have the Government scheming, without any public pronouncement on the matter except what has been dragged out now into the open by a kind of side-wind discussion; behind all their plans and all their white papers and all their paintings for the future, we have them scheming to keep rural wages in Ireland down to 40/- a week at a time when the cost of living is three times what it was before the last great war. It is just as well that we have plenty of time to discuss that because I think that we should consider every aspect of what it means to our people.
The Minister indicated that there was a time when road workers were paid such magnificent wages “that the dregs of the labour market tended to be left to the farmers, when men who could get jobs on roads were forsaking the fields for the roads”. What kind of men does he think are to be left in Irish fields and on Irish roads if the prospect held out to them when facing a new era of world history is that they are to be forced by the Ministry to live and to rear their families on 40/- a week? I think we want to get a lot more information about it. Recently we had the Minister's Department selecting young ladies to go to England to investigate the question of nutrition. I want to know if they were asked to find out in England how a man can keep a wife and family in a rural district on 40/- a week.
General Mulcahy: I regret, Sir, to have to differ seriously with you. We are considering here the question of wages and the Minister's power for controlling wages. Wages are paid for the purpose of enabling people to live. The Minister says that this country has  an agricultural industry which cannot afford to pay the most important workers in that industry more than 40/- a week as a minimum wage. But he considers that the country is able to pay £3 10s. 0d. a week or something like that to half-a-dozen people to go across to England to study the question of nutrition.
General Mulcahy: I want to know if anything is being done to help people to understand how a man can support a wife and family on 40/- a week. When we are asked to pay money to send people abroad to study the problem of nutrition, it would give us some information, at any rate, if we knew that these people were instructed to find out how a person could rear a family on 40/- a week. That is all I am asking and I do not see why the Minister should be so touchy about it. The Minister who, in present circumstances, can screw down a married man's wages in rural Ireland to 40/- a week and expect him to work for that ought to have made some kind of inquiry about it. He must have been dissatisfied with the results of his inquiry when he has to send abroad to find out how we can give people nutrition in a cheaper and more adequate way. If he has any conscience at all, surely he cannot have forgotten what must have been dinned into his mind for the last 12 or 18 months. Was it as a result of the problems he found his conscience up against in the last 12 or 18 months that he sent persons abroad to find out how people nourished themselves? Every phrase that the Minister used on Friday shows that the Government, as a matter of fundamental policy, have decided that their control of all the work on the new turf scheme, on arterial drainage, on the new forestry plan, on the new road plan, over which they have control through a manager or through a managerial system, is to be used to screw down wages in rural Ireland to a figure on which the Minister cannot  prove that a man and his family can live.
This has a bearing on agriculture and on agricultural wages and that is all the more reason why the Government's fundamental policy should have been presented to us in a different way. The man who works on the land, who handles machinery and does the manual work on the land, is the foundation of our agriculture. If a farmer cannot have men satisfied to live in a rural district and to work hard, then the farmer can do nothing with his farm. His capital is completely wasted. He can get nothing out of the land except what his workers take out of the land. We can get nothing out of our land to maintain ourselves either in food or other things except the farmers and the labourers can make our land productive.
The Minister has indicated that, in his opinion, in certain circumstances “the dregs of the labour market tended to be left to the farmer”. What is the complaint of a great many people and even many local authorities with regard to the roads to-day? That they cannot get work done on the roads in a satisfactory way. Why can they not? Because they have men working on the roads without any hope and without any spirit. Deputy O'Donnell complains that on every second farm in South Tipperary to-day there is work for agricultural labourers, if they were available. Why have they cleared out? They have cleared out because they can get at least twice the wages for their work in Great Britain.
General Mulcahy: Until the Government spread their fundamental policy the farmer will not be able to pay. There are farmers in the country paying labourers more than the £2 a week. There are many farmers in South Tipperary who, if they were able to get agricultural labourers, would be very well satisfied to pay them £3 a week. I am sure Deputy O'Donnell will not deny that.
General Mulcahy: Then this line of the Government's in regard to wages means that the Government are expressing complete despair with regard to this country because, except they can present their fundamental plans with regard to the future in such a way as will persuade agricultural labourers and other rural workers that they can live in rural conditions and rear their families, there can be no achievement in this country. The first thing we have to do is to persuade our people in rural Ireland that there is a living for them there. You cannot persuade anybody in rural Ireland that there is a living for him there if the Government's fundamental policy is to keep all rural workers outside agriculture down to 40/- a week. That is the fundamental thing we are up against. That is the thing we will have to delay over.
We will have to ask what the Government have in mind with regard to their fundamental outlook on Irish economy, Irish work, and Irish society. What do they expect from the agricultural community, from those that they want to bring back to the land, or to do arterial drainage work, or forestry work, or road work, if they are going to declare that they are a privileged class when they are allowed to work at 40/- a week? This is not a matter of mere wages. It is a question of what the Government expect men and women to live in Ireland for, who have struggled to set up an Irish Parliament and an Irish Government representative of themselves. Have that Government and that Parliament no better picture to paint for them in February, 1946, than that rural life in this country for those who are the most essential people in our most essential industry is to be a life lived at a level of wages of 40/- per week? There are many comparisons you might make, but I want an answer to that general question and, when we see what kind of answer we will get, we can deal with some of the other matters.
Mr. O'Donnell: I rise more in sorrow than in anger. The country is  short of sugar, milk and butter, the things out of which we would get money. You get a wee spoonful in the bottom of a wooden cup in any first-class hotel, and even here in the Dáil Restaurant, which should be the best table in the country. What is the cause of that? It is that workers are not paid enough and are fleeing the country. In any county in Ireland, north, south, east or west, you could place an agricultural labourer in every third farmhouse. Firstly, you cannot get them and, secondly, you cannot pay them. The return of the farmer's son, who is generally a good fellow in the full prime of life, is about £80 a year and an agricultural labourer gets £104 a year. That is of no use to men at present. We ask for an advance of one-third in the price of beet. It is about three guineas now or £3 6s. 0d. when you have to pay the carriage. We are 20 miles from the beet factory. That is a way of getting the money to pay increased wages. One-third would bring the price up to £4 8s. 0d., which should be paid for washed beet grown remote from or adjacent to the factory. There is a refund of 8/- in the three factories—except in Tuam, where it is 6/-. If you forget about carriage, it is 9/-; it is up to 15/- and 16/- in Louth. The one-third increase would put one-third on sugar and bring it from 6d. up to 8d. per lb.
Mr. O'Donnell: I claim a little privilege. We are talking about wages. There are about four farmers in the House now and I, as a farmer, think that this problem, denuded of Party affiliations, demands attention. I believe no one can deny what I say. We want the money to pay these men. With your permission, I will take only five minutes and will relate my words definitely to the point. I am defending the farmers.
Mr. O'Donnell: No man getting work on the road will work with a farmer, even though farmers are more generous and pay at least £2, with perquisites. Most of them go on the roads, particularly the married men. If sugar were made 8d. per lb. it would cover the amount. If a whisper came through to this House that there was sugar on sale on the top of Galtymore or in the Bog of Allen, the House would be empty and Deputies would join the 40,000 willing to buy it at 1/- a pound. Why should we not produce the stuff we want? The price of milk should be increased in the same way and then there would be money to pay the wages. I am giving the reason why the labourers are fleeing the land and putting my finger on the spot. It is a case of: “Woe to you, scribes, pharisees and hypocrites; you voted against us when we were looking for an increased price to give us a return.” I hate hypocrisy.
Mr. Morrissey: I was naturally waiting for the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary to reply to a debate that has gone on for over two hours, but not a single point has been submitted from the opposite benches. The points made from this side of the House are unanswerable and I can understand the reluctance of even the Parliamentary Secretary to join in. Quite clearly they have no case. I invite any Deputy opposite, Deputy Harris or anyone else, to try to make a case. I know they cannot, as they know in their hearts as well as we do that it is a gross injustice. Deputies opposite have at least as good a knowledge of rural Ireland as we have and they know the conditions there and how difficult it is to live under the present high costs. I would say to the Minister, to Deputy O'Donnell and others that there is more than the mere question of road workers involved in this.
Whilst the head of the family works on the road, the children, even from the time they were going to school, give useful help on the farm. These road workers' sons and daughters supply to a fairly large extent the agricultural and domestic labour to run the farms of this country. Deputy O'Donnell knows that is so. It is also well known that, during the busiest periods on the land over the last five or six years, the road workers were deliberately and properly diverted from the roads by the county surveyors to the land. It is not a question of the road worker against the agricultural worker, or of the agricultural worker against the road worker, but rather that of a decent living wage. I know that Deputy O'Donnell is not against a decent standard of living in this country. I can say that of him  because I knew him long before he or I became members of this House. I want to say this to him, that labourers are scarce in the rural areas for the simple reason that they were driven out of the country. I want to remind him that one of the reasons why labourers are not available to-day is because for the seven years from 1932 to 1939 the farmers were not able to employ men during the economic war. Deputy O'Donnell knows that, because of that, they had to leave the rural areas. Apart altogether from the immediate question, what we object to is this: that an emergency Order, that was passed to govern the conditions that arose during the emergency, is to continue as part of our permanent legislation, and that a fastening down to this maximum is to be pursued by the Minister and the Department even if the cost of living rises higher than what it is to-day. At the moment, according to the official figures, it is 72 per cent. higher than it was at the outbreak of the war. Apparently, if it rises to 100 per cent., the Minister will still refuse to sanction even the reasonable increase which may be agreed to unanimously by local authorities.
I want to remind the Minister and Deputy O'Donnell that increases were unanimously agreed to both by the North Tipperary and South Tipperary County Councils, bodies, let me say, which are composed mainly of working farmers. They looked upon the increase as an act of bare justice to those workers. Those bodies are composed of men who deal with real things, of men who are well aware of the capacity of the farmers and ratepayers to meet such a demand. They were not going to make the mistake that was made some years ago by certain people in this country who thought that you could build up industries on the corpse of agricultural; that you could make certain other people rich by making agriculture poor. I would remind the House that you are not going to make agriculture rich by confining the people who should be the consumers of our agricultural produce to a starvation wage.
Let me ask the Parliamentary Secretary or any member of the House,  farmer or other, how much beef, mutton, bacon, butter or milk a man with a wage of 40/- a week can purchase for consumption by himself and his family? Will he be able to provide even enough tea, bread and butter for his family three times a day on the seven days of the week on that wage? Is it any wonder that we have flaunted here at us year after year the statement that we are providing so many millions more on so-called social services than we were ten or 12 years ago. Why have we to give free boots, free meat, free milk and free other things? The reason is that we are pegging down wages to a figure which is not sufficient to enable men to buy the necessaries of life for their families out of their hard-earned money. The local authorities have been refused permission to pay a decent wage, but we are adding to that wage in a far more costly and wasteful way. I submit to the House and to Deputy O'Donnell that the method that is being adopted is far more costly for the ratepayers and taxpayers, the method of supplementing a totally inadequate wage. It would be far more economical to pay the workers a decent wage because of the waste there is in the administration of the so-called social services.
Mr. Morrissey: What is required in this country is more and more production. You are not going to get good prices either on the farm or in the factory if our working people are unable to buy what is produced on a farm or in a factory, and hence I say the Government are deliberately going against the policy of every enlightened country in the world. They are declaring in this section that the conditions that are to obtain for the rural population are to be worse than they have ever been at any period, either under a home Government or a foreign Government.
