Dáil Éireann

17/Dec/1953

Prelude

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Imprisoned Member of Parliament.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Conference on Partition.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Imports of Oats and Barley.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Production of Cheap Loaf.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Disposal of American Coal.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Industries for South Kerry.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - E.S.B. Charges in Killorglin.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Distribution of Tourist Literature.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Quality of Tea.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cork Airport Site.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Baldonnel Aerodrome Runways.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - State and Local Authority Debts.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Agricultural Credit Corporation Loans.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Drainage of Rathangan River.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Kildare Flooding.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Repair of Cahirciveen Pier.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Kerry Minor Employment Schemes.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Home Assistance.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Kerry Unemployment Assistance.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Membership of U.N.O.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Kerry Reafforestation.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Appointment of Peace Commissioners.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Presidential Escort.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Conna (County Cork) National School.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County and City Managers' Association.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Galway Road Grants.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Remuneration of Galway Council Employees.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Local Authorities (Works) Act.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Payments to Hospitals.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - International Broadcasts.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Broadcast of Racing Results.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Telephone Directory.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Donegal Sub-Postmistress.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Fire Clay Drainage Pipes.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - New Zealand Butter.

Question on Adjournment.

Order of Business.

Private Business. - Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital Bill, 1953. Report of Joint Committee.

Private Business. - Appointment of Comptroller and Auditor-General.

Private Business. - Control of Imports Orders—Motions of Approval.

Private Business. - Estimates for Public Services.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 3—Department of the Taoiseach (Resumed).

Committee on Finance. - Messages from the Seanad.

Committee on Finance. - Adjournment Debate—Distribution of New Zealand Butter.

Written Answer. - Imported Wheat.

[2603] Do chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 2.30 p.m.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  asked the Taoiseach if he will ask the British authorities to arrange for members of Dáil Éireann who wish to do so to be permitted to visit Mr. Liam Kelly, M.P., at Belfast jail.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach (Donnchadh Ó Briain) (for the Taoiseach):  The answer is in the negative.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  In the event of members of this House desiring to visit Mr. Kelly, either for Christmas or for the New Year and the prison authorities refusing to admit them to pay a visit, will the Taoiseach then consider making representations with a view to having the prison authorities and the British Government permit such a visit?

The Taoiseach:  I am afraid we will have to wait and see.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  asked the Taoiseach if he will make representations to the British Government with a view to the holding of a conference in London or Dublin with representatives of the Governments of this country, Great Britain and the Six Counties under the chairmanship of the American Ambassador to the Republic or other impartial chairman appointed [2604] by the United States to consider (1) the problem of Partition and its solution, (2) the immediate release from jail of Mr. Liam Kelly, M.P., and (3) the admission of M.P.s from Northern Ireland to sit in Dáil Éireann; and if he will seek to have such a conference held early in the New Year.

Donnchadh Ó Briain:  The answer is in the negative.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Does the Taoiseach not consider that a conference on the lines suggested in the question would have very good and successful results?

The Taoiseach:  They would have to come together first.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Does the Taoiseach not consider that he would be the right and proper person to bring them together?

The Taoiseach:  I have given more consideration over many years to this question than the Deputy.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Will the Taoiseach not consider trying once again to have such a conference from which he might get some inspiration?

The Taoiseach:  I have derived very little inspiration from anything the Deputy has ever said.

Mr. Rooney:  asked the Taoiseach if he will state whether quantities of oats and barley were imported recently; and, if so, if he will indicate the countries of origin, the quantity imported and the price per barrel in each case.

Donnchadh Ó Briain:  I intend, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to circulate in the Official Report a statement giving the required information on oats and barley imported in each of the months September, October and November, 1953.

Following is the statement:—

[2605][2606] QUANTITIES and average price per barrel of Oats and Barley imported in each of the months September, October, and November, 1953.

Description and Country of Origin September October November
cwt. Average price (c.i.f.) per barrel cwt. Average price (c.i.f.) per barrel cwt. Average price (c.i.f.) per barrel
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Oats—for seed:
Great Britain 120 4 16 6 120 4 18 3 20 5 1 10
Barley—not for seed:
Great Britain 728 3 13 0 746 3 13 9
—for seed:
Great Britain 2 5 0 0
Germany (Federal Republic) 15 5 5 0

Mr. Kyne:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he is aware that a reputable master baker is able to produce under trade union conditions and wages a loaf comparable in weight, taste and quality with any standard loaf produced by the other Dublin master bakers at a price which enables consumers to purchase bread for 7½d., i.e., 2¼d. less than the price sanctioned by him and, if so, if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Lemass):  I have no information as to the conditions under which bread is produced and sold by the firm referred to by the Deputy, but I am aware that in many parts of the country, including Dublin, bread is being sold at less than the maximum prices.

The prescribed maximum prices for bread are fixed in relation to the average cost of producing bread over the country as a whole. It is to be assumed that there are bakers who can produce bread at a figure below the average cost. I expect the lower production costs in all such cases to be reflected in lower selling prices.

I am not aware what the Deputy means by a “standard loaf”; but the maximum price for a batch loaf, when sold by a baker in his own shop, is 8¾d. (per 2 lbs.).

Mr. Kyne:  Is the Minister aware that the average master baker in Dublin and the firms who sell bread, sell a considerable amount of bread for greyhound feeding at as small a sum as 1d. per lb.? Is not that subsidised bread?

Mr. Lemass:  I have no information about that. I would be glad to get it.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if his attention has been drawn to an article in a Sunday newspaper regarding the disposal of American coal dumped in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, and in Cork; and, if so, whether he will make a statement in the matter indicating in particular (i) the total loss involved to the Irish taxpayer; (ii) the cost of this coal to the country; (iii) the arrangements made for its sale, including price, and how this is made up; (iv) whether this coal is being at present mixed with British coal and, if so, what is the sale price of the mixture, and (v) whether any steps are being taken to ensure that this mixture or American coal only will not be sold as British coal at a higher price.

Mr. Lemass:  I dealt with the general position of reserve stocks of coal in the statement I made in Dáil Éireann on 28th October last

[2607] The average per ton cost of this coal when placed in the storage sites was £8 6s. 6d. Offers have been accepted from importing merchants to purchase, before 31st December, 1954, minimum quantities of 50,000 tons in Dublin and 9,000 tons in Cork at £5 10s. per ton at site.

With regard to parts (iii), (iv) and (v) of the question coal prices are not now subject to official control.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Does the Minister not consider that when we have evidence that this mixture which is masquerading as coal is being sold as best British coal at the price charged for best British coal he should have some power to safeguard the consumers from a fraud of this nature?

Mr. Lemass:  The coal sold in Dublin is of good quality.

Mr. Sweetman:  The people who try to burn it will be glad to hear that.

Mr. Palmer:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state (1) the number of applications made for State aid for the establishment of an industry in South Kerry under the provisions of the Undeveloped Areas Act, 1952; (2) the districts from which such representations were made; (3) the type of industry in each such area for which financial aid was sought; and (4) the number of applications (a) granted, (b) rejected, and (c) still under consideration, indicating in each case the location of the industry concerned.

Mr. Lemass:  I would refer the Deputy to the reply which was given to a similar question on 30th July, 1953.

Mr. Palmer:  What was the answer?

Mr. Lemass:  The Deputy can look it up.

Mr. J. Flynn:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he [2608] is aware of the hardship caused to the tenants of the new council houses at St. James's Terrace, Killorglin, County Kerry, by the rate demanded by the E.S.B. for lighting and other purposes; and, if so, if he will make representations to the board to reduce the present rate to a figure which the tenants can afford to pay.

Mr. Lemass:  I have no function in connection with the fixing of scales of charges for electricity. The responsibility in this matter rests, under statute, with the E.S.B.

Mr. Hession:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that during the first nine months of this year, Fógra Fáilte distributed 2,562,867 pieces of tourist literature of which distribution in Ireland amounted to 1,406,018; in Britain, 674,467; in the United States and Canada, 330,256, and in Europe, 114,263; and, if so, if he will recommend to Fógra Fáilte that henceforward greater emphasis be placed on the dissemination of this literature abroad, whereby the interests of our tourist trade may better be served.

Mr. Lemass:  It is the responsibility of the Board of Fógra Fáilte to decide the manner in which tourist literature should be distributed, and I do not interfere with the board's discretion in matters of this kind.

I understand from the board that of the literature distributed in Ireland, a substantial quantity was so allocated as to secure its reissue through transport organisations, tourist agencies, etc., to persons resident outside this country.

Mr. Hession:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that complaints about the quality of tea which is being offered for sale continue to persist; and, if so, if he will state what steps he proposes to adopt in relief of the position.

Mr. Lemass:  I have received no complaints regarding the quality of tea on sale.

[2609] The wholesale and retail tea trade is now highly competitive and offers the public the choice of a wide range of packet and loose tea at various prices. Any member of the public who is dissatisfied with the quality of tea available from his present supplier has ordinarily the simple remedy of transferring his trade elsewhere.

Mr. Lehane:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if the Government have now considered the report on the site for an airport in Cork; and, if not, when they expect to do so.

Mr. Lehane:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state the date on which the report regarding the site of the Cork airport was received in his Department.

Mr. Lemass:  With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions No. 10 and No. 11 together.

Question No. 11 relates to a matter of internal departmental administration and I cannot see that any useful purpose would be served by giving the Deputy the information for which he asks. As regards the other question, I am not in a position to add anything to my reply to a question addressed to me by the Deputy on the 18th November.

Mr. Lehane:  Surely it is a reasonable thing to ask when the report was received in his Department and how long they are keeping it in a pigeonhole before dealing with it.

Mr. Lemass:  The Government will deal with it as long as is necessary to make sure that they will arrive at a right decision.

Mr. Morrissey:  Surely the Minister is trying to establish a precedent when he refuses to answer a question as to when the report was received. So far as I know, it was always the practice in this House to give the date on which a report is received.

[2610]Mr. Lemass:  It is entirely a ministerial matter.

Mr. Morrissey:  It is not.

Mr. Lemass:  It is a report to me by one of my own officers.

Mr. Lehane:  If there were not a by-election in Cork would it not have been printed?

Mr. Lemass:  If the Deputy thinks that out he will find the argument is the other way round.

Mr. Rooney:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state why it was decided to accept a tender for the concrete runways in Baldonnel Aerodrome which exceeded by more than £15,000 the lowest tender which was submitted by other Irish nationals in view of the fact that the latter undertook to complete the work in eight months instead of the two years' completion guarantee given by the selected contractor.

Mr. Lemass:  All the tenders received were considered on their merits. It would be contrary to established practice to disclose particulars of tenders received.

Mr. Hession:  asked the Minister for Finance if he will state the total sum of (a) dead-weight debt; (b) net debts of the State and local authorities at 31st March, 1933 and 1953.

Acting-Minister for Finance (Mr. Aiken):  As the reply contains statistical matter, I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to have it included in the Official Report.

Following is the reply:—

The difference between the gross liabilities and assets of the State, which is assumed to be what the Deputy means by “net debt”, was as follows on the dates mentioned:—

£
31st March, 1933 18,600,000
31st March, 1953 114,248,000

[2611] For the reasons given in my reply to a similar question by Deputy Cogan on 13th December, 1951, the best way of indicating the extent of dead-weight debt is to compare the total charge for the service of State debt with the total return received by way of interest, dividends and capital repayments on the corresponding assets. The following are particulars of dead-weight debt estimated on this basis:—

Service of Debt Total Return from State Assets Gross Debt Approximate amount of Gross Debt the service of which has to be met out of taxation
£ £ £ £
1932/33 2,725,000 963,000 36,490,000 23,590,000
1952/53 10,435 000 4,559,000 243,807,000 137,290,000

The figures for the service of debt in respect of 1952-53 include the subsidy paid from the Vote for Local Government towards housing loan charges of local authorities.

As regards the debt of local authorities (excluding harbour authorities, vocational education committees and county committees of agriculture) the estimated gross debt as at the 31st March, 1933, and 31st March, 1952, the latest date for which particulars are available, is as follows:—

31st March, 1933 31st March, 1952
£ £
Estimated Gross Debt of Local Authorities 16,810,000 70,647,000

Taking dead-weight debt of local authorities to mean that part of gross debt, the service of which is an unrelieved charge on the ratepayer, the figures computed by reference to the proportion of the total service charge which has to be met from rates are as follows:—

[2612] Approximate amount of Gross Debt the service of which has to be met from Rates.
£
1932/33 10,200,000
1951/52 36,550,000

“Net debt” in the case of local authorities may be taken as equivalent to dead-weight debt in the sense defined above.

Mr. Hession:  asked the Minister for for Finance if he will state the number of applications for loans received by the Agricultural Credit Corporation and the number of loans granted in the past two years.

Mr. Aiken:  I am informed that the number of applications for loans received by the Agricultural Credit Corporation in the past two years was as follows:—

Year ended
31st October, 1952 2,095
31st October, 1953 1,731

The number of applications sanctioned was 1,023 and 737, respectively, and the number of loans issued was 715 and 581, respectively. The figures do not take account of loans under schemes of the Department of Agriculture.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  May I take it that the Government are now considering reducing the rates of interest charged by the Industrial Credit Corporation on loans?

An Ceann Comhairle:  Question No. 15.

Mr. Sweetman:  asked the Minister for Finance if he will state whether the Rathangan River is included in any, and, if so, in what catchment area for treatment under the Arterial Drainage Act and, if included, when the drainage of the area will be undertaken.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Beegan):  As I [2613] stated during the debate on the Estimate for Vote 9, and in reply to the recent Private Members' motion regarding the River Nore, the survey commitments of the Commissioners of Public Works will take a period of at least two years to clear. When those commitments have been cleared, the Barrow catchment area, in which the Rathangan River is situated, will be considered on its merits in conjunction with some 20 other major catchments requiring attention.

Mr. Sweetman:  asked the Minister for Finance if he is aware that there has been very serious flooding in the neighbourhood of Kilcock, County Kildare, from the River Rye, during the past fortnight; and whether, if he is not prepared to undertake the full drainage scheme for that river, he will, in view of the serious unemployment there, make available immediately a smaller amount to clear the regions of the river, particularly below the town.

Mr. Beegan:  According to the latest available returns the unemployment position in Kilcock is not such as to warrant an employment schemes grant. The scheme suggested by the Deputy would not, in any event, be suitable as an employment scheme as, apart from the general objection to the inclusion of drainage works in winter employment schemes programmes, I am advised that the nature and cost of even the minimum work necessary to provide a worthwhile improvement in the area referred to place it outside the scope of such schemes.

Mr. Sweetman:  Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that 70 people were queued up at the end of last week at the exchange in Maynooth, and that there are 70 people queuing up to register? Surely that brings this within the scope of the arrangements for a grant.

Mr. Beegan:  If there are anything like 70 people, they must be spread over a very wide area.

Mr. Sweetman:  Is the Parliamentary [2614] Secretary further aware that a fortnight ago, as a result of the rain that we had, there was flooding to the extent of two feet in the town of Kilcock, and that an engineer has stated that quite a small scheme to remove certain sharps would mean that flooding in the town of Kilcock would be averted?

Mr. Norton:  Will the Parliamentary Secretary cause an officer of his Department to visit the area and witness for himself the obvious flooding that is caused by the choking of the River Rye? Having regard to the fact that there is a considerable number of unemployed persons in the area, including a number who are there by reason of the recent dismissals by Bord na Móna, will the Parliamentary Secretary consider making a grant available in order to enable the most urgent portion of the work to be undertaken and thus avoid this flooding?

Mr. Beegan:  With regard to the statements made by Deputy Sweetman and Deputy Norton, I do not know whether it is that my powers of observation are so limited that I have not been able to discern a lot of water there. I pass through Kilcock twice weekly. I passed through it recently after heavy rain, and I did not see any abnormal flooding. I only saw some loughs of water. I saw cattle grazing on the higher portion of the land which was much more considerable than that which was under water.

Mr. Sweetman:  Did the Parliamentary Secretary go into any of the houses in Kilcock which had floods in them?

Mr. Beegan:  I passed through the streets of Kilcock.

Mr. Sweetman:  And you say there were no floods in Kilcock? That is one of the many daft statements that are made by this Government.

Captain Giles:  The roads for one and a half miles around there were flooded with more than two feet of water.

[2615]Mr. Norton:  Might I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that on the next occasion on which he goes through Kilcock, he ought to clean the windows of his car?

Mr. Beegan:  There is no need for me either to clean the windows of the car or to clean my glasses either.

Mr. Sweetman:  People will be most amused to hear that.

Mr. Beegan:  They will have Christmas entertainment if it is as easy as the Deputy suggests to entertain them.

