Thursday, 26 June 1947
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Kennedy: On a point of order. Last night, Deputy O'Leary, in the course of the debate, implied that Deputies acting on committees set up by this House receive fees or payment. I should like that statement to be withdrawn.
Mr. O'Leary: Very good. This debate has been drawn out for the past two days. I covered a lot of ground last night with regard to increases for the President, for Ministers and for T.D.s. As the Press seems to misunderstand some of my statements last night, I would like to make the position clear. When I referred to pensions for Deputies, I had in mind deceased members, Deputies who are called away suddenly to the next world. What has Fianna Fáil done? The members of Fianna Fáil have played on the dead; they have put up their widows as candidates. That is the old game with Fianna Fáil.
Mrs. Rice: May I remind the Deputy that the widows present in this House were the wives of men who rendered honourable service in the fight  for the independence of this country and they make no apology to the Deputy or anybody else for being here?
Mr. O'Leary: I want Deputy Kennedy to answer this question. You have provided for pensions for Ministers when they leave this House, but no provision is made for the widow of a member of this House unless she is able to fight her way into the Dáil. That is my point. If I have said anything hurtful to the ladies who are members of this House, I am prepared to withdraw it. I did not mean to offend them in any way.
Mr. O'Leary: I will, Sir, if you will make Deputy Killilea hold his tongue or leave the House. As long as there are strikes in this city and throughout the country, I can see no justification for increasing our own salaries. A few weeks ago when the workers employed in the flour milling industry announced their intention of going on strike to obtain better conditions, the Taoiseach threatened that the strike would be declared illegal. I say to Deputies who are supporting this Bill that they should think of these people. Go down O'Connell Street and you will see men, insurance agents, carrying placards demanding a living wage. These men were offered 6d. a week. Deputies are so anxious about their own interests that they want to provide themselves with high salaries, but most Deputies here as I understand it have two or three positions each. My policy is one man, one job. If a man is elected as a Deputy that is a full-time job and he should not be looking out for a sideline.  That is what is happening in this Dáil.
Mr. O'Leary: I was sent in here to serve the people and as long as the Minister for Local Government will not sanction any increase in wages for road workers or gangers in County Wexford or for men working in institutions or mental hospitals, I shall vote against any increase in salary for Deputies. Deputies knew when they went before the country the salaries they would receive but they are like some men who are prepared to accept a job under any conditions. They do not ask the boss what the salary is. They get in backways but they are not a month in the job until they are looking for increased remuneration. That is the policy to-day of the Government Party.
Deputy Kennedy, who has now left the House, told us yesterday that it costs him £240 a year for a motor car. There is a nice statement from a Deputy while half the people of the nation are trying to exist on miserably low wages, small pensions and, in many cases, no pensions at all because of the means test. Other old people because of the same means test are given only 2/- or 4/- a week. Yet we have Deputy Kennedy complaining that it costs £240 to run his motor car.
Mr. O'Leary: This is no time for increasing the salaries of Deputies considering that three or four weeks ago the Minister for Finance stated that he could not grant any more than 2/6 a  week of an increase to the old age pensioners.
Mr. O'Leary: There is apparently plenty of money now to provide increases in salaries for T.D.s, but it is the people outside, from the smallest man in the cottage to the biggest banker in the country, who will have to pay taxes to provide these moneys. Deputy Killilea seems to be very fond of interrupting other Deputies, but I understand that Deputy Killilea is not dependent on one salary alone.
Mr. O'Leary: Deputy Corry made a series of statements last night against Deputies on this side of the House and he was allowed to proceed. There is no doubt about that and if Deputy Killilea had been here he would have heard these statements. Deputy Corry and Deputy Killilea stated that they were farmers and that they had to employ men to do their work while they are away from home. Did they not know that before the elections? Did they not know the position they were going to be in?
Mr. O'Leary: Deputies on the far side of the House do not like to hear facts. As long as I am representing the poor people of my constituency, the small farmers and the labourers to the number of 8,000 who sent me here, I am going to raise my voice to tell the House and the Minister that, so long as they keep these people down, I am against you and always will be. As I covered a lot of ground last night and as some other Deputies are no doubt anxious to join in this debate I shall conclude by saying here and now that if this matter is taken to a division I am going to vote against the Government. In doing that I feel that I am acting in the interests of my fellow workers whom you have kept down by Standstill Orders for the past four years and against whom you are now using the threat to take away the only weapon they have, the strike weapon. When election time comes you will have a different story. You will be dangling something else before the eyes of the people but your day is run. You are already too long here and you will soon meet the fate that awaits any Government with your record. The day will soon come, the day that occurs only once in every five years when the people of the Twenty-Six Counties can use the one effective weapon they have and that is the secret weapon of the ballot-box. That is the greatest weapon they can use. It is better than all the revolvers or all the agitation which they have used in the past. Their only weapon then will be the pencil but they can use it very effectively after carefully examining the credentials of the  candidates and by deciding who will best serve their interests and the interests of the country as a whole. What action has the Government taken to keep down the cost of living and to stop all this thing of higher salaries? If a working man gets a few shillings of an increase under an award from the Labour Court there is no control by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and prices go up. The Government is doing nothing to control those people who are fleecing the unfortunate workers by increasing the price of commodities.
Mr. O'Leary: All the Deputies have talked about the cost of living, and that is what this increase is for— to meet the cost of living. The Government has done nothing to keep down the price of commodities. Until that is done you will have nothing but strikes and uneasiness. The poor people have no back door to go to. They have to go to the relieving officers in their areas where they are handed the paltry sum of 6/- or a docket to go to a shop. Is that the Irish Republic and the great prosperity that we were promised?
Mr. O'Leary: It is forgotten. Every Deputy who spoke from the Government Benches spoke about the cost of living and the value of the £1, but I say they have no argument to make. If there was any argument to be made there is no one who could make it better than I could from practical experience.  I had to live on a wage before I came in here in 1943. We are spending £7,000,000 on the Army and yet we are told that the country cannot afford this and that it cannot afford that. What will the people down the country say to the T.D.s, especially to those who are going to vote for this increase in their salaries? They will say that the Government kept down wages until the war was over and until times were supposed to be getting better, but that now they were looking for increased salaries for themselves. I say in all earnestness to the Minister, and I am one of the poorest Deputies in the House——
Mr. O'Leary: ——to withdraw this Bill. If that is done I think the country will be satisfied. The rate-payers are carrying so many burdens that they are like a sinking ship and are going down daily. Taxation has been piled on, although the Government said that they would do away with all taxation and all the red tape, and all the extravagance that was going on before they came in. Now, they are feathering their own nests because the day of the Fianna Fáil Government is getting short. They are going to make themselves secure for the last few months or last two years. They have already provided for ex-Ministers.
Mr. O'Leary: I ask them to remember the people who have no incomes, the people on home assistance and those going to the labour exchanges as well as those going away on the emigrant ships. I ask them to withdraw the Bill and to say that we will carry on on the £480 as we did during the emergency.
Mr. McGilligan: This is a debate that should be conducted in a temperate way and with as great an approach to objectivity as the subject matter of the measure allows. It cannot be wholly impersonal, because the personnel that is going to be affected by the proposed measure is the personnel  in this House. Nevertheless, I think the matter could have been dealt with in a way that would have made this House stand higher in the estimation of those who sent us here as their representatives. Two Deputies decided that they would deal with this on the lowest level of personalities, Deputy Corry outstandingly so. I was not here yesterday when he spoke, and in that way was saved the shame of having to listen to what he said. It was reported to me that his speech was one which degraded the House. It was certainly a speech which can be regarded as debasing the Deputy, that is if there is any point lower in the scale of either human or social values to which that Deputy can go. He thought fit to attack me amongst others. I suppose I am unfortunate in that I have to live my life in the open, and that any moneys that I earn are very easily open to the curious scrutiny of envious and slanderous sort of people to make up what charges they are going to level against me. I heard myself once described as a briefless barrister—that was one side of it—while almost in the same breath people outside talk about the lucrative emoluments that I derive from my profession. I am either the tattered kind of gentleman that Deputy Corry referred to last night or I am not. People cannot have it both ways. If these things are going to be examined into, do not let me or my colleague, Deputy Costello, be the only subjects for examination. Let us go round the House and see who are the secretaries to the Beet Growers' Association, the people of the new landlord class who have emoluments of different types in this House. I do not decry them for having emoluments. It is all the better that people should get them. Then they are not wholly dependent on what they can get from political life, but it ought not to be held against a man if he seeks to add to his emoluments as a Deputy.
An Ceann Comhairle: I understand that Deputy Corry did depart from the proper tone of this debate. Now, a departure from the straight path should not make a headline for every subsequent Deputy. However, any Deputy  aggrieved by the remarks alleged is entitled to reply.
Mr. McGilligan: I understand that Deputy Corry made the astounding claim in that gross speech of his that he was worth £30,000 a year to his constituents. I do not know what he trades in except one commodity, and that is vulgarity. I never knew that there was a black market in it. Apparently, it is a thing that is not in short supply with him, and, apparently, he charges well in his own estimation for what he gives to his constituents.
Deputy Killilea talked about hypocrites. That is another method of levelling the same charge as that which Deputy Corry made. Deputy Killilea hates hypocrisy. He hates the bad emotions which a man may stir up on occasion and thinks he should get rid of those unwholesome emotions. If the Deputy wants to get purged of any feeling that he has against hypocrisy will he do this for me? Will he get a picture of himself in the year 1932 when he first presented himself before the people for entry into this House?
Mr. McGilligan: Well, it may not have been that year. Was he a hypocrite when he then presented himself— I suggest that he ought to be proud of the advance that he has made in life since 1932 or whatever the date was— before the people and said that anybody who came into this House came into it to get money? That is the lowest kind of thing that one could get in politics or in any other walk of life. He has got away from that. We cannot forget what the President of this establishment did say, and it is not something that we ought to be asked to forget. We can forget it if there is an apology for it, and if people say that they have better minds now and confess that the campaign that they ran on this basis was a mean, discreditable campaign. Deputy Cogan remarked here a couple of nights ago that that propaganda still lives and that it is that propaganda that was helping to destroy public life in new Parliamentary associations here. I think the  Deputy behind me said it helped to destroy it even at the end of the old Parliamentary Party days. So it did. Those who were responsible ought to confess it was wrong and those who led this campaign and got your places through it ought now at least make confession and say that it was wrong. Remember what the calculation was. Five hundred pounds a year was in the considered view of the Taoiseach the amount of money on which any citizen of this State could be expected, not merely to live, but to marry and rear a family and in a mood of generosity the Taoiseach said: “Let us double that and call it £1,000. Surely that is sufficient.” That was, of course, for men who were going to occupy Ministerial posts with all the responsibility that is put upon them or even the headship of the executive council with the full responsibility that that had.
Deputy Killilea remembers when he came into this House in 1927 that a debate was raised here on one occasion reminding Deputies, as I want to remind them now, if only for the sake of getting the statement that the thing is wrong, that Deputies were not going to take their salaries of £350, that they were only going to take so much as would provide for their necessary expenses. And the hypocrisy of Deputy Killilea——
Mr. Killilea: When Deputy Killilea's name is definitely mentioned I am entitled to challenge Deputy McGilligan to show me anywhere I ever made such a statement and if he cannot do that he should not mention my name.
Mr. McGilligan: You are not repudiating statements. The view was  held by that Party as a whole. Deputy Killilea repudiates it now or stands over it. The situation to which hypocrisy was carried in those days was that a committee was set up of the Party to investigate the needs of Deputies and what they did not require for their personal needs was put into a fund. I was told in November of the year 1927, when I queried in a curious way how much was in the fund, £107. The hypocrisy went that length that some poor gawms on that side were fleeced of the little bit of emoluments they got and a little fund was piled up just to have it to say: “We are acting up to our public promises”. There was £107 in the fund, because that £107 could be saved from the salaries of Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party in the year 1927 and there was the fund for necessitous people or possibly for the more gravely necessitous people in the Party. That was the mood that prevailed in 1927 and up to 1932. It is not the mood now.
Why would not people realise that confession is a wholesome thing and say they were wrong and repudiate all that very bad, mean, discreditable period and try to parade themselves before the people at least as folk who learned in the hard school of experience, the only one in which folly can be disciplined and the one in which the Fianna Fáil Party have at least learned some lesson?