General Mulcahy: We have been asked to discuss here a policy which the Minister has told us is fundamental policy, but when fundamental questions are put to him with regard to it he  Clears out of the House. I do not think we have a quorum, and I accordingly draw the attention of the Chair to that.
General Mulcahy: It is a comment on the way that the Government are approaching the very serious times we are entering on that, having discussed in secret, whether with their Party or not, their fundamental policy, and that when that policy comes to be implemented in the Dáil under the guise of Section 29, when the important nature of the section is disclosed and discussed at length, and when important questions are put to the Minister, he runs out of the House, and we are not offered by anybody that is left here any comment on the situation. This is a proposal to fix the wage structure upon which we are going to face the future. It fixes it at a point that tells our rural workers that they are not going to have any chance of living that concentrated, stable, comfortable life that would enable them to rear a comfortably clad, a comfortably housed or a comfortably fed family. The Minister, in column 1125 of the Dáil Debates, has indicated that there are other aspects of this problem, and he says:—
“When you increase remuneration at the bottom you have to increase it throughout the whole hierarchy: your gangers, your foremen, and the people who supervise them will have to be paid more, because they are carrying greater responsibilities; at least, I hope so, if they are worth their money.”
I suggest that there is another side to the question. If you peg down the wage-level of workers in rural districts to a figure at which they cannot hope to rear their families properly, you are setting a line to which other wages in the country may be dragged down.
What is the position in Great Britain? I am charged with being an emigrating agent by the Minister, who has cleared out the House, because I  suggest that if the pull of a couple of shillings extra paid on the roads is sufficient to take men out of agriculture, the pull of a couple of pounds will certainly send them across the Irish Sea. It has done so during the past few years and it will do so to-morrow. I shall not have my mouth shut on a matter which I regard as of public interest by the Minister shouting that I am an emigrating agent. I do not propose to discuss who exactly has been the emigrating agent, but I suggest that that clause will have much more emigrating force than many of the other things for which the Government have been responsible as regards emigration. What kind of men and women do we think our people are— people who resisted control by an outside Power for generations and, in our own generation, freed the country of that Power because they realised something of the dignity and grandeur there is in living under free conditions, and trying to live up to high ideas? Do you think that the Irish people have changed so much within the past few years that, while they would not tolerate the restriction of their minds or efforts by a foreign Government, they will tolerate the restriction of their lives and liberties and the expansion of their personalities by a home Government, which says that rural workers will not get more than 40/- a week, although they may get social services and so forth?
With the world stricken by bigger disasters than have befallen us, other countries are facing the future with courage. In Great Britain, even the farmers are demanding that the income of agricultural workers should be raised to a level equivalent to that of industrial workers. They are being paid to-day a minimum of 70/- a week and even the farmers are pressing that that figure be raised to 90/-. They realise that, as soon as the pressure by labour orders is released, they will be left without their workers, and, consequently, without their living, if something be not done.
Surely a person who alleges that farm labourers can be dragged from Irish fields to Irish roads by a couple of shillings realises that, apart  altogether from the typical spirit of our people, breaking through the frustrations and inhibitions of the war, their ordinary common sense would direct them to seek in a more courageous and more helpful world outside a better living than they are able to get here. A trained soldier will, by the 1st July of this year, receive in the British Army, if he be married, 42/- a week, with 35/- a week for his wife. And he will not get the one dried egg a month or whatever the ration was to which the Minister referred. He will receive full feeding, clothing and housing as well. Who is going to stand up before any young Irishman about to face life, and say: “This is the holy land for which your fathers fought and bled; you will have to stay here in rural Ireland and work for 40/- a week.” It would be a poor day for the country if we had not a little more spirit than to accept without question that particular kind of injunction.
It is a shocking thing that a question so important as this should be discussed in an Irish Parliament in the circumstances under which we are discussing it. However inadequate the Government approach to the question may be, it is disgraceful that, in a matter of fundamental policy, solemnly decided by an Irish Government, no Minister is prepared to come into the House and answer those questions. We should have here more than the Minister responsible for the Bill but that the Minister responsible for the Bill should run out of the House in the manner he has done, is another ghastly sign of the Government's failure to appreciate the present political situation or to appreciate the serious times through which we are passing. In these times, we require a complete understanding of what the really important things at issue are. We should know the fundamental facts that have to be faced and the matters about which decisions have to be taken if we are to work towards any objective.
In the absence of the Minister, I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary, who has listened to part of this discussion,  will have something to say. Deputy O'Rourke said, in our discussion on an earlier section relating to control of local bodies, that we were working here not for ourselves but for a future generation. If any generation ever worked for the future, surely it is the present generation. There are so many vital changes pending in the world and so many extraordinary things happening that nobody knows what to-morrow may present. Things are happening as rapidly in the peace of to-day as might happen to-morrow under the circumstances of war. None of us can feel that what we are doing to-day is vitally affecting what may happen to-morrow because forces may operate greater than any in our power. Surely the principles we lay down, the fundamental facts we face and the decisions we take are matters that are going to affect the character, the hopes and the courage of our people in the creation of economic and social conditions here. It is in that spirit we ought to approach this discussion. It is in that spirit I would ask the Government to approach it, so as to see that this discussion, however it was begun and whatever feelings may have been engendered in connection with it, will end in an atmosphere that will show a general realisation of what is being done here. Let us have an understanding of some kind as to the wages basis upon which we are going to work the economy of the country because we are going to have no economic life, no social life, no cultural life except in so far as they are created out of the occupations in which men and women earn their wages. It is necessary to see that they get wages sufficient to enable them as self-respecting people to live in suitable conditions and to feel that they are working out an Irish civilisation that will sustain their minds and hearts in whatever difficulties and dangers we may have to pass through.
Mr. Spring: This debate has lasted a considerable time, but the one thing that urges me to speak is the suggestion put forward by Deputy Harris  that the amendment proposed by the Minister will popularise the measure. Any of us familiar with conditions in our own districts know the position of road workers to-day. In my county, up to some time round 1944, the road worker was earning a wage of about 36/- a week. That was the weekly wage of the road worker who was employed for a full week, but those of us who have any experience of local affairs know very well that very few road workers got the opportunity, owing to inclement weather and other handicaps, of working a full week. We know that for most of the year round the most that any road worker could earn was something in the neighbourhood of 25/ or 30/-. Speaking from my own experience of public life—and it is only since 1942—I say that the best judges of the wages that should be paid to road workers are the local authorities. In my county we granted an increase of 5/- to the road workers, but when that proposal came before the Local Government Department, the Department would sanction an increase of only 3/-, bringing their wages from 36/- to 39/-. We heard from the Minister that it is the policy of the Government to keep the wages of road workers in each county at a standard which is 1/- a week less than the agricultural wage. I know that in my own county there is no scarcity of agricultural workers. We have heard Deputy O'Donnell, in this House, on several occasions, compliment the workers of Kerry who migrated under the harvest scheme to Tipperary. These workers are experienced and honest, the best of their type that could be got in the whole of the country, but that is no reason why any Minister must regulate the wages of road workers in relation to the wages paid to agricultural workers. I believe that the fixing of wages of road workers should be left in the hands of the local authorities, who are providing the money to pay these workers, and should not be a matter for any State Department.
From our experience of unemployment and relief schemes, we know that the wages paid to the workers on these schemes are quite inadequate and are  altogether insufficient to enable a man to maintain a wife and family in the Christian standard to which they are entitled. Before the present Government came into power, we were told that we would get everything we wanted when we had a Fianna Fáil Government, but I believe that since the Fianna Fáil Government came into power we have had more emigration of workers than we had since the days of the Famine. I trust that the workers of the country will soon realise that the only hope of their securing better conditions lies in shifting the Government from power as soon as they can.
The regulations and conditions circulated to county councils and urban councils regarding the allocation of work on relief schemes show the attitude of the Government to this question. I have not the circular with me at the moment but I had an opportunity of glancing through it at one time and it laid down that a man who had a dole of say 24/- a week would get four days' work on the relief scheme while a man who had 1d. more, that is 24/1 of a dole, would get five days. A man receiving something in the neighbourhood of 32/- would get five or six days—I am speaking of the value of the dole and food vouchers combined. The most that is paid to any man in Tralee Employment Exchange is not anything near the figure set out by the Department to entitle workers to six days. Therefore, we can only assume that when men are asked to work for four or five days on a relief scheme they are being asked to work for 7/- or 10/- extra. It is disgraceful to ask any man to work on any scheme for four or five days for a sum in the neighbourhood of 7/- or 10/-. It is disgraceful, too, that a Department of State should tell any urban council or county council the amount of wages they should pay to their workers.
The Minister stated that the workers on the roads are a privileged class. I have seen men cycling distances from five to ten miles to work on these roads. Some of them during the emergency could not procure tyres for their bicycles and they had to walk  all that distance to their work. They had no alternative when they lost unemployment assistance. In my county recently men employed on relief schemes or unemployment schemes have taken up the attitude that, if they are not guaranteed a full week's work, they will not work on these schemes. Only quite recently a number of men employed on the main roads went on strike in support of a demand for full time. Only last Monday a number of men approached me and told me that they had ceased work because they would not get full-time on unemployment schemes.
Mr. Spring: The wages on all these schemes are paid through the county council. I am convinced that this amendment can have only one effect and that is to lead to a movement amongst road workers and agricultural workers to organise to get better wages and better conditions. The Minister may find himself in the unhappy position very soon that he may not be able to get a man to go on the roads or on the land. Some few organisers will come along to advocate better conditions and will persuade the men to leave the roads and the land until their conditions are improved.
Only quite recently I put down a question here relating to the wages paid to the clerical employees of the Kerry County Council. These workers, married and unmarried, were granted a bonus of 6/- a week by the county council but when the proposal was sent to the Department, all the Department would sanction was 5/- for married workers and 3/6 for single men and women. Their standard wage was something like £2 per week. Does the Minister and his officials believe that a married man with five or six children can exist on £2 a week with a bonus of 6/? How do they think that workers on the roads can exist on 39/- a week? Is  the Minister aware that in any town where there is a small industry and where the population does not exceed 2,000 the wages of workers in that industry are regulated at a rate of 1/- less than the agricultural wage? Though the employers may be good enough to grant an increase to their workers they are prevented by the regulations of the Department from doing so. Accordingly, I would ask the Minister to withdraw this amendment. I put it to him that, as a humane man, he ought to realise that a wage of 39/- a week is not sufficient in rural Ireland to-day, that the workers in this country want better conditions and want to be lifted out of the mire in which they have been for the last 20 years. If the Minister will not do that, then the only thing for the workers in this country to do is to organise and fight the Department of Local Government.
Mr. McGilligan: No. I did not mean that. I only wanted to know whether the Minister had any further remarks to make or not. Last Friday, I had about five minutes in which to make an effort to reply to a lengthy speech by the Minister on what the Minister himself in his reply described as a very discursive sort of debate, and I should like to resume now what I was saying on Friday, knowing how little excuse the Minister can offer to the House and the country for this particular section. I notice that in last Friday's debate the Minister said that this was one of the most important sections in the Bill —in fact, I think he said that it was the most important section. He also said:—
“The issue involved in the section is not a standstill Order, not an Emergency Powers Order, but whether the Minister for Local Government will have the same power of control over the remuneration payable to all employees of a local authority as he has over some.”