Mr. Palmer:  asked the Minister for Finance if he will give the reasons for the undue delay in carrying out the proposed repairs and extension to the Reenard Point Pier near Cahirciveen.

Mr. Beegan:  The existing Pier at Reenard Point is in a good state of repair. The question of improvement and extension of the facilities involves a number of matters of considerable difficulty, legal and otherwise, which have not yet been settled. I am unable to say when a decision is likely to be taken.

Mr. Spring:  asked the Minister for Finance if he is aware that no minor employment schemes grant has been allocated to the Parish of Ballyheigue, County Kerry, for this year; and, if so, if he will state whether it is proposed to make a grant available for the district in order to give much needed employment.

Mr. Beegan:  The employment schemes programme in rural areas is a joint one consisting of (a) special schemes of improvement works on county roads, i.e., rural employment schemes; and (b) works on accommodation roads, i.e., minor employment schemes. The proportionate amount hitherto available from the Employment and Emergency Schemes Vote for the electoral divisions of Ballyheigue and Kerryhead has been allocated this [2616] year to a county road work. It is hoped to allocate a grant for minor employment schemes in the area from the additional funds now made available to me.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will arrange to send a circular to each local authority asking the county manager to give double allowances of home assistance for Christmas; and if he will give sanction for old age pensioners to be paid the pensions a week in advance for the Christmas season.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. Kennedy):  The payment of home assistance is a matter entirely for the public assistance authorities and I am not prepared to interfere in the performance of their functions in the manner suggested.

As regards old age pensions, I do not propose to make arrangements for payment a week in advance. The pensioners will, however, be able to obtain payment on the 23rd instant of pension orders due on the 25th.

Mr. J. Flynn:  asked the Minister for Social Welfare whether he is aware of the hardship caused to applicants for unemployment assistance from the Cromane district who are compelled to attend at the exchange office, Killorglin, five and a half miles distant; and whether he will arrange for the payment of their allowance to these applicants at the local post office in Cromane.

Mr. Kennedy:  The position has been further examined as indicated in my reply to a similar question from the Deputy on the 26th March, 1953, and no reason is seen to depart from the general procedure which requires that persons residing less than six miles from the nearest local office, in this case Killorglin Branch Employment Office, must attend at that office for payment.

[2617]Mr. J. Flynn:  Will the Parliamentary Secretary not agree that it is unreasonable to ask these men to go to Killorglin, six miles away, when facilities could be provided for them at the local post office in their own district?

Mr. Kennedy:  All applicants residing in the Cromane area have proof of unemployment certified at the signing centre at Cromane where a Garda from Killorglin attends weekly.

Mr. O'Donnell:  It is a punitive measure and nothing else.

Mr. Desmond:  asked the Minister for External Affairs if he will set out in the form of a tabular statement for the benefit of citizens the advantages and liabilities which would accrue to this country if it were now to be elected to the U.N.O.

Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Aiken):  The Deputy will recall that the advantages and liabilities of membership of the U.N.O. were discussed at length on 24th and 25th July, 1946, in this House and that Dáil Éireann passed a resolution on the latter date recommending the Government to take steps with a view to securing Ireland's admission to membership.

If Ireland were now to become a member of the U.N.O., the same considerations would in general apply. They do not lend themselves to statement in tabular form.

Mr. Morrissey:  There have been many changes in the world since 1946.

Mr. Desmond:  In view of the very many changes since 1946 is it not right that the people of this country should know of any possible advantages or commitments that the Government may be prepared to sign in the name of the people of this country, and why should they be just told that they are expected to remember something that was brought to their notice in 1946?

Mr. Aiken:  I cannot undertake to set out in tabular form the various advantages and disadvantages that belong to the U.N.O. It is an intricate and broad political matter. [2618] It was fully discussed in the Dáil on the dates I have referred to and a decision was taken, and anybody who is really interested in the matter, if he wants to see its advantages and disadvantages, would have to read something corresponding to the speeches which were made on the various sides of the House on that occasion, on which, after all, the Dáil came to a unanimous decision to go ahead.

Mr. Desmond:  Is it fair to ask the ordinary people of this country, who might not have the time, to go through the many important debates of 1946, and would it not be possible to get in some brief form an outline of the responsibilities and advantages to these ordinary people who make up the bulk of the people of this country?

Mr. Aiken:  It would not be possible to give it in brief form.

Mr. Palmer:  asked the Minister for Lands if he will state (1) the number and location of the forestry centres (a) now established and (b) proposed to be established in South Kerry; (2) the number of acres (i) offered for forestry in each centre and proposed centre, (ii) already planted, (iii) acquired and awaiting planting and (iv) awaiting survey and acquisition and (3) the number of men employed in forestry work in South Kerry and the maximum number which may be employed under each ganger or head labourer.

Minister for Lands (Mr. Derrig):  There are four State forests in South Kerry—Killarney, Kenmare, Kilgarvan and Killorglin. The particulars asked for regarding these forests are in the form of a statistical table which, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to circulate with the Official Report.

With regard to land offered for forestry purposes in South Kerry the total area offered is approximately 10,357 acres. Agreement to purchase has been reached in ten cases totalling 689 acres and investigations of title are proceeding; negotiations are in progress in ten cases totalling 1,216 [2619] acres; 26 cases totalling 5,758 acres have been inspected and 14 cases totalling 2,694 acres are on offer and awaiting inspection. Pending the outcome of negotiations it is not possible to say what new forest centres will be established in South Kerry.

The number of men at present employed in South Kerry forests is 101. There is no fixed maximum to the number of men who may be employed under a head labourer.

TABLE.

Forest Planted by Forestry Division Plantable Reserve
acres acres
Kenmare 387½ 204½
Kilgarvan 650 849¼
Killarney 1,210¾ 263
Killorglin 293¼*
TOTALS 2,248¼ 1,610

*An area of 170¾ acres acquired at this forest is subject to rights. It is not immediately available for forestry purposes and has therefore been excluded from the data.

Mr. Hession:  asked the Minister for Justice if he will state the number of peace commissioners appointed since 13th June, 1951.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Boland):  The number is 322.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Is the Minister aware that the P.C. is now looked upon as an honorary degree for Fianna Fáil touts?

Mr. Boland:  There were 641 of them appointed in the three years of the last Government.

Mr. Allen:  A boomerang.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  I am talking about the period since 1951.

Mr. Rooney:  asked the Minister for Defence if he will arrange that horses instead of motor-cycles will be included [2620] in the presidential escort on State-occasions.

Minister for Defence (Mr. Traynor):  It is not proposed to alter the present arrangement.

Mr. Corry:  asked the Minister for Education if he is aware that due to severe overcrowding in Conna National School some of the pupils have to be taught in the village hall, a distance of over half a mile from the school; and, if so, if he will take immediate steps to have an extension built to the present school.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Lemass) (for Minister for Education, Mr. Moylan):  I am aware that the accommodation in Conna National School, County Cork, is insufficient for the present attendance and that some of the pupils are being taught in a local hall as a temporary arrangement pending the erection of an additional classroom at the school.

My Department has asked the Commissioners of Public Works to furnish a plan of a scheme for the provision of an additional room and will communicate with the manager when the plan is received. Every effort will be made to have the matter expedited.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he is aware of the existence of the County and City Managers' Association; and, if so, whether he has given this association his official recognition in respect of representations from these officers on matters relating to administration, etc.; finally, if he will make a statement in regard to this association in so far as his Department is concerned.

Minister for Local Government (Mr. Smith):  I am aware of the existence of the association in question. Due consideration is given to its representations on matters affecting the administration of local authorities.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Might I ask the Minister if it is a fact that in a case [2621] even in connection with road workers' salaries and wages and the employment of temporary clerical officials in various counties, the County Managers' Association is making certain recommendations and seeking advice from the Department on them? Does the Minister consider it is right and proper that the County Managers' Association should interfere in the rates of pay for road workers and the employment of temporary clerical officials?

Mr. Smith:  I have been asked if I was aware of the existence of the association and I said I was aware of it. I am now saying further, I think it is desirable in view of the fact that the local government officials are organised on a national basis that, while the managers' association may have no legal standing, it should be in existence, in order that matters of general interest should be discussed by them, so that when proposals are made they will show some sign of uniformity.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  What are the aims and objects of the association?

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is a separate question.

Mr. Sweetman:  Will there be fair trading rules provided for the association?

Mr. Hession:  asked the Minister for Local Government whether he will ensure, in relation to road grants for the coming financial year, that the claim of County Galway as a large turf-producing area will receive special consideration and that the amount of the grant will be substantially increased.

Mr. Smith:  When the scale of road grants for the coming year is being determined due regard will be given to all relevant considerations affecting the allocation for County Galway.

Mr. Hession:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the aggregate sums paid in respect of salaries or wages to employees of the [2622] Galway County Council in respect of the years 1932 and 1952.

Mr. Smith:  The sum paid in respect of wages and salaries to all officers and servants of Galway County Council during the year 1952 was £504,509, according to returns supplied by the local authority. The figure for the year 1932 is not available in the Department.

Mr. Hession:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the amount of money allocated under the Local Authorities (Works) Act to Galway County Council for each of the years 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953.

Mr. Smith:  As the information requested by the Deputy is in the form of a tabular statement, I propose, with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, to circulate it with the Official Report.

The following is the statement:—

Galway County Council.

Grants allocated for works under the Local Authorities (Works) Act, 1949.

Year Amount of Grant
£
1949-50 53,401
1950-51 80,000
1951-52 51,000
1952-53 22,500
1953-54 11,000

Mr. O. Flanagan:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the reason why the drainage work is not being carried out at Ballyhassion, Walsh Island, Geashill, Offaly, for which a grant under the Local Authorities (Works) Act was approved by his Department and if, in view of the serious flooding which exists in the area, he will take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the work will be carried out immediately.

Mr. Smith:  The selection of works to be executed under the Local Authorities (Works) Act and their submission to the Department for [2623] approval are matters for each local authority concerned. The work referred to by the Deputy has not been submitted to my Department for approval.

Major de Valera:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state what is the procedure applicable in cases where payments are made by local authorities to hospitals and other institutions in respect of patients or otherwise; and, further, what receipts or acknowledgment of such payments, when made, are required to be furnished to the local authority concerned and within what period after payment.

Mr. Smith:  Payments are made by local authorities to hospitals and other institutions in respect of the maintenance and treatment of patients by means of a prescribed form of paying order which contains particulars of the amount authorised to be paid by the treasurer, the name and address of the hospitals or other institutions to whom the debt is due and the purpose or service in respect of which payment is to be made. The paying order is “crossed” with the addition of the words “and Co.” and is transmitted by post to the hospitals or other institutions in whose favour the payment is authorised.

A receipt forms an integral part of the paying order which is required to be duly completed by the payee before the treasurer, who is a banking company, will make payment therefor.

Major de Valera:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state, in respect of cases where payments are made by local authorities to hospitals or institutions in respect of patients or otherwise, what information is required by the auditors to vouch such payment, in particular, the information required to show the regularity of such payment and the due discharge of the corresponding obligation upon the making of the payment and the procedure for audit generally.

Mr. Smith:  The information required by local government auditors to vouch [2624] payments made by local authorities to hospitals or institutions in respect of patients includes statements of accounts furnished by the hospitals or institutions claiming payment. Such accounts contain particulars of the patients maintained and treated therein, the periods of detention and the cost of maintenance and treatment calculated at rates approved by the Minister for Health. The claims for payment have been previously checked and certified as to their correctness by the appropriate officers of the local authority prior to the authorisation of payment. The cashed paying orders duly receipted by the payees are also examined. It is the duty of the auditor to ensure that the payments made are in order, are fully vouched and are properly chargeable against the funds of the local authority.

The inspection by the auditor of the relevant ledger accounts of the local authority during audit will reveal the regularity or otherwise of the payments made to hospitals or institutions and where undue delays in the payment of accounts are observed he draws specific attention thereto in his report.

Article 32 of the Public Bodies Order, 1946, provides that outstanding accounts due by a local authority at the close of any financial year shall, as far as is reasonably possible, be discharged during the succeeding month.

Major de Valera:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state what precautions are taken, in cases where payments are made by local authorities to hospitals and institutions, to ensure that the payments so made are applied for the purposes intended; and, further, whether cheques or payable orders by which such payments are made are required to be passed through the recognised bank of the hospital or institution concerned.

Mr. Smith:  Articles 47, 48 and 50 of the Public Bodies Order, 1946, provide that no payment, excluding petty cash disbursements, shall be made out of the funds of a local authority otherwise than by means of a treasurer's advice note and paying order. The treasurer's advice note contains directions [2625] to the treasurer, who is a banking company and an officer of the local authority, to pay the amounts specified in this authorisation to the persons, hospitals or other institutions to whom they are payable. The paying order is “crossed” with the addition of the words “and Co.” and is made out in the name and with the respective address of the person, hospital or institution to whom the payment is due.

Major de Valera:  Can the Minister say whether all this procedure was complied with in the case of Hume Street Hospital?

Mr. Smith:  I am afraid I could not say whether it was or not.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will have the present limited arrangement for international link-up broadcasts extended so as to have all programmes broadcast from Radio Éireann on Christmas Day, Saint Stephen's Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day given an international link-up and thereby enable Irish exiles all over the world to keep in touch with home for the Christmas period; further, if, in view of the success which attended the broadcast on short wave of features in the past, he will arrange for such a broadcast on the injustice of Partition to be made to our exiles on New Year's Day.

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Childers):  This is a question involving the general programme policies of Radio Éireann. I understand that the comhairle and director are always anxious to have Radio Éireann programmes broadcast abroad during the periods mentioned, but this depends on the co-operation of foreign broadcasting organisations and the opportunities are limited.

In regard to the latter part of the question, I do not think it would be practicable, even if it were desirable, to initiate short-wave propaganda broadcasts in connection with Partition.

[2626]Mr. Rooney:  asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will request the Director of Radio Éireann to arrange for the broadcast of Irish racing results after the Irish news for the convenience of listeners.

Mr. Childers:  The comhairle and the director, I am informed, have read the report of the Wireless Estimates debate and all questions asked by Deputies are read by the director, including that now submitted by the Deputy. As I have indicated, I do not intend to interfere in the day to day administration of Radio Éireann. I will ask the director to note minor observations made on the programme, and if Deputies do not repeat such observations on the occasion of the next Estimate I will advert to them if time permits. It would be far better if Deputies wrote direct to the director on matters not relating to general broadcasting policy, in which case he will take the same course as in the case of questions.

Mr. Lehane:  asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he is aware that many telephone subscribers, with reasonably good eyesight, find it difficult to read the names and numbers in the new telephone directory because of the smallness and type of the print used; and, if so, if he will arrange to have clearer and larger type used in future issues.

Mr. Lehane:  asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs whether, in view of the growing increase in the size of the telephone directory due to more telephone subscribers, he will arrange for the issue of future editions in two sections, one for Dublin district and the other for the rest of the Twenty-Six Counties.

Mr. Childers:  With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 36 and 37 together. No complaints have been received concerning the size of the print or lay-out of the Telephone Directory, but it is the intention to improve the directory as [2627] far as possible and to separate Dublin subscribers' numbers from those in the rest of the country forming two sections in one volume.

Mr. McMenamin:  asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will state the qualifications of the person recently appointed as sub-postmistress at Tamney, County Donegal, and if he will indicate whether the premises selected for the office have been approved of by his Department.

Mr. Childers:  The best qualified candidate was appointed. It is not the practice to furnish information regarding the qualifications of the successful applicants for sub-postmasterships as it would be difficult to do so without disclosing information obtained in confidence either from or concerning the applicants.

There was some difficulty in securing a satisfactory candidate with suitable premises. The present premises are temporary pending the erection of a new building by the appointee but are regarded as reasonably suitable for the time being.

Mr. O'Donnell:  asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will arrange for a supply of fire clay pipes to applicants for grants under the land reclamation scheme, as in peat soils stone drains are unsatisfactory in that they tend to sink and are difficult to lay, while sod drains do not stand up to the weight of tractors now universally used.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Walsh):  I regret that it is not practicable to arrange as the Deputy suggests. In this connection I would refer him to the answer given to a question by Deputy Finucane on 30th January, 1952.

Mr. Kyne:  asked the Minister for [2628] Agriculture if he will state how many wholesalers are distributing New Zealand butter in the Dublin area and from what date.

Mr. Walsh:  Since the full-scale distribution of imported butter in the Dublin area was discontinued in July last, one wholesaler has continued to purchase imported butter regularly each week from the Butter Marketing Committee.

Mr. Kyne:  Could the Minister say is this wholesaler Mr. Joseph Gallagher and if so, is the fact that he is the only one who has to sell this butter for the past week a reprisal because of the fact that he will not join the ring?

Mr. Walsh:  The Deputy has mentioned a name. I have mentioned no name.