Deputy Kennedy said here last night, in an effort to justify this, that he has long experience of politics in this country, and that no men who were colleagues with him in this House or opponents had died having left a fortune out of what they had made in politics. That was quite right. He goes too far when he says, as I understood him to say last night, probably in a mood of exuberance, that in respect of most of the people who had died being Dáil Deputies the whip had to be sent around to assist their relatives. That is not so. Many Deputies have died, having previously given good service, for whom there was no necessity to have the hat sent around, but it may be said that those people had outside emoluments. Deputy Kennedy is perfectly right in saying that, and  the records of this House can be searched and it will not be discovered that any man really made money out of a political career in this country. One man we did find doing it and he is no longer in the position that he occupied although unfortunately he is still a member of the House.
It does not carry the case to say that. The profession to which I belong and which is called forth in this House for the purpose of trying to discredit it by representing every member of it as living in the height of luxury, is a profession about which the same thing could be said, not, possibly, so comprehensively. There is a benevolent society attached to the Bar and there are many drawings on it for people who cannot make good at their profession.
Mr. McGilligan: Deputy Kennedy I heard making the statement. I am referring to Deputy Kennedy. The Deputy may not understand that I am partially agreeing with him. I suppose that is a surprise. I say it does not carry the whole case. There are many professions in this country, many walks of life, in which when a man dies his relatives have to be assisted. It is almost the exception where it is not so in life in this country.
What we are seeking to do is this— we are trying by this measure to put ourselves into an extremely privileged position and we are going to associate with membership of this House a salary that is very much beyond the dreams of anybody's imagination at the time when he put himself forward as a candidate. Should we do that? The question may be raised that is going to the root of the whole matter as to whether Deputies should be paid at all or not. I am leaving that aside. I think the world has advanced as far as to realise that men who give service here or in any other Parliamentary assembly cannot be expected to serve completely in an honorary way. The question is how much should be given. That puts itself on the other point, is payment to be arranged and secondly, and the great point in this case, is this  the opportune time to have this move made and should it be done as a result of a debate in which there take part only those who are interested in the matter?
I want to ask people to remember what was revealed by the pamphlet on National Income and Expenditure. The living of life in this country from the point of view of income is very low. The standard taken as the low point in that pamphlet which the Government have published is the £3 a week person, the person drawing £150 a year. They parade those figures that I have so often tried to get before this House. Here we are a community of 3,000,000. Of that 3,000,000 something in the neighbourhood of 1,250,000 are gainfully occupied. The rest—the aged, the young, the invalid, all the people who are not able to work or who cannot get work no matter how able and willing they may be to do it—live on the 1,250,000. One and a quarter millions are those who are gainfully occupied and, according to the pamphlet, at the moment, and taking the purchasing power of the £ as having been reduced to half, there are only 66,000 people of this whole community who are over emoluments equivalent in 1938 to £3 a week. Now, merely as Deputies—I leave outside emoluments completely out of the question—merely basing ourselves on the emoluments derived from this House, we are putting ourselves not merely amongst the 66,000 of the community but high up in the 66,000. Is this the time to do it?
When one mentions the old age pensioners here, the thought immediately occurs that that, of course, is the odious comparison, that is the comparison that will have to be used at the crossroads afterwards, that is the comparison that will defame Deputies: “See what they did to the old age pensioners and see what they did to themselves.” The old age pensioners used to get 10/-when 10/- had 10/- purchasing value; to-day they get 12/6, with a purchasing value of 6/3. Why should we not pay better attention to the old age pensioner than we do to ourselves? If any old age pensioner is in a position that he has any outside emolument—a point which makes Deputies so annoyed here—we take that into consideration  and the means test is rigorously applied. If we have a poor person who, by thrift, by some process of semistarvation in his early period, put some little bit aside against the day when old age would be creeping on him, we penalise that man for his thrift and we mulct him because of his previous good citizenship. We do not do that here. I do not say we should.
I can go up the scale to all sorts of groups—pensioners of different types, people in different State services, people reduced to the point of living and being dependent upon the various forms of State charity there are. To all those, we lessen whatever little assistance they are getting. The scandalous thing is that we in this Dáil who, through the Government, have been responsible for reducing the purchasing power, before we rectify the situation for the weaker, the poorer, the badly served members of the community, now in our righteousness think we ought to give this extra emolument to ourselves. I think we do ourselves an injustice and do the institution a serious disservice by asking the country to consider with any type of calm a group of 138 people who meet here and propose to add on to their emoluments.
I would ask Deputies to ask their Ministers to leave this over. Let us wait a year or two at least, until we see how prices settle. Let us wait until we see what the Dáil is going to develop into from the point of view of full attendance here and whether any obligation will be put on Deputies to serve as some of the newspapers want us to be obliged, by attendance here and possibly by speaking here every day. Let us allow the matter to develop a little longer and not have these shocking comparisons made to the point to which we—I hope I will be excused from any responsibility for it—the point at which the majority in this House, acting through the Government, have brought the country.
When the standstill Orders were introduced before, if I may make a reference to them, I often asked the Ministers to remember that what they were doing was going to lead exactly to the situation to which we have been brought and to get out of that was  going to cause tremendous trouble, that the adjustment to new conditions, whatever new conditions might operate with the purchasing power of the £, would be painful. We have for many years imposed great pain, great suffering, disease, possibly driven to crime, a considerable number of people in this country, and at the end we think we have handled the one outstanding problem of the time, which other countries could handle differently, in such a way we are entitled to get an extra £12 a month added to our emoluments.
When these rates of allowance were originally fixed here, and it was thought there should be some improvement in the payment made to Deputies, we at least took the good course of asking an outside body to report and Dr. Shanley and his committee were asked to consider the financial position for Deputies and say whether they thought the emoluments given were insufficient. That report said that they were considered sufficient. So far as we have an outside judgment on our case, it said that the old money was not insufficient. We did not accept their advice in 1938 but brought in legislation which increased the allowances by £120. The Minister who brought that in, now the Minister for Local Government, said that the figure possibly was beyond even what had been suggested to the committee and which the committee had turned down. But if we were making a little better provision than at any time suggested, that was to meet future contingencies. Remember, we had asked to have our case examined by an outside body and that body produced a report which was not in our favour. We did not attend to the report, but gave the increased emoluments. In giving them, it was agreed that they were more even than had been requested and the excuse was that there was provision made for emergencies or contingencies.
Now, have we not done well enough out of this, at least well enough to remain where we are until, say, a new election has come and gone? The point has been put to me—and I think it is a good one to put to the House— that when people are thinking in terms of the cost of living, it is not the 1938 figure that we must relate it back to, but to the state of the cost of living at the last general election at which Deputies presented themselves to the electorate—1944. On that occasion, people went forward who had by that time got very nearly the full impact of the cost of living and they presented themselves as persons willing to serve under the conditions which then held. What great changes have taken place since then? I ask Deputies to consider that they give the public an opportunity to decry service in this place, if at this moment they in their wisdom say we are the people who ought to get a high-up place in the queue and we measure the extra value of our services by this extra £12 a month.
I am certain there are Deputies who are not making anything by coming in, but definitely are at a loss. The commission which reported on Ministerial salaries before 1938, stated that the view had been expressed to them that the position with regard to Deputies—and I am going to suggest that that should be somewhat the position regarding Ministers—was that this service should be somewhat idealised, that a man should not completely commercialise it or look with a commercial eye on the hours he is giving here, hours taken away from other occupations, time spent working up different work for debates here or work on committees. One should not meticulously go into these matters and say that a certain amount of time has been used, up to such a point that we must ask for an increase, owing to the increased cost of living—not the full increase, but a part.
I say that the matter should be left over until conditions have been allowed to settle. It has been said in this House and not denied that no demand came from any Party for the increase. Apparently, Deputies were content to remain at the old emolument. If that be the case, why cannot we present ourselves to the people, not trying to get into their good graces by saying something in which we do not believe. We should recognise the harm that has been done  to the community, in the main by Government activity, backed by the majority Party here. We ought to recognise the harm and try to improve the situation and make it as easy as possible. We should try to remake it first for those at the lowest point of the scale and we should be well enough off at least to wait a bit.
The calculation has been made that, if these emoluments come in the increased form and if they are still to be maintained free of income-tax, the position then arrived at is that a married Deputy, whose wife is still alive and has only one child, can earn as much as £1,000 without paying 1d. in income-tax. I do not say that every Deputy is in that position, but it applies to a Deputy who is adding to what he is getting here what he could get or may get, or may be lucky enough to get, in his position. If they do, they come to the point at which, because their salaries here have been raised to this extra level and the whole salary is removed from any charge to income-tax, they can earn £1,000 per year without subscribing 1d. to the Exchequer through the direct tax of income-tax. The citizen outside on £1,000, married and with one child, subscribes nearly £150 to the Exchequer. Is our state so low, do we really feel the pinch so badly, do we, when we compare our situation with that of those lower down the scale, feel that we ought to get the extra emoluments and ought to get the special safeguard against income-tax, leaving us in the position in which we can arrive at £1,000 a year, very high up in the national scale, without making a contribution, through income-tax, to the Exchequer which the ordinary citizen, not having our privileges and benefits, is asked to make if he reaches that point?
I do not ask that the House should consider that Deputies should be put in the position where a demand is made upon them to serve without payment. We have got beyond that stage. We have got to the point at which salaries have been arranged and have been the subject of rearrangement two or three times, but this is the first time that such a proposal has been made without  examination by an outside independent body. Is it wise to take this step of giving ourselves these moneys without outside consideration at this particular time? I do not think it is. One thing is certain after this debate—the old idea with regard to payments here, that they were only to meet expenses, has gone. We are now being paid, to some degree, as having adopted the profession of politics. I do not say that to decry politics. It may be proper that it must be made a profession. It may be the only way in which you can get in here the people whom you would like to see serving here, but we can forget hereafter this talk about an allowance to meet expenses.
Deputy Killilea says, and says with great point and force, that certain Deputies have higher expenses than others. So they have. My expenses must be very slight indeed, living in the city, in comparison with those of Deputies from the country, but remember that there is an answer to that. It is not the method we are taking here. If we gave people even a higher salary than is suggested and made the salary subject to income-tax, the ordinary income-tax code allows people to make a case for what are called necessary expenses, so that Deputies from the country could make a bigger case and get taken away from the impact of income-tax a greater portion of whatever the emoluments are than the town Deputy could. We have avoided that set-up. We apparently do not like this idea of having the salary subject to income-tax, with all that the income-tax allows in connection with necessary expenses. That is the only point I heard made with any force, and I suggest that the counter to it is not to give the extra money, leaving everything free of income-tax, but when at another time and in better circumstances—I do not suggest it should be done at the moment—this whole matter comes to be considered, it would possibly be a better approach if higher emoluments were given, the whole amount being subject to income-tax, leaving Deputies to plead for remission in connection with whatever they were able to satisfy the Revenue Commissioners  were necessary expenses involved in carrying out their duties.
I want to protest against the view, which has become current throughout the country, that Deputies ought to be coerced into attending here. I do not believe in that. I do not think that a Deputy's work is to be regarded as confined to what he does here in the chamber. I think we would find ourselves in a worse position than that in which the British House of Commons finds itself at the moment, if everyone was forced to come here and if, out of boredom, we were to have more people deciding to speak than even those who bore the House at the moment. I want to protest against another thing—that Deputies are taking on themselves duties which, I think, are not theirs. It seems to be a scandal in this country that the main work which some constituents seek to put upon Deputies is sending them nosing around various Departments to try to get from these Departments what these constituents are entitled to under various pieces of legislation, but there are some Deputies who have apparently decided that this is what they are good at and that this is a duty which they will take on themselves. I do not count that a good Deputy's work, but that may be an individual viewpoint.
I want to protest against the view that work in this House should be measured either by attendance or even by speech-making. Deputies play an important part on committees—quiet work which is sometimes not regarded at all. There are many ways in which Deputies may serve and many more ways if that committee system were developed in which Deputies could be allowed to serve—those who do not want to serve by explaining their points of view in speeches. In any event, the whole thing is futile, because if there were some system of attendance, you would have people coming up, signing the book and hopping off again as quickly as possible. You cannot coerce people by that sort of method into giving good service, if they are not desirous of giving that type of service.