 That is what is aimed at. The Minister wants to have control over the remuneration payable to all local employees, and he divided these into two classes (1) those who were more or less officers or officials of a local authority and who, being small in number, therefore had little political influence or power, and (2) manual workers, road workers, and so on, who, because of their large numbers, were “susceptible to organisation and influenced by propaganda”, and he went on to say that he was going to stop that. I take it that that is a fair rendering of the meaning of his words. From that he wandered into a comparison of wages at different times. Now, of course, all such comparisons are vitiated unless people bear in mind the purchasing power of wages to-day as compared with pre-war wages. One has to compare the purchasing power of half a sovereign in 1939 as compared with the purchasing power of £1 to-day, and to remember that a man who is getting a wage £3 now is actually only getting about 30/- so far as purchasing power is concerned. In other words, you have got to divide the amount of the wages received now by two, in order to make any comparison in purchasing power now and pre-war. That being the situation, we find that the date of 26th October, 1942, is apparently taken as the high-water mark or level of agricultural civilisation in this country, and apparently it will be kept at that high level as long as the Minister likes, and his object is to see that the wages of those employed in other forms of rural life will not be as attractive as the wages of agricultural labourers. The minimum agricultural wage is now £2, which had a purchasing power of about 30/- in 1939, and of about £1 now.
Let us concentrate on the comparison between the purchasing power of money in 1939 and to-day. We are living under a Constitution which was passed in the year 1937. Under that Constitution the family was made the great foundation of the whole State, and all through that Constitution it is indicated to people that if they become members of a family, if they found a family through marriage, they will be  entitled to regard that family as the centre of a system. The agricultural labourer is now to be asked to rear a family, under this pietistic Constitution, on £2 a week, or 30/- pre-war. We are also told that under that Constitution private rights are secured, that the right of a man to own external goods is guaranteed to him in this glorious country and under this wonderful Constitution, but that these rights are always to be looked at in accordance with what is called the standards of social justice. Now, what external goods is there likelihood of an agricultural labourer, who is married and has a family, possessing, with his wages pegged down to £2 a week, with a purchasing power of half that? What is the standard of social justice when that wage is taken as the wage to which all other occupations in the rural areas will be related—in fact, related to the point if the others reach half as attractive a wage as the agricultural labourer, it will apparently satisfy the Minister?
One would have imagined that the Minister would have been taught by circumstances. I mentioned, last Friday, the very sore subject of emigration. At the moment, in England, agricultural labourers, operating under an Agricultural Wages Board, are in receipt of £3 10s. Od. a week, and that Agricultural Wages Board is at present being called together to consider an application from agricultural labourers for £4 10s. 0d. a week. The reason for that board being called together now is that it has been found impossible to get people to stop on the land even at the fixed minimum rate of £3 10s. 0d. The board is being called into operation to meet the demand for £4 10s. 0d. because that wage of £4 10s. 0d. is actually the level which is being paid to many of the agricultural workers in England because of the lack of agricultural workers employed on the soil at the minimum rate. In this country, however, we are now to be faced with this new sweeping force. How does the Minister think that the fabric of the agricultural industry in this country, so far as agricultural labour is concerned, will last upon a scale of 40/- a week in wages, with the purchasing power of  that 40/- lowered to about 30/-, particularly when Irishmen going over to England can feel assured of getting £3 10s. 0d., with a possibility of that being raised to 90/-? Remember also that in England, whether by means of subsidies or anything else, it is a fact that while the cost of living has increased over there by about 35 per cent., the wages rates have increased by over 50 per cent., and in many cases the actual wages paid as a result of overtime, special work, and so on, have increased by nearly 80 per cent. Therefore, anybody who is getting wages in England is getting something with not merely the purchasing power of money in 1939, but something even better. A few years ago, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a Budget, almost promised to allow the cost of living to go up a bit in order to bring about some equalisation between the rates of wages that had been fixed and the costs that had to be met out of the wages. In England there is a situation developing whereby the agricultural minimum wage of £3 10s. 0d. a week, which has a really solid purchasing power, is likely to be raised to £4 10s. 0d., and there are plenty of people there who are already in receipt of £4 10s. 0d. Yet, in this country, our agricultural labourers are asked to be content with £2, and the general idea is that no other rural occupation will be half as attractive as that.
I pointed out last Friday that we had lost a quarter of a million people in five years here. Those anxious about the partitioning of this country might be interested to know that the gainfully occupied population of the three Ulster counties left to us is only a half of what we have lost in the space of five years. The gainfully occupied population, between the age of 14 years and whatever is the upward age beyond which people cease to be regarded as likely to be gainfully occupied, in the 23 counties is 125,000 people. We have swept these out of the country and we have, in fact, doubled that figure.
I said on Friday last that the population in Connaught, between the ages in which people are gainfully occupied, is somewhere in the region of 240,000 people. If you take half  Connaught and the three counties of Ulster and think of depleting the population of half Connaught and the three counties in Ulster of those that engage in any occupation, then you have some standard by which to judge what the emigration has been within the past five years.
The County Clare has an all-in population, men, women and children, of something like 90,000 people. The population of Limerick, including Limerick City, men, women and children, is something in the neighbourhood of 170,000 people. If we swept every man, woman and child out of Clare and Limerick and then looked to get the remnant of the 250,000 who emigrated in the past five years, we might have 10,000 over, men, women and children, as between the two great counties of Clare and Limerick. And that is before there was this amazing comparison as between the wages paid in our main industry here and the wages paid in what is regarded as a subsidiary industry in England. We will see how the Ministers deal with that when the outflow starts. A group of industrialists met here the other day and declared it was a scandal that people should be allowed to leave this country. Apparently they felt that folks should be obliged to work on here at wages that are not attractive and that they would be deprived of the opportunity of going where they could dispose of their labour effectively.
The Minister told us, in some other speeches he made, that there are big schemes on foot in this country. One of them, strangely enough, will involve the expenditure of something like £13,000,000 on new roads. Most people would imagine that this country was, if anything, over-roaded at the moment, except possibly certain transport companies who would like to have the roadways made for them at the expense of the farming community. We are to have a big road scheme and that is why the wages of road workers become of importance to the Minister. This scheme might cost a great deal in wages if there was free play in regard to what people will sell their labour for. As opposed to that situation, the Minister wants to bring about a position where he will be able to prevent wages  being paid above a particular figure.
It is not often the Dáil gets a pattern of policy so clearly exposed to it as it got last week. There was a motion in the names of farmer Deputies asking for derating, and that motion was refused. We have this measure in our hands for many months. It did not contain the subject-matter of the amendment that the Minister produced on the Committee Stage. That amendment was brought in after the Bill was in our hands for many months. Under that amendment, the Minister will have power to make the rate for a local authority. If the local authority make a rate and the Minister does not consider it sufficient, he can order them to increase it and, if they do not do so, he will dissolve them.
We will have two Budgets in future. In one the Minister for Finance will exact from the population certain direct and indirect taxation and, possibly seeing far enough ahead, the Minister for Finance will indicate that he cannot put any more taxation, direct or indirect, upon the people. But there is one class that, according to what is thought in Ministerial circles, has so far escaped fairly well from the burden of taxation and that is the farming community. Now the Minister for Finance can, with the permission of the Minister for Local Government, off-load a fair amount of taxation on the farmers.
Mr. McGilligan: I am endeavouring to fit my argument in with the provisions of the section, and I suggest I am in order. If rates are increased— and the Minister can increase the rates under an earlier section—then, of course, the farmers will be made pay where they never were made pay before and so we will have a new class open for taxation. The counterpoise to that is that we will close down on the agricultural labourer's wage first and we will see that he will be kept at a low rate, because we will have the road workers' wages related to the standard that the agricultural labourer is going to get. There is a completely new policy developing here, a policy of the  sharing out of taxation as between the ordinary taxpayer and the farming community, who have so far not been brought under the harrow in that regard. We are having a wage policy clearly announced.
This is the most important section in this Bill. The purpose of this section is to enable the Minister to control the remuneration payable to all employees of a local authority and in that way, of course, the farming community as a whole, the farmers as producers, may be made to bear something in the way of rates which will be the equivalent of taxes. The workers, particularly the road workers, will be controlled in the wages the State will give them. That is because there is ahead of us a policy of gigantic road works at a wage which the Minister will close down on. In these circumstances, we will be able to get a bigger number drawn off from the unemployment rota or, in the alternative, they will fly to England and, if they fly to England, they are no longer an embarrassment to the Minister.
I never could understand the situation here with regard to that matter. Have the Government made up their minds that this country cannot support a larger population than 2,750,000, with whatever would be the ordinary percentage of those who would require gainful occupations? Have they made up their minds that production cannot go to any higher point than to give maintenance to 2,750,000 of a population? Are they showing the white flag in the face of the emigration problem? Are they accepting it that we must accommodate ourselves to that view and that we must see an outpouring of people because they are surplus to our needs and we cannot occupy them here?
In the war years, it has emerged from questions, we have added 5,000 people to the Civil Service; in the war years we added something between 8,000 and 10,000 people to the Army; and in the war years, we emigrated a quarter of a million people. Yet the number of unemployed, which stood at somewhere around 90,000 at the time of the last census in 1936, has varied by only about 10,000, despite all that immense draining off of people who,  apparently, are regarded as surplus to our requirements at the moment.
The Minister, in putting his arguments before the House on this matter, speaks as if there were some antagonism between work on the roads and agricultural labour. So far as I have understood the statistics produced with regard to this country, work on the roads was regarded almost as complementary to work in agriculture. For years it has been declared that agriculture kept on the land more people than could be fully occupied there, but they were kept there because members of a family had the family home to go to, and, in bad periods when there was no real occupation on the land, they found their occupation on the roads or on some of the relief schemes. I have always understood that road workers were regarded as definitely complementary to agriculture and enabled the farming classes, the farmers as a whole, to keep a reserve of people to work on the land at a time when they were required because they could get occupation on the roads at the other seasons. But the Minister speaks as if it were almost an outpouring of the towns population who were going down to take over work on the roads.
That was not the old situation. It may be that a colleague of the Minister's has despaired of getting the 90,000, the great majority of whom are townspeople, lifted from the unemployed schedule, and, therefore, is going to pour them out on to the roadside through these road schemes which are projected. If he does, remember that he is setting a very bad standard. Despite all that is in the Constitution about the family and the standards of social justice, we are now coming to a point at which we expect the agricultural labourer, who may be a married man, and whom, under the Constitution, we applaud if he becomes a family man, to keep himself and his family on the equivalent of 20/- a week in 1939 coinage. If that is the reality behind these pietistic phrases in our Constitution, the sooner the people know it, the better.
I take this as meaning that the  Ministry have despaired of any new scheme of better employment or better productivity in this country, and are simply bending themselves to this situation and trying to meet it in this despairing way on the basis of these two alternatives: we spread out whatever work there is, and we spread it out by occupying a greater number of people at a low wage, or we add on to the 250,000 who have already emigrated. That is a complete and entire policy of despair. It is a policy which cannot be called Christian, and it is all the more hypocritical because it is run under a Constitution which professes so much Christianity in its terms.