Mr. Kyne:  I have asked if it is Mr. Gallagher.

Mr. Walsh:  No, it is not Mr. Gallagher.

Mr. Kyne:  I had a question down to the Minister for Agriculture last week and, in the course of his reply to that question, the Minister stated that he was having inquiries made in connection with supplies from the Butter Marketing Committee and indicated [2630] that he would submit the information he got to the Dáil when he received it. In view of the fact that it is proposed that the House will rise this week, can the Minister now say whether he has got that information; and, if so, whether he will make it available to the House to-day or to-morrow?

Mr. Walsh:  I do not think I made the statement that I would make that information available in this House or elsewhere. I told the Deputy I was investigating the matter.

Mr. Kyne:  In view of the unsatisfactory reply given by the Minister, I seek the permission of the Chair to raise this matter on the Adjournment in relation to Question No. 40 on to-day's Order Paper.

An Tánaiste:  It is proposed to take business in the following order:— Nos. 1, 8, 5, 6, 7, 9—in No. 9, Vote 3— No. 10, Vote 70 in No. 9, and No. 11. It is proposed that public business be not interrupted to take Private Deputies' business.

Mr. Norton:  What time is it proposed the House should sit to-morrow?

An Tánaiste:  At 10.30 a.m. The business ordered for to-day represents the whole of the programme which the Government considers it necessary to have dealt with in this session. When that programme is completed the Dáil will adjourn until the 10th February, 1954. On the assumption that it may not finish to-day the Dáil will resume at 10.30 a.m. to-morrow.

Mr. Morrissey:  Am I to take it this is the Government's minimum programme before Christmas and, unless we can finish this by to-morrow, we will have to go on sitting?

An Tánaiste:  In this season of peace and goodwill, an atmosphere that might even penetrate here, I would hope it should be possible to come to an arrangement. I would think Deputies would prefer to sit later to-morrow, if necessary, rather than reassemble on Tuesday next. If circumstances [2631] arise in which that matter will have to be considered, no doubt we will get an arrangement.

Mr. Morrissey:  That is not an answer to my question. Is it the Government's view that it is essential for the Government to get through this side of Christmas what is set out on the Order Paper here to-day?

An Tánaiste:  Yes. The word “essential” has a variety of meanings. For example, it could not be said in relation to the Factories Bill that it is essential that the Second Stage should be passed before Christmas, but it is desirable that it should, and the Government wishes the Dáil to co-operate in getting it passed through the Second Reading before Christmas.

Mr. Norton:  If it is proposed to sit at 10.30 a.m. to-morrow and business is not finished at 2 o'clock, is it the intention to sit late to-morrow or to resume next week?

An Tánaiste:  I have given the House the programme that has to be finished before Christmas. As to the arrangements for getting it finished, the Government will be glad to co-operate in any proposal that Deputies opposite may think reasonable.

Mr. Morrissey:  Surely it is a prostitution of the work of this House to suggest that within a day and a half a programme such as this could be got through.

An Tánaiste:  As a matter of fact, I understood that so far as the Deputy's Party is concerned it is thought possible that we should finish this programme to-day.

Mr. Morrissey:  The Tánaiste cannot get away with that. He has so mishandled the whole business of Dáil Éireann that we are now presented with the proposition whereunder we have either to put through a programme that should normally, to be properly examined, take at least three weeks and we propose to put it through in a day and a half or, alternatively, have the House meet in Christmas week.

An Tánaiste:  It is a complete exaggeration [2632] to say the programme would take three weeks.

Mr. Norton:  There may be a very long discussion on the Factories Bill. It is a very big Bill with a large number of sections and we would prefer to meet next week and deal with it properly rather than rush it through at the end of the session merely because Deputies want to get home.

An Tánaiste:  I have not suggested we will not sit next week. I merely stated that if there was a general desire on the part of the House to sit late to-morrow instead of next week, the Government would co-operate.

Mr. Norton:  I think that would involve a rather hasty discussion of the Factories Bill and, rather than have that, I think it would be better to sit next week.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I move:—

(i) That the Report do lie upon the Table;

(ii) That the Report together with the Proceedings of the Committee be printed.

Agreed and ordered accordingly.

The Taoiseach:  I move:—

That Dáil Éireann nominate William John Kiely, at present Secretary and Director of Audit in the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, for appointment by the President to be the Comptroller and Auditor-General with effect from the 18th day of December, 1953.

The present occupant of the post of Comptroller and Auditor-General recently expressed a wish to retire. The matter was examined by the Government and the Government are now prepared to advise the President to permit the retirement of Mr. Wann. Having done that, we then have to [2633] consider the question of his successor. As every Deputy knows, the post is a very important one. The officer's chief function is to see that the moneys voted by Dáil Éireann are applied strictly in accordance with the purpose for which they have been so voted. There is no obligation on the Dáil to appoint any particular person by reason of the fact that he is in the Civil Service, in the office, or anything of that sort. The Dáil is free to appoint anybody who they think will be capable of performing the duties properly and the person who is considered best fitted to carry out the obligations of the post.

On two or three occasions on which a vacancy has occurred recently this matter has been considered by the Government whose duty it was to make recommendations to the Dáil. In view of the nature of the duties attaching to the post, in each case the Government were driven back to recommend as the most suitable person the man who was acting as secretary and director of audit. He is chief assistant of the Comptroller. In this case we are recommending that the same thing be done, again making it clear that we do not wish that this should be regarded necessarily as a precedent.

The reason for this recommendation is that this gentleman has had some 30 years' experience in the office, that he has now had some four years' experience as secretary and director of audit and that he is, therefore, fully acquainted with the work and the duties. In the post which he has held in the office he has earned the commendation of his superiors and has given every satisfaction. I feel confident that in making that recommendation to the Dáil we are recommending the person considered best fitted.

As this is a Dáil appointment it has been customary to consult, before the actual motion is put down, the leaders of other Parties. I have done that in this case. They can express their own opinions and speak now on this motion if they wish but, as far as I know, no objections, but rather the contrary, [2634] have been raised by those who have been consulted.

I do not think it is necessary for me to dwell at any greater length on the matter. We are all very, very sorry that the present auditor, Mr. Wann, finds it necessary to retire. He has performed his duties to the satisfaction of everybody. I am sure members of the Dáil would wish that I should express on their behalf our appreciation of his services and convey to him our good wishes on his retirement.

With regard to the proposed new officer, I am confident that he is perfectly qualified to fill the post and that he will give satisfaction to all members of the Dáil.

Question put and agreed to.

Mr. Lemass:  I move:—

That Dáil Éireann hereby approves of:—

Control of Imports (Quota No. 10) Order, 1934 (Road Vehicle Bodies) (Amendment) Order, 1953.

This motion relates to an amendment of Control of Imports (Quota No. 10) Order. The House may remember that some time ago they confirmed an Order amending that quota Order by including within its scope bodies of commercial road vehicles. Subsequently the O.E.E.C. maintained that these quota restrictions, in so far as they related to complete bodies of commercial vehicles, were incompatible with this country's commitments in regard to the liberalisation of trade. On consideration of that position the Government decided to revoke the Order. These bodies are in any event subject to 50 per cent. ad valorem duty. This Order, therefore, which the Dáil is being asked to confirm now is one revoking the Order which was confirmed some months ago.

Mr. Morrissey:  Does that leave the same measure of protection in a different form?

Mr. Lemass:  Yes. Body balloons, which are the main constituent parts of motor vehicles imported for the production [2635] of motor vans, are still subject to quota regulation and all parts are subject to 50 per cent. duty.

Mr. Morrissey:  The Minister is satisfied that they are covered to get the desired results?

Mr. Lemass:  Quite satisfied. The protection is still adequate.

Mr. Hickey:  If the position is as the Minister has stated, what redress have we if it is found in the course of six to eight months that there is unnecessary and unfair competition with our industry?

Mr. Lemass:  If we wanted to deal with that by way of quota Order, we would have to withdraw from our liberalisation agreement with the O.E.E.C. or seek to get the consent of that organisation to the imposition of quantitative regulation of imports because of some special circumstance but, outside that agreement and outside the O.E.E.C., a situation of that kind could be dealt with by adjustment of tariffs.

Mr. Hickey:  This is a very big Order. We are talking about liberalisation of trade with highly industrialised countries.

Mr. Lemass:  There is a tariff of 50 per cent. in operation.

Mr. Hickey:  They could jump that by certain means and leave us in the lurch.

Motion put and agreed to.

Mr. Lemass:  I move:—

That Dáil Éireann hereby approves of:—

Control of Imports (Quota No. 13) (Artificial Silk Piece Goods Amendment) (No. 2) Order, 1953.

The House will also recollect that some time ago it approved an Order amending Quota No. 35 by bringing within its scope woven piece goods containing more than 85 per cent. of weight of artificial silk staple fibre. Quota No. 13 relates to woollen and worsted tissues. The market for woollen and [2636] worsted goods of that kind produced here was being limited by the importation of these fabrics containing artificial silk staple fibre. It was to check that development that the quota Order was amended but it was found by experience that limiting the prohibition to fabrics which contained 85 per cent. of artificial silk staple fibre was not sufficient, that these fabrics were still being brought in to an extent which was prejudicing the development of our own woollen and worsted industries. Consequently, an amending Order was made extending the scope of the quota to these fabrics when containing not less than 40 per cent. of artificial silk staple fibre and it is that amendment of the quota Order which the Dáil is now asked to approve.

Brendán Mac Fheórais:  This Order is undoubtedly a step in the right direction towards the protection and development of the Irish woollen and weaving industry. One can appreciate the steps which the Minister is taking to give protection and encouragement. The last Order left a loophole, as the Minister has admitted. My information is that this particular Order will not do the needful. Importers and manufacturers evaded the last Order very successfully and I am informed that since the Order came into operation they have taken steps to evade this one. The Order refers to artificial silk staple fibre. There is evidence—whether the Department have it or not I do not know—that there is a new synthetic fibre produced which is not covered by this Order and does not come under the description of artificial silk staple fibre. It is a protein fibre. I would suggest, therefore, that the Minister might change the Order from artificial silk staple fibre and merely make it in respect of artificial fibre, which would bar the importation of a cloth so based on a protein fibre. Whether I have made myself clear or not I do not know, but I believe that if that change were made the industry would welcome it.

Mr. Lemass:  I will look into that. I should like to make it clear, however, that, in my view, cloth containing artificial silk staple fibre should be [2637] available here, and I have asked the Woollen and Worsted Manufacturers' Association to consider the formulation of plans for its production here. I would regard this practice of curtailing the imports of that cloth as merely a temporary arrangement designed to prevent the market here being upset pending the formulation of plans for its production here.

Mr. Morrissey:  Hear, hear!

Mr. Lemass:  The cloth containing this silk staple fibre is, I understand, of very inferior wearing qualities, but I do not think that that is a reason why we should permanently exclude it from our market if we cannot get it made in the country. On the question of the possibility of other forms of artificial fibre being used in the same way as silk staple fibre to produce worsted or woollen cloth, I will have that examined.

Question agreed to.

Mr. Lemass:  I move:—

That Dáil Éireann hereby approves of:—

Control of Imports (Quotas Nos. 13 and 45) (Amendment) (Moquette and Plush) Order, 1953.

This Order extended the scope of Orders relating to cotton fabrics to include moquette and plush. It follows upon the commencement of manufacture of moquette in this country. It is at present being produced by a firm operating at Birr, County Offaly. I understand that another firm is also entering the same business at a factory in Fermoy, County Cork. The capacity of the existing firm now in production is at least equal to the requirements of the country, and I understand that it contemplates engaging in an export trade at a later stage. It was, however, necessary to extend the scope of the quota Order so as to bring this commodity, which had previously been excluded from the quota, within its scope. Because of a difficulty raised by the Revenue Commissioners in distinguishing between moquette and plush—they are both used as furnishing fabrics—the Order had to be expressed as applying to plush also, but in practice [2638] licences under the quota Order are issued for the importation of all reasonable requirements of plush. Plush is not at present made in the country.

Mr. Hilliard:  Will the Minister say if the firms now commencing operations in the manufacture of moquette and plush intend to cover the full range of production in those cloths? As I understand it, at the moment, anyway, they are only commencing operations in one range of those goods, and the people engaged in the furniture trade will find a certain amount of difficulty in the transition period in regard to the purchase of this material from the home manufacturers. They have been in the habit, apparently, of purchasing moquette from Belgium and other countries, and they purchased it at a very cheap rate. I am informed, anyway, that the firm engaged in this business is only interested in the dearer or more expensive type of moquette, and that unless it produces the cheaper types the price of furniture in this country—at any rate furniture in which moquette is used—will be very much increased. I wonder if the Minister will have another look at this matter with a view to facilitating people in this trade until such time as the firms that are now commencing operations in the manufacture of moquette will go into manufacturing all the lower priced material?

Mr. Lemass:  So far as plush, which is the more expensive type of furnishing fabric, is concerned, it is not being produced here at all by any firm in the country, and for plush imports facilities are being given; but in relation to moquette the intention is to produce here a full range of qualities, and all the moquette required and normally used in the country. There was a conference held in the Department only within the last few days between the manufacturers and the users of this commodity, and there was the usual argument as to whether the price should come down before the full trade was given to this firm or whether the full trade should be given to it before the price came down. Up to the present we have [2639] been issuing import licences fairly generously for moquette, which were in fact based upon the ratio of three pieces imported for every one piece produced at home. Now the Birr factory is fully equipped and its present output is sufficient to satisfy the whole of the market requirements, and these facilities are being withdrawn. I anticipate and, in fact, intend to ensure that when the full production stage is reached the benefit of the lower costs will be passed on to the users of the fabric in the lower prices.

Mr. Morrissey:  I am very glad and, indeed, pleasantly surprised to hear from the Minister that the factory is now in a position to meet the entire requirements of the home market. That is certainly news to quite a number of people, and as far as I am concerned it is pleasant news. I would like, however, to be absolutely assured that this does not mean that the volume of output is equal or more than equal to the volume or quantity of moquette used in the country irrespective of the various qualities and prices. It is not much use to us to be told, for instance, that their output in respect to the higher priced moquette is adequate to meet the home demands in respect of that particular quality. Furniture is not only an essential requirement, but furniture-making is one of our most important industries. There is no question about that. It is widely spread throughout the country and, I think, gives a pretty large volume of employment. While we want to ensure, as far as possible, that the raw materials required for furniture-making and finishing are produced within the country, at the same time we have, of course, to be careful that we are not taking steps that may impact adversely on a very important existing industry. Goodness knows, furniture nowadays is expensive enough for the ordinary person without it being made more expensive. I do not want to be taken as suggesting that when this factory gets into production, and is put into a position of having almost guaranteed to it the entire home market, it will take advantage of that for the purpose [2640] of charging higher prices than it should.

What I really got up to say was that I am not at all satisfied that in order to have some technical difficulty resolved for the Revenue Commissioners, we have to put plush, which we are not making and which we do not intend to make, on an import licence basis. I am very strongly against that. I think it is a serious step to take. I am not satisfied that some other method to enable the Revenue Commissioners to solve their difficulty in this matter as between plush and moquette could not be found. I do not think that we should make it more troublesome to import plush if we do not propose to make it ourselves. I would ask the Minister to take another look at that. I know there are difficulties very often concerning those matters that it is not easy for the Minister to put entirely before the House but I think he will agree with me that it is not desirable, if it can be avoided, merely for a technical reason to have this arrangement.

Mr. Briscoe:  I should like to ask the Minister if he is satisfied that the manner in which these Orders are framed or the wording of the Order may not bring about the same evasion in this particular matter as in the case of cloth. The material may be described as piece goods and so forth. Is he going to take steps to prevent importers bringing in cut up material which will come in in a form distinct from the material described in the Order? In the debate on the Minister's Estimate I think I drew attention to the fact that in the case of ordinary cloth there was very substantial evasion of the protection by people who were bringing in cut up material. I want to draw attention to the fact that this allows a very large loophole and that the Minister should make it clear that moquette is moquette whether it is in the form of piece goods or in cut up form intended for the purposes of the furniture industry.

Mr. Lemass:  The aim in framing the Order in this way is to give it the effect that is precisely intended. I will not [2641] say that we are always successful in that and the number of amending Orders which have to be made from time to time is some indication of the difficulties which are encountered. We have to have regard to difficulties of the ordinary customs officer in making a distinction between one type of fabric and another. Obviously it would be impossible without bringing in expert advisers or carrying out certain scientific tests for a customs officer to make that distinction. If the Order is to be effective it must cover both types of fabric, even though it is intended that imports of plush should not be restricted.

Mr. Hickey:  We are not manufacturing plush?

Mr. Lemass:  No.