I have already spoken on the income-tax point and I suggest that in any  further arrangement of the matter we should base ourselves upon a salary, the amount of which is fully known and understood by the people, and let Deputies try to derive whatever comfort they may get from an approach to the Revenue Commissioners showing what their necessary expenses are.
I wind up as I began. It has been said with regard to the people of the world that they are divided into two classes, the righteous and the unrighteous, and it has been cynically added that the classification is nearly always done by the righteous. We are making that classification nowadays. The old age pensioners and a few others down the line are not as righteous as we in this matter of attracting better emoluments to the service we give. I do not think we should approach that point of arrogance. I do not think we have yet justified Parliamentary life, as a result of all the foul propaganda of some years ago, as being somewhat idealised. I wish we could, and I think this is the wrong time at which to approach this matter, and, if we persevere in this measure, we will certainly convey a wrong impression. The phrase has been used to me over and over again with regard to a number of people that they are limpets who have fastened themselves on to the rock of the national revenue. We are not regarded entirely as being without that characteristic of the limpet—the whole group of us—and it will only be said of us that we have made our hold more tenacious still, and that at a time when the national revenue is not just as solid a rock as it was. I do not think we should put any further strain on it.
Mr. Allen: Having listened to Deputy McGilligan, there is one thing that will occur to Deputies. It is that Deputy McGilligan, while he chides every other Deputy for dragging down the dignity of the House in their remarks here, is an adept in the use of words and can get in some very formidable home thrusts.
Mr. Allen: The Deputy can drag down the dignity of the House just as much as any other Deputy. He is an adept also at making comparisons. He brought in the old age pensioners and the poorer classes of the community and compared their means of living and their standard of living with those of Deputies. There is no Deputy who is more adept at that than Deputy McGilligan. He is quite capable of putting his point in a less crude way than Deputy Corry or some other Deputy, but he will nevertheless admit, although I do not expect him to do so here, that he is as good a politician as is in this House, and is able to make the welkin ring to suit his own political point of view.
Mr. Allen: On the Bill before the House, I am entitled to speak after Deputy McGilligan. We have had many speeches from Deputies on all sides of the House on this Bill. We had one speech from Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon in the course of his remarks told the House that he did not think—
“jurymen in our society get any recompense at all and yet they go on working. I think Deputies of a Parliamentary Assembly must labour under the same kind of injustice because the public are notoriously bad paymasters. They are as mean as it is possible to be. I do not believe our constituents would ever pay us a living wage.”
Deputy Flanagan told us, in effect, as he has told us on a number of occasions during the last four or five years, that he was never in debt until he became a member of this House. As we all know, Deputy Flanagan got his seat in this House as a member of the Monetary Reform Party. He got his seat originally because of his attacks on financial institutions, banks, etc., in this country. That was why he was elected.
Mr. Allen: He was going to do away with the banks. He was going to give the people all the money they wanted. I think I am not doing any injustice to Deputy Flanagan by making that statement. However, according to the statement which he made here yesterday, he went into debt immediately he became a member of this House. He told the House that he got an overdraft—I will quote from some notes I took. Deputy Flanagan said in this House yesterday that some people think the local T.D.s. are like the mint and that they can shovel out money. He said he found, before he became a  Deputy, that he could not get a penny “tick” in any shop but that now it is forced on him and that he can get anything he wants. Credit is forced on him and he can get anything he wants. It is an extraordinary thing that since Deputy Flanagan came into this House four or five years ago we have not heard him attacking the banks or the financial institutions of this country. He dropped that when he wanted “tick” as he calls it, and an overdraft. It was good policy on his part to cease attacking the banks and financial institutions outside and to turn instead to attacking the Ministers of this Government in this House and to make personal attacks on the members of the Government.
Mr. Allen: I think Deputy Flanagan's whole attitude since he was elected has been hypocritical. He told us, too, in the course of his remarks, that after paying all his expenses—making provision for his hotel and travelling expenses, meeting his constituents, entertaining them, and doing everything that a Deputy has to do—he had £1 1s. 4d. per week to live on, and that if he did all he would like to do he would be going into debt each week. I want to suggest to Deputy Davin, who is a good trade unionist, that he should see to it that Deputy Flanagan should not be allowed or asked to exist on the miserable pittance of £1 1s. 4d. a week. I think it is something Deputy Davin should take up immediately. He should carry a campaign through the country to see that Deputy Flanagan and other Deputies like him will not be asked to exist on £1 1s. 4d. a week— or less than £1 1s. 4d. a week if Deputy Flanagan, who comes from the same constituency as Deputy Davin, were allowed to do his duty as he thinks it should be done. I suggest that Deputy Davin should take up the cudgels and see that Deputy Flanagan does not have to exist on £1 1s. 4d. a week after paying his expenses as a Deputy.
Mr. Allen: I am suggesting that Deputy Davin as a trade union leader and as an advocate of fair wages for everybody should take up that matter and that he should start a campaign in the country to see that Deputy Flanagan and other Deputies like him will not, in the future, have to exist on that low pittance. I think Deputy Flanagan will agree with me—he nods assent and agrees with me—that Deputy Davin should take up the matter at once. I hope Deputy Davin will take the tip and do so.
Mr. Allen: I hope Deputy Davin will see that other Deputies in the House will be given such remuneration or such expenses as will allow them to do their duties properly by their constituents after having paid for hotel expenses, for car hire, for clothing, for the maintenance of their homes, for meeting their constituents and for travelling around their constituencies for which the allowance of £480 is not sufficient. I think the time has come when somebody or some section of the community should look into the matter. I feel sure that, as a Labour leader, Deputy Davin would be the most qualified man to see that some change is made, if this House in its wisdom and judgment is not prepared to accept the proposals of the Minister for Finance. It is very awkward at any time for Deputies to come in here and discuss this problem of allowances. It is much simpler and much easier for any of us at any time to get up either in this House or in the country and to say: “We are getting too much. No increase should be given.” That talk may be good, politically, in the country from any Party. We know that quite well. That kind of talk can be done at any time. I want to put it to the House that the Opposition groups or many members of them are acting in a hypocritical way on this matter. I want to say that within the last six months different Deputies of different Opposition groups in this country have discussed this matter with me privately and have expressed to me the view that  something would need to be done in the immediate future to increase the allowance to Deputies, because they found they were getting into debt and that they were unable to carry out their duties! That was not confined to the members of any one Party. Up to a half a dozen of them at least said that to me in private conversation. I am not giving any secrets away in stating that. Let those Deputies be honest and say in the House that they have been suggesting that their allowances should be increased, because they found these allowances were not sufficient to maintain them, to allow them to pay their way, to travel round and meet constituents, and to do everything that a Deputy should do.
There is no need for anyone to say that the expenses of Deputies have gone up very considerably. If a Deputy finds that the cost of travelling around is too expensive, he will give less and less service to his constituents. When the economic pressure comes upon him, he will be forced by circumstances to give them less service. He will not be able to travel around his constituency as he should and will not be able to meet his constituents as often as he should. On many occasions he will be forced to neglect doing the things he should do as a Deputy.
It has been suggested by Deputy Dillon and Deputy McGilligan that there may be necessity for this increase, but that the time is not opportune. From my experience of public life, I can say that the time is never opportune for any increase to any section of the community. I took the view in regard to the recent increase to persons employed in the public service that the time was not opportune for it, that probably the Government were not wise in introducing proposals to pay these increases at that time. That is the natural view for anyone to take. I can understand Deputies on any side of the House stating that the time is not opportune. The time is never opportune for increases. If you can prevent increases being forced on individuals or on the community in general, it is all the better for the country. Some people will hold that, if you do not increase taxation in order to raise  more money to improve the social services, the country cannot progress. It is very hard to know when it is right to increase taxation or the remuneration of any section of the community. It is very hard to determine the right and proper time, if any time is opportune, to increase taxation.
No employer, whether he is a farmer, an industrialist, or a commercial man, will ever admit that he can afford to pay more to his employees. No employer or group of employers will ever admit that the particular time is opportune to pay more to their employees; they will always genuinely believe that they cannot afford it. Deputies may think that the country cannot afford to pay this extra 30 per cent.
Comparisons were made with the old age pensioners. If Deputies were honest in making these comparisons, I suggest that they should not take the £480 per year they are getting. If they want to make those comparisons, why not make them on the basis of the allowances given for the last ten or 12 years, since Deputies who made these statements came into the House? Why do they cash their monthly vouchers for £40? They cash them voluntarily. If a voucher is not signed by a Deputy it cannot be cashed. A Deputy receives his voucher every month and he can destroy it or he need not present it for payment. I suggest to these Deputies, if they are honest, that that is a way for them; they need not cash three or four of these vouchers every year. They are not drawing on the funds in the Exchequer if they do not cash them, and they will not be doing any injury to the taxpayer or to themselves. If they think they are receiving too much at present, that is a simple way out for Deputies who make this comparison with old age pensioners or any other section of the community.
I think it is rank Bolshevism to be talking in that way, because at no time could the means of livelihood of different sections of the community be compared. You cannot make all men equal; all of them have not the same brains and intelligence. Different sections of the community will never be on  an equal footing. It has been tried out in some countries, but it is now going in the other direction again. Our duty is to see that no section of the community suffers from want or destitution. But it is not our duty to bring the allowance given to old age pensioners up to that paid to Deputies. It is not the duty of the State to do that, and it can never be claimed to be the duty of the State.
I say that Deputies are opposing this increase purely on political grounds. They are entitled to do that if they wish. They do it because they believe that their constituents are not satisfied with this proposal. But, as Deputy Dillon pointed out, constituents will never be satisfied. The public are the worst paymasters in existence; they will never pay a fair price for anything. I made a calculation that, with this increase, Deputies will be costing their constituents about 5d. or 6d. per head. I am sure that, if Deputies are doing their duty at all, they are giving very good service to their constituents for that sum. This increase will not mean more than 1½d. per head in each constituency. I do not know whether that is a fair calculation or not. But I suggest that, with the increase in expenses, Deputies' services to their constituents would be very much reduced if the increase were not given.
Mention was made yesterday by some Deputies of a scheme in operation for a number of years in other countries, such as Australia and Great Britain, under which an allowance, in certain circumstances, is given to ex-members of Parliament and to the widows of members. I suggest that such a scheme as this should be considered. I trust the Minister will, on the Committee Stage, bring in an amendment for the purpose of putting such a scheme into operation. The scheme in Great Britain does not cost the taxpayer one penny. The members of the British House of Commons contribute each month; there is so much a month stopped from their allowances and put in the fund. If a member dies while in the service of the House his widow or dependents get an annual allowance, provided their income does  not exceed a certain figure. The principle I suggest is a good one. If a member of the House is over 60 years of age and his income does not reach a specified figure annually, he gets an allowance out of the fund. The scheme has worked out well in Great Britain. Seven members of the House operate it. It has worked out well in the interests of those who find themselves in particularly bad circumstances through no fault of their own.
A lot has been said about speeches we made in the past in relation to salaries. I do not believe I ever made a speech of that type, but, as a member of a Party, some members of which did make such speeches, I may say I never thought there was anything in them. Whatever speeches were made, we know, after 20 years here, that no member of this House ever made any money through being a member. I do not care to what Party he belongs, no member of the Dáil ever left the House the richer of being a member. Indeed, a great many left it far poorer than when they came into it. We have seen from time to time where Deputies have died while being members of the House and their dependents found themselves in very bad circumstances. It would be well to help them in so far as we can do so.
I suggest that there is something important in this scheme, that the Minister should examine it, and he should make provision on the Committee Stage to stop each month from Deputies' allowances whatever is needed to build up a fund and have it available for necessitous cases that may arise from time to time. The poorest member of the community may become a member of the House; he need not be the owner of property. A man may find himself earning a decent livelihood in commerce, or industry or agriculture. He will find, when he becomes a member of the House, that he is cut off from his outside employment. He may spend a number of years here and then he may be called out of the world and his dependents might find themselves in bad circumstances.
Such a scheme as I have referred to would obviate a lot of distress and I think we should have one in operation. I am not suggesting it simply because  it is operating in the neighbouring island. It is also in operation in Australia and there, too, it has worked to the advantage of the dependents of those who happened to be called away while members of Parliament, or those who, because of old age, were unable to provide for themselves or those depending on them.