Mr. Larkin (Junior): Deputy McGilligan says the policy pursued by the Government is one of despair. If one could think that at this moment, one might be inclined to have some regard for those who, because of their ineptitude, were driven to despair, but it is quite clear that this policy is not a policy of despair, but a policy of cold, calculated determination, which is not only manifesting itself in relation to the particular subject we are discussing but which is to be seen in the whole of their activities.
The policy which the Minister has enuneiated in defending this section is not at all peculiar to the Minister. It was originally formulated by the Minister for Agriculture some years ago, when he spoke quite openly of bringing the standard of life in the urban centres down to that prevailing in the rural centres, and gave, as his excuse and explanation, that only on such a basis was it possible to provide that form of economy for agriculture which would allow it to compete in the postwar markets, that if we had a higher standard amongst the urban community, based on higher wages and salaries and embodied in the prices which had to be paid for the industrial goods purchased by the agricultural community, we were driving up the costs of production on the agricultural community and placing them in a position in which they would be unable to compete. His solution, which he offered quite openly, was to bring  about a readjustment of the standard of life in the urban areas, to relate it and to bind it more closely to that prevailing in agricultural centres.
One is not compelled in any way to take a standard and to say that the standard of life among our people living on agriculture, whether labourers, farmers, or members of the farmer's family, is one which is to be commended to any section of our people, and not only men and women engaged in agriculture but all men and women who have a sense of responsibility amongst all sections of our people are in agreement that one of the basic and most essential needs is to raise the standard of life amongst our agricultural community, because not merely are they entitled to it as citizens and as contributors to the general welfare of the community, but it is an essential element if the general economy is to be improved. If the major portion of our population is not in a position to purchase the articles produced by the industrial section, naturally that internal market about which we hear so much from Ministers will not be there and cannot be availed of.
It is remarkable that not merely had we that speech from the Minister for Agriculture, laying down the future basis of our agricultural policy and the new standard of life he envisaged for our people, but we have had a continuous concentration of it, even up to yesterday in the speech of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, again emphasising the need for exports in our economy. Yet we are living in a country where, admittedly, the requirements of our people in regard to food and clothing have never yet been met to the full extent. The Minister, in the course of his speech, said there are no people going hungry in the country. We put it the other way and ask: Are there people in this country who can eat more food, wear more clothes, and live in better houses? Is that not the standard we have to adopt—not how little they can live on but how much they require in order to live in ordinary, decent comfort as human beings?
That does not seem to be the  approach by the Government Benches. We are trying to find, as the Minister said, in referring to agricultural wages, what is the minimum on which they can live, and, even in speaking of the minimum of agricultural wages, the Minister was incorrect. He speaks of a wage fixed by a board representative of all the elements in agriculture. Does he not know very well that these boards are hand-picked boards and that the representatives from our side, the workers' side, represent not the workers but his own Party, that no consideration is given in the selection to the men to represent the workers, and that even in case of a disagreement between the two sides, the position has been so arranged that the chairman has final and decisive power?
He speaks of this wage as being the minimum wage payable by the agricultural community and he presumes that it is not a starvation wage, but, even in that respect, he does not take all the factors into account. It is a minimum wage, a legally enforceable minimum wage, but, because it is legally enforceable, it is the minimum wage which must be paid by the farmer in the most difficult and straitened circumstances in a particular area, because they cannot fix a legally enforceable minimum wage which clearly, an individual farmer is not in a position to pay.
Mr. Larkin (Junior): I am speaking of the zonal wages in each area. Therefore, we are brought to this position that the standard of wages fixed is not a fair wage in agriculture, is not a wage calculated and arrived at by agreement, as is the case in industry, but a wage which is the lowest minimum which the farmer in the poorest circumstances in each particular district can be legally compelled to pay. That is the standard we are going to fix for our local authorities in future.
The Minister says that the wage in agriculture is not a starvation wage and yet not only in this House but outside  it, in conference with farmers, I have never yet heard a farmer deny that the agricultural workers are not only entitled to a higher wage but need a higher wage. I am quite sure that no farmer says that, merely because he thinks the workers need a higher wage for the purpose of spending it on nonessentials. They agree, and every right-thinking farmer agrees, that agricultural workers in the mass can use more food in their homes and require better clothes, a better standard of housing and certain essentials for their family life which they are not able to buy now. Their explanation of why they cannot give higher wages is that agriculture cannot afford it. They do not stand over the proposition that the wage paid to-day, as fixed by the Agricultural Wages Board, is a sufficient wage for the men they employ. Yet we are told that this wage, which even the farmers who pay it would not stand over, is a proper wage for the men employed by local authorities.
I do not think we should be surprised at what is happening. It is one of the things that we have seen happening since 1941. This is not an isolated case. We have had many abuses of the emergency powers given by this House to the Government in the early days of the war. One of the most vicious has been referred to from time to time. The power to control wages, according to the Taoiseach, is expected to end in September of this year or earlier. I think it will be found that, by September, the extraordinary and peculiar powers given to the Government to control our people will have become part of the permanent legislation of this country. That is the problem. They are going to retain powers, given in our foolishness, as statutory powers for ever and a day, and can do what they have been doing for the past four years.
During that period, industrial workers not only in industrial organisations but through the political influences to which the Minister referred, succeeded in achieving a position in which wages have been increased, limited to some 25 per cent.,  while the increased cost of living was over 70 per cent., but agricultural workers are almost in the same position during these most critical years. So far as this new section is concerned, one of the peculiar things that struck me is that, while we all have sympathy with people engaged in agriculture, not only the men who are wage-earners but farmers and members of their families, there seems to be no effort by the Government to meet the problem in a different way. If we have a higher standard of living in the towns and enjoy more of the amenities of civilisation, surely the purpose of the Government should be to bring up standards in the agricultural areas rather than to try to drive the towns back to the level of the countryside. It may be that that is the purpose, yet there is very little indication of it here.
Even if it is a difficult problem, surely, at this particular stage of our development, it is economic policy to try to increase purchasing power, thereby creating greater opportunities for the gentlemen who spoke at the Gresham Hotel of restricting the further scope and availability of Irish industry because, to the extent that you drive wages down and depress standards to the level of those prevailing in rural areas, to that extent you are affecting not only the market for farmers but for the industrialist. Those who live in small towns and cities can provide a much bigger market for Irish industries, but they cannot continue to provide that market when it is a question whether it is to be food for the children or to pay the rent of the house. That has been one of the problems during the last few years.
I listened to some Deputies who are farmers referring to the shortage of agricultural labour. Surely, every farmer knows that the only reason any man goes to work on a farm in this country to-day is that he cannot go anywhere else. If farmers cannot provide decent conditions for themselves and their families, do they expect the ordinary working man, who is working for wages, to be content? I think it is true that the great majority of farmers sympathise with their labourers, and I think it will be found  in the course of time that Deputies who are farmers, if freed from Party control, would object to the policy enunciated by the Minister, and would object to the classifying of Irish agriculture as an industry entitled to such a low level of subsistence that the whole effect and power of the legislature and of the Government has to be utilised to try to bring every other section to the level of the agricultural community.
It seems to me that we are dealing with an effort to control the whole future development of our people— instead of the prospect held out by the Minister for Industry and Commerce of increased employment, and a higher level of existence—an effort to reach a point at which, in the words of one man who had a vision of this country many years ago, we will enter into competition in foreign markets on the basis of turning the people of this country into a race of helots and slaves in their own land.
Mr. Byrne: Dublin City has 20 Deputies and it is well that these 20 Deputies should recognise that the day will approach when this policy of the Government in dealing with the wage question will affect industrial workers. That is what the Minister is aiming at. He will drive down wages and the frugal comfort in which our population is living. I think it is up to voice our protest against that effort of the Minister. He stated bluntly in this House that as agriculture is our principal industry, the wages of the ordinary worker should be based on what our principal industry can afford. That means that as long as the farming industry—with the moderate help given it by the Government—cannot afford proper facilities to produce and market goods at a fair price, it cannot raise its head to the height at which we would like to see it. Industrial workers later get a crack of the whip, and wages are to be reduced because, as the Minister stated, they should be based on what agriculture can afford. As the problem will approach Dublin rapidly, I earnestly hope that Deputies of all Parties will see to it that the Minister does not get away with this.
 Wages in Dublin City and in the big towns in Ireland are small enough as they are. Rents are high and, as a Deputy has just mentioned, there are people just barely living in frugal comfort, who have not sufficient clothing because their wages cannot buy the clothing at present prices, who are not sufficiently nourished, and who are not able to buy boots at 30/- to £2 a pair on this moderate wage which the Minister is now attempting to enshrine in an Act of Parliament. He is seeking to enshrine an Emergency Powers Order in an Act of Parliament. I hope the Minister will not get away with it this evening, although I feel that the Minister, knowing his strength, knowing that he has a majority behind him, knowing that he can bring in anything he likes, has only to crack the whip and will get it carried. I wonder would the Minister attempt to bring in such a measure as this if this were the last three months of the life of the Dáil or is it because he has three years to go and hopes that, by the end of three years, his action to-day, in reducing the wages and the standard of living of our people, will be forgotten, that something else will turn up to attract the attention of the people?
The Minister made a remark in the course of the discussion which I did not like. I think he said that the farmers got the dregs of the labour market. I think those were the exact words he used. That is a very uncomplimentary term in respect of these fine fellows who are helping to produce the food of the country. The insinuation is that they are there because they can get nothing else. If the facilities were open to them they would get something else. Every member of this House, every day in the week, gets a letter from some constituent, some fine young man, asking him to approach the Government or the passport authorities with a view to getting him a passport to go across the water. That shows that these men are physically fit, capable and anxious for work, and anxious to go anywhere where they would get a decent week's wages that would allow them to keep their families in comfort.
I do say that if the Minister gets  away with this measure to-night, it will not be long until it overtakes Dublin and we will have employers, as we had them in the past, basing their claim for a reduction in wages or for the initiation of wages at a low level, on the Minister's statement. Some enthusiastic Deputy may start an agitation to have an industry established in his particular constituency. Most Deputies, very properly, have said, at some time or other: “I have a site in my constituency in which an industry would be very welcome.” What is to prevent the Minister, in pursuance of the policy of spreading out industries, saying to a manufacturer who proposes to manufacture some useful article of daily use: “I will allow you to start that industry in such and such a town.” Our attention would then be drawn to the fact that in that town or adjoining that town the wages of the agricultural worker are 39/- and the wages of the road worker, perhaps, a shilling more. Then you may have the position that the industrialists in rural areas will be competing in the towns against city conditions and producing articles which would cost 25 per cent. or 30 per cent. more to produce in Dublin because of the higher rate of wage in the City of Dublin. The next thing, naturally, would be an effort to reduce the wages in Dublin because of the low wages paid to workers 100 miles away.
These are the things that I feel are going to happen and because of that I ask Deputies to use all their influence with the Minister and to ask him to withdraw the proposal and not to attempt to enshrine in this Bill an Emergency Powers Order which clamped down wages to a certain standard when they were unable at the same time to clamp down high profits in respect of those who are taking full advantage of the Emergency Powers Order and who, no doubt, will take full advantage of this measure when it passes through the House, as, undoubtedly, it will.