Mr. Hickey:  We should not allow any opportunities to people to import moquette as plush if we are to protect the furniture factories.

Mr. Morrissey:  You must give the people some choice.

Mr. Lemass:  Plush is far more expensive and it is not likely that the factories will use plush for moquette. Plush is used principally for cinema seats and other types of furniture which is subject to fairly constant wear. With regard to output my information is that the firm in Birr is at present producing at a rate which is the equivalent of our annual consumption. The intention is to install a capacity of three times the country's requirements. The balance, after supplying home needs, will be exported. I understand that another factory manufacturing moquette will be in production in Fermoy in a couple of months and the position then will be that production will considerably be in excess of home market needs. That in itself means that competitive prices will be charged. There will be two firms in the industry, the second one having come in knowing that there is a firm with a capacity in excess of the country's requirements already in existence.

Mr. Morrissey:  The point I want to make is that there are, as the Minister [2642] knows quite well, very wide varieties of moquette in use in this country over a wide range of prices. It is used in various types of furniture and for the cheapest type of fireside chairs. In that way, you can buy one chair for £4 4s., while another one may run up to £12 12s. The moquette used in the upholstering of a particular chair plays the biggest part in the difference in price. So far as the wood is concerned, there would, of course, be a difference between beech and mahogany. What I am putting to the Minister is: is he satisfied that, not because of overcharging but because the manufacturers fail to produce the cheaper quality of moquette, the cheaper type of furniture now available to people will not be available in future?

Mr. Lemass:  It is the intention to produce all ranges of moquette.

Mr. Morrissey:  That may be the intention, but I wonder whether that goal is going to be reached.

Mr. Lemass:  They are at that goal now.

Mr. Morrissey:  That answers my fears.

Mr. Finan:  What is the comparative price of the home-produced moquette and the imported variety?

Mr. Lemass:  Up to the present the price of home-manufactured moquette has been higher than that of imported moquette. The explanation of the manufacturers was that they were only utilising one-third of their intended productive capacity. They say that when they are utilising the full productive capacity prices will be completely competitive. In fact, at that stage they will have to export a large amount of their production.

Mr. Briscoe:  Would the Minister answer the point I made?

Mr. Lemass:  That point has been already considered.

Question put and agreed to.

[2643] The Dáil, according to order, went into Committee on Finance and resumed consideration of the Estimates for the Public Services for the year ending March 31st, 1954.

Mr. Dunne:  I think, Sir, it is necessary for us to try to discover to what extent, if any, the Fianna Fáil Party and the Taoiseach have any appreciation of the proportions, the magnitude and the effects of unemployment as it exists in the country to-day. Having listened to various Government apologists in this House and read their pronouncements in the public Press, I have come to the conclusion that many Government speakers, most of them, at least, either do not know there is a serious unemployment problem or refuse to face the facts. We have been subjected to arguments from the Government side which would seek to convince those who listen that the country is in a prosperous condition, that unemployment, while it may exist, is not really so bad as we think, and that, in fact, the general economic trend of the country is far better than it was some two or three years ago so far as the masses of the people are concerned. Who believes that? Do members of the Fianna Fáil Party believe it? Does the Taoiseach believe it? Does the Fianna Fáil Government accept that proposition? If they do, they must be completely out of touch with what is happening.

Yesterday I received a telegram from the Balbriggan Town Council, a local body consisting of representatives of various interests in the town of Balbriggan which is well known to many Deputies, a local body which has amongst its members representatives of the Government Party. The telegram reads:—

“Unemployment situation serious in Balbriggan. Further relief schemes essential.”

That telegram was not prompted by any desire on the part of any group of [2644] individuals to gain political advantage. It simply indicates that in the town of Balbriggan there is a serious unemployment situation. On the eve of Christmas we have families who in former years were able to look with some degree of security and confidence to the enjoyment of Yuletide and who have now the prospect of trying to struggle through on the basis of the goodwill of the traders of the town, and that goodwill in Balbriggan and in many other towns throughout this country has been stretched very considerably owing to the shortage of money which has arisen from unemployment and the general adverse economic situation so far as the working classes are concerned. What is going to be done for Balbriggan? Balbriggan is but one instance of a town in my constituency and I am quite well aware that the situation there can be duplicated in many cases in nearly every constituency. I suppose there are scores of similar examples.

The representatives of the Government when seeking election in 1951 held out the prospect of a prosperity such as then existed or which had existed during the period of the administration of the inter-Party Government. The reverse has been the case, and no degree of propaganda, whether it is exercised through public meetings or through the powerful medium of the Press, would convince the people of Balbriggan or of County Dublin or of Ireland that they are living in a condition of prosperity when there are unemployed, lowly paid and when those who are in employment are facing a prospect of insecurity and a danger of being thrown out of employment because of this continued and progressive recession in trade and a general downward trend so far as the country generally is concerned.

Within the last month well over 1,000 workers, almost 2,000, have been disemployed by Bord na Móna right on the eve of Christmas. The Counties of Kildare, Laoighis and Offaly are the centres of employment for these workers. They now find themselves thrown out of work without any prospect of finding alternative employment. [2645] It may be asked: “Why do they not seek employment with farmers?” Farmers do not want workers in the winter-time. On many occasions I have heard here complaints from representatives of the farming industry, particularly from that section who speak for those who employ workers on the land, to the effect that they cannot get workers. Is it not true to say that a farmer who employs labour requires it only in the springtime of the year or at harvest-time and that, generally speaking, he will employ casual labour for the work which he has to do? How then can it be expected that workers, young men particularly, will remain in rural areas on the off-chance of getting a job with a farmer, a badly-paid job which might last for six months out of the 12 months in the year? So that when it is suggested that when an industry like Bord na Móna disemploys large numbers of men they may find alternative employment on the land, the futility of such a suggestion is patent to everybody who knows anything about the problem.

The story of employment of men in agriculture, particularly over the last three years, is a very depressing one. As far as the figures show, it appears that on 1st June, 1950, there were engaged in farm work 470,000 males. In 1951 that number had declined to 452,700; in 1952 the number was 441,300; in 1953 the number had fallen to 419,300; a decline of 33,400 in the period from 1950 to 1953. Is not that an indication of the economic decay which has come upon this nation, particularly since the restoration of this Government? I think it cannot be denied that a great deal of this development is due to the policy which has been pursued, the depressing policy of credit restriction, in the first instance, which has been pursued by this Government from the day they accepted office. Up to 1951 there was a very considerable degree of employment for rural workers on schemes carried out by county councils under the Local Authorities (Works) Act. One of the first acts of the present Government was to slash the provision in the Estimates for schemes under that Act.

[2646]Donnchadh Ó Briain:  That is not correct.

Mr. Dunne:  It is.

Donnchadh Ó Briain:  The amount was reduced by £600,000 by your own Minister in 1951.

Mr. Dunne:  A sum of £600,000 is of very little import in connection with the figures which I will now give to the House. In 1950-51, there was provided, in the Estimates which were laid before the House by the Minister for Local Government in the inter-Party Government, £1,750,000 for the employment of workers under the Local Authorities (Works) Act.

Donnchadh Ó Briain:  What was the figure in the following year, 1951-52?

Mr. Dunne:  It was £1,220,000.

Donnchadh Ó Briain:  Over £500,000 down.

Mr. D.J. O'Sullivan:  That needed a prompt.

Donnchadh Ó Briain:  There was no prompt.

Mr. Dunne:  In the following year, 1952-53 the amount was £650,000. That is some reduction from £1,750,000. In the current year the sum of £400,000 is provided. That shows a bit of a difference from £1,750,000. The reduction in the number of men employed under the schemes operated as a result of this Act is also of interest. In March, 1950, 13,850 men were employed throughout the country under that Act. In 1952-53, the number was 1,830, a difference of 12,000 workers inside a couple of years in so far as the Local Authorities (Works) Act is concerned.

Mr. MacCarthy:  Give us the figures for the roads.

Mr. Dunne:  I will deal with the roads. I am glad, in fact, that the Deputy has mentioned the question of roads. It is an interesting story. On the question of the value of Local [2647] Authorities (Works) Act works, in contradistinction to road work, is it not a fact that, I think, more than 90 per cent. of the money spent under that Act was spent on labour and in wages? What is the percentage of the expenditure of moneys provided for road work on labour? Is it not true that, in the case of every county council, the tendency is inevitably towards more and more mechanisation, towards the purchase of modern up-to-date machinery and the investment of moneys in materials, so that the roads will be improved with a consequent reduction in the amount of money available for the payment of wages.

All this is a matter of your point of view. The Fianna Fáil Party appear to hold the view that it is a far greater improvement to have smooth roads so that one's car can glide along without any bumps than to have men working. I do not hold that view and the Labour Party does not hold it. In fact, I am inclined to feel very strongly that this headlong rush towards mechanisation in the matter of road construction is in need of some kind of a check. I have seen examples in many counties where the most modern kind of materials and the most modern kind of machinery are being used to reconstruct the main roads. It has been admitted by the officials in my county and elsewhere that the cost of the construction of these roads by these highly mechanised methods is four times as great as the older method of road reconstruction and surfacing by hand labour.

Mr. MacCarthy:  Why do they recommend the purchase of the machinery, then, to the various county councils?

Mr. Everett:  The person who was responsible for that was getting a commission on all the machinery coming into the country.

Mr. MacCarthy:  It is the engineers who make the recommendation.

Mr. Dunne:  The engineers' job is to construct the roads. Our job is to try and build up the nation and to do the best we can for the people in the [2648] country. I do not think it is incumbent on us to accept instructions or advice from any section of technicians. Our primary purpose should be to see how are our people living. What good are our roads going to be to us if the only use that can be made of them is to make it easier for our people to walk to the labour exchanges to sign on? That is what it amounts to. The Local Authorities (Works) Act has been denigrated in this House time out of number, and one cannot escape the conclusion that the reason for the opposition to that Act by the Fianna Fáil Government is a follow through from their obstructionist tactics when the Act was going through this House. There was obstruction of the most obvious and the crudest nature.

Mr. MacCarthy:  Will the Deputy not admit that the Minister for Finance in the inter-Party Government said that the principal parts of that work had been completed?

Mr. Dunne:  I do not recall any such statement.

Donnchadh Ó Briain:  It was quoted here last week, chapter and verse.

Mr. Sweetman:  The second sentence following it was not quoted. That is a usual thing with you, to take a quotation out of its context.

Mr. Dunne:  I can assure Deputy MacCarthy that, if there had been a continuation of the inter-Party Government, ample provision would continue to have been made for further schemes of work under that Act.

Mr. MacCarthy:  I hope there will be more of them.

Mr. Dunne:  This Act has been subjected to—I will not call it criticism, because that would be too dignified a term as to what has gone on in this House in regard to it. There has been blackguarding of the worst description from the Fianna Fáil Party so far as this Act is concerned. I think that at no time since the foundation of the State was there such relative prosperity brought to the rural areas as there was by the implementation of [2649] that Act where it was implemented. Of course, we did have cases where the Fianna Fáil Party had a majority on county councils and where they took every step to see that the Act would not be implemented as fully as it could be, with the result that there was a degree of unemployment.

What has been the position in regard to employment on the building of houses by local authorities? In September, 1950, there were 13,000-odd workers engaged on the building of local authority houses. At the end of September of this year, the number was 8,000-odd, or a reduction of 5,000. Can anyone say that there has not been a slowing down of the housing drive? It is perfectly obvious that there must have been. I was amazed to read in the newspapers to-day a statement made by one of the leading neoapologists for the Fianna Fáil Party, Deputy Dr. Browne. He was referring to a criticism of the Taoiseach and he described the Taoiseach as “the leader of a Party which had just succeeded in the magnificent job of completing the housing programme.” That statement is taken from the Irish Press of to-day's date.

Mr. MacCarthy:  In many districts.

Mr. Dunne:  That is the statement contained in the paper.

Mr. MacCarthy:  In many districts, that is the fact.

Mr. Dunne:  I do not know the districts. If it is so in Cork, it is not so elsewhere.

Mr. D.J. O'Sullivan:  Therefore it is incorrect.

Mr. MacCarthy:  It is not so in Cork but it is in many areas.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Deputy Dunne should be allowed to make his speech.

Mr. MacCarthy:  It is so in portions of the County Cork. The Deputy could have seen it in the paper.

[2650]Mr. Dunne:  Was there ever a housing need in some of these areas?

Mr. MacCarthy:  Those are the facts, at any rate.

Mr. Dunne:  That was the statement that was made. In other words, we have enough houses; everything is all right. I wonder where did Deputy Dr. Browne get his information. It might be a good thing if he would, as some of us do, attend at the Dublin Corporation Housing Department on a couple of days a week and tell the people who come there in their teeming thousands looking for houses that everything is all right and that the Fianna Fáil Party has completed a magnificent job in regard to the housing programme.

The housing programme is far from completed, as everybody knows, and as everybody will admit, except those who are so blinded by political prejudice that they want to make black appear to be white.

In the City of Dublin we have had very able officers tackling the housing problem, but the figures of employment generally, in so far as local authority housing is concerned, tell a tale which cannot be denied. There has been a slowing down of the housing drive. I do not think anybody could deny that there never was as much intensity of effort in the drive to construct houses for our people as there was during the three years of inter-Party administration. I recall very well when the late Deputy T.J. Murphy took over the office of the Minister for Local Government. He was faced with a problem, so far as housing was concerned, far more terrifying than that which faces the present Minister. A great deal of leeway has been made up in the three years during most of which the late Deputy Murphy administered in the Custom House.

Yet, in spite of all that has been said about housing, in spite of all the criticisms that were levelled against the inter-Party Government at that time on the score of its housing efforts, we find that 5,000 less workers are now employed in building houses than there were three years ago. That is [2651] a fact which must have a very important impact upon the situation, so far as local authority building generally is concerned.

I have read the telegram from Balbriggan from the Taoiseach's supporters as well as supporters of all other Parties, including my own, asking for a relief scheme. Yesterday I heard Deputy Vivion de Valera talk on the question of relief schemes and he said that relief schemes must necessarily be regarded as a complete loss. Why should that be so? Is it not possible for us to have relief schemes which would give employment to workers which would be of a constructive or capital nature? Certainly I think that in most areas where relief schemes are put into effect, unless they are of a very hurried nature arising from emergency conditions they are usually far from being a complete loss. But Deputy de Valera appears to think that any relief scheme must necessarily be a complete loss.

I have also many complaints of unemployment in my constituency in the area of Ballyfermot. I do not have to paint any pictures for Deputies of the plight of city workers who are now unemployed in this joyous and festive season. Many of them with large families and required to pay heavy rents have to look forward to a condition which might be described as comparative hunger for Christmas as a direct result, in my opinion, of the policy of the present Government.

When I was speaking last night I referred to the contribution made in this debate by my respected colleague, Deputy Burke. Deputy Burke, to my amazement, seems to have swallowed the Party line in regard to Dublin Castle. Deputy Burke represents a constituency as I do where I think we can claim that the people generally are not as gullible as might be found elsewhere. Therefore I was surprised to find him endeavouring to put over this line about Dublin Castle. Who would contend seriously that the reconstruction of Dublin Castle is a serious effort to solve the unemployment problem in the City of Dublin? Is it for a moment thought that the effect [2652] of the degree of employment that will be provided will make any appreciable difference in the vast number of unemployed in this city? It is suggested that 80 or 90 men may get employment on this job. What good will that be when the number of unemployed runs into thousands?

The only reply we can get from Fianna Fáil, when the question of the Dublin unemployed is raised, is that the reconstruction of Dublin Castle is on the stocks. The people of Dublin have heard that before and their general opinion, even amongst Fianna Fáil supporters, is that surely it is about time the Government thought up something else or something new, because nobody will be persuaded that merely by putting up a few scaffolding poles around Dublin Castle and employing 80 or 90 men we will have an end to the unemployed demonstrations, that the problem of unemployment will be solved or that the numbers will decrease. Deputy Burke appears to think that that will be so. In fact, Deputy Burke revealed to us a new plan about which we had heard before but believed that it was now in abeyance, shelved or forgotten altogether. I refer to the building of a new Parliament House. It was left to Deputy Burke to indicate to us that we might anticipate the building of a new House of Parliament. I suppose that could suitably be described as a relief work, but I doubt if we will see that plan materialise for a very long time to come.

Unfortunately, Deputy Burke will not have an opportunity of speaking again on this Estimate, because I would like him to give us his views, and I am sure they would be of very considerable help to the Taoiseach, in relation to the unemployment situation in Balbriggan and elsewhere in the constituency of County Dublin. I would like the Taoiseach to let us know what he proposes to do about the people of Balbriggan. The Balbriggan Town Commissioners, a very responsible body, are anxious that something should be done immediately to relieve the urgent situation that exists there.