The Minister's proposals are deserving of the serious consideration of every member of the House, irrespective of Party. They are worthy of consideration, apart from the political aspect. If Deputies are genuine, they will support these proposals. If certain Deputies had not to face their constituents again, I have no doubt they would give an honest view about this proposal. It is because of their idea that their constituents object to these proposals that they speak against the Bill. Perhaps it is because they think it is good Party politics to play up this Bill against the Government Party that they object to the increase in these allowances. I do not believe they will serve their interests in that way. If Deputies want to be hail-fellow-well-met with their constituents all the time they should publish in the daily and weekly newspapers that they will not take any allowance for their service to the nation.
Mr. Allen: Deputies have that way out all the time. They need not cash their monthly allowances. That is quite a simple way. I am not accepting that procedure. Deputies who may wish to do it need not cash two or three of their monthly vouchers if they think they are being paid more than they need. I do not believe they are. Any Deputy honestly doing the work in his constituency, coming up from the country and spending a week or half a week here and neglecting his business, whether it is in industry, commerce or on a farm, is losing by doing so. Even if he has other means to keep him going, I believe he will find himself considerably out of pocket as the result of his services in the Dáil.
There are many Deputies who, as a result of the services they have given  to the country, are far poorer than when they came into this House. That is no reason why some of us should accept something to which we are not entitled, something that is not justified. We should not do that if we think it is not justified. I believe the Minister's proposals are quite justified. If a Deputy gives the service he is expected to give to his constituents he should get a fair allowance to pay his out-of-pocket expenses.
Mr. Larkin: It seems to me that the strongest argument against the Bill is the debate itself, because there was no logic in the approach to this measure. The charge of hypocrisy which Deputy Allen made is based on this, that we are all dealing with this measure politically arising out of the conditions in which it has been introduced. Deputy Allen seems to forget that this is a political institution. We come here to deal with politics. There are times when, by arrangement, we agree to settle things on non-Party lines, but the occasions on which that happens are very rare. It lies within the province of the Minister to keep this debate free from the political atmosphere, if he so wills. It would have been very simple to consult with the Parties or refer the matter to some outside body so that we could be spared a debate that has not been very meritorious or does not add to the reputation of the House as a Parliamentary institution.
There has been and there will be, in the course of this debate, a lot of hypocrisy. It is true that probably every Deputy in the House will take the increase. Everybody knows that. It is equally true that not all Deputies are equally in need of such an increase and it is because of this confusion between whether we are getting a salary or an allowance that we have this kind of atmosphere created to-day. Even Deputies who ordinarily are regarded as speaking in a logical manner seem to have lost their power of logic on this occasion. May I say quite clearly that there are Deputies who are entitled to consideration in regard to an increased allowance and, either  as a member of a Party or as an individual member of the House, I would be prepared to go on any platform and support that consideration being given to them? I say equally strongly that the majority of the members of this House, in existing conditions in this country, and because of the responsibility placed on this House, are not entitled to seek an increase in their allowances at present. May I safeguard myself immediately against any suggestion that I am introducing personalities by saying that I regard myself as being one of that group?
My objection to this Bill is that we, as Deputy McGilligan pointed out, find ourselves in a very difficult position, one which requires an effort from every section of the community to get our feet on stable ground again. A little earlier in the year an appeal was made to the Government to give some assistance in that direction by taking certain steps in regard to the control of prices and an adjustment of wages and salaries. That appeal received no response and now we are faced with the situation in which the paltry increases that were granted to workers are neutralised by further increases in the cost of living. I suggest that, in the circumstances, we are only adding fuel to the fire by bringing forward a measure of this kind and seeking to justify our action by the continued increase in the cost of living. The latest cost-of-living index figure shows that there has been an increase of 12½ points within a few months. Over the last few months adjustments in wages have been made for important sections of workers. They have been in the main patient. They have tried to adjust their claims to the desirability of bringing about some stability in the economic situation, but they now find themselves in the position, owing to the fresh increases in the cost of living which I have mentioned, of falling back on the old course of trying to catch up on prices by seeking further wage increases. They are forced to do that because of our failure, the failure of the Party which has got the responsibility and the power of dealing with that problem.
When we entered on the emergency  the Government were quick enough to use that power to impose controls on the great masses of the people but they were weak in not imposing controls on the small minority until finally they created the situation which confronts us to-day. When they are asked to use that power to bring about necessary readjustments as between wages and prices, they refuse to do so. If on top of that situation we now are going to set a headline by increasing our own allowances then we have got to take the consequences. If we want to see in this country a continuous condition of instability for some years, let us follow the course recommended to us by the Minister for Finance, to grab all we can from the general pool and set a headline for every other section of the community. We have that headline set by various groups in industry and commerce but so far it has been repudiated by all sections of this House. Deputy Allen in his peculiarly illogical manner gave us an historical lecture on the position of the poor people and the distress which is general amongst them. He could have spared our feelings and spared himself the effort. Nobody in his sane sense would suggest that an old age pensioner should be brought up to the level enjoyed by Deputies of this House. Some of us may think they are entitled to it but we have not reached that stage yet. What is suggested is that we ought to give an earnest of our good faith and, where possible, remedy and improve the position of these old age pensioners and similarly distressed people.
It is not a question of saving £30,000 or even the total sum spent on this House. That is a flea-bite so far as the national economy is concerned but we are expected in this House to set a headline and we are not setting a headline by this Bill. Is it fair or equitable that we should come into this House and seize the opportunity of increasing the allowance or salary of every member of the House, when we know that a large number of members have other sources of income? Is it fair, not from the point of view of the money available, but from the point of view of principle and the example we are giving to other sections of the community  and the responsibility we have to the most distressed sections of that community? That is the problem involved in this Bill.
I want to say that I believe that there are Deputies in this House—and I speak from personal experience, because I had the unpleasant duty of going into these matters—who, I am satisfied, cannot in present circumstances live up to any reasonable standard and carry out their duties on their present allowances. These remarks are not confined to Deputies from the country. But if we are going to deal with the difficult position of these Deputies, let us deal with it in respect of these Deputies alone and let us not at the same time place this House in the unenviable position of having persons outside saying that we are giving to members of the House, who are already in receipt of three or four sources of income, an addition to these incomes out of the Exchequer. That could be quite easily done if the Minister were prepared to see what machinery could be devised to meet that particular problem. Deputy Norton has mentioned the question of inquiring into the means of individual members of the House in order to solve that difficulty. I appreciate that there might be some difficulty in applying the means test, seeing that there has been such strong objection to the application of a means test in regard to other sections of the community, but the difficulty might be solved without the application of any means test. Ordinary members of the community frequently have got to make statements to the Revenue Commissioners in regard to their incomes in order to establish their claim for certain expenses, and the same method could be applied in regard to members of this House. A statement of income from all sources might be supplied by each Deputy, and where it was clearly shown that a certain minimum was not available to Deputies, then they could be given such subsistence or such increased allowance as would be equitable in the circumstances.
The peculiar thing about the whole debate, as I said in opening, is the complete lack of logic exhibited by  certain Deputies. Deputy Flanagan spoke very earnestly on this matter. He told us that he found it was impossible to keep completely clear of debt on the present allowance and yet he says that he is going to vote against the Bill. That is a peculiar position in which we are putting members of the House. Deputy Coogan, after a long historical survey, going back to the 14th century, told us that he believed that every member of the community should be in a position to enter this House if his constituents are prepared to send him here. Then he went on to suggest that we should be prepared in certain circumstances to bear the expenses attached to a Deputy's duties ourselves, in other words, that there should be no allowance, and that we should make no provision for those who have no private incomes of their own. Deputy Dillon does not want a salary but he wants an allowance, yet at the same time he does not seem to be prepared to measure out whether the allowance to-day is sufficient to meet the expenses of certain members because he feels that on principle he must vote against the measure as a whole. Deputy Corry is in the most peculiar position of the lot; he usually is. He is a member of the Party responsible for introducing the Bill but he makes a violent attack on Dublin Deputies. He does not think that they are entitled to any allowance whatever and so far as any claim arises for expenses, he thinks they can arise only in respect of a Deputy coming from the country. I agree with that in the main, but Deputy Corry will then go and vote for the Bill to give increases to the Dublin Deputies the same as anybody else. Is not that wholly farcical and illogical? Surely we should have found some simpler way of dealing with this.
We are told that we are hypocritical because we listen to the viewpoint of our constituents on this Bill, and that, whether we like it or not, we are going to vote against it. Is not that what we are supposed to do here? We are supposed to represent the people who voted to put us here. If they have any strong objection to their representatives  taking this action at the moment, that is a reason why we should reconsider the matter. I am as quick as anybody to take an unpopular line. I have often done so. I think that I am doing the right thing on this particular issue. We are in the rather peculiar position of being our own paymasters. We are in the position of fixing our own salaries and fixing them out of other people's money. For that reason we should be very careful not to bring odium on our Party or upon ourselves as individual members of the House. A number of Deputies have reminded us that if there is any feeling in the country that we are not giving service in this House and if the Parliamentary institutions are not serving the purpose they are intended to serve, the people to blame for that are the members themselves who, in the course of inter-Party warfare, indulge in all kinds of attack and criticism. All that is retained in the minds of the people outside and is directed not so much against Parties or individuals but against the institution itself. From that point of view I think it is worth while trying to find a way out of this impasse.
I am quite satisfied that, whatever may be the result of a division on this Bill, it is not going to affect the next election. The Government Party is not going to lose the election merely because they carry this Bill through by the weight of their numbers, but I believe that the carrying through of the Bill will lower a little more the prestige of this House as well as that of the members, irrespective of the Party they belong to. It may be quite a good question to ask why the members of the Government Party take, if you like, the risk of trying to force through this Bill when, from their point of view, as they told the members of the Opposition Parties, it is good politics to take the opposite line. I think that has been symptomatic of the Government Party for some time. On numerous occasions in this House they have shown themselves completely incapable of appreciating or understanding many of the problems which face the ordinary people of the country. Of course, they may tell me  that that is not so because they have got back after the elections. They have, because they have fought on some other question. In the next election the effect of this Bill may be very slight. At the elections the politicians who come along will have some other issue on which to fight the election, and this Bill will be forgotten. If the Government Party think that they will not feel the full blast of the line they are taking on this Bill at the next election, why will they not stop and think for a moment as to the headline this House is setting for the great masses of the people?
I have to approach this not merely as a member of the House, but as a trade union official. I do not know how I can go back to the members of my own union and tell them that their claims and demands for wages have got to be related to the general economy of the country, in view of the fact that we are now doing the very thing that I am to ask them not to do. This is a very serious problem. It is not merely a question of voting ourselves an increase, but you have the contrast of our attitude to the old age pensioners, to the widows and to the orphans. What we are doing on this Bill is, we are opening the doors wide to the very thing which the Minister for Finance frequently warns us against, the chasing of wages after prices, of inflation and of continuous instability. The amount involved so far as the Bill is concerned is not a great deal, but what we must look to are its possible effects upon other major questions.
I think it would be advisable for the Minister not to listen to the viewpoint of members of his own Party, because they are naturally inclined to take a certain line, but to listen to those who, like myself, quite frankly say that there are certain others who are more entitled to consideration. The majority in this House should not be put in the position of having to carry responsibility—even though they carry responsibility for voting against it—of fixing their own salaries out of other people's money, while at the same time appealing to the masses of the people to be content with what they have got, to be moderate in their demands, and  in advising large groups of old age pensioners, widows and orphans that they have got to adjust their needs to the public purse. The public purse is not going to be affected very much as a result of this Bill, but public morale will be weakened very much by the action taken by this House on it.