Again I say it is a scandalous suggestion and a scandalous attempt on the part of the great Fianna Fáil Party to bring wages down to £2 a week, which would be equivalent to a  wage of about 18/- 20 years ago. Most of us remember 20 years ago when agitations had to be started in this city to raise wages to a proper level. Are we to go back to that state of affairs? £2 will only but what £1 would buy ten years ago. These things appear to be forgotten. I hope the House will reject the proposal and that, before going to a division, the Minister will see the wisdom of withdrawing it.
Mr. Allen: Having listened to a good deal of the debate and having read the section a number of times, I wonder how many of the speeches could be related to the section or how there could be read into the section some of the things that have been said. Deputy Byrne is the last Deputy who spoke. I would bet a trifle that Deputy Byrne has not read the section once because, otherwise, he would not make the remarks he did make.
Mr. Allen: I did read it, but Deputy Byrne never read it. I should like to tell Deputy Byrne that there is not one single word in the section about a rate of wage of 40/-, 60/-, or any other number of shillings. That is not mentioned in the section, good, bad or indifferent. There is no question about that. The section sets out to give the Minister authority to sanction rates of wages, rates of salary, and otherwise, that may be put into operation, or that it may be necessary to put into operation, by a local authority, whatever that rate may be, but the section in no way specifies what the rate should be. Forty shillings a week for road workers has been mentioned. Under that section, a road worker, in my opinion anyhow, could reach 80/- a week. There is nothing in this section to stop him reaching 80/- or any other wage. All we have listened to for the last few days in regard to this section is all nonsense. As far as my recollection goes, previous to the passing of the 1941 Act, a county council or an urban council had no power, without sanction,  to put any rate of wages into operation in respect to road workers or any other section of workers. The 1941 Act, I think, gave power to the local authority to specify a rate of wages or a rate of salary. Before the passing of the County Management Act the county council could suggest salaries for clerical officers or rates of wages for other industrial employees, but it was subject to sanction all the time. I do not remember a salary, whether it was for a minor office or a major office or a rate of wage for a road worker or any other type of worker, being allowed to come into operation without the sanction of the Minister for Local Government, whoever he might be. This section would appear to me to re-enact what was the law before the passing of the 1941 Act. That is what it means. It brings the law back into the position in which it was before the passing of the 1941 Act, as far as I can read into it, and it provides that any rate of wage or any salary that falls to be paid by a local authority is subject to the sanction of the Minister, whether that salary is in respect to road workers, clerical workers or any other type of workers. That is the only thing I can read into it.
A big controversy has ranged round the suggestion that under this section it is proposed to peg road workers' wages to the same level as agricultural workers' wages. I am one who has no hesitation in defending that policy. I have defended it openly in my own constituency and I am not a bit afraid to defend it in any place. I do not think there is anything wrong about it. I do not say that the rate of wages of agricultural workers at the moment is a proper one or a sufficient one. I do not claim that. I do not think the rate of wages being paid to road workers is sufficient. I do not claim that for a moment, or that the wages should not go higher. But I do say that the minimum rate of wages which is being paid to agricultural workers would appear to a great number of people who have examined the matter to be all that agriculture can afford to pay. It is true that in a great number of cases a higher rate than the minimum  rate is being paid. But, generally speaking, it will be found that the rate of wages paid to agricultural workers is not higher than the minimum rate. A very good case can be made that while agriculture cannot afford to pay higher than a certain sum, the employees of local authorities, whose remuneration is provided, in the main, by the agricultural community, both farmers and labourers, are not entitled to a higher rate than agriculture can afford to pay.
I should like to know from Deputy Larkin or some other Deputies if the industrial community in the cities and towns are prepared to pay for agricultural produce a sum sufficient to bring the wages of agricultural workers into line with those of the industrial workers. Every rural dweller in this country, whether he be a farmer or worker, demands a standard of living equal to the standard in the cities and towns. Every farmer believes that he is entitled to that; every agricultural worker believes that he is entitled to that. If he gets sufficient remuneration for his produce to enable him to do it, every farmer will agree to pay a rate of wages to his workers to enable them to reach that standard. There is only one way of doing that and that is that the dwellers in the towns and cities would pay sufficient to the farmer for his produce to enable him to pay a higher rate of wages. When we get from the people in the cities and the towns an admission that they are getting agricultural produce at too low a price and that they are prepared to pay for milk, butter, flour, vegetables and other items of agricultural produce sufficient to enable farmers to pay £3, £4, or £5 a week to their workers, which the workers in the cities and towns are getting, the farmer will be the first to pay that wage. But, until that situation can be brought about and the farmer as a result of getting such a price for his agricultural produce is enabled to pay a higher wage, it is all nonsense for Deputy McGilligan, Deputy Hughes, or Deputy Blowick to talk about the low-wage standard of this Government. It is all a game of politics and nothing else and they know it.
 Deputy Hughes can talk with a tongue in his cheek in this House about the low-wage standard of this Government. Will Deputy Hughes relate that to agriculture and make any suggestion as to how he proposes to raise the price of agricultural produce sufficiently high to enable a farmer to pay £3, £4 or £5 a week to his agricultural workers? Let us have some concrete suggestion as to how that can be brought about or how it was possible in the past to bring it about.
Mr. Allen: We have not had any suggestion as to how agricultural produce will sell in this country or in any country in the world at a sufficiently high rate to enable a farmer to pay his workers £3, £4 or £5 a week, a thing which we would all desire to see.
Mr. Allen: This section simply means that the Minister takes power to sanction any rate of wages that the county manager, who is the local authority in this case, will recommend for payment to the road workers or any other section of employees of local authorities. If the Agricultural Wages Board to-morrow were to fix a wage of £3 a week for agricultural workers, automatically the road workers would get £3 a week also. It is all very fine to put forward one policy in this House and another policy in the country. Before another month passes I am sure we will hear from Deputy Mulcahy or Deputy Blowick or some other Deputy that the cost of social services and the cost of administering local government services has gone up by so many millions over so many years. At the same time they are demanding here that the cost of this service should go up considerably. That is what it amounts to. Every member of a local authority has an opportunity from time to time of recommending whether or not wages or salaries should be increased. It is not their function, but the question will come up at local authorities' meetings  and they will have an opportunity.
Personally, I believe that the wages of agricultural workers and the wages of road workers should be somewhat similar. I do not see any difference in their work. When you compare their conditions they are, if anything, to the benefit of the road workers in certain respects and not in others. But, taking it all in all, the work is somewhat similar. They live under similar conditions in the rural areas and the cost of living is similar for both. It is pure nonsense for Opposition Deputies to try to make the country believe that there is something revolutionary being done under this section. There is nothing being done that was not already in operation. The Minister had power to sanction salaries, whether for major offices or minor offices. What is being re-enacted here is something which was already in operation and was already the law before the passing of the 1941 Act.
Mr. Butler: The speeches from the Opposition benches on this particular section really amaze me when I compare them with the speeches made from the same benches on amendment No. 31. On amendment No. 33, speakers on the Opposition benches seemed to be obsessed by the fear that the Minister was about to impose a heavy burden on the ratepayers. They seemed to fear that the Minister was going to insist that the local bodies should put up the moneys necessary for the various social services. Within a few days we have the same speakers clamouring that new burdens be imposed on the ratepayers. This is all characteristic of the general policy, if it can be called policy, of the Opposition Parties. During the last 12 months in particular, we have heard the Minister pilloried because he did not adopt and take to his bosom a certain social policy, a rather Utopian one, because he did not introduce the Beveridge plan or something equivalent to it, because he did not announce some plan of his own, or because he was not imprudent enough, in these changing times, to tie himself to a cut and dried social policy. He was not imprudent enough to do that, as no statesman in any country could  envisage the state of things in two or three years more. If a Utopian scheme of social services is announced in any detail, it is simply a matter of vote-catching in any country at the present time.
When the Minister took the first practical step to ensure the working out of the social system in this country, by ensuring the income for the up-keep of the social service, he was called a dictator. That was two or three days ago. Now we have the cry that there should be further expenditure and further impositions on the ratepayers. That is neither fair nor honest criticism, but it is in a line with the type of opposition we have had right down along. I remember when the Opposition Deputies and their friends in Country Dublin raised the cry “Pay no rates”, and I remember the chaos caused in County Dublin then. That opposition was met and dealt with, but there appears now to be a new line of action. The idea of advising people to pay no rates was simply in order to make government impossible.
Mr. Butler: I am speaking from what I know by actual observation in the City of Dublin and from an intimate knowledge of Dublin County. The new cry seems to be, not “Pay no rates”, but “Fly to England”. As far as I can judge from the speeches from the Opposition, there is something amounting to anxiety to have our workers go across to the other side. We heard Deputy McGilligan to-night telling the agricultural labourers, through this House, that they are forced to stop here and work here because they are very likely to get £4 10s. a week in Britain. That is an unscrupulous policy. It is neither honest nor wise, and I am certain it is not patriotic. I am a country man, born and reared in the country. Practically all my relatives live in the country, most of them farmers. I know the country conditions well, and I know the country thought and trends  of criticism. The average agricultural labourer looks with some degree of envy on the road-worker. While the farmers realise the absolute necessity for maintaining our roads in good condition, there is a belief amongst them and amongst people in country towns that there is not an adequate output of labour for the amount of money spent upon the roads at present.
This has been turned practically into a debate on the wages of road workers. If the demands from the Opposition were conceded, the volume of criticism from the agricultural labourers, from the farmers and from every type of ratepayer would become much sharper than it is at present. I would advise honesty in criticism from the Opposition Benches. It would be better for the members of the Parties concerned not to speak, as they have been speaking on this section, and especially on amendment No. 31a, with two voices— continually crying out in one and the same breath for additional expenditure and severe retrenchment. There is nothing honest about that and it is one of the main reasons why the people show no confidence in any of the Opposition Parties.
Mr. Corish: Deputy Allen, in his short speech, referring to the speech by Deputy Byrne, said Deputy Byrne was practically the only member on the Opposition Benches who referred solely to this section of the Bill. I am inclined to agree with him on that point and I think we should congratulate the Ceann Comhairle and the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for giving us such liberty, after the example of the Minister. It gives us an opportunity to speak about a particular section of workers under local bodies. The main subject of this debate is whether a road worker can exist on 39/- a week or not. In his long speech on Friday last, the Minister tried to show that a road worker can exist on that wage. I would like his statement to be given publicity, and I would like the road workers who supported him and his Party in the previous general elections to take note of the fact that Minister MacEntee thinks that a road worker can exist on 39/- a week, and  his companion the agricultural labourer on 40/-
The Minister put up various excuses to try to justify this wage. He taunted the Opposition by saying “39/- a week, according to my standards, is all right until you put up your proposals to show whereby he can get an increase.” Deputy Vivion de Valera has adopted much the same style in his opposition to some of our motions. He always asks: “How is it going to be done, or where is the money to come from?” There is no use in fooling ourselves over this question It is not an individual's right, and not his duty I should say, to suggest to the Government how a question such as this should be got over. The Minister has his officials and his experts, and as a man himself he must realise that 39/- a week is not a living wage. If he takes a doctor's figures as to what is a reasonable wage for a man with a wife and family to support he will see that 39/- can be easily exceeded in providing the bare necessaries of life.