The Dublin fruit and vegetable market and the Dublin markets [2653] generally are a fairly good indication of how things are going in the agricultural areas of North and South County Dublin. It is a fact, as investigation will show, that the prices obtained for agricultural produce in the Dublin market have to-day hit an all-time low. I have been informed by my constituents in Rush, the most productive agricultural area in Ireland, that it is hardly worth while now driving to the market to bring their produce there. That is another reflection of the general depression which this Government has engendered by reason of its existence.

If people have not got employment they cannot buy. If prices are too high their buying powers are restricted. We have to-day this situation side by side in the City of Dublin. Money is scarce. Employers are finding it impossible to keep their staffs engaged due to the difficulties they are experiencing with the banks. I have heard it stated here that if evidence is provided of credit restriction steps will be taken along certain lines. Everybody knows there is credit restriction. Employers speaking to Deputies have told them of the difficulties they are having in carrying on their businesses and in securing ordinary accommodation for the purpose of maintaining their businesses while they are getting rid of stocks on hands. All that is adding to the general depression.

As one of the results of that situation, less vegetables are being bought in the Dublin market. Less food is being purchased in the shops. There is less employment in the distributing trades with the result that right down to the farms the disastrous effect of the policy of this Government is being felt. It may well be asked what is the remedy? I seem to recall that when the present Government Party was seeking office first—I was not very advanced in years at the time but I took a certain interest in affairs and I read of their efforts to grasp the reins of Government—the Taoiseach stated on one occasion, addressing himself to the question of unemployment, that if he found it impossible to solve unemployment within the existing economic [2654] system, he was prepared to go outside it.

After almost 20 years of office I think the Taoiseach now realises that it is hardly possible to solve unemployment generally within the boundaries of our present economic system. It is an extraordinary thing that with our small population and with the resources at our disposal we still seem to find it impossible to solve these problems. But there is a solution to these problems. These problems arise from the jungle law of economics under which we live. What has often been referred to here euphemistically as free or private enterprise could, I think, be more appositely described as a dog-eat-dog economic policy, the survival of the fittest. We have the capitalist system in one of its crudest forms in operation here. I do not think anybody will deny that the basic, underlying, fundamental precept of the capitalist system is the idea that only the fittest will survive and the weakest must go to the wall. Until sufficient courage is taken for us to resolve to break the chains of that system and design for ourselves something new, something Irish and something in conformity with the traditions of our people, we will have unemployment no matter what Government sits here.

I admit that with the interchange of Governments we will have that problem in varying degrees depending upon the degree of liberal thought that prevails in particular Governments as they come and go. So far as the Fianna Fáil Government is concerned, we seem to have observed a classic example of a political Party performing a complete circle—being born and coming into existence as a radical Party, almost one might say a socialist revolutionary Party, and proceeding with the inevitability of a gradualness to a condition wherein it is now the most conservative Party in this country. It is, as I say, a classic example and one which I am sure students of politics will regard in years to come as a useful lesson when they are trying to solve the eternal mystery of Irish politics.

I do not think there is any hope that [2655] the present Government will change its outlook in regard to the general economic set-up here, in spite of the fact that they have now assimilated some newcomers, one of whom at least, would appear to have progressive views. I dare say time and the influence of his colleagues will alter those too.

Mr. Sweetman:  They are not very progressive in relation to housing, anyway.

Mr. Dunne:  Not in relation to housing, but in relation to other matters his public announcements would lead one to believe there was some hope. However, as I say, time will tell the tale in that regard, for when one examines the company anybody keeps, that is in itself an indication of his general outlook and character.

I am very concerned with the question of rural unemployment and would ask the Taoiseach to address himself to that matter in his reply. I do not wish to employ the hackneyed phrase, “flight from the land.” Everybody who has made a public speech in this country in the past 50 years has dragged in that phrase. There is a consistent drain of youth from the rural areas. Sometimes it is amazing to listen to country Deputies talking about Dublin City and how little Dubliners know or appreciate the farming community. It seems to be the ambition of almost every young boy and girl to get into Dublin City as fast as possible. That is a bad development, for which I do not think a full solution can ever be found.

The greater amenities of city life inevitably attract people from the land. Many people feel that work on the land is so much drudgery. We can try to keep people on the land but is it not unreasonable to expect a man of 21 or 22 years of age, living in a rural area, to be content with seasonal work from a farmer or county council at a wage of about £4 a week? He may have to cycle long distances to his work or recreation. Is it not unreasonable to expect him to remain there if he feels that in Dublin, Cork City or any other city in Ireland or across the water he can earn 50 per cent. more or [2656] more than 50 per cent. more, for half the labour and half the trouble, and improve his conditions of employment?

Let those who talk about people flying from the land think of that aspect, which is the fundamental aspect. Generally speaking, young people do not want to leave home. Nobody who can find a reasonable living at home will leave home. That applies everywhere in the world. People do not want to leave their homestead if they are content there.

What are we doing to keep our people at home? The Minister for Agriculture has boasted about the relative prosperity of farmers. What has the Minister or the Taoiseach done to push that prosperity, if it exists, down the line to the agricultural worker? What has the Minister for Agriculture done to honour his undertaking that, if returned to power, he would see that agricultural workers would be paid at a rate 10/- a week higher than the rate for builders' labourers? In County Dublin, for instance, that would represent a wage of £7 5s. per week for the agricultural labourer, whereas he is now getting £4 12s. 6d. That promise was made three years ago. I have asked the Minister about it on previous occasions. The last time was 12 months ago. I did not get a satisfactory reply. I would like to know now when that promise will be implemented.

Now, as always, agricultural workers receive scant consideration from this House and the nation. I have given the reasons for that. Lip service is paid to the welfare and interest of farmers because they represent the strongest voting bloc. Little is heard about agricultural labourers because they are numerically weaker from the point of view of the ballot boxes. A policy of political expediency seems to govern every consideration in this Assembly.

My remarks in relation to farm workers apply equally to forestry workers, bog workers, road workers and rural workers generally. They are all restricted to the same low level of existence, for the same reason. Please God, we will see a day when, by dint [2657] of their own efforts, they will be able to raise themselves to a proper level and bring the nation to a realisation of the fact that they are skilled workers who should be compensated as skilled workers in other trades are compensated.

A question has been referred to briefly by other speakers which, strictly speaking, has no particular connection with the Estimate, but which does arouse feelings of humanity. It would appear from Press reports that one of the great races of the world is going through a purgatory. We are far removed from places like Kenya, and it is impossible to form objective judgment on events there.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  This question does not arise on the Estimate. It would not be relevant. Other speakers have been informed that discussion on Africa is not a matter for this Estimate.

Mr. Dunne:  I want to relate it to the Estimate in this way: that the Taoiseach, in his capacity as head of the Government——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  We are dealing with the Taoiseach's Estimate. The matter to which the Deputy refers has no connection whatever with the Estimate.

Mr. Dunne:  I merely want to suggest that the Taoiseach, as head of the Government, might consider taking steps to protest, at least, on behalf of this nation, against the atrocities that we hear are being perpetrated against the negro race.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy has been informed that that subject is not relevant.

Mr. Dunne:  Well, I will leave it at that, Sir. I had thought it would be relevant because it would appear to me that a matter of human consideration such as that would be a suitable subject for raising under the Estimate for the Taoiseach. However, I bow to your ruling. I want to say finally that we are now approaching the Christmas period. If the Taoiseach is so minded, if he [2658] feels like making a suitable present to the people of this country, I think they will agree that none would be more suitable than an announcement by him that he proposes to dissolve this Dáil and give them a chance of electing a new Dáil in the early part of the new year.

Mr. Sweetman:  Before dealing with general governmental policy there are two points particularly relating to the Taoiseach's Department to which I should like to make some advertence. The first relates to the appointment that was made to-day of a Comptroller and Auditor-General. I did not want to raise it then because I thought that in raising it following the Taoiseach's proposition it might be taken that I was suggesting that the person we have appointed was in any way incompetent. That is very far from my suggestion. The primary purpose, as the Taoiseach said himself, of the office of Comptroller and Auditor-General is to audit and to watch over the accounts of the State, the accounts that are submitted to us every year in the Book of Estimates, and to ensure that the expenditure by the various Government Departments is strictly in accordance with the authorities voted by the Dáil for the Estimates. In that scrutiny and in the performance of that task it would in my view be futile to suggest that anybody who had not got a complete understanding of the working of the Departments and of the Department of Finance would be competent. I am very glad indeed that the gentleman we did appoint has got that complete confidence in that respect. But lately there has been a tendency—and it is not a tendency that is restricted entirely to this Government—and for the purpose of saving a little money to transfer to the Comptroller and Auditor-General the auditing of commercial undertakings in which the State is involved through semi-State bodies.

I want to put this to the Taoiseach —that the type of experience for audit that is required for the audit of the Estimates, for the sake of explanation as I would call them—the audit of the expenditure of Government Departments—is a very different type of [2659] experience from the type required for the audit of commercial undertakings. I think it is penny wise pound foolish to be putting upon the Comptroller and Auditor-General the audit of the books and accounts of bodies that are, in fact, engaged in commercial business rather than that an auditor skilled in commercial work should be appointed to do the job. I am quite certain that the reason why it was done was, from the point of view of the Department of Finance, to effect some saving perhaps in connection with those bodies. But, as I say, it is penny wise pound foolish. We should keep to having auditors experienced in the Department of Finance for Government work and for the Estimates, and so forth, that are put before the Dáil, and we should try to get auditors skilled in commercial auditing in considering the audit of commercial undertakings where they are being carried on under the authority of a semi-State board or semi-State company. I did not want to raise it at the time because it might perhaps have been taken as some reflection on the gentleman in question. That is the farthest thing from my mind.

The second point I want to raise I also want to raise with the Taoiseach as head of the Government. The position at present is that every Minister and Parliamentary Secretary of the Government is, for the purpose of carrying out his proper duties as Minister or Parliamentary Secretary, allotted State cars. The position has grown up—and I am not quarrelling with it at all, as I can see very strong and cogent reasons in favour of it— that those State cars will be used not merely for the purpose of the official business of the Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries concerned, but will be utilised also for their ordinary private business and private social purposes. I do not quarrel with that. It would be perhaps ludicrous to suggest that there should be the duplication that would be necessary if a Minister was entitled to use State cars for State purposes and at the same time had to keep another car for social purposes. That would be perhaps grossly unnecessary [2660] duplication, and I only mention that part of it to make it quite clear that what I am going to say has no relation whatever to the user of State cars for private purposes by Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries.

There are also provided by the State for each Minister or Parliamentary Secretary two official drivers who are members of the Garda Síochána. Two permanent drivers are provided for the purpose of ensuring that there will be one of those drivers always available at any time to deal with the needs of the Minister to whom he is allotted. I understand that they work on some tour of duty, hours of relief and so forth, but the principle is that there is to be one always available, and it is a right and proper principle, because it is most unseemly that a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary should be put in a position of being subject to, in the last analysis, the judgment of his colleague the Attorney-General.

It is the duty of the Attorney-General, in respect of all accidents that may occur, in the ultimate analysis to decide under the Road Traffic Act, and indeed in respect of all criminal actions, whether the driver who is involved in an accident or in respect of whom there is a report is or is not to be prosecuted; and it is his further duty, if he first takes the decision that the driver concerned must be prosecuted, to direct the necessary proofs that must be given so that the prosecution of that person can be put before the court in the proper way for the purpose of securing a conviction if the facts and the behaviour in the case so warrant.

I want to suggest categorically to the Taoiseach that it is grossly improper and grossly unfair for the Attorney-General to be asked to sit in judgment in that way over his other colleagues at the Cabinet table, and that one of the prime functions of official drivers being provided for Ministers and for Parliamentary Secretaries is to ensure that the Attorney-General will not be put in that position. This matter has recently been brought to very clear light by certain incidents that have occurred. I do not want to say anything in regard to those [2661] incidents as regards information that I have myself in relation to them. I only want to say what has been submitted here on the records of this House by the Minister for Justice, that on those records there have been three occasions on which people have been driving other than the State drivers provided from the members of the Garda Síochána, that in relation to one of those occasions the Attorney-General has been put in the unfair position which I have mentioned that he was asked to decide whether one of his colleagues was right or was wrong. I think that is an unfair position in which he should have been put. In relation to the other two cases no papers were sent to the Attorney-General, while in one instance, in the case of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs on the 19th July last, there was a clear statement here in this House by the Minister for Justice that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs did not comply with the law. The Road Traffic Act of 1933 provides that a person driving a vehicle must stop that vehicle at the scene of an accident for a reasonable time where a person has been hurt or property has been damaged. There are on the records of this House the statements of the Minister for Justice that property was damaged to the extent of £70 odd which has been paid out of public funds. There are also the statements on the records of the House by the Minister for Justice that the driver on that occasion was the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and that he did not stop at the scene of the occurrence.

I do not blame anybody for having an accident. That can happen to anybody and it would not be for any of us, other than the people who are charged under the Constitution with that duty, to sit in judgment on the rights or wrongs that may exist in such cases, but I do say that there is nothing more contemptible than that a person, when he has had an accident, does not stop and take all the necessary steps that can be taken at that time to ease any pain or any suffering or, even if there has not been suffering—and there were, apparently, on this occasion, two animals injured——

[2662]The Taoiseach:  I suggest the Deputy is now trying the case. My information is quite the opposite.

Mr. Sweetman:  I suggest that the Taoiseach is being told only what people think is good for him to know. The facts are, and they are on the records of the House, that two animals were hit, that £70 of public money was paid out by way of reimbursement to the owners of the animals, that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs was driving, and that the Minister did not stop. The Minister for Justice gave us all these facts.

The Taoiseach:  But the Deputy is stating them in a way which does not give a fair representation of the facts. We know that it is possible for a person to touch a cow, for instance, with the rearguard of a car and not be aware that any damage has been done.

Mr. Sweetman:  I am only giving the facts from the records of the House. If the Taoiseach wants the information that I have available for myself, I shall give it to him willingly.

The Taoiseach:  I shall give the information that I have got.

Mr. Sweetman:  I do not want to give any information other than the information that is on the records of this House, but, as the Taoiseach has asked for it, I shall give him the information as I have it.

The Taoiseach:  I am not in a position to deal with this question. The Deputy raised the matter with the Minister and the information given in reply to his question is all the information I have got.

Mr. Sweetman:  If the Taoiseach is not in a position to give any further information he should not contradict me.

The Taoiseach:  I have sufficient information to lead me to believe that the Deputy is giving only portion of the case. It may be as he sees it, but there is another side to it.

Mr. Sweetman:  The position is this. The Taoiseach is head of the Government and, as such, he is responsible [2663] for the actions of his Ministers. I suggest that it is grossly improper for one of his Ministers to drive a State car in circumstances in which an accident can occur, in circumstances in which, on the answers given to me by the Minister for Justice in this House, there was a prima facie case for a prosecution. No prosecution was brought and if the local superintendent, or whoever the local Gardaí authority was, had submitted the papers to anybody, he would have to submit them to the Attorney-General and the Attorney-General would have to sit in judgment on his colleague at the Cabinet table. I suggest the Taoiseach, as the head of the Government, is responsible for ensuring that his colleagues in the Government do not act in that way.

The Taoiseach:  I was here at Question Time when the Minister for Justice said that the law had been carried out. The Minister for Justice categorically stated that it had been carried out.

Mr. Sweetman:  There were two questions, one question as to whether a report had been made of the accident. In that respect, the Minister for Justice stated that the law had been carried out. The way in which the law had been carried out in that respect was by an officer of the Garda, the driver, making a report. In respect of the other question, the Minister never suggested that the law had been carried out. On the contrary, the Minister for Justice stated it had not been. If the Taoiseach wishes me to refresh his memory with the statements made by the Minister I shall give it to him. The question is reported in column 1745 of the Official Debates of 9th December last:—

“Mr. Sweetman asked the Minister for Justice if he will state in respect of each of the accidents mentioned in his reply to Question No. 26 on 1st December, 1953, whether the State car was (1) stopped at the scene of the occurrence and (2) kept at the scene of the occurrence; and, if so, for how long.”

I might add for the Taoiseach's benefit [2664] that these words are taken from the section of the Road Traffic Act, 1933. The Minister replied:—

“The State car remained at the scene of the accident for about 40 minutes on 2nd February, 1953, and for about 15 minutes on 22nd idem. The car did not remain at the scene of the accident, which occurred on 19th July, but the matter was reported at Granard Garda Station.”

The section which would be operated against any private individual says that the car must stop at the scene of the accident.