Mr. O'Driscoll: There is an old saying that “those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.” The Fianna Fáil Government is mad on spending money. Increases are given everywhere, whether required or not. Fianna Fáil came into office as the poor man's Government, but since then they have made many people poor and they are prepared to go out of office as the rich man's Government because they are helping the rich more than the poor. This is going to cost the country £30,000. Some member of the Fianna Fáil Party spoke about hypocrisy. The real hypocrisy is in calling the money which Deputies get an allowance instead of a salary. If it was called a salary it would be subject to income-tax. Why was there an extra tax put on tobacco and on cigarettes this year? Was it to meet the demands of the old age pensioners? One Fianna Fáil Deputy did not want the name of the old age pensioners mentioned. I am not surprised. I know he was ashamed because the old age pensioners have been let down. The “means test” is still held against the old age pensioners, especially those who have worked hard and honestly during their lives. Because they were industrious during life many of them have been deprived of the old age pension when they reached the age of 70. They will now have to pay an extra 4d. or 5d. for their piece of tobacco. What will they think of this increase? A number of years ago an old age pensioner was able to get two ounces of better tobacco than he can get to-day for 6d., and he had a box of matches thrown in as a present. Will the farmers appreciate the increases that are being given? Will the small farmers who have to live for 12 months on the little income they make in six months appreciate it? I think not. They will have to bear their portion of the increases. What will the labourer  or the road worker think of it? It is only a few months ago that the road workers were offered the magnificent sum of 2d. a day increase. Deputies are now offered an increase of £3 a week many of whom have never asked for it. The poor people whom I have referred to have to bear the high cost of living. In my part of the country there are hundreds of people trying to exist on a ration. The ration for seven days would not be sufficient to maintain a working man for two days. I know that because I have been working all my life. I was never afraid to work. There are other classes. There are poor unfortunate people who cannot get work, who are living on a few shillings a week dole. There are others who are living on a few shillings a week home assistance but if they smoke tobacco or drink tea they have to pay portion of these increases that the Minister is asking for.
I know from experience that the allowance or what I call the salary of £480 a year is quite sufficient for any T.D. I work just as hard for the people who elected me as any Fianna Fáil T.D. or any T.D. of any other Party. Deputy O'Leary claimed here last night that he is the poorest member of the Dáil. I dispute that title with him. I have no means of any kind. I have not even a house of my own. Deputy O'Leary is one of the most admirable men in the House and certainly one of the most honest and a credit to the people who elected him. He lives in a labourer's cottage. It is his home, a cottage with roses at the door. Deputy O'Leary is proud to live in a humble home like that and the salary of £480 did not turn his head and it is not going to turn mine either.
I have to leave my home at 6 o'clock in the morning when the Dáil is sitting. I arrive in Dublin, if I am lucky, at 6 p.m. I am at Leinster House every morning at 9.30. I leave it at 10.30 p.m. I usually return to my home on Saturday and I find about 100 letters waiting for me. When I return from Mass at 12 o'clock on Sunday I work continuously until 12 midnight. It is a whole-time job with me and still I think £480 is sufficient.
 The excuse has been put forward that these increases are due to the high cost of living. If the cost of living comes down, will these increases be reconsidered with a view to a reduction? I mentioned that I have no home of my own. I live with my son who is married. I gave over my farm to him before he got married because I want to see people getting married young. But, if I have not a home of my own, I have a home in the heart of the people of West Cork who elected me and that home will be there for me as long as God spares me my health. As the people know, I work hard and honestly for them, despite the activities of political adventurers who are trying to disturb me there, and I do not care if these political adventurers come from Laoighis, Offaly, the Bog of Allen or anywhere else.
This is the meanest proposal that has been brought before the House since the last Government, in 1924, reduced the old age pensions by 1/-and at the same time reduced the income-tax. They took it from the poor old people to give it to the rich. That act of theirs put them out of office some years later and so will this action of Fianna Fáil to-day contribute to their being put out of office in the course of time. May God speed the day when that happens, as the people are sick of politicians of all kinds.
Mr. Roddy: I must confess I was very disappointed with Deputy Allen's speech. He is a Deputy who invariably makes an intelligent and often constructive contribution to the debates, but on this occasion he allowed himself to drift into a lot of side issues and irrelevancies, which really had no bearing at all on the subject matter of the debate. He challenged the Opposition with expressing views influenced by their constituents. After all, every Deputy is influenced to some extent—and some to a very large extent—by the attitude of their constituents. On an important issue of this nature it is inevitable that Deputies will be influenced in that way. If constituents have taken strong views on this issue, it is almost inevitable, because they have been left completely in the dark as to the case  for the proposals enshrined in this measure.
I am sure that these strong views are not confined to supporters of the Opposition Parties. Supporters of the Government Party hold very strong views on these proposals and I do not blame them, as they have been left completely in the dark. The feeling amongst constituents has been engendered by the present scale of taxation, which impinges on so many sections of the people. The cost of living also has been an important factor in influencing the attitude of our constituents, as the present high cost of living has reduced very substantially the purchasing power of money and, as a result, those on the lower income scale have been reduced in some cases to actual poverty and want. While conditions of that kind prevail amongst some sections of our people, proposals of this kind cannot be justified on the grounds of equity or morality.
I want to approach this question objectively and personally. I do not want to make capital out of these proposals. My main objection to the measure it that it is not approached in the proper way. We set up a Labour Court to investigate the claims of workers, and there both employers and workers have given expert evidence in regard to conditions of employment, the present cost of living, the impact of taxation and so on, and after an impartial hearing of that evidence a decision has been given. We set up a tribunal years ago to investigate the claims of the Civil Service. We are all familiar, with those claims, as Deputies have been circularised on many occasions about them. Likewise, wage fixing machinery has been established to deal with employers and employees in various trades and occupations. Yet, when it comes to fixing the allowances of Deputies, the Government boldly and bluntly bring in this measure without consultation with Opposition Deputies and, so far as we know, without consultation with any Deputies. We do not know what happened behind the scenes, whether the rank and file of the Fianna Fáil Party were consulted, but we do know  that the advice of no Opposition Deputy or leader was sought.
In all seriousness, it is incumbent on us as a legislative body to arrive at right precedents and follow a proper and correct course of action especially in relation to the expenditure of public money. We have ourselves established precedents in connection with the Labour Court and other wage-fixing tribunals. Surely we should ourselves have followed the same precedent in proposals of this character? Deputies should be informed of the reasons for these proposals. To what extent does the present cost of living impinge on these allowances, to what extent have these factors increased their expenditure, to what extent have hotel expenses increased, and so on? The Dáil is entitled to information on those points and the proper course would have been to give that information when introducing the Bill. The Minister did not make any case at all and, so far as I can recall, no Deputy opposite made any case for it. I thought Deputy Allen would endeavour to make a case, but he drifted into irrelevancies instead.
The Committee of Inquiry which examined this whole question in 1938 decided unanimously that Deputies should be paid only their out-of-pocket expenses and that whatever allowance they were given should not be considered as a salary or as an aid to their livelihood. I assume that the Minister accepts that definition, as he uses the word “expenses” in this measure and has adopted entirely the phraseology of the original Act. That being so, the question arises as to what is a reasonable amount to allow a Deputy for current expenses. We have no means of gauging that, as we have been given no data. The data is available to the Minister in his Department but he has not consented to supply a single item of information that would help us in arriving at a just estimate of the amount required to meet Deputies' expenses in existing circumstances. I submit it was the Minister's duty to supply that information when introducing the measure. In the absence of such information, any Deputy inclined to be fair-minded in discussing this  measure objectively is at a grave disadvantage. The increase in the cost of living undoubtedly has affected the expenses. There are special circumstances relating to Deputies in various parts of this country which deserve examination, but we are not in a position to understand those circumstances, as we have no criterion. The Minister refrained—I do not suggest refused—from giving any information that would enable us to engage in a constructive discussion.
Personally, I think the amount proposed is too high, even allowing for the increases that have taken place in the cost of living, in taxation, and so on. I think we should be exceedingly conservative about fixing an extravagant figure. Perhaps I am old fashioned, but I believe in the principle of voluntary service to this State and I think there is quite a big number of people to-day who are prepared to render service of that nature to this country without looking for extravagant rewards, financially or otherwise. It is in our own interests, if we are to survive as a democratic country, that that spirit should be preserved and that such people should be encouraged to give this type of service. If we capitalise political service, it may attract to the Dáil some very undesirable people, who will be supported by private organisations outside, and eventually we may find that our present democratic status is disappearing and we may be confronted some fine day with the possibility of having to exist and survive under a dictatorship. These are considerations which should be examined very closely by Deputies, as it is largely on these considerations that I propose to vote against this measure.
Deputy McGilligan to-day referred to the publication on national income and expenditure issued some years ago by the Department of Industry and Commerce. That publication showed that the majority of our people are existing on very small incomes. There should be some relationship between the allowances given to Deputies and the income of the ordinary citizen. But nobody, not even the Minister, dare  contest that the allowance which it is proposed to give Deputies in future has any relation to the figures given in that return on national income published in 1942 or 1943.
The Minister's predecessor in 1938 made the case for the 1938 Bill, which increased the allowances from £360 to £480, that the increase would bring a better type of individual into politics. We have had two general elections since, and it is a matter for the Minister to say whether the increased allowance has raised the standard of public representation or not. I admit that it should be our aim to attract to public life men of the highest character, honour and capacity, and I admit also that it is our duty to pay these men a reasonable allowance, but I say that the allowance which it is now proposed to fix is too high and should be regarded as being rather on the extravagant scale. I hold, furthermore, by virtue of our past experience, that the increased allowance will not attract the men which it is the desire of the Minister and of every member of the Government and of the House to bring into public life. What is needed more than anything else at present is an increase in the earning capacity of our people, so that they will be able to meet the very high expenditure which they have to bear.
I said at the outset that our constituents had very strong views and very strong opinions about these proposals, and they hold these very strong views and opinions largely because of their realisation of the very high expenditure, the huge expenditure, I may say, which they have to bear at present, and they see no hope of any lessening or lowering of the burden in the coming years. I seriously suggest to the Minister that it is not in circumstances such as these that he should impose this additional taxation, small though it may be, and furthermore that he should defer consideration of the Bill to a later stage, until such time as the Dáil is provided with all the information and data which I asked for in the beginning and which I suggest it is the duty of the Minister to supply to the House. When we have all that information available for  study, we will be in a position to form a definite opinion on whether there is any justification or merit in the proposal. In the absence of that information it is impossible for Deputies to arrive at any fair or just conclusion with regard to these proposals, and, as well, I should say that if information of that kind were supplied, it might conceivably allay the very strong opinions held by our constituents at present, although I still hold that the moment for the introduction of this measure was rather ill-chosen and ill-timed.
I do not think the Minister can be justified, on either moral or ethical grounds, in imposing this amount, however small, on the people in the present circumstances, in the absence of any explanation as to the real reasons for the introduction of this measure, because there must be a reason or a motive. The Minister must have figures on which he based this calculation with regard to the increase because the Civil Service figures and percentages which he quoted yesterday do not bear any relation to this problem. You cannot relate salary to allowances and expenditure. If civil servants have demonstrated that they were entitled to an increase, in one case, of 37½ per cent., and, in another case, of 40 per cent., that increase or the reasons for giving it, cannot be related to the reasons for giving this increase in allowance to Deputies. They are two completely different things. Civil servants have to live on their salaries—their sole means of livelihood and upkeep. With Deputies, it is a completely different matter—the allowance is intended to cover only out-of-pocket expenses. If the Minister wants to justify this increase, he will need to find a different yardstick from that which he mentioned yesterday, and I suggest that he should adjourn this measure for a year or perhaps two years until circumstances have changed and improved, and then reintroduce it, and supply us with the information necessary to form an accurate and clear understanding of its implications and its effects on the people, and on Deputies in particular.
Mr. Anthony: Since my advent to  Dáil Éireann in 1927, I have made it a practice, when major issues were under discussion, to give reasons why I voted for or against. I regard this Bill as a major issue and I want to advance one or two reasons why I intend to vote against it. I recall that, in 1937, a committee of the House was established, the terms of reference of which, I think, were to the effect that it should inquire into the proposal to raise the allowances of Deputies from £30 to £40 per month. I was summoned as a witness before that committee or commission and was examined there as to the expenses incurred by me by reason of being a Dáil Deputy. I gave as close an estimate as I possibly could of my outgoings and my income, and I discovered that, after a lapse of some years, I lost, in salary alone, something like £1,040. These figures can be verified by reference to my employers.
Relating it in the sequence in which I put it before this committee, when asked to give my reasons for objecting to any increase in the then allowance of £30 per month, I felt then, as I feel now, that the raising of the allowance would mean that it would be regarded as a salary by many people and that it would have the effect of attracting to membership of the Dáil a most undesirable class of person or candidate. I was reminded by a member of the committee—Mr. Luke Duffy, who is now a Senator—that the then allowance of £30 per month would be attractive to the kind of person I envisaged. I think I told Senator Duffy on that occasion that I agreed with him, but I added that the additional £10 would make it still more attractive and would possibly result in a still more undesirable type of candidate contesting elections. I have no reason, and have heard no reason so far, to change my views in that respect. I expressed on that occasion my disapproval of the increase in the allowance and I have given at least one of the reasons for my objection.