The Minister and some members of his Party referred to some of the schemes of social services introduced by the present Government. They mentioned a long litany of different schemes of assistance, including free boots, free beef and free milk. These do not provide a cure. If the plain people of this country are to get over the begging and charity complex which they suffer under now, then social services and the like—free boots, free beef and free milk—will have to be done away with. Certainly, we do not object to people getting benefits, but they should not be humbled or degraded to such an extent. The unfortunate person who cannot exist on 39/- a week must, before he gets a miserable pair of Government quality boots, suffer the indignity of approaching the home assistance officer and ask him for an application form on which he must fill in all particulars in regard to his family, his means and where he works. He must do that before he can receive a pair of boots for one of his kids to go to school. That is one of the branches of the social services in which he is degraded, in which he has to swallow his pride and bow down to the  Fianna Fáil Government which came into office to raise his standard.
There is no use in the Minister, or in any of the Deputies who sit behind him, trying to justify a wage of 39/- or 40/- a week by looking across at the Opposition Benches: by trying to prove that their wage, when compared with the one which Fine Gael gave 12 or 13 years ago, is any justification for a wage of 39/- or 40/- a week. The Minister has compared the wages of the agricultural labourer with the wages of the road workers. He has put the two lowest paid sections in the community in opposition to one another, and probably will give people down the country the impression that it is a fight between the road worker and the agricultural labourer. The Minister for Local Government is concerned only with the road worker. His Department does not cater for agricultural workers. In his defence he has suggested that the agricultural labourer, if not paid a rate of wages comparable to that of the road worker, will fly from the land and go to work on the roads. The Minister must know perfectly well that the number of road workers in any county is not more than 400 or 500, and that it would be entirely impossible for agricultural labourers to fly to work on the roads. There is the fact, which has not been mentioned either by the Minister or by the members of the Opposition, that the agricultural labourer is not flying to the roads, but is flying to the towns, and is thereby swelling the unemployment figures. He is going into the towns to work as an industrial worker, and thereby flooding the employment market. In consequence, the unfortunate townsman is forced to emigrate. I would not like to be accused, as some members of the Opposition were, of being an emigration agent. I am entirely opposed to emigration as I am to a Government which could not cater for the 250,000 Irish people who had to emigrate during the last five or six years. The policy of the Fianna Fáil Government is entirely responsible, first of all, for the flight from the land, and secondly, for the flight to Great Britain.
Has the Minister considered in his heart the question which has been put  to him since last Thursday night, that 39/- a week is a reasonable wage? Does he consider that any Irishman is going to be attracted either to work on the roads or on the land for the miserable wage which he has the privilege, if we may call it such, of fixing?
I am entirely opposed to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health having anything to do with the salaries or wages of local government officials. I happen to be a local government official myself. Heretofore, I could not approach a Deputy on my own behalf, but now I can meet the Minister both as a local government official and as a Deputy. Is the House aware of the scale of salaries which he, or his officials, has sent down the country for young men who have to pass a competitive examination of leaving certificate standard, for young men who, in their foolishness, think that they have received a good, sound, secondary education and are going into a decent, prosperous job like local government? Is the House also aware that Minister MacEntee or his officials——
Mr. MacEntee: I do not wish to interrupt the Deputy, but it is the custom to address Ministers by the title of their office and not by name. I think we ought to preserve the custom which has been established.
Mr. Corish: I am sorry. Does the Minister imagine that 34/- a week is a reasonable wage for a clerical worker, a man or a woman, as the case may be,  who has completed his or her secondary education, and looks forward to a career in local government? That official is offered the princely sum of 34/- a week as a commencing salary. I object to this section because I believe that the Custom House, representing local government, has not the slightest idea as to what salaries are acceptable, or the salaries that are best suited for local officials employed by county councils or urban councils. I think that this question should be left entirely to the local bodies. The members are local men who understand local conditions. They understand the grievances of the people in their own localities and they have sympathy with, and understanding of, them. It is difficult for a Minister in the Custom House, perhaps 150 miles removed from a particular district, to have any knowledge of conditions there. It is for this reason that I object to this section. I emphatically object to any Minister for Local Government having any say whatsoever to the salaries and wages paid to local government officials.
Burke, Patrick (Co. Dublin).
Childers, Erskine H.
Colbert, Michael. Lydon, Michael F.
Lynch, James B.
O Briain Donnchadh.
O'Connor, John S.
Crowley, Honor Mary.
Daly, Francis J.
De Valera, Eamon.
De Valera, Vivion.
Fogarty, Patrick J.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Little, Patrick J.
Loughman, Frank. Ruttledge, Patrick J.
Ryan, Mary B.
Skinner, Leo B.
Bennett, George C.
Costello, John A.
Dockrell, Henry M.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Larkin, James (Junior).
McFadden, Michael Og.
Mongan, Joseph W.
Murphy, Timothy J.
O'Donnell, William F.
Pattison, James P.
Rogers, Patrick J.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health (Mr. Childers): I move amendment No. 56:—
In sub-section (1), page 15, lines 4 and 5, to delete the words “bridge, viaduct or tunnel (including a”, and substitute the words “bridge forming part of a road, viaduct forming part of a road or tunnel through which a road passes or is intended to pass (including any such”.
This amendment is designed to give a better definition of the type of structure covered in Part IV. The type of bridge, viaduct or tunnel is defined more exactly. Bridges and viaducts not forming part of roads, or tunnels through which a road does not pass, will not be affected by the section.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Mr. Larkin (Junior): I move amendment No. 57:—
In sub-section (3), line 18, to delete the words “two or more road authorities” and substitute the words “the local authority making the application for the bridge order.”
Perhaps we might get from the Minister an explanation as to the manner in which this sub-section is to be operated. The sub-section deals with an application for a bridge Order by a particular authority; yet it would appear from a reading of the sub-section that other local authorities may be drawn into the scope of the Order, and that a certain section of the costs may be apportioned amongst them. The purpose of the amendment is to secure that if the Order originates from a particular local authority, other local authorities, who may be reluctantly drawn into the work, may not be saddled with additional costs arising out of the initiative of the particular local authority which wants the scheme.
Mr. Childers: The purpose of Part IV is to resolve difficulties that arise when two or more authorities are concerned in the building or reconstruction of a  bridge. It may happen that a comparatively small authority, such as an urban council, would be vitally concerned in the reconstruction of a bridge or the building of a new bridge but it could not possibly be concerned to any great extent in the cost of the work. It is with a view to resolving the difficulties that have arisen in the past that the comprehensive machinery in Part IV of the Bill is being put forward. Obviously if a small urban council were to apply to the Minister for a bridge Order, believing that the bridge was essential to the commercial community in the urban district, they are likely not to be ultimately responsible for any considerable portion of the costs or responsible for the carrying out of the machinery under the Bill, if at the same time two large county authorities are also vitally concerned with the bridge from the standpoint of inter-county communication. Deputy Larkin's amendments, both to this section and others, seem to imply that only one authority will be primarily responsible, whereas the legislation is designed to cover cases where there is a number of complex factors. It might be for example that a bridge had to be built mainly adjoining two counties and close to a particular county it might impinge on some urban district, affecting the interests of the town whose markets had decreased in importance or in value, either through the breaking down of the bridge or the necessity for the construction of a new bridge.
The whole purpose of Part IV is to see that every authority is assessed as fairly and as reasonably as possible having regard to their particular interest in the work. I think the House will agree that the Minister in certain cases is not to be envied for his responsibility. Even after he has taken all the views he is bound to take under the Bill, after he has examined the preliminary report, after he has held the inquiry and received the observations of all the authorities concerned, no doubt it will be difficult to make a decision. But he will have to make a decision according to his best judgment. It is impossible for us to  accept the amendments put up by Deputy Larkin because they would defeat the purpose of Part IV of the Bill.
Mr. Larkin (Junior): The only point that arises is that when an application is made by a certain authority, as is pointed out by the Parliamentary Secretary the making of the Order may affect vitally the interests of other road authorities in the area. They may fall in with the carrying out of the bridge Order or they may feel that it is to their disadvantage. There is an arrangement for a preliminary report and a subsequent inquiry, but the final authority in the apportionment of the cost of construction and subsequent maintenance is the Minister and in so far as it is possible for local authorities to be drawn into the whole periphery of the section against their desire and yet be saddled with the expense of the cost of construction and subsequent maintenance of the bridge, it seems desirable that there should be a possibility of appeal to some tribunal. I think it would be a feasible and reasonable proposition because in the course of dealing with the whole application the Minister and his advisers would form certain opinions in considering the report and the report of the local inquiry. Then, when they came to the question of the actual apportionment of the expenses and the cost of maintenance they would have that right of appeal. From that particular point of view I think it should be possible to afford to local authorities, which were not the initiators of this scheme, some sort of appeal against the burdens which may be placed upon them. I think that some consideration is needed on that point before the Report Stage.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is the Deputy withdrawing the amendment?
Mr. Larkin (Junior): I shall not press it, Sir.
An Ceann Comhairle: Very good. That covers amendments Nos. 65 and 66?
Mr. Larkin (Junior): Yes.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 31, as amended, agreed to.
 SECTION 32.
An Ceann Comhairle: I think, Deputy Hughes, that amendment No. 58 is met by amendment No. 59.
Mr. Hughes: Yes.
Amendment No. 58 not moved.
Mr. Childers: I move amendment No. 59:—
Before sub-section (3), page 15, to insert a new section as follows:—
(3) Where the Minister gives a direction under sub-section (1) of this section to a road authority, he shall cause notice of the direction to be given by post to every, if any, other road authority by whom expenses of the work are proposed in the application for the bridge Order to be defrayed.
This amendment was designed to meet the point raised by Deputy Hughes in his amendment, No. 58. We felt, however, that if we used the words suggested by Deputy Hughes, the Minister would be rather committed to stating in advance what local authorities were likely to be asked to contribute financially, whereas in the form of the Ministerial amendment the Minister simply sends notice to every road authority who are likely to have to meet expenses in connection with the work mentioned in the application. In other words, there is a distinction between an urban council, for example, applying for a bridge Order and another local authority also applying for it, and the Minister committing himself in advance to informing local authorities. It is really merely a technical difference.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Question proposed: “That Section 32, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”
Mr. Hughes: I should like to have some information from the Parliamentary Secretary before we pass this section. I should like him to tell us what is the present procedure regarding the construction of a bridge where two or more local authorities are involved.
Mr. Childers: Various statutes dealing with bridges are being repealed  under this Local Government Bill. Most of them relate to bridges with tolls and, therefore, the statutes are obsolete. The whole of the legislation entitled, generally, Bridges (Ireland) Acts, 1834, 1864 and 1867 is being repealed, and a new code relating to the construction of bridges joining two or more county authorities, as I have said, replaces the existing legislation. Before 1834 the expenses of building or re-building a bridge between two county areas were equally defrayed between the two counties, wherever a dispute arose as to whether one, in fact, had more responsibility for the cost than the other. After the Bridges (Ireland) Act of 1834 a new arrangement was made under which, if the Grand Jury, which was then the county authority, held that a new bridge should be built or an old bridge rebuilt, the grand jury should go into certain details and inform the Lord Lieutenant, now the Minister for Local Government, and he appointed a bridge commission consisting of not more than five persons. They examined the merits of the proposal, carried out necessary surveys, prepared estimates, and reported to the Lord Lieutenant, now the Minister for Local Government, and they stated the portion which they considered ought to be defrayed by the two counties concerned or by neighbouring counties, if affected and if the commissioners thought that they should contribute. As the thing is now, the Minister for Local Government lays the report before each of the county councils, replacing the grand juries, affected, and the county councils have the right of appeal to the Minister. The Minister then determines on the appeal and arranges for the construction of the bridge.