The Taoiseach:  Perhaps the Deputy would allow me to interrupt him for a moment. I have driven a car in my day. It may happen by chance that a cow or an animal may touch the rearguard. You look back but you see nothing happening and you pass on. Then when you have got to stop, you look and you find that there is a mark, for example, on the rearguard and then for the first time you are satisfied that you have touched a cow and possibly caused injury. It is quite possible that you may not stop unless you know there has been an accident.

Mr. Sweetman:  I suggest to the Taoiseach that what occurred on this occasion was that £70 worth of damage was done and that what happened was very far from what the Taoiseach stated. What I want to make clear is that there is a prima facie case there, on the reply of the Minister for Justice, and it was grossly unfair for the Taoiseach to allow his colleagues in the Cabinet to put the Attorney-General in the position of having to decide whether it was right or proper to bring proceedings. It is not fair to have the Attorney-General called on to decide that and the reason why State drivers are given is to avoid the Attorney-General being put in that position. If the Taoiseach was carrying out his duties I would suggest to him that, at any rate for the future—what is past is past and we cannot go back on it— members of the Garda Síochána who are allotted as drivers to Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries should drive these cars and no one else.

[2665]The Taoiseach:  That has been agreed to before this.

Mr. Sweetman:  If it has been agreed to before this, then the Taoiseach should take some action in respect of the breaches of that agreement which have occurred and which are proved to have occurred by the records.

The Taoiseach:  There are difficulties in cases of that sort. Perhaps, however, I should wait until I am concluding to reply to the Deputy.

Mr. Sweetman:  I do not mind the Taoiseach intervening in the slightest.

The Taoiseach:  I have known cases where I have been out with a driver and in which certain difficulties occurred. The arrangement is that there are two drivers available but one does not normally bring two drivers on a journey. Then you are not always sure when you are going to get back. You may be detained for longer than you expect and sometimes the driver becomes weary. Sometimes when I have been travelling myself I was anxious as to whether the driver was going to go asleep. There are times when a person who is an experienced driver may be tempted to act as a relief driver. I think the temptation should be put aside and I agree with the Deputy in most of his contentions. There are times in which there is a temptation to act as a relief driver. It is a very strong temptation in certain circumstances, particularly if you are afraid that the driver is so sleepy that he may be the cause of an accident. Except in such a case of emergency I agree with the Deputy that it is far safer, not merely from the point of view of the Attorney-General's position in the matter but from the point of view of the danger of an accident, that that should not be done. It is not very satisfactory that a Minister should be the subject of a prosecution no matter how unavoidable the accident may be, or that the State, through the Minister, should be directly regarded as being responsible for such accidents and such compensation.

Mr. Sweetman:  I am glad that the [2666] Taoiseach agrees with my view that that is not proper except in case of emergency. But if the Taoiseach makes further inquiries he will find that in the last case to which I have referred—I want to be quite fair to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture because I know nothing about the circumstances of his case—he will find that the circumstances he mentions did not arise in the last case. As the Taoiseach, however, has made it clear that that is not going to happen again, I will pass from it and go on to discuss general Government policy.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Government (Mr. Lynch):  Will Deputy Sweetman say if he inquired whether a similar incident occurred during the inter-Party régime?

Mr. Sweetman:  I am aware that Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries did not appreciate the situation and that they were given a direction by the then Taoiseach not to drive for the reasons I have put forward when it came to his notice that any of them were driving.

General Mulcahy:  Does the Parliamentary Secretary suggest that in the inter-Party Government time——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Deputy Sweetman is in possession.

General Mulcahy:  The Parliamentary Secretary was allowed to intervene to ask a very suggestive question which, to my mind, seemed to suggest that at some time compensation was paid by the Government for an accident in which the driver involved was a Minister and that the same thing happened during the inter-Party Government's period of office. Does the Parliamentary Secretary suggest that?

Mr. Lynch:  I am not suggesting that any compensation was incurred by the State as a result of an accident, but I happen to know that members of the inter-Party Government were, in fact, driving their State cars. I would ask Deputy Mulcahy, however, not to pursue the matter further because it was reported to me by the individual concerned [2667] in private conversation and I have no intention of pursuing it further.

General Mulcahy:  I am not concerned except in regard to the suggestion which I thought was underlying the Parliamentary Secretary's question.

Mr. Lynch:  I was dealing with the propriety of a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary driving. I happen to know that such a thing did take place during the inter-Party régime, and that an accident took place at least in one instance. I am not suggesting that State funds were called upon to bear any cost as a result of that accident. I do not believe they were.

Mr. Sweetman:  Some two and a half years ago, the present Government took office. The more one considers the trend since that time, the clearer it becomes that the difficulties which have arisen for the people of the country since then have been difficulties that were created by action of the Government. If we take the history of that two and a half years and go down it, we will see that at no time in that period, if one is to believe their public pronouncements, have they been able accurately and correctly to diagnose the position. We all know that the Minister for Finance came into office in June, 1951, and immediately started a deliberate propaganda campaign designed, apparently, for political Party purposes, and that the effect of that campaign was to encourage commercial institutions all over the country to restrict credit, to prevent their customers getting the facilities which otherwise they would have got. I am not so foolish as to imagine that the Minister for Finance wrote a letter to the heads of the commercial banks or to the Central Bank, or asked the Central Bank to write a letter to the commercial banks, saying: “Restrict credit as quickly as you can.” Obviously not. But he did quite deliberately engender a public feeling that too much money was being spent, and the only possible interpretation of that propaganda campaign would have been for [2668] the commercial banks to dry up, to give less facilities than they previously had been giving.

When the Minister for Finance came into office, he found in the files in his office complete plans, not merely for the conversion of the national loans that were floated prior to the general election, but plans available also for the flotation of a new national loan. For Party purposes, and only for Party purposes, the Minister for Finance decided against that view; it would not have suited the Party propaganda he was making at the time. In consequence of that, he deferred until September of last year, the issue of a national loan. In connection with the issue of that loan, he chose the worst possible moment since June, 1951. It was the very peak of the high interest rate. It was the very peak month in which it was more difficult and more expensive to borrow money than in any other month since June, 1951.

In June 1951, if you take a comparable security here and a comparable security in Britain, you will find that our securities when this Government came into office were standing more or less at the same rate and the same value. But if you go on since Fianna Fáil came into office you will find that the value of Irish securities by relation to British securities has fallen in the interval. In September, 1952, when the Minister for Finance was floating his 5 per cent. loan, a 4¼ per cent. British electricity stock, redeemable in 1974-79, and therefore more or less fair to compare for redemption purposes, was standing at £99 3/16th ex-dividend, only standing at 13/16th below par when the Minister for Finance was floating his loan at 5 per cent. If you come to this year, you will find that in October, when the Minister for Finance was floating a loan at 4¼ per cent. redeemable in 1973-78 and issuing that at £97, the 4¼ per cent. British electricity stock redeemable in 1974-79 was standing at £101 15/16ths ex-dividend. In other words, we have, so far as the issue price of our loans is concerned, travelled from the favourable comparison that there was when this Government came into office into [2669] an unfavourable position, so that our loans are points, and substantial points, lower than the British ones. In consequence, the people have had to pay a higher rate of interest. That all arises because of the air of unconfidence, if I may use the word, which was deliberately engendered by the Minister for Finance for purely Party purposes.

The most disastrous thing which this Government has done since they came into office was to take that decision to force up interest rates here. By doing so they made money dearer not merely for the State but also for private individuals and for private business concerns, ensuring in that way that the moneys which were needed for the development of industry would have to be got at a very much higher and greater cost. The Taoiseach, I am sure, has probably seen the article that appeared in the supplement to the number of The Statist for the 24th October, 1953, an article written by the Minister for Finance, Deputy MacEntee. In that article this phrase occurs early on: “In a free enterprise economy a Government cannot play a dominant part in shaping the trend of economic and financial affairs.” I suggest to the Taoiseach that any Minister for Finance who makes such a statement is unfit to hold his position because obviously it is nonsense. It is quite obvious to anyone that the shaping of budgetary policy can dominate, and dominate is the exact operative word, any free economy.

In the last century when the industrial revolution was at its height in Britain and throughout the rest of the world, there was then far too much precedence given to individual freedom and enterprise in such a way that it developed into licence. I suggest that the effect of that, the stress of it and the importance that it was given in the last century, has turned the wheel round, so to speak, and that now we are far too much concerned not with the production of wealth but with its distribution. Undoubtedly there was licence then and as a result of the licence that was deliberately created at that time there [2670] was no effort made to correct it. Doctrinaire thinkers, economists and political writers are perhaps now too much considering the distribution of the existing wealth when I suggest they should be more concerned with the means for the production of new wealth and of increasing total wealth rather than in seeing how it should be distributed.

What we want to do is to ensure that liberty, in regard to enterprise, is not transferred into licence. We run the danger that, if we do not look at it from that angle, we may very easily go back, we may stifle enterprise by over control and over correction. It is, as I have said, absolute nonsense for the Minister for Finance to say that in a free enterprise economy the Government cannot play a dominant part in shaping economic forces and in shaping, particularly, the financial forces as the Minister for Finance said. The Government can, and should, play a dominant part in shaping the boundaries in which free enterprise can operate in a competitive free spirit. It is only by playing that part that we are ever going to get any real development here.

When the Minister for Finance imposed his policy upon the people he did so as if we were in a time of inflation. From this side of the House, at the time, it was suggested that that was not the position, that the position was that we were then about to enter a period that might be, so to speak, halfway between inflation and deflation, but that Government action would inevitably be deflationary and would create a slump. The Taoiseach himself, speaking at that time, apparently was doubtful as to whether the policy that was being pursued by the Minister was correct, because I remember him saying on one occasion that “some people advised me that there was the danger of inflation and others advised that there was the danger of deflation.”

The Taoiseach:  And that policy was not going to be based on either of these theories as such.

Mr. Sweetman:  That is what the Taoiseach said, but the fact was that [2671] the policy which was operated was a deflationary policy in the fullest possible degree, and if it was not why is the position as it is? Take employment, for example. Why is it that from 1951 we have steadily gone down? Take the current month. In 1950, 47,000 people were registered as unemployed. In 1951, after six months of this Government in office, that figure had risen to 49,000. In 1952, it had gone to 69,000.

The Taoiseach:  What is the Deputy quoting from?

Mr. Sweetman:  I am quoting from a sheet issued by the Statistics Office for the first comparable week of December for the years 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953. These are official figures issued by the Taoiseach's own Department. They show that the curve of unemployment was quite deliberately going up. In the current year, for the first time we are seeing—and this is precisely the point I want to make— the official record slightly starting to decrease. I believe that is because there has been a substantial change in the policy of the Government within the past two months. I challenge the Taoiseach to deny that what has occurred recently is that he has changed the instructions that were given to Government Departments about spending, and I believe that the reason why that has been done is that the Fianna Fáil Party have been told that they are going to take a trot to the country in the early part of 1954.

Mr. Killilea:  That is an old story now.

Mr. Sweetman:  I challenge the Taoiseach, when replying, to deny that in an effort to remedy the appalling state of affairs which was caused by the policy that was put into operation by Fianna Fáil and by little else, they have ordered a reversal of that policy. I believe that the policy of austerity, which was established quite deliberately by the Minister for Finance for the purpose of drawing off purchasing power, is now to be changed. We are [2672] now going to have an easing of the position for the purpose of ensuring that the people will be in a more suitable frame of mind, should the Taoiseach desire it.

Every single estimate that has been made by this Government since they came into office on this occasion has been wrong—that is in regard to our exports.

On the 12th October, 1951, the Tánaiste, Mr. Lemass, speaking at the Publicity Club of Ireland, said:—

“We must reduce imports. The current output figures for normal exports rule out the possibility of any large increase in the volume of exports in the near future.”

The famous White Paper that was produced by the Minister for Finance on the “Trend of External Trade and Payments”, and the justifications that were put forward for it by the Minister for Finance at that time were all based on the assumption that there was not going to be any increase in the volume of exports; that even if the markets went with us in regard to exports the volume of exports was going to remain static.

The Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach were told from this side of the House at that time that that was a false premise on which to build a policy of hardship for our people and that, in effect, if the Government were operating a policy based on that, they were building on an entirely incorrect basis and, consequently, their conclusion must be entirely wrong. The fallacies that were then put forward were so exposed that even the Irish Times, that newspaper which so delights to support the Taoiseach in his present moods and tenses, on the 19th November, 1951, stated:—

“The White Paper on External Trade and the Balance of Payments, for example, about which there has been so much discussion in the Dáil, easily might have been mistaken for a sober, factual document written above the dust and turmoil of Party strife. If the recent debates have done nothing else, they have shown that this was not the case. The [2673] White Paper was hardly less a Party political document than the Fianna Fáil election manifesto. The figures in it were not incorrect: they were selected, that is to say, only such statistical information as would assist the Government's case was employed.”

And everything that has happened since has shown that the trend that the Minister for Finance tried to put upon the country and upon which he based his whole budgetary policy and his whole financial policy was wrong, and that the basis put forward from this side of the House—that exports were going to increase in volume, that production would rise as a result of the basis that was laid for it in 1949 and 1950—was inevitably going to be the real trend.

The only pity of it all is that we have lost these couple of years and that the Taoiseach and his Ministers did not— two years ago—see the correct policy to put into operation so that there would not have been all the hardship that there has been in the country as a result of that policy in those two years.

Anybody who is in public life at the present time can testify to the fact that there are more people coming to public representatives asking them can they do anything towards getting them employment; that there are more people throughout the country trying to see where they can get employment than there were three years ago, and it is all due to the fact that the Minister for Finance was allowed to play Party politics with the financial policy of the country.

We have been told recently by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that wages and spending power have been equated. I find it difficult to see how any Minister can make that statement. There is no point now in going back on the period of the war, but the Taoiseach knows perfectly well how, during the war period, the cost of living rose above industrial earnings and that the lines on the graph that one could take of industrial earnings and the cost of living did not cross each other until some time about the middle [2674] of 1948. It was only, roughly, in the middle of 1948 that people were able to catch up on their arrears in regard to their spending power, and from 1948 to 1951 the small advance that there was was retained.

We have not yet got the statistical material available—and I understand from a question that was answered by the Taoiseach the other day that the statistical survey to carry the matter beyond that will not be available until next June. But I doubt very much when it comes whether again the position will not have arisen that the industrial earnings of the people taken by comparison with the cost of living, will not again have crossed the line, but this time in the reverse direction, and that they will be lower, and that we will see a disimprovement to a substantial degree evidenced in the statistics that all of us in our private lives know to be the case. Wherever anybody goes at present one of the first subjects that comes to be discussed is the cost of what has to be bought, the cost of living as described in our official documents, the cost that has to be paid out every time the housewife goes into a shop. There is no doubt whatever that that cost has gone sky high under this Government and beyond the limits of the people to bear it, and that it has so gone as a result of deliberate policy by the Government.

The Taoiseach must admit that the peak point in regard to prices for imports was reached in August or September of 1951 and since that time import prices have dropped by about 12 points. Notwithstanding the drop in import prices, the cost of living has steadily risen since then and, therefore, the increase can only be an internal factor, as opposed to the external factor that it was up to August or September of 1951 due to the Korean war. The internal factor that has caused these increases is the action of the Government, partly in the removal of the subsidies, partly in their high interest policy and partly in their drastic attack on the confidence of the people. That this is an undoubted factor is something which nobody can gainsay.

The essential thing at the present [2675] time is to create effective demand. Unless and until an effective demand is created there cannot be any solution or any hope of solution of the unemployment problem. The only way in which an effective demand can be created is to ensure that Government policy will take less out of the pockets of the people and leave them more to utilise in respect of their wages and salaries for the creation of that effective demand. I believe that this Government, if they wished, could have easily done that in the last Budget. I believe it was not true for the Government then to state—as I believe it was not true in the previous year although it was carried on into this year—that they were merely budgeting for a balance. If you take the figures issued in the White Paper by the Minister for Finance when he was bringing in his Budget last May—the paper called Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ending 31st March, 1954— you will find that for the current year the Minister estimated that customs would be up by £1.8 million, that excise would be up by £.3 million, that estate duty would be up by £.1 million, that stamp duty would be up by £.1 million, that income-tax would be reduced by £600,000, that surtax yields would be more or less the same and that corporation profits tax would be reduced by £150,000 and that the net total increase in respect of these seven items was a sum of £1.6 million. If we place that in comparison with the Exchequer figures as they stand at the present moment we will find that the information given from this side of the House was right and the information given by the Minister for Finance was wrong. The Minister for Finance at that time, and I think the Taoiseach too, stated these were the maximum increases that could be anticipated in receipts. We said that these figures were wrong and that time would prove they were wrong. I believe that one of the reasons they have been proved wrong is that there was some pushing of money from last year's account into this year's accounts in order to make last year's budgetary figure look worse.

The Taoiseach:  It would be very interesting to know that process.