Most members of this Dáil can easily envisage the type of person I have referred to. That type of person is present in nearly every community. Those of us who have anything to do  with public bodies, such as municipal bodies, etc., in this country, must know that there is always the type of member who proclaims to the four winds of Erin that he is the only person who has any interest in the poor, in the infirm, in the old, whereas he has only one interest—his own material advancement. However, by proclaiming himself to be the only person who has all those interests at heart he is able to have himself elected to successive corporations or county councils. Anybody who has had the experience I have had must recognise that that type of individual is to be found pretty frequently in this country. I am not going to mention any person in particular, either in this House or outside, but I know that these persons are to be found on the public boards of our cities and in rural areas at the present time just as they were 40 or 50 years ago when that type was immortalised in one of our Abbey plays by the character known as “The Eloquent Dempsey.” We know that type of person can command attention and a lot of votes in various constituencies. He is the type of person who will float with the tide, but who never has the courage to swim against it. He can change his course to suit any tide. I want to emphasise that part of my objection, because I feel that —although I do not care one jot whether it is shared by anybody else in this House or not—my view is shared by many decent people in this country. I hold the view, too, that there are many civic-minded citizens in this country who are even prepared to come into Dáil Eireann and to work for the good of the community with very little remuneration whatsoever except that which covers their bare expenses. When I say “expenses” I mean return railway fares and also some little extra allowance to compensate for hotel expenses, etc., in Dublin. We all know the facts because all of us have suffered—that is all of us who come to Dublin week after week and who maintain close attendance here. I concede readily that the personal allowance does not fully represent the expenses generally undertaken by a Deputy in  Dáil Eireann. I am fully aware of that. At the same time I feel that there are many good and useful citizens in this country who would be honoured by membership in Dáil Eireann. There is no use concealing it—every one of us here has some little pride in the fact that we are members of this House. We are proud of it. We heard some outbursts here which do not at all reflect honour on Dáil Eireann as the first assembly in this country—rather does it represent the contrary. I have felt humiliated from time to time in this House because of the conduct of some of the members, in debate and otherwise. I believe, on the other hand, that there are men in this country who would, at the moment, be prepared to take up the work in Dáil Eireann and who would not look upon it as a livelihood, who would not regard it from the point of view of wages or salary, but from the point of view that the highest honour which it is possible to confer on any man in this State is to be elected to serve his country in Dáil Eireann.
This discussion has not, in my view, shed any lustre either on members generally or on the House in particular. I consider that this has been conducted right through in a sordid manner with the exception of a few illuminating examples such as we had here to-day from some of our members—Deputy McGilligan and others—who certainly contributed to this debate in a manner befitting the high principles which most of us in Dáil Éireann have always stood for and will continue to stand for. I sincerely hope that the tone of the debate in this House will never reach the low level, I would almost say the filthy level, which it has reached in the last few days. I deprecate as strongly as I possibly can and I object as strongly and as thoroughly as I possibly can to the debasing influence of a debate of this character. The effects which it must have on those outside this House and the effects which it must have on many of our public and civic-minded citizens are nothing compared with the ill-effects it will have on certain bodies outside this House who do not believe at all in the constitutional methods adopted here but  who believe in introducing perhaps Eastern ideologies into this country. Their effect will be to stimulate them in their efforts in that direction.
I would make a strong appeal to those members who have, in my view, so disgraced and discredited the honour of this House to think the matter over before they commit themselves again in that way. I hope these words will be driven home to those who have offended in this connection within the past couple of days. I have already said that there are civic-minded people in this country who are prepared to serve in Dáil Éireann, even at some financial loss. I want to emphasise that because in doing so I have a feeling that many of those men, with that high civic sense of responsibility, would be induced to come into an Assembly with which they feel it would be an honour to be associated.
Mr. Commons: This overdose of Fianna Fáil generosity with the people's money has described a pretty wide circle throughout this little island and has taken in on all sides all types of individuals, from the lowest paid worker of this State to the highest paid State official. It seems that now that we have by Acts of this Parliament given certain increases to other people, we have decided to come along and increase our own allowances and thus put ourselves in a better financial position. The unfortunate thing is that, in this circle of increases, the increases to the lower paid individuals have not been quite sufficient and the increases to the higher paid individuals have been too much. In this set of circumstances we would, however, like to see a fairer if not an even distribution of the increases that have been given so as to guarantee to everybody a living wage. As that has not been the case so far we can come to only one conclusion on this matter, namely, that the increases which Deputies will be given, if this Bill becomes law, will certainly not be welcomed by the average taxpayer in this country. It is a fact which is well known to every public representative  in this country that increases in salaries, even to the lowest paid workers, do not find favour with the community at large. I for one had that experience at a time when I did back up, and when I was justified in so doing, increases for lower paid road workers. I found out then that certain individuals throughout the country who are taxpayers were inclined to turn up their noses and say: “Well, it is all very fine to give increases but where are we who have to pay going to get our increases from?” What will be the opinion of the taxpayers when they see Deputies who, 15 years ago, we were told were overpaid at £360 a year, and who afterwards increased their allowance to £480, now increasing it to £624? What will the people say to this Parliament or to the Government who are responsible for bringing about this increase?
This is a very good time, I must admit, for anyone to play politics. Anyone who wishes to go to the crossroads or outside the chapel gates and point out that the Government are entirely responsible for bringing about this increase and that Deputies have not asked for it, will no doubt get a very enthusiastic hearing from the taxpayers who will have to foot the bill. The Opposition Parties seem to be united in saying that this increase is unnecessary and unwanted. I think the real test of the sincerity of any Deputy will come when he receives his first cheque for £52. We will then see how much honesty there is in the criticism of the Opposition that there is no necessity for this extra allowance and that the fault lies with the Government for giving the increase. In a month's time or in two months' time, when this Bill becomes an Act and the extra allowance is paid, we will see who are the Deputies who are really honest in their opposition. It is a pity that some outside tribunal or committee was not set up to go into the question of Deputies' allowances, because we feel like the person who gave himself pardon for his own sins when we set about increasing our own salaries. The people will not believe that even those  of us who opposed this measure are sincere. They will believe that this increase is not coming fast enough for 19 out of every 20 Deputies.
Whether the allowance of £480 is sufficient is a very doubtful question. We must all admit that the expenses of the average hard-working Deputy are very high. The Deputy who sets about his duties in an honest hard-working manner, who does his best for the constituency he represents, who contributes as well as he can to the debates in this House, and who acts as an errand boy, because that is what he really is, going from Department to Department in connection with matters in which his constituents are interested, we must admit has very little left which he can call his own out of the £480. In addition to that, as has been said, there are the subscriptions which have to be made for charitable purposes in his constituency. He has to meet active supporters of his on fair days and market days. He has to meet the visitors who call to see him in the Dáil. Then there are the letters he has to answer, each answer taking a 2½d. stamp. Added to all these things he may have to keep a motor car on the road and pay for its overhaul. When all these things are taken into consideration, we must admit that £480 is not too much for the average Deputy.
Then we must compare the Deputy who works hard for his constituents with the Deputy who makes his appearance in this House three or four times in the year and who, we are told, really makes no contact with his constituency. The latter Deputy should have plenty of money left out of his £480. It is a very comfortable position for any man who can so blindfold his constituents that they will elect him at election after election and allow him to carry on in such a manner. It is therefore very hard to strike the exact figure which a Deputy should get, because one may deserve £1,000 a year and another man may not deserve £100. It is not the duty of the Government, however, to deal with that matter. It is the duty of constituents to see that such a Deputy as I have mentioned  will not get their votes at the next election; that he will remain at home and that somebody who is willing to work will come into this House. Candidly, I regard this allowance as a salary. When we look at it in the way I have mentioned, we will see that Deputies are entitled to an increase. But, when we see the number of people in this country who have not anything like £480 a year, then we must decide that, if there is to be any sacrifice made so that these people will be given a decent standard of living, the sacrifice will be made at the top.
So much has been said about the old age pensioners and the widows and orphans that there is no need for me to mention them. But, as well as being interested in the old age pensioners, I am particularly interested in the young man who is willing and anxious and eager to work and for whom this State cannot find employment; the man who would be glad to bring up his family on £3 or £4 a week and who would regard that as a comfortable wage. That is the individual in whom I am interested mainly, because he has no guarantee that he will get a weekly wage corresponding to the increase that Deputies are to get under this Bill when it becomes law. I say that this increase should not be given until we provide a livelihood for the people who have to leave this country or for those people who have to line up at the labour exchanges and draw 14/-, 15/-or 20/- per week as a dole. I think we should spend this £23,000 odd in some other and perhaps more useful way. It is not an awful lot, and it will not go very far, we may be told. A fortnight or three weeks ago we voted other increases to the extent of £20,000 and we were told that amount was not much and would not go far, but these little amounts eventually come to quite a lot and they would fill many a gap in giving employment to people who richly deserve it.
The position of the taxpayers never seems to have given a lot of worry to the Government. The people who have to foot the bills and provide, by the sweat of their brows or the hard working of their brains, the money to increase the allowances to Deputies and Senators and State officials, never got  one thought from the Government. No Government would be justified in giving £12 a month of an increase to a Deputy and, at the same time allow a young man of 21 years of age, a man who has a right to a livelihood here, to line up every week at the labour exchange for a few shillings dole or else migrate to England to get employment there. There is no justification for increasing Deputies' allowances, and I will oppose it, but I am sensible enough to realise that, with the Government's over-all majority, this Bill may be taken as having gone through the House already. We may be satisfied that we are just wasting our breaths here when we criticise it, but we have been sent here by our constituents to oppose legislation which is detrimental to the general good, and that is our intention and that is what we will do.
If this Bill was submitted to a Referendum, what would be the position? If an election had to be fought on the question of whether Deputies are entitled to £480 or £624, I wonder what the people would answer? The average man, I must admit, looks upon a Deputy as being a very well paid individual. I wonder would the average person vote in favour of the Party who would tell him that in this country, that is overloaded with taxation and underloaded with employment, Deputies and Senators are entitled to additional remuneration. The ambition of most people in this State seems to be to get out of it. They are quite willing to work, but they cannot get it here.
I wonder do the Government realise that this measure is unpopular and is not acceptable to the people. I am sorry to say that power seems to get to the heads of people when they are voted to Parliament in sufficient numbers and cannot be unseated from their thrones. It has taken time and hard work in the constituency I represent to unseat the Fianna Fáil Party. I come here representing 17,000 electors in County Mayo and those people have sent me here to oppose measures of this kind. They say that £480 per annum is quite sufficient for a Deputy to live on.
 There is a feeling in this House that, if we have not good salaries, we will not bring in the type of person who would add to the honour of this Assembly. Any man on the register who can get people to propose and second him, who has a few assenters to his nomination paper, and who can command the respect of a sufficient number of voters, is entitled to sit here. It makes no odds what his record has been if he can convince people sufficiently to trust him to improve their standard of living. That man is quite entitled to come here and back up the people who sent him. Any man can add to the honour of this House by using his intelligence to see that laws are passed here which will further the interests of the community and which will bring about a better living standard for every individual in the State. Anyone who does not do that, no matter what his record may be and no matter from what family he comes, will not be much of an addition to the House.
I have heard some Deputies talking about how valuable they are to their constituents and the immense number of letters they have to write. I believe this is quite true, but I thoroughly agree with Deputy McGilligan when he says that this should not be a Deputy's duty at all. I think a Deputy's duty is in this House and he should not have to run continually from one Department to another trying to get from each Department concessions which an average citizen should ordinarily get without the interference of a Deputy. Take the case of an old age pensioner. A pensioner is recommended by the local committee for 10/- a week and he is also recommended, perhaps, by the local investigation officer. Both recommendations are sent to the pensions section of the Department and the recommendation is turned down and the old person may get only 6/- a week. The person concerned then gets in touch with the local Deputy and, as a result of his representations, there is an increase of 2/-or 3/- a week. That old age pensioner should definitely get as much attention in the Department through his own representations as he could by having  a Deputy to act as spokesman on his behalf.