Prior to 1867, the bridge had to be built by the Commissioners of Public Works. After that, the Lord Lieutenant, followed by the Minister, arranged for the local authorities to form a committee to carry out the transaction instead of the Commissioners of Public Works, and that, generally, has been the position up to now. We considered that the formation of a bridge commission is a cumbersome method of resolving all these  difficulties between two counties, and this is designed to keep between the counties concerned the whole matter of arranging for the bridge, preparing the estimates and carrying out the work. Moreover, as can be imagined, when the building of a modern and expensive bridge is under consideration an entirely separate organisation has to be formed, working for the bridge commission, because there are far more technical difficulties involved now than previously. We feel that the existing body should serve that purpose instead of a new body. In addition to that, it is not possible, before this Bill becomes law, for an urban authority to make an application to the Minister; only county councils, replacing Grand Juries, can make such applications, and if county authorities, for one reason or another, delayed in making an application for a bridge Order, some town adjacent to the site of the bridge might be in a very unfortunate position; their commerce might be affected and their markets reduced. Under the present scheme any authority, even an urban council, can apply. Part IV provides an orderly method of carrying through the processes I have indicated. The Minister receives the application for a bridge Order, a preliminary report is prepared, and the Minister can then decide whether to proceed with the work or not. He must consult with the authorities concerned and make equitable arrangements to distribute the expenses of the building of the bridge and also make equitable arrangements for the maintenance of the bridge after it has been constructed. I hope I have sufficiently explained the matter to the House.
Mr. Hughes: There is a very big principle involved in this Part of the Bill. I am not sure whether I should raise the issue on this section or on Section 36. Possibly, I would be more in order on Section 36, but I am not satisfied with this Part of the Bill. As the Parliamentary Secretary has informed us, the present procedure permits a committee to be formed of the two local authorities involved and permits consultation between the two local authorities. It gives the local  authorities an opportunity of determining for themselves their own problems —the type of bridge they will provide, and the situation of the bridge. It does not follow that if you are to rebuild a bridge you will build it in the same place.
The danger of this Part of the Bill is that a Minister not conversant with local problems and requirements may determine a site which is not in the interests of the local community. The Parliamentary Secretary has pointed out that local commerce and the local market may be very seriously affected. I am afraid that the Minister, in determining where the bridge will be built, may ignore the just claims of the community—perhaps of a town—to the detriment of one place and possibly to the advantage of another. In a situation like that all the circumstances should be explored as far as possible. We ought to provide the machinery that will make it possible for local people to determine the problems themselves rather than have a decision dictated from the Custom House. If the machinery fails to find a solution, then one can understand why power should be given to the Minister to make a decision. I cannot understand why provision is not made whereby the local people will be given an opportunity of deciding for themselves, through a joint committee, where the bridge should be constructed. I am merely raising the point now because this principle is running through the Bill and I feel I should properly raise the issue on this section.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary say why the Minister saw fit to depart from the machinery which gave an opportunity to local authorities to appoint a joint conference or a joint committee to determine their own problem? I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to tell the House why that procedure was departed from in this case. The procedure here is that a local authority may make an application for a bridge Order. The Minister may ask for a preliminary report and request the local authority to carry out a preliminary survey. It is only by amendment now that the Minister will be bound to provide for local authorities that might be financially interested in  the report. He can arrive at a decision without further reference to any local authority and he can make a bridge Order directing whatever local authority he may, in his wisdom, choose to carry out the work. That is a complete departure from the existing law, which provides for a joint committee to be set up for the purpose of consultation and the local authorities are given an opportunity of making a decision on what is essentially their own business.
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: Deputy Hughes's point might possibly be met by the fact that after local consultation has failed to give an agreed result, Section 34 provides for the holding of a local inquiry and, as a result of that inquiry, the Minister may issue an Order in such terms as he thinks proper. A good deal would depend on the definition of what he “thinks proper”. Perhaps on that point the Parliamentary Secretary might give an explanation.
Mr. Childers: Perhaps I have not made sufficiently clear to Deputy Hughes or to the House what is the nature of the bridge commission. The bridge commission is not a joint committee of local authorities. Five persons are appointed by the Minister for Local Government to inquire into an application by the county council. Under the 1834 and 1867 Acts the Minister was not obliged, in appointing a commission, to see to it that they represented the interests of the particular local authorities. So far as I can gather, they were people who were competent to examine the application and had the necessary technical qualifications to do so. Under the proposed provisions the Minister holds a local inquiry and ascertains what local opinion is in regard to the application for the bridge Order.
Mr. Hughes: The Minister is not bound to do it. He may hold an inquiry.
Mr. Childers: It is inconceivable that he would fail to hold an inquiry if there was likely to be any very large measure of public opinion strongly divided on the matter. Deputy O'Sullivan indicated quite clearly and correctly that  Part IV is meant to overcome difficulties which will almost inevitably arise. In pure theory it would be possible to have a bridge built between two county areas without having recourse to Part IV of the Bill if it is perfectly plain that the bridge will convenience both areas. The only thing is, if they applied for a contribution from the Road Fund, the Minister would have to examine the plans.
The whole purpose was to overcome the difficulties which inevitably will arise where somebody must decide, after hearing all the evidence that will be put forward. The House will appreciate that if a bridge of very considerable cost, up to £120,000 or £250,000, was under examination, there would be a very keen controversy and the Minister in his own interest would be bound to take advantage of every section of Part IV in order to ascertain the truth of the matter. He would have representations made to him by local authorities, business interests and, no doubt, by Deputies representing the local area. I can imagine a tremendous number of representations being made. Someone must determine this matter and Part IV is provided in order to overcome the difficulties that inevitably will arise.
Mr. Hughes: I should like to know why some provision was not put into this measure for the formation of a joint committee, so as to give an opportunity to the local authorities involved of having a consultation with a view to determining their own problem. I understood the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned the formation of a committee. I take it that is a joint committee of the local authorities.
Mr. Childers: There is nothing to prevent local authorities coming together to discuss these matters. If two county councils appoint a joint committee, there is nothing in this Bill to prevent them from considering the matter. Perhaps I may have confused the House and the Deputy by speaking of a bridge committee instead of a bridge commission, which would examine an application for a bridge Order under the old procedure. They were people appointed by the Minister for the sole purpose of examining the  proposal, but not necessarily would they represent local opinion.
Question agreed to.
Mr. Childers: I move amendment No. 60:—
In sub-section (2), page 16, line 2, to delete the words “navigable water” and substitute the words “a railway or navigable water (including a canal)”.
The purpose of the amendment is to require notice of a local inquiry to be given to the Minister for Industry and Commerce where a railway is concerned, in the same way as the section in its present form requires such notice to be given where navigable water is concerned. The amendment makes it clear that navigable water includes a canal. It may be obvious to the House that where a railway is concerned, in view of the statutory responsibility of a railway company and in view of the possibility of its interests being affected, it should be consulted in connection with an application for a bridge Order.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 61 not moved.
Section 33, as amended, agreed to.
Mr. Childers: I move amendment No. 62:—
In sub-section (2), page 16, line 8, to delete the words “navigable water” and substitute the words “a railway or navigable water (including a canal)”.
The same principle is covered in this amendment as in amendment No. 60.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 63 not moved.
Mr. Hughes: I move amendment No. 64:—
At the end of the section to add a new sub-section as follows:—
No bridge Order can be made save with the consent of the Minister for  Finance who must satisfy himself that the proposed construction, whether bridge, viaduct or tunnel, is the most suitable in the interest of good drainage.
We have a National Drainage Act, and I feel that whatever bridge construction we are to have in the future should have the approval of the Office of Public Works to ensure that it is in the best interests of the drainage of a particular district and will not be an obstruction to drainage. I feel that the Office of Public Works should be given an opportunity to approve of the construction or location of a bridge from the drainage point of view.
Mr. Childers: Under Section 50 of the Arterial Drainage Act, 1944, the Commissioners of Works must give their consent to any bridge across a waterway. I think that covers the Deputy's point.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 65 not moved.
Section 34, as amended, agreed to.
Section 35 agreed to.
Amendment No. 66 not moved.
Question proposed: “That Section 36 stand part of the Bill.”
Mr. Hughes: The Parliamentary Secretary is satisfied that there can be consultations between two local authorities, but can two local authorities have a bridge committee for the purpose of dealing with the particular matter? There is no provision in this Part of the Bill for such consultation.
Mr. Childers: There is no objection to an informal committee being established between two county councils to discuss all the matters relating to an application for a bridge Order, the preliminary report and so forth.
Mr. Larkin (Junior): By Section 36 the Minister, in making a bridge Order, may give directions for the execution of the work and the Order may also contain instructions to be carried out or conditions to be complied with by the executing authority. Can he say whether those conditions  would include the actual conditions of employment on the construction of the work? I have in mind such conditions as a fair wages clause and the ordinary conditions which local authorities accept as a matter of course.
Mr. Childers: The bridges under Part IV will naturally be built by contract, and it is customary to include a fair wages clause in the contract for such a structure.
Mr. Hughes: Whether a local authority are in favour of a bridge Order, or whether they like it or not, they are bound to carry it out, once the Minister makes it and directs the local authority to carry out the work?
Mr. Childers: Yes.
Mr. Hughes: I certainly do not like that. I understand that the building of a bridge between Cork and Waterford is contemplated, and, from the information I have, the location of the bridge is likely to be very far up-river from the existing bridge and it may be detrimental to the interests of a particular town. The position is to be that, regardless of what a local authority says or feels, the Minister, if he is making a contribution from the Road Fund, may decide that it is more economical to build the bridge up-river, because the river is narrower at that point. The engineering section of his Department may select the new site merely from an engineering point of view, but there are much more important aspects than the engineering aspect. There is the question of the facilities which the bridge will give to the community using it and, particularly, the question of local commercial interests. I am not satisfied to give this absolute power to the Minister to make a decision over the heads of a community whose interests may be affected for hundreds of years by the Minister making a decision simply on an engineering aspect, ignoring the commercial interests involved and, possibly, the express wishes of the people concerned.
Mr. Childers: I hope the Minister will not ignore the interests of any  section. All the matters referred to by the Deputy will be dealt with at the local inquiry and he will have to take into account the feelings of the local inhabitants, both in respect of their interest as regards the site of the bridge and the portions of the bridge for which they are responsible. As I have said, it will not be easy for the Minister to make a decision on certain occasions, but there must be an ultimate authority who can resolve these difficulties, and the Minister is the obvious person. Part IV provides every opportunity for hearing everyone's point of view and the engineering difficulties which may arise as to the site of the bridge and its relation to various commercial centres all have to be taken into consideration.