[2676]Mr. Sweetman:  I will tell the Taoiseach the process. There is an extra £500,000 pushed into the finance accounts in the balance carried forward. It is quite well known in commercial circles that in the last half of March last year there was not the same pressure to get in money for income-tax as there was in the last half of March in the previous year. Everyone in commercial circles knows that. If the Taoiseach examines the finance accounts he will see the way in which the kitty was increased.

The Taoiseach:  Deal with the half year.

Mr. Sweetman:  Let us take the items. Where the Minister budgeted for an increase of £1.8 million in respect of customs over the whole year we find that already the rate of progress according to Iris Oifigiúil on the 8th of this month is actually an increase of £2.4 million; we find in respect of excise where the Minister budgeted for an increase of £300,000, the actual rate of increase is £1,000,000. The rate is maintained in relation to estate duty. In respect of the seven items concerned, where the Minister budgeted for the whole year a sum of £1.6 million increase over last year's figure, after approximately nine months of this year there is already an increase of £3.7 million over the same figure for the same period last year.

The Taoiseach:  Owing to a decrease in consumption, I suppose, and austerity.

Mr. Sweetman:  All this goes to show that the change of tactics by the Government has provided exactly what we said the original policy should have provided all along.

The Taoiseach:  Stand firmly on either leg now, or on both.

Mr. Sweetman:  The trouble about the Taoiseach is that since he came into office in 1951 he has consistently stood on the wrong leg. In September, 1951, at a time when it was clearly shown it was a low point for interest rates, it was on foot of those rates that [2677] he floated his first loan. When he was told in the following year that interest rates were likely to reach a higher point in the opinion of every competent judge he yet insisted on going on with his loan; and the evidence is that interest rates have substantially decreased since. If the Minister and the Taoiseach had taken the advice that was left behind to them there could have been a saving on £20,000,000 of at least threequarters per cent. per annum for the whole period of the loan. The Taoiseach can take the White Paper issued by the Minister for Finance with his approval, the White Paper that derided any possibility of an increase in our volume of exports.

He can take the type of propaganda that he and his Party put out in relation to the cost of living during the 1951 election when, from one end of the country to the other, they canvassed the electors on the ground that the increase in the cost of living was due to the policy of the inter-Party Government and that the Korean war had nothing whatever to do with increasing costs. But the Minister for Finance, in the opening statement of the article to which I have referred, starts off by saying that Ireland did not escape the inflationary stresses of the post-Korean period; and whether one takes the record of Fianna Fáil in relation to the cost of living, particularly the record so far as it concerns me of the pamphlet issued by Deputy Harris throughout the whole of Kildare, a pamphlet in which the statement made by Deputy Norton that the Korean war had anything to do with the increase in the cost of living here, was derided, right down the line every single prophecy that has been made has been proved to be false. The only indication that I hope will not prove false is the indication that Departments have been told to loosen up and to spend more money so that relief schemes can be got under way, because, as a result of the policy of this Government, full employment has given way to the necessity for relief schemes.

The Taoiseach:  Full employment?

[2678]Mr. Sweetman:  Practically full employment was in operation—and the Taoiseach knows that.

The Taoiseach:  The figures do not show it.

Mr. Sweetman:  Everybody in rural Ireland at that time knew that the difficulty was to get the men for the jobs and not the jobs for the men. Everybody knows that, and, if the Taoiseach had his feet on the ground, he, too, would know that that was the position.

The Taoiseach:  I suppose 53,000 unemployed is nothing.

Mr. Sweetman:  He should know that the county engineers were reporting that they could not put schemes into operation because there were not sufficient suitable men available for the work. The Taoiseach would know that if he had his feet solidly on the ground. We are now in the position that Departments have been told to loosen up the purse-strings, to spend more money. I hope that that is so because it will mean less hardship for the people. I hope, even more so, that it is so, because I take it, and those with much greater political experience than I have take it, to be an indication that soon the people will get an opportunity to do what they did in 1951, namely, to vote against Fianna Fáil, a decision of which the Taoiseach deprived them by means of a trick.

Mr. Everett:  During the past few weeks we have had the whole question of unemployment, emigration, the high cost of living, Partition and the control of credit discussed very fully here.

Members of the Labour Party are concerned about unemployment in the towns and rural areas in their constituencies. The position was never as serious at Christmas-time as it is this year. In many cases the county council have provided loans out of next year's estimate to create employment for the large number of unemployed. Yesterday the Minister for Lands admitted that in rural areas men have to travel over ten miles from their place of residence to work before [2679] 8 a.m. The Taoiseach must realise that there is a serious problem to be faced.

The Government may plead that they have no control. We suggest that they are responsible, that by the Budget and the withdrawal of subsidies they have created the distress we are experiencing to-day. If they have no control over general unemployment, I might remind the Taoiseach that they are responsible for the employment of 22 non-nationals in the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra, who have displaced a large number of Irish musicians. Men with Irish names did not seem to have the qualifications of those brought from Czechoslovakia and other places at a much higher salary and perquisites than Irish musicians were enjoying. The Government and the Taoiseach are responsible for disemploying a large number of Irish musicians for the benefit of foreigners.

Partition is opposed by the majority of men, irrespective of Party. I do not like to see members of one Party accusing Irishmen of other Parties of being responsible for the Boundary Commission. The Taoiseach will remember the conference held in the Shelbourne Hotel in 1925. If certain decisions had been arrived at at that particular conference and put into effect, the findings of the Boundary Commission would not have been accepted by this House. I would ask members not to accuse one another but to see what we can do to solve Partition.

The speeches made in this House will help the Taoiseach and the Government to put up a strong case to the British Government in connection with the arrest of a fellow-Irishman who is a Member of Parliament in another place and strengthen their hands in pointing out that this man has the support and sympathy of the majority of this Parliament. I do not suggest that the members of the Fianna Fáil Party are not as anxious as the members of any other Party to see that boy released. They are as anxious and, if it suited them, they would be allowed to protest as strongly as we are protesting. I am making no accusation in that matter.

I am sorry the Taoiseach has left [2680] the House because I am about to refer to his speech in 1948 on the question of the short-wave station. If ever we required a short-wave station, we require it now. The Taoiseach would be surprised to learn that the Estimate for the maintenance of our short-wave station for 1953-54 is £6,000 and I am told that £2,000 of that £6,000 will be saved. Contrast that with the position in 1948. On the 20th July, 1948, at column 839, Volume 112, Deputy Aiken quoted the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs as follows:—

“I do not know that anything more ought to be said about the short-wave station. It is a bit of a standing condemnation of Fianna Fáil so long as even the masts stick up into the air.”

Deputy Aiken said:—

“Perhaps Deputy Lehane will tell me that he does not know that there is such a thing on the short-wave wireless at the moment as a pro-Partition programme called the Ulster Half-hour. He knows that that is going on, that the short waves are being used by the Partitionists in the Six Counties to put across their side of the case to the world.”

At that time we had not the frequencies. At present the Ministers have the frequencies and a promise from other Governments in connection with frequencies. By using a short-wave station we could bring to the world the position in the Six-County Parliament.

Again, Deputy Aiken said on the 20th July, 1948:—

“When I was Minister for Finance and the case was put up that in this country we should have a short-wave broadcasting station in order to put the Irish point of view to the rest of the world, I was prepared to support the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs on that matter, even though it did cost £200,000.... Those of us who opened our political eyes before 1920 will remember the bitter complaints made by the nationally-minded people of the country when Great Britain shut us out from all contact with the world....”

[2681] That was in 1948, when they were prepared to spend £100,000 on a short-wave station. In 1953 they are spending £4,000 at a time that is as opportune as 1948 was to let our friends in other parts of the world know the position of affairs.

At column 882, Volume 112, Official Debates, Deputy de Valera said:—

“I appeal to the Government to reconsider this matter and not let the narrow financial point of view which, in my opinion, is the dominant one here, get predominance.”

Later, he said:—

“An attempt has been made to try and create the impression abroad that we have here two nations occupying two separate territories and that, therefore, there is a justification for separating them.”

The Minister for External Affairs suggested that we did not require frequencies for a short-wave station, that we could use the short-wave station in spite of other Governments and put Ireland's case to exiles throughout the world. What has happened? The short-wave station is there. The frequencies are there. A Government has offered to give us their time on the short-wave station. In 1948 the Fianna Fáil Party were prepared to spend £100,000. The inter-Party Government did spend the money. To-day, the Fianna Fáil Government refuse to spend £6,000 in maintaining a short-wave station. They refuse to operate the frequency they have secured at the Copenhagen Convention. So much for the sincerity of the speech which was made here to us three years ago.

I submit that not alone is the Government to blame, but so are the Independents who voted for them, for the increase in the loaf from 6d. to 9d. They voted to increase the price of butter all over the country, and if there is any blame at all they must share the responsibility for what has taken place. We could have secured increased pensions for our people but the Budget of 1952 and the Budget of 1953 have reduced the purchasing power even of men who are in employment. [2682] The Minister must realise and admit that with the present cost of living and the price of essentials such as bread, tea, sugar and butter it is impossible for the old age pensioner or even the unemployed to exist at present, and people with small incomes and fixed wages are hard hit. It is no wonder that we have emigration. We understood that the Government had a plan to have permanent employment provided by industries or otherwise in our country, but from my long experience I have never known conditions in my own constituency to be so serious. While plenty of work is available and all Parties are appealing to the Government not for extra grants, but for grants to which the councils are prepared to contribute their share still they are waiting. We were the first to start a direct labour housing scheme in the country. We have made a success of it and we continued our housing even during the emergency on a smaller scale. We have many villages yet unattended to. Our problem where we have casual employment for the people living in the area and even people employed on a very small wage is that we are faced with the high rate of interest charged for loans and we cannot build houses for those men at a rent they could afford to pay. A man on £3 5s. a week cannot pay 15/-or 16/- for a cottage. They may do it in the towns and cities, but in the rural areas you have small wages. The farm labourer may have £4 10s. and casual labourers and other men working in shops have not the wages guaranteed by the farmer. So far as our position is concerned it is a serious matter for the people.

I do not want to refer to the position of Wicklow Harbour because the Minister for Industry and Commerce is considering that matter for the past six months. The professional engineers of the Board of Works recommended to the Department of Industry and Commerce a scheme of which the Harbour Board approved which was necessary owing to the collapse of the quay wall where we formerly had two berths for our boats.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Surely that is not a matter for this Estimate.

[2683]Mr. Everett:  It is Government policy.

An Ceann Comhairle:  It is not policy; it is administration.

Mr. Everett:  We have been requesting a scheme to put men into employment in the area under which we will be able to export even to foreign countries things we will manufacture in the town. The manufacturers have to pay demurrage for boats lying idle because there is only one berth at which they can be discharged. If it has taken six months for the Minister to agree with the engineers of the Board of Works I hope that now his attention is drawn to it he will realise the seriousness of the position and accede to the wishes not alone of the Harbour Board but of the Board of Works officials. There is a certain suspicion as to why Wicklow has been singled out for this treatment. We are asked to put up the same amount of money as Wexford, which received £66,000.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is discussing a departmental matter.

Mr. Everett:  Very well. I hope that having drawn the Taoiseach's attention to the matter he will take it in hands and try to impress on the officials of the Department of Industry and Commerce that they should agree with the professional men who have recommended the scheme.

Two and a half years have brought nothing but misery and unemployment for the people and no hope of security even for men who had permanent work up to some years ago. Taxation has increased on all sections of the community and thousands of pounds have been spent on warlike stores. For every £1 you spend on warlike stores you are depriving the aged, the infirm or the poor of some benefit. Some members may agree that we should spend more millions on warlike stores. That is all right if you are spending it for a purpose, but what is the necessity for all the millions so spent when you have over 66,000 persons unemployed? That money could be spent providing loans for the building of houses at a cheap rate of interest. I do not think it should be given for nothing.

[2684] Anybody who sees what is taking place must agree that we should withdraw as much as possible of our securities in foreign countries. If you follow the trend of events you will agree that things may happen quicker than some people expect even in America. The repercussions will come to England and will affect people here, and there will be no use then in talking about having millions in England when we will not have it here. We prefer to see it invested in our own country providing cheaper loans for people and giving work under the National Development Fund or to house our people. Those are some matters for which the Government must take responsibility. After two and a half years of office they must realise, travelling around the country, that things were never as serious from the unemployed point of view as they are now. You have discontent even with the trade unions in connection with the position of their men in employment.

We do not want to exaggerate the position, but we ask the Government, even at the eleventh hour, to try and change the policy and give some sort of hope to the 66,000 people who are trying to exist on unemployment assistance. What must their position be when what they receive is not sufficient to make ends meet? Every member of a public body knows that we have to supplement the payments made to meet the rents or to increase the purchasing power of those poor people out of the rates. Apart from that the rates provide a big problem. Each year everything is put on to the local ratepayers from the central authority and we are faced with increased costs of administration in our county homes, our sanatoria and our hospitals. The increased rates affect the workers because every time the rates are increased, whether they are in corporation houses or tenants of a landlord, they have to meet the increased rates.

A large number of people complain at the present time about the high rates. I have never objected to voting for an increase in the rates when it means an improvement in the lot of [2685] our people, but we have reached the point now that every public representative has to be very careful, lest anything he may do may have the result only of creating further unemployment as a result of high rates. If the Government are considering doing anything to improve the position I suggest that they should restore the subsidies, so as to reduce at least the price of bread and butter for our people. There is no use in talking about meat for the man who is unemployed or for the old age pensioner. Someone may ask what is the solution of our present difficulties or what does the Labour Party suggest. It is not for the Labour representatives or indeed for anyone in opposition to suggest a solution. The Tánaiste, as Deputy Lemass in opposition, pointed out that the job of the Opposition was to criticise the administration of the Government of the day and that it was not the duty of the Opposition to suggest where taxation should come from. I believe there is no necessity to increase taxation at present as the surpluses from the 1952 and the 1953 Budgets should be quite sufficient to restore the subsidies and to give some relief to people who are in dire need.

I would appeal to the Government to recognise the position in which the country now stands. In travelling through the country and by reason of reports they must have from various committees, they must recognise that their work for the last two years from the point of view of the majority of the working class has been a failure and a disappointment. Having regard to their promises over the years, we are surprised at the attitude of some Deputies with whom we had close association in the past. We are surprised that they are acting in the way in which they are acting at the present time. We never expected that there would be an attack on the aged, the infirm, the poor or the unemployed. We thought there would be an attempt to secure the close co-operation of all Parties in bringing relief to the depressed classes.

Unfortunately, it seems that Government Deputies have changed from the [2686] democratic spirit of former days and that they are now more concerned with questions of book-keeping. If you are going to balance your books at the expense of the poor, then I am all in favour of not balancing the books. The time has come, I suggest, for some positive action by the Government to bring a greater measure of prosperity to the country and to ensure employment for our people.

Captain Cowan:  The Taoiseach's Estimate is always a subject for serious and constructive debate. After listening here for some days to this debate, I want to say that I have been disappointed by the contribution we had in the course of the debate. Most speeches were really a casual rehash of speeches that had been made and repeated, time after time, in the past three years in this House. There was one significant omission, though. Since the last general election we have had repeated calls for another general election and for the resignation of the Government. It is significant, and I think it has been noted by the public generally, that in the course of this debate the question of a general election has been avoided.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Are you feeling more secure?

Mr. Rooney:  It received a heading to the speech from Deputy Costello as reported in the papers. The Deputy evidently does not read the papers.

Captain Cowan:  Deputies who have participated in the debate have, as I have said, contented themselves with a very casual rehash of their previous speeches leaving out that important item. I think it is a good thing—and I have said it on several occasions in this House—that this talk and these rumours of general elections should be dispersed and dissipated because the one thing that was needed to give the country a chance was stability. That undoubtedly has been achieved. It is significant that the turning point seems to have been the by-election in Galway.

Mr. Everett:  What about Wicklow?

Captain Cowan:  I am talking about the turning point. The last by-election held in Galway was the turning point.

[2687]Mr. Rooney:  The majority fell by a thousand.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Deputy Cowan is entitled to speak without interruption.

Captain Cowan:  A further significant point is that we have a vacancy in Cork City. We might have had a by-election in Cork City before this but there is no wonderful rush to have a by-election there.

Mr. Rooney:  Will you accept the verdict?

Captain Cowan:  It is all part, as I say, of the new idea that is about, that the Government will last until the end of its term of office.

Brendán Mac Fheórais:  You said that about the last Government.

Captain Cowan:  The Government will go to the country when it feels it is opportune to do so.

Mr. O'Higgins:  Are you whistling to keep up your courage?

Captain Cowan:  As I say, I have listened very attentively and patiently for many days.