The same applies to the immense amount of work that has to be done by Deputies living in rural areas in regard to drains, roads, etc., and in regard to which representations have to be made to the Department of Public Works. I maintain that when a job has to be done in a locality after four or five people have put their names to a petition and sent in a list specifying the amount of work that has to be done to the Government Department, that work should be done without calling for any interference by a Deputy. It seems that the Departments of this State have got into such a state of chaos, such a state of official bungling that a Deputy has to be called in to try to unravel some of the threads of red tape in which the Departments have become involved until eventually, by the persistent efforts of Deputies, the work is done.
Mr. Commons: I am trying to point out that the real duty of a Deputy, for which he should get an allowance, should be discharged in this House, but unfortunately I find as well as everybody else, even though I have been only 18 months in this House, that this is not a part-time job. Sometimes seven days of the week and 22, 23 or 24 hours of the day of my time, have to be devoted to the work of travelling all over the constituency listening to complaints from many people. Some of the complaints, I must admit, are at times groundless but still we have to put up with all this. Despite all that, I maintain that a Deputy is well and truly paid on an allowance of £480 per year free of income-tax—a concession which is not given to other people whose salaries come from Government sources.
One suggestion has been made from both sides of the House which I think is worthy of consideration. That is, that some sort of superannuation fund should be opened so that, in the event  of the death of a member of the House, his widow, orphans or relatives, could be given some small allowance. I think nobody in this House would grudge the contribution which we would have to make every year or every month to such a useful fund. We have been told that a fund of that character has been established in England. I confess that I do not know how it operates but I think it is a very wise and very useful suggestion.
I think there is not much more to be said on this measure because I am long enough in this House to realise that this Bill will become an Act of the Oireachtas whether the Opposition likes it or not. When, in time, Deputies are called on to answer for their action in supporting the Bill down the country, we hope they will be honest enough to tell the people: “We increased our own salaries when we increased the salaries of everybody else.” I hope that they will be candid and frank enough to admit that the old cry of £1,000 a year being enough for anybody, the old tale that we were not going to model ourselves upon empires, was only used as a means of getting into power, so that they could get their hands on the money and on the power of government. Our Party will oppose this measure and vote against it. Perhaps the real test of the honesty of Parties may come when the Government decides to pay the first cheques of £52 a month. Then the people will see who wants to take the extra £12 and who does not because, as I understand it, there is nothing to prevent any Deputy from returning the extra allowance to the Exchequer. Time alone will tell who is honest and who is not in this debate.
Mr. Corish: Very briefly I should like to say that I am opposing this Bill. I am opposing it because of the fact that the monthly payments made to Deputies are described as allowances. I do not subscribe to the views, the facts and the figures that some Deputies have given to justify even the present payment of £480 a year. I think it would be childish for anybody to assert, and still more childish for anybody to believe, that many members of this House spend their annual  allowances as Deputies on their constituents or in making tours of their constituencies. Personally, I must admit that I regard the payment which is described as an allowance as a salary because, if I am to do my job fully and do justice to the people I represent, I must take at least six days per week or even seven days per week to do that. I may be prejudiced, in so far as my peculiar position as a rural Deputy demands that I should take the entire week to do the job. I think it must be admitted that it is easier for certain people to become Deputies and to sit in Dáil Éireann than for others. It has been pointed out very forcibly that the majority of rural Deputies must travel to Dublin on Monday and that they do not get back to their respective homes until the following Saturday.
My submission is that if we enter on a Parliamentary career as Deputies there must be some compensation for the loss of the professions or trades which in the normal course of events we would pursue. If rural Deputies have not farms, publichouses or other sources of income, it is absolutely impossible for them to exist on what is now described as an allowance. Again, I assert that to call that monthly payment an allowance is absolute fraud. If the payments were described as salaries and that everybody received these payments as salaries, I for one would be prepared to support this measure, but so long as these payments are camouflaged under the name of allowances, I shall vote against the proposed increases. I think, too, there should be some distinction made between the Deputy who has to travel up to Dublin to attend the Dáil and the man who is normally resident in Dublin. If this is an allowance, I think an allowance should be made for subsistence, where necessary, because after all it is a question of keeping two homes in certain cases and the man who is fortunate enough to be elected for a Dublin constituency has the advantage of being able to go to his own home at night and in many cases of being able to take his meals in his own home during the day. There is a difference between his case and that of the rural Deputy who has  to come up from the country to Dáil Éireann, who has to pay for all his meals while he is here and who has to pay for lodgings, sometimes for four or five nights. As I said in the first instance, if some sort of scheme could be devised whereby these payments could be referred to as salaries, I would definitely vote for the Bill, but as long as they are camouflaged and described as allowances, I shall vote against it.
Mr. Bennett: This debate has lasted a very long time and to a great extent it has not been very edifying. I do not propose to speak very long. Strange enough, one of the reasons why I am opposing it is the opposite to that advanced by Deputy Corish in his opposition. I am opposing the Bill because I fear that the raising of the allowance by £12 a month is possibly going to put Deputies into the category of receiving a salary. I consider that my constituents did me a great honour when they selected me to represent them in the Dáil. I do not look upon my membership of the House as a profession. I am a farmer and can make all the living that I want out of my farm. I do not presume, or expect, to make anything out of my Parliamentary duties. I think that the Government are wrong in bringing forward this proposal at this particular time. A good case could be made for it and, on the other hand, a case might be made against it. I think that Deputy Allen put his finger on the real point when he said that some Deputies were voting for it because their constituents wished them to do so. Is not that the essential reason why a Deputy should vote for or against any measure? My constituents certainly desire me to vote against it, and I believe that the majority of the constituents of all Deputies desire them to vote against it.
I think that the Government are largely to blame themselves for that attitude because more than 15 years ago they went around to every parish in the country spouting and shouting as heedlessly and as ignorantly as some of their followers have done in this House about the salaries, as they call them, that Deputies and Ministers were  receiving in 1931 and 1932. I listened to them do that. They made my head ache. They were largely responsible for educating the people into the belief that Deputies and Ministers were overpaid, and were useless members of society almost. It is hard to expect that poor people, old age pensioners and others in receipt of meagre incomes on which to support themselves would not make a comparison between the pecuniary position of a Minister or a Deputy and themselves. Sometimes those poor people are amazed to see a Minister or a Deputy drive up in a posh car to their doors to visit them. In that condition of affairs it is natural to expect that people would wish us to vote against this. I well remember an old saying that was current in the days of my youth, at a time when there were no motor cars or aeroplanes. It was not very grammatical, but it ran something like this:—
I am afraid that the feeling expressed in these words exists, to some extent in the country amongst unfortunate poor people who look on £480 a year as extravagant luxury almost. A good case should be made before we take it on ourselves to vote for an increase in our allowances. I think the Government should not ask the House to do it. It bemeans us to ask us to increase our own allowances. I deprecate calling it anything else but an allowance. Deputies should be given whatever allowance is necessary to enable them to carry out their duties as Deputies without having to encroach on their private resources. I can truthfully say that I spend every penny of the allowance that I get. I do not use one penny of it for my own personal purposes. If the proposal to increase the allowance to £624 is passed, I will take it, but I can assure the House that I will not spend any of it on my personal living. I deprecate the suggestion that it should be possible to regard it as a salary, and there is that danger if it is increased to a figure  beyond that which a Deputy requires to carry out his duties. I am voting against the proposal because my constituents desire me to do so. I am here to carry out their wishes, and on every possible occasion I shall always vote as they desire me to do.
Minister for Finance (Mr. Aiken): We have had a pretty long debate on this question of allowances to members. It is a subject that has been debated in the House on a number of occasions. There was a very long discussion on it in 1938 when the Government brought forward proposals to fix the allowances of Deputies at £480 a year. That is now about nine years ago.
Many things have changed in the world since then. One of the things that has not changed is the necessity there is for a democratic State to make such arrangements that the representatives of the people will be enabled to do the work which they are elected to do, that is, to make laws and to keep an eye on the Executive. Deputies have referred here to the many calls that are made upon their time in their capacity as members of this House. Some of them have emphasised that undue calls are made upon them to perform rather petty services for the people but most of them, I think, have emphasised that, apart from the performance of rather petty services, if a Deputy is to do his main work, find out what his constituents are thinking, discover for himself the main problems affecting their lives, come to the Dáil and represent them there either by vote or speech in the House, the present allowances are not fully adequate to meet his expenses. That was said by practically every Deputy here, even by those who declared that they were going to vote against it. I need not quote the Deputies but I think practically every one of them made that case. The one thing they had to say against the proposition to increase Deputies' salaries at this time by 30 per cent. was that the time was not opportune.
Exactly the same type of case was made in 1938 and the leaders of the chief Opposition took up the attitude then that the change should be made  in spite of the criticisms that were offered against it. Deputy Dr. O'Higgins at that time, speaking on the Bill on the 24th November, 1938, said:
“Let us be honest. It is politically attractive to oppose this Bill. There is immense political temptation to oppose a Bill of this kind, and there is a feeling at the back of the minds of many that they will make sure of the £30, rather than come to grief by supporting any more.”
Deputy General Mulcahy, the Leader of the Opposition, also spoke on that occasion. He was replying to criticisms, some of which came from his own benches, of the Government proposals to fix Deputies' allowances at £480 a year, and he said:-
“I welcome the fact that the Government has faced up to this question... I think that anybody who realises the importance of Parliamentary institutions, and of democratic Parliamentary institutions, and who realises the position that a Deputy occupies as the connection between the people and their problems and the Parliament, which can do so much either for good or ill, cannot in his heart of hearts but welcome the proposal that is embodied in this Bill to increase the allowance that will be at Deputies' disposal to enable them to discharge their duties.”
“I think it is not going too far to say that the increased assistance in this Bill simply takes the Deputies as they are at present, and puts on them the responsibility, and gives them the facilities for keeping in touch with their constituents. If we  are to preserve democratic institutions and effective Parliamentary institutions in this country, we can only do it through machinery which will give us Deputies who feel their responsibilities, and are put into that position. I think that this Bill does that, and as I say, I welcome the fact that the Government has approached the matter in this particular way.”
One of the criticisms that was made about this measure was as to the manner in which it was brought forward. It was said by several Deputies —Deputy Roddy and Deputy Larkin are the last that I remember saying it —that all Opposition Parties should have been consulted about this matter. Deputy Roddy went on to say that we should have something like an inquiry into the position of Deputies now as against 1938 to determine what increase in allowances would be necessary. He indicated that if such course had been taken he would be inclined to recommend and to support the necessary changes. He said that Deputies had no means of gauging the increase in the expenses of a Deputy in performing his-Parliamentary duties. Is that credible?
Is there any Deputy here who will say that the expenses of a Deputy who performs his duties have not increased by 30 per cent? Are there not many Deputies in this Dáil who would say that the cost of living generally has increased even by much more than the official cost of living index indicates? No one would say in relation to any other class in the community that the costs of their activities, social and economic, have not increased by more than 70 per cent. since 1938. The extreme criticism to which Fine Gael often gives vent is that in fact they have increased by more than 100 per cent.
For many months during last winter I had long discussions with many classes of civil servants, going into this question of the cost of living and, after prolonged discussions the Government made propositions to the civil servants which, on a referendum being taken, the majority of the civil servants approved. Having thus secured the approval of the Civil Service to a level  of salaries which they accepted-I am not saying they would not have wished for more—the Government proceeded to apply the same standards of improvement to the salaries of all other public officials.
At the same time that the negotiations were proceeding between myself and the Civil Service associations, there were proceeding before the Labour Court and in other parts of the country discussions on exactly the same question—by how much had the cost of living risen and by how much should the people living in 1946 and 1947 be compensated to meet the increased cost that occurred since the war.
The Labour Court, as Deputies know, arrived at the decision that those on rather low salaries and wages should get 60 or 70 per cent. increase and that over a certain income the percentage should go down. The Government and the Civil Service accepted the increase in their salaries over 1939 of from 25 per cent. upwards. The 25 was the minimum increase given to civil servants and, in my recollection, that 25 was given to those whose pre-war salary and bonus combined amounted to around £1,000 a year. Below £1,000, there was a gradual increase in the percentage given, until at the figures I gave Deputies in my opening statement, on about £480 of a pre-war salary and sliding scale bonus combined, the civil servant got 37½ per cent. increase and at the other figure, £360, an increase of 41 per cent.