Mr. Hughes: The Parliamentary Secretary has not got over my difficulty. I can very well understand the Minister sitting in the Custom House, not having the same deep feeling about a matter like this as the local people vitally concerned. He may say: “There is the financial aspect of it, and building the new bridge in the old position may involve an expenditure greater than if we built it two miles further up, where the river is much narrower.” We are asked here to give the Minister absolute power to make the decision, but I feel that circumstances may arise in which commercial interests and important market interests are involved. We are making no provision at all to give local interests an opportunity to come together and try to decide their own problem. The procedure is to ask for a preliminary report and the Minister, after receiving it, may, if necessary, hold a local inquiry. He may or may not do so. He may decide straightway that he will have no local inquiry and may decide to build the bridge in a certain place because, from the financial aspect, it suits him best. He may make a bridge Order compelling one of the local authorities involved to carry out the work, regardless of its wishes.
Mr. Childers: I do not know whether I can help Deputy Hughes any further. First I should state that, under  Section 34, the Minister must hold a local inquiry. Although the word “may” is used in the previous section, Section 34 says, “after consideration of the report of the inquiry”, and it is quite clear that he must hold an inquiry.
Mr. Hughes: I do not see how the Parliamentary Secretary can say he must hold an inquiry, when the word “may” is used in Section 33.
Mr. Childers: I will have the matter examined between now and Report Stage in order to make sure that the Deputy's point is met and that there must be an inquiry.
Mr. Hughes: I think it would be better, because it would give local people an opportunity of expressing their views.
Mr. Childers: It is the Minister's purpose and idea to hold an inquiry in all such complicated cases. Apart from that, I cannot say any more than I have said already. The Minister will have to take every circumstance into account. The idea that the Minister remains completely aloof in the Department of Local Government and does not feel the pressure of local opinion is, I think, wrong. The Minister will have to observe and examine all the circumstances, and will have to be in a position to appreciate to the fullest degree all the commercial interests involved. I cannot see that it would be to the interests of the Minister to disregard everything the Deputy has said, and I think it would be folly to take advantage of some engineering technical point to move the bridge far away from some vital commercial community.
It is rather like the whole question of arterial drainage: does it pay or does it not pay? I think the Minister will be capable of judging whether the rateable valuation in three distinct communities is likely to increase as a result of a bridge being built at greater cost but more convenient to them from the point of view of transport, rather than building it much further up the river at a lesser cost but  resulting in diminishing the probable increase in valuation. I think that would be a matter which the Minister could determine fairly reasonably— not exactly, but with reasonable certainty.
Quite obviously, if a bridge were constructed some 10 miles above a town adjoining two county areas and the effect of constructing it there was to leave the town useless for market purposes and to prevent a huge community from crossing the river to trade in the town and to prevent tourists and business men from travelling easily to and fro, the Minister would be most ill-advised in that case to have regard to the decreased cost of the bridge, rather than to the stimulation of commercial activity and the increased valuation of the town and area concerned. He will have to exercise his judgement ultimately, and I think he will exercise it intelligently.
Mr. Hughes: I know that the Parliamentary Secretary is not deliberately trying to misunderstand me. Here is my point. It is the principle that runs through this Part of the Bill to which I object. Suppose that under Section 36 there is an informal committee set up by two county authorities, and that there is agreement by that committee as to the situation of a bridge, notwithstanding that agreement the Minister may not approve, and may make a bridge Order departing from the decision of the committee. There is nothing in this Part of the Bill to prevent the Minister departing completely from an agreement made by an informal local committee set up by two local authorities. I do not think that is in the interests of the community. If the Parliamentary Secretary is prepared to bring in a section providing for a situation where there is agreement between the two local authorities regarding a bridge I am satisfied.
Mr. Childers: When formulating Part IV of the Bill we had regard to the case cited by the Deputy. When the Bill is passed there is nothing to prevent two county authorities coming together and deciding to construct a bridge, where it will be, whose interests  it will serve and completing the arrangements. They then present a joint report to the Minister. Part IV is only designed to deal with a situation that will arise—as the Deputy knows it often arises—when there is no possibility of agreement between the parties, or, when, for example, they may agree as between themselves, but they may feel that some adjacent county is interested because of its communications or contribution. If they cannot get that county to agree they will have to resort to Part IV.
Mr. Hughes: Do not side-step the issue. If the local authorities agree and look for a contribution from the Road Fund, the Minister can say “No” when this section becomes law. He can tell them that they must build the bridge some place else. Is not that the position? If the Minister does not approve of their decision he can make an Order compelling them to build the bridge elsewhere.
Mr. Childers: Before this Bill was ever introduced and without any regard to any bridge legislation be could refuse a Road Fund Grant if he felt that the design was not suitable or was not in keeping with the value of the bridge. In the same way if a local authority decided to build a quadruple carriage road the Minister could turn down the whole proposition and allow no contribution from the Road Fund for that purpose. That held before this Bill was before the Dáil.
Mr. Broderick: There is nothing in this Bill to help a local authority to come to any kind of understanding with other bodies. The section simply points out that the Minister may or may not ratify the result of an inquiry. I have in mind one bridge in which I am interested, Youghal Bridge, connecting County Cork with County Waterford. There is a general feeling that the Government Department is in favour of having a bridge but on the question of rating I suppose no decision has been come to. There is no provision in the section for any association between different counties. All that is said here is that the Minister may pick out one of the local authorities.  It is open to him to pick out Waterford County Council or Youghal Council. There is nothing in the Bill about association. There was reference to fixing rates of valuation. There is far more than valuation involved. The welfare and, I might say, the destiny of a whole area is involved. At present 75 per cent. of the entire trade that comes across the bridge is Cork trade, and anything that would interfere with that would practically mean disaster for that area. I am giving that as a case in point.
If the Minister decides that the bridge across the Blackwater is to be built higher up, at a point where it would be entirely in the County Waterford area and not connected with County Cork, that would simply mean the destruction of that particular area. We feel that under the Bill Cork County Council, Waterford County Council and Youghal Urban Council are interested. It has been pointed out that any one of these areas could be picked out as the executive authority but no provision is made for any association between these areas. There is plenty of room for differences. One point raised by Deputy Hughes concerned representation of the local area, irrespective of any other question, so that the people vitally interested would have a dominant influence with the Minister in seeing that provision is made for them. I do not want to say anything unkind, but the Minister cannot have the same vital interest in the welfare of a local area, apart from the national point of view, as local people. He cannot have the same interest as the local people will have. Their wishes, in my opinion, ought to be consulted and very seriously considered. I do not know which of these areas the Minister is going to pick out to be the executive authority, but I would say that when an executive officer is appointed, if the Bill still insists on one authority, some means should be found whereby there could be association between the two authorities. The Parliamentary Secretary says there is nothing to prevent it. There is nothing to encourage it. All these questions: the site of the bridge,  the rateable valuation, how it is going to be done, how it is going to be financed, are not a matter for one authority; they are for the two particular authorities, the county councils of Cork and Waterford, and surely their views ought to be heard as the result of consultation between them. Does the Parliamentary Secretary follow that point?
I may say quite clearly that both authorities on this question are of one mind and are disposed to be extremely helpful to each other in the matter of building this bridge because it affects both sides. There is not at the moment any element of irritation. But, if the views of the Minister are carried out in this Bill, if one is to be picked out as the executive authority, without making any arrangement for consultation or association between the two authorities, it is bound to have a very bad effect. I suppose at a later stage it might be possible to do something else in the matter but does the Parliamentary Secretary follow my point? I am sure he quite readily admits the justice of the points made but this matter is of such vital interest to the area that I have the honour to represent that it simply means the progress or the decline of that particular area.
Let us consider how this thing might develop and where the room for irritation might arise. We have already nominated the engineer who is to inspect and report. If the other authority is appointed as executive authority, they may not take that man at all. We may differ as to the engineer. Then another question might arise. There might be a difference on the question of the contribution payable by each county. If these things were to come before either council in the form of a report of a joint body representative of both county councils it would be bound to come before them with far greater weight than a report of one council.
These are the two points I wish to emphasise. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to see his way to introduce something into the Bill whereby far more encouragement will  be given to have local opinion on this question consulted and its representation earnestly considered. That is the first point. The second point is that some means should be adopted whereby the decision would come as the decision of a joint body representative of both councils.
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that the only case that can be made for the local inquiry which is provided for in Section 33 rests on the fact that a situation by that time would have arisen that either the local authorities concerned will have taken no steps in connection with the matter at issue or will have failed to agree on the points at issue. That being so, is it not obvious and quite logical that before you proceed to make provision for a local inquiry, you must also make provision to ensure that there shall be, as Deputy Hughes pointed out, machinery for local consultation. I think that is obvious, I would suggest, rather than the point that the Parliamentary Secretary made that there might be informal consultation—which would not be, to say the least of it, helpful to a situation such as Deputy Broderick pointed out—that provision might be made either in Sections 33, 34 or 35, to ensure that this Bill will make the necessary provision for that local consultation, so that, if they so decide, in their wisdom, that they will have an agreed policy, there will be no necessity for the inquiry and they will get the necessary imprimatur from the Minister. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that he might have another look at this particular matter and introduce the necessary amendment on Report.
Mr. Coogan: May I suggest that if the Parliamentary Secretary adopts the strong recommendations of the last two speakers, he would consider Section 31? We have passed that section, of course, but I think the discussion now is more pertinent to Section 31 than to any of the other sections. I suggest that either that section should be amended so as to permit of a joint application being made in the event of two or more road authorities agreeing  to make such joint application or that a new section should be introduced providing for such joint application. I can see no objection to a joint application being made by two or more road authorities and certainly Part IV as designed would seem to be aimed at the case where one or more road authorities have failed to agree rather than the case where they have agreed. To my mind the objections which have been made would be well met by a provision such as I have suggested for a joint application where the road authorities are agreed on such.
Mr. Corry: There is running through the whole of this the outlook that one local authority is going to be placed in the responsible position, and only one. It is either the local authority that makes the application or some other authority. The remedy is very simple. In fact it can be remedied by the two words “or both”. That would remedy the whole thing. I submit that the rule that there should be no taxation without representation would very probably hold. If I were a representative of Cork and if the Waterford people sent me a bill to pay our share of the cost of the bridge, I certainly would say: “I will have nothing to do with it; you got the building done and you can carry on; we are not going to pay.” We would be in a very peculiar position, demanding money from another county, when we had no rights as to the way in which the bridge was built or where it was built. Surely it is a matter for joint work, especially between two counties. It is not a single operation. It is a joint operation. I have not yet seen anywhere in the Bill where the Minister comes in with his share. We have to build that bridge. It is not going to be built for the benefit of Cork alone or for the benefit of Youghal town or for the benefit of that portion of Waterford which lies outside Youghal town. It is a bridge that will have to be used——
Mr. Broderick: It is a national highway.
Mr. Corry: It is a national highway and a national highway is something to make a demand on the  national purse. That is a matter in respect to which we will be coming to loggerheads later on and it is well for the Minister to know my viewpoint, namely, that the joint contribution made by Cork and Waterford should not be more than 10 per cent. of the total cost.
Mr. L.J. Walsh: You will not get away with that, Deputy.
Mr. Broderick: I move to report progress.
Progress reported; the Committee to sit again to-morrow.
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