Now, had I entered this Dáil with a Bill proposing that Deputies' allowances should be increased by 37½ per cent. and Senators' by 40 per cent., no one could say truthfully that it was out of line with what had been done for civil servants and all other classes of public officials. Deputy Roddy said that the Deputies should give a headline, that in the fixing of their allowances they should show some little spirit of sacrifice. The fact that it was not more than the appropriate percentage increases granted to other people, but less, had regard to the sentiments of which he spoke. If we were attempting to compensate fully  for the increase in hotel expenses, travelling and restaurant expenses and so on, we would naturally have been compelled to go above the figure of 30 per cent. which the Government has suggested in this Bill.
Is there any Deputy who will say that that 30 per cent. is more than those costs rose since 1938? No Deputy will. I do not think there is anyone in the country who would say that hotel, travelling and other expenses have risen by less than 30 per cent. since 1938. It is common knowledge-we are not living away in the moon and all our activities are exposed to the eyes of our constituents-that, during and even since the war, Deputies who had to hire cars or even run their own cars, found their expenses in some cases nearer 300 per cent. than 30 percent. over pre-war. Travelling within the constituency is an expense for which no specific allowance is made and which must be covered by the Deputies' normal Parliamentary allowance—heretofore £480 and for the future £624, if this Bill goes through. The people of the country have grown up politically in this last number of years. They know as much about the Deputies and their lives as the Deputies know about them. Each one of them can appreciate that, if £480 was considered to be fair and reasonable for expenses in 1938, it is not unreasonable to add 30 per cent. and bring it up to £624.
The question was much discussed here as to whether, if we were going to give Deputies an increase, someone should not be given authority to say how much each Deputy should get in addition to his present allowance. Some Deputy suggested that the authority to do that would be a clerk at the Dáil gate, that account should be taken of the number of attendances made by Deputies during the time when the Dáil was in session. It was quite properly pointed out by other Deputies, some of them in the Opposition, that that might lead to the grossest form of abuse, by Deputies attending simply to sign and then clearing off. It was said by others that the amount a Deputy should get as an allowance for expenses should be decided by the Revenue Commissioners,  that a salary of some size should be granted to Deputies and that they should then claim from the Revenue Commissioners exemption from income-tax for that portion of their salary which they could prove to the satisfaction of the Revenue Commissioners represented necessary expenses in the performance of their Parliamentary duties.
That suggestion displays a trust in the Revenue Commissioners' judgment which is not normally voiced by Deputies. They are going to attempt that in another country, but I doubt if that system is a workable system, a system which will work to the satisfaction of the Deputies concerned. Every taxpayer at one time or another who has a claim for expenses before the Revenue Commissioners has a falling out with them, has disputes with the tax collector as to the amount he should properly be allowed as a necessary expense. Are we going to open an office here in the Dáil and have T.D.s going in to prove: “It was necessary for me to go from Ballymurphy to Ballydehob on such and such a date and you must allow me my expenses,” and then have a wrangle with the Revenue Commissioners as to whether that was in fact a necessary portion of a Deputy's expenses in the performance of his Parliamentary duties? Are we to have Deputies going to the Revenue Commissioners to prove that they stayed in a hotel in Dublin on the 3rd, 4th or 5th of February last in the course of their Parliamentary duties, but that on one of the nights they did not stay there in order to go to a theatre?
Mr. Aiken: The suggestion was made that Deputies should not be given allowances, but should be made prove to the Revenue Commissioners what were necessary expenses in the performance of their Parliamentary duties. Every person here will admit that necessary expenses are expenses involved in travelling from their constituency to Dublin, if they live outside  Dublin, and remaining in Dublin during the Dáil sitting.
Mr. Aiken: No one would protest more strongly than Deputy Dillon if the Revenue Commissioners dared examine him as to what his duties to his constituents are. Nobody would object more violently than Deputy Dillon. As a matter of fact, we have had the same type of discussion between Deputies and representatives of my Department in connection with travelling allowances. Most Deputies have had the experience of being dissatisfied with the judgments given on some occasions. It is the duty of the officials of my Department to ensure that every possible penny or halfpenny which can be saved in cutting down expense sheets will be saved, and their function in that regard is no different from that which the Revenue Commissioners would have to perform in adjudicating on what was a necessary expense for a Deputy. It just would not work smoothly, in my opinion, and I should say we would come to the same conclusion in regard to that way of dealing with expenses as I came to in connection with this question of motor-car expenses. I had brought to me on a few occasions for final adjudication disputes which had arisen between Deputies and representatives of my Department about car allowances. Was a train running on the particular date on which the Deputy used his car? Should he have come the night before when a train was available or should he not have waited until the day after, when it was available? Why should he have come on that day? Was a train not reasonably available to him and should not his reasonable expenses be first-class rail fare rather than the rate of 6d. per mile for the use of his own car when trains were not available. I came to the conclusion that the right thing to do was to abolish this source of wrangling between T.D.s and civil servants, and the result is that one part of this Bill deals with the new travelling facilities.
One of the dangers of a debate such as we have had—we are members of  different Parties and we take off the gloves and hit pretty hard on occasions when one side or the other thinks there is a political advantage to be gained, as is natural in Parliamentary institutions or any other type of organisation —is that there are unfortunately in the country certain sections which delight in seeing a rather bad type of debate take place here and some of whom delight particularly in misrepresenting the Government reasons for promoting various types of legislation. There were some hot things said yesterday in the debate and it was only right that, if newspapers were reporting these, they should give a fair and balanced account of what took place. Deputy Dillon adverted to the fact that Part I of this Bill, granting increased travelling facilities, was brought in by me at the request of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, and he said that if he were put to it he would take full responsibility for it himself. Deputy Hughes alluded to the same section of the Bill and said it had been brought in by me at the request of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. They were the only two Deputies that referred to that matter. I have no recollection of any member of the Labour Party, or of any member of Clann na Talmhan saying so. The amazing thing is that of all the speeches made in the last few days the two gentlemen of the Opposition who were cut out of the Irish Times were Deputy Dillon and Deputy Hughes.
Mr. Aiken: Tá, gan amhras. Deireann sé, “...or their widows and orphans. Such a scheme was in operation in Britain.” Ní dúirt tú é sin. “Although he had originated the proposal at the Committee of Procedure and Privileges, that the travelling expenses of Deputies should be increased, he would vote against the Bill because of the proposal to increase allowances to £624 a year.”
Mr. Aiken: Nach iontach? Bhí ainm an Teachta Ó Brádaigh in ionad ainm eile. Níor thárla a leithead riamh. I gcónaí nuair labhras an Diolúnach anseo bíonn sé san Irish Times go ndúirt sé é seo agus é súd ach, inné ní dúirt sé go raibh sé ciontach sna smaointe seo.
Mr. Aiken: The Irish Times dropped both Deputy Hughes and Deputy Dillon out of the picture because the proposal of Part I of the Bill was to increase the travelling facilities. That is my belief. The day before they dropped Deputy Brady out. They did not even give him one line although they gave seven different speakers against the increase of the Presidential allowance.
Mr. Aiken: There was a discussion on the Presidential allowances in which it was alleged that the President was putting £52,000 into his pocket—£1,000 a week. Deputy Brady pointed out that the £52,000 a year was for the upkeep of buildings and reconstruction of buildings but that was dropped out. Everything that can be said against the Government, every dirt that could be thrown against the State, is published in this paper but nothing defending the country or defending the Government——
Mr. Aiken: The Deputy can take this for granted. If ever at any time he does anything that is right he will be dropped out of the Irish Times as he was on this particular occasion. To come back to this question of the increase of the allowances for travelling.
Mr. Aiken: Deputy Dillon pointed out yesterday that in his own case it meant a £5 difference-every time he came to town whether he got first class fare on the railway or whether he got a car allowance at the mileage rate. The same I take it is true in the case of every other Deputy. Deputy Dillon calculated that he came to Dublin 35 times a year, as a minimum. That is £175 a year and that is the difference that Part I would make to Deputy Dillon. If those are the facts—I take it that they are——
Mr. Aiken: Did the Deputy not say that it meant a £5 difference? Did we not all hear him say that? I only want to get this straight. Did we not all hear him saying it? Did not he make the calculation that he came to Dublin on an average 35 times a year?
Mr. Aiken: The fact of the matter is that Deputy Hughes and others are going to vote against this Bill because, they say, of the increase in allowances to Deputies but if the Bill goes through some of them who use their cars instead of trains will get more out of the increase because of allowances for cars. That is the only point I am making. Deputy Roddy or Deputy Hughes did not say that we should not do that before we had an inquiry. Neither did any Independent Deputy, nor any member of Clann na Talmhann, nor any member of either of the Labour Parties. They came to me and asked that that should be brought in. I did not mention it. I did not raise it in this debate; I did not say anything about having been asked about it. But there was no proposition at any time that that should be postponed until there was a public inquiry into the matter.
Some Deputies have stated that this addition of 30 per cent. to Deputies' allowances is extravagant. They did not say that an increase of 30 per cent., or £300 or £400 a year additional, for district justices with salaries from £900 to £1,100 per year is too much. All sides of the House said that it should be more, although district justices have pensionable positions and are not subject to the same expenses as some Deputies have to undergo. Thirty per cent. in their case was thought too little, although they had already from £900 to £1,100 per year. But it is said that 30 per cent. is too much of an increase in Deputies allowances. I do not propose to characterise these statements. But I  want the people of the country to regard this matter in a reasonable way. We know what the increase in the expenses of running any business is as compared with 1938. I think they will agree with Deputy Mulcahy that the allowance of £480 was not over-generous in relation to the then existing circumstances. I think they will agree with him that, if we want to have democratic institutions here, we have to enable the representatives of the people to perform their Parliamentary duties in a reasonable manner. I think the ordinary person in the country will agree that the addition of 30 per cent. at this time is not only overdue but is not over-generous; that it errs, if at all, on the side of meagreness.
I do not want to be taken as making the proposal that, no matter what expenses a Deputy elects to incur in the performance of his duties, those expenses should be met. There are some Deputies who have farms or businesses or other incomes who can afford to incur more expense than other Deputies. But I think it is only reasonable and right for the people of the country to insist that the Government should, at all times, regard it as their duty to see that the representatives of the people have such an allowance for expenses as will enable a man without means to carry out his Parliamentary functions in a reasonable manner. No reasonable person in this country wants to have a situation in which, for the sake of a penny farthing per head of the population, Deputies will be driven  through sheer necessity to accept credit, to accept overdrafts, or to put themselves in the position of being under a compliment to particular interests. Such persons want their representatives to be free in their approach to all problems that are put forward for their consideration; free to vote and to voice their opinions without fear or favour.
It has been suggested that in the Committee Stage we should bring forward an amendment to make a compulsory levy of £12 per year on members of the Dáil and Seanad in order to provide a fund to look after old and infirm ex-members of the Dáil and Seanad, or widows of former members of the Dáil or Seanad. That matter has been raised by Deputy Allen, Deputy Kennedy and others. I have seen the British scheme in the papers, but I have not had time to examine it since the matter was raised here. I do not think it would be possible to put such an amendment as they have in mind into this particular Bill. This Bill deals with allowances to members. Any scheme of that kind to make a levy on the members of the Dáil or Seanad and to appoint members as trustees to administer the fund and make the awards would, I think, have to be dealt with in a special Bill. All I can say is that, if the members of the Dáil and Seanad ask the Government to promote legislation to make that levy, I would put it to the Government, but I do not think it can be done in this Bill.
Burke, Patrick (Co. Dublin)
Childers, Erskine H.
Corry, Martin J. Lemass, Seán F.
Lydon, Michael F.
O'Connor, John S.
O'Loghlen, Peter J.
|Crowley, Honor Mary.
De Valera, Eamon.
De Valera, Vivion.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Healy, John B.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Kissane, Eamon. O'Rourke, Daniel.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ruttledge, Patrick J.
Ryan, Mary B.
Skinner, Leo B.
Ua Donnchadha, Dómhnall.
|Anthony, Richard S.
Bennett, George C.
Costello, John A.
Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Henry M.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Halliden, Patrick J.
Larkin, James (Junior)
O'Driscoll, Patrick F.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
Redmond, Bridget M.
Rogers, Patrick J.
Sheldon, William A.W.
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