Mr. Rooney:  But you did not read the headings in the newspapers.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Deputy Rooney should allow Deputy Cowan to make his speech without interruption.

Captain Cowan:  I have been delighted with the evidence of the change that has taken place. I think Deputy O. Flanagan, Deputy O'Higgins and every other Deputy will agree that it is necessary, and in the national interest, that there should be stability. Programmes cannot be carried out unless there is stability and unless there is contentment. The people as a whole are satisfied now that there is this stability of Government that will enable progressive legislation to be enacted and carried out.

Mr. O'Higgins:  What happens if a few of you get a cold?

[2688]Captain Cowan:  I listened yesterday to the speech made by Deputy Giles. It was an important speech from many points of view, a speech that must have created quite a stir amongst two sections of the community. Deputy Giles referred here to a particular minority and he condemned that minority in no uncertain terms. He left no one under any misapprehension as to who that minority in the Republic were. He castigated that minority very severely and I think he made it perfectly clear to the House that until they were denied a say in the legislation in this House there was no hope for the country. That was a rather brutal observation to come from an old and experienced member of the Fine Gael Party.

Mr. Rooney:  Have they a say?

Captain Cowan:  I want to protest against it. I think it was a most improper observation and should not have been made in this House.

Mr. O'Higgins:  If it were improper it would not have been made.

Captain Cowan:  Having disposed of that particular minority of people who are not of the same religion as the majority of Deputies, he turned his attention to the Labour Party and he referred to the “bowsies on the dole”. That was his description of the unfortunate men who are drawing the allowance to which they are entitled under the Statutes of this country—“bowsies on the dole”. Deputies of the Labour Party who are now in the House were listening to him making that observation in regard to this unfortunate section of the community, some of whom have to live on unemployment insurance and some of them on unemployment assistance. I think that no Deputy should be permitted to make such a reference in this House to that section of the people and I certainly wish to avail of this opportunity to express my profound contempt for an observation like that in regard to the people who are unemployed in this country.

Mr. O'Higgins:  It is not a bit of vote-catching, I suppose?

[2689]An Ceann Comhairle:  It would be better to let Deputy Cowan proceed without interruption. He is entitled to proceed and that ought to be conceded.

Mr. Rooney:  In fairness to Deputy Giles, Deputy Cowan should quote his statement.

Captain Cowan:  I was listening to Deputy Giles yesterday evening.

Mr. Rooney:  We were all listening to him and I would prefer you to quote.

Captain Cowan:  I can quote it because I took it down—“bowsies on the dole,” only four words. I express my contempt for that observation and I make my strongest protest against it.

Over 30 years ago we secured a measure of freedom and since that there has been no interference with our power to organise, to develop and to administer this State in the way we consider best in our own national interests. During those 30 years we have had great constitutional events, all of which led up to the position of independence which we now have. In this House we are entitled to make laws for the country and no authority, foreign or domestic, has any right to interfere with us in the exercise of our functions and in the carrying out of our duties.

Fully appreciating and understanding the very great constitutional advance that has been made in that period, I hope it will not be out of place to consider whether we have lived up to the good intentions our leaders had 30 or 40 years ago. It was our declared intention in those days that, given the chance and given the opportunity, we would make this country a model country in which unemployment would be abolished and poverty removed, and in which every person would be guaranteed a full and a prosperous life. Have we lived up to those expectations as a nation? Have we put the ideals of James Connolly into practice? If we have not, the fault is ours and, if we have, the credit is ours. No outside power has any [2690] authority to prevent us doing whatever is right or desirable.

Now we have done many excellent things. We have put into operation many schemes of social welfare. We have established, by legislation, provisions for better health for the people. Conditions of employment have been improved. We have had great schemes of house building. We have had electrical development which has meant a tremendous lot to the country generally, and which, I am glad to say, is spreading and will in a few years spread into every part of the country. We have had wonderful schemes of bog and turf development. We have established our air services and we have established Irish shipping, which was something that our leaders of the past had always in mind as one of the ways by which a fuller and better life could be provided for our people. We have had schemes of farm and land improvement over a number of years resulting in increased capacity to produce on our farms all over the country. That record of achievement is a solid one, and in other times and in other ages would be considered a wonderful record of progress in a short period. But, personally, I do not think it right to relate it entirely to other times. This record must be taken in comparison with the progress made in other countries in the same period.

I often wonder, if we never had a revolution in this country, if we were still part of the old legislative combinaton known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, whether our social services would be better than they are, whether our health services would be better than they are, whether our farmers would be better off than they are, or whether our people generally would be better off. I think that that should be the proper basis of comparison. If we have failed to keep in step, if we have lagged behind, the responsibility is ours and ours only, and it cannot be placed on anybody else's shoulders.

If we find, on examination of these problems, that there is a gap to be closed and that there are differences to be cleared away, I think it is our duty to do everything that is necessary [2691] to close that gap and to remove those differences. I think it would be much better, from a constructive point of view, if the problems were examined in that light rather than in the way in which they have been examined in this House over a number of years. I have heard Deputy Hickey complain about it, and, I think, properly complain, that we have continually in this House this criticism of one another——

Mr. Rooney:  Like Deputy Giles.

Captain Cowan:  ——of what persons did and what they did not do in a very short period. That is the easiest type of politics to indulge or engage in. It is the easiest thing in the world to bring in a file of newspaper clippings and cuttings and read from them, rehash them and put them away until the next debate. Unfortunately, that is what is occurring in the debates in this House, and it is what has occurred in the debate on this particular Estimate. The principal speaker on the Fine Gael side— because I think it is wrong to combine all Parties on that side as the Opposition—was Deputy McGilligan, and Deputy McGilligan's speeches are always a record of newspaper clippings, of things which people said ten, 15, 20 or 25 years ago. That is no use to the people.

Mr. Rooney:  Or like Deputy Giles last night.

Captain Cowan:  I am talking now about Deputy McGilligan.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  If he had clippings of all the things that the Deputy has said he would be a busy man bringing them around.

Captain Cowan:  Everything that I have said is on record and anyone who wants to improve himself, or to gain a certain amount of knowledge, can read the speeches which I have made from time to time.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Your policy on the Vanguard, for example.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Deputy Cowan must be allowed to speak without interruption.

[2692]Captain Cowan:  Our whole idea in struggling for freedom in this country was to gain facilities so that the genius of our people would get an opportunity of building up this country to the ideal State that they had in mind.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I would remind the Deputy that at this stage what we are discussing is the policy of the Government on the Estimate for the Taoiseach's Department.

Captain Cowan:  I hope that is what I am discussing.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That may be, but not at the moment.

Captain Cowan:  That was our purpose, to give the genius of our people a chance of building up the sort of nation that we thought we should have. When we come to discuss the Taoiseach's Estimate, we have to consider whether we are, in fact, achieving the ideals and the objects that we had in mind when this State was established. I would ask Deputies to give serious consideration to an examination of the problem from that point of view because we do not lack ability and we do not lack genius.

In many countries in the world, Irishmen and Irishwomen have contributed very much to the building up of those foreign States. If we ourselves are falling behind, if we are getting into a groove or into a rut, what is the cause of it? Is the blame on this House, as has been said frequently in the course of this debate? Is the blame on the Parliament that has been elected by the people? Is the blame on the individual Deputies who were elected to comprise this Parliament? That is one of the problems that I find to be worth examination.

Are our young people now doing the things that we expected them to do, that we expected they would do, to help to build up this nation, and if they are not, why are they not doing them, and what is the cause of it? I want to say frankly that I believe the trouble rests in the standard of education that we have set for the people. The standard of education is [2693] exceptionally, and in my view deplorably low. Were it not for the cinema and the imported comics, of which I have heard considerable criticism from time to time in this House, it is doubtful whether we would have primary education at all.

Our primary schools, in my view, are no longer seminaries of learning. We have no State secondary education; we have no State university education; and we have no free education except in the primary branch, and that is not entirely free. Unfortunately, the subjects that are taught in the primary and secondary schools, and in the university, do not appear to include the vital subjects necessary for the purpose of giving to the young people the standards that would be necessary if they are to do the great job of work that we expect them to do in their time. We have only to look around us to see the effects of our standard of education over the last 30 years or so. Let us glance at the sort of letters that are written in the newspapers nowadays; let us look even at the leading articles that are published in the newspapers, and let us look at some of the things that are done in this Parliament, and done by Deputies elected to the Parliament. Let us look at some of the declarations that one reads from time to time, made in our district courts, and one can see how much we have got to do before we have a proper standard of education from which will derive a solution of the many complicated matters that have been discussed in this House in the course of this debate.

Deputy Hickey, on every occasion since I knew him, has discussed in the course of this debate matters of finance, credit, and currency. I think it will be agreed that he would have just as much chance of being understood if he were to talk Greek, which is a forbidden language in the House, as he has when he talks the language of the economist, which is not forbidden. This is the Parliament that makes the law. This is the Parliament that decides the financial policy, decides monetary developments and that should decide whether it is right to take back ledger entries from London [2694] to Dublin. I wonder are we equipped for that purpose? Is the standard of education sufficiently high to enable us to understand everything that is comprised in this whole matter of currency and credit? Deputy Hickey may say it is very easily understood, but he knows very well it is not easily understood. It might be easily understood if people would take the trouble to read it and study it. Who does it?

Mr. Hickey:  The papers make sure that nothing much will be published about it, anyway.

Captain Cowan:  Currency, credit and sociology—who among us bothers about sociology, history, modern or ancient, ethics, finance, economics? Even the history of the development of trade unionism in this country—who has bothered to study it? Still we talk glibly about all the matters that can only be discussed by persons who are well versed in these subjects.

Somebody talked about parish pump politics. I thought it was significant recently when this House would consider it important enough to have a question on the Order Paper regarding the functioning of a penny slot stamp-vending machine down in the town of Roscrea or somewhere in the County of Tipperary. It was bad enough to have the time of the House taken up with it but we had large spaces in the newspapers taken up with it the following day. I begin to wonder where we are going to.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is what I would like to know too. It may be my lack of knowledge of these things but I certainly do not understand how they arise directly on the Taoiseach's Vote.

Captain Cowan:  I will not make the obvious retort but I will submit that they do arise—arise profoundly— because I am talking of what arises from the fact that our standard of education is deplorably and disgracefully low.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is all right but the Deputy wandered very [2695] far from that. If he discusses educational policy, that is all right.

Captain Cowan:  If we had a proper standard of education do you think that Deputies would think that the time of the House should be taken up in discussing penny stamp machines?

An Ceann Comhairle:  I cannot allow that to be discussed. If a Deputy puts down a question it is a matter to be decided by some other authority whether it is relevant to the work of the Dáil or not.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Let that be a telling-off for you.

Captain Cowan:  I know, a Cheann Comhairle, that you are the general authority on all these matters. I mention the matter as showing where our parliamentary institutions are going.

An Ceann Comhairle:  We are travelling into very dangerous ground on that.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  The slot machine has nothing to do with that.

An Ceann Comhairle:  If the Deputy wants to talk of the educational policy or say that we lack it, it is relevant.

Captain Cowan:  We certainly do, and I cannot do anything more than draw attention to the fact in this House. If I considered it necessary to give one or two pertinent examples I thought they would be perfectly in order. I had a couple of other examples with which I will not now trouble the House.

It is a significant thing, too, that when one studies the House and the country, one finds that the sounder education and the proper philosophical grasp of subjects is not in the young people but in the older people. I think that is something that ought to be seriously considered. The older people in this country had the culture and the learning and refinement and standards of honour that unfortunately seem to be lacking now due entirely to the fact that our standards of education are so bad. I wonder where this country is going to go if some steps [2696] are not taken soon to try to improve our standards of knowledge and methods of education. I think that on this particular debate no more important subject could be discussed, because arising out of these standards—these low standards of education over such a long period—we have a recent development of what I consider crude, ugly and narrow sectarianism. That has unfortunately raised its head in our midst and I hope that every effort of Parliament will be devoted towards the elimination of that from this country. I think every Deputy in this House will agree with me that any person who fosters sectarianism is an enemy of the people.

Very closely related to this matter is another matter that has been worrying me for a considerable period. I refer to some of the things that have been happening in our District Courts in different parts of the country during the past year.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Now the Deputy is opening up a very wide field for himself and relating it all to a lack of education. On that basis he could discuss everything in the country and yet be quite irrelevant to the Estimate before the House.

Captain Cowan:  I would not wish to be irrelevant, but I think what I want to say is strictly in accordance with procedure and strictly within the rules that control this particular debate. As every Deputy knows, our judges and district justices are bound by the oaths of their office to carry out their duties fairly and impartially, without fear, favour or affection for anyone. The matter that I intend to raise is not a matter relative to district justices, because I know that I am not permitted to criticise either judges or district justices here.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is making a very fine effort to do that in an irrelevant fashion on this Estimate.

Captain Cowan:  No. I intend to deal not with the conduct of justices, not the things they say, because I am not permitted to do that, but with some of [2697] the things that are happening in the courts.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Has the Taoiseach or the Government responsibility for that?

Captain Cowan:  Yes, the Government is responsible, and I am glad that the Minister for Justice is here because he is the one Minister who should be here at this particular moment.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is aware of the three divisions: Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. The Deputy may not proceed to discuss the Judiciary.

Captain Cowan:  I accept that, and I prepared the Chair for the fact that I am not permitted to do that. I said I was glad to see the Minister for Justice here because what I want to deal with is not the attitude of the district justices but the things that are said by officers of the Garda for whom the Minister has responsibility.

An Ceann Comhairle:  As the Minister's responsibility that is a purely departmental matter. What we are discussing now is the overriding policy informing the activities of the Government and not departmental policy or departmental administration.

Captain Cowan:  It is not departmental policy. It is the overriding policy of the Government in the Department of Justice.

An Ceann Comhairle:  If it is germane to the Department of Justice, it is purely a matter for the Estimate on that Department, and it cannot be discussed on the Estimate for the Taoiseach's Department.

Captain Cowan:  I want to be informed on this matter. I have listened for days to this debate. The Department of Agriculture has been opened, debated and criticised.

An Ceann Comhairle:  No.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  It has not. I certainly did not hear it.

[2698]Captain Cowan:  Employment has been criticised.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Yes; that is a Government responsibility.

Captain Cowan:  Finance has been discussed.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Still a Government responsibility.

Captain Cowan:  Wireless broadcasting—Deputy Everett, who spoke just before me, gave a long lecture on wireless broadcasting.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is a Government responsibility in relation to the question of Partition.

Captain Cowan:  The employment of musicians from abroad was discussed by Deputy Everett.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is clearly relating to unemployment.

Captain Cowan:  If the Chair wants to prevent the matter being raised that I want to raise——

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Deputy Cowan does not understand.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The difficulty is that the Chair wants to be fully informed as to what the Deputy wishes to raise and I am not taking any chances in allowing a matter to be raised which is not relevant to the Estimate before the House.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  That is very reasonable.

Captain Cowan:  I am glad the Chair has the support of Deputy Flanagan.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Chair is endeavouring to control the House under the Rules of Order, Rules of Order which were made by this House.

Captain Cowan:  I want to raise as a matter of governmental responsibility actions taken by officers of the Garda throughout the country. I think that is the responsibility of the Government. While these men may be paid by the Department of Justice, their declarations in court are matters that come [2699] under the Attorney-General in certain respects and, in substantial way, entirely under the control of the Government generally.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Under the control of the Department of Justice.

Captain Cowan:  The Attorney-General is not subject to the Minister for Justice.

An Ceann Comhairle:  His Vote is dealt with by the Minister for Finance.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Then it cannot be discussed here under this Estimate.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is for me to decide.

Captain Cowan:  I would not attempt to raise this matter if I did not think it came within the subjects that can be discussed.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am not doubting the Deputy's integrity of purpose at all, but a matter which is not proper to the Estimate before the House should not be raised.

Captain Cowan:  I will not raise anything which I think improper. The matter to which I am attempting to refer is the statements made by officers of the Garda in different parts of the country in relation to applications for consideration before the courts. In certain parts of the West of Ireland——

An Ceann Comhairle:  Surely that cannot be raised to the level of policy in relation to the Government. Surely the Government is not responsible for control of that kind.

Captain Cowan:  I submit that it is. I hold the Government responsible.

An Ceann Comhairle:  It is a matter of departmental policy and it comes under the control of the Minister for Justice.

Captain Cowan:  No, Sir. The Minister for Justice has no authority to direct a superintendent of the Guards as to what he will say in a court prosecution; he is completely and entirely free from the Minister.

[2700]An Ceann Comhairle:  But neither has the Government. The Government has no authority to direct an officer of the Garda Síochána as to what he will say.

Captain Cowan:  The Government has authority for what I hope to establish to the satisfaction of the House, and that is improper conduct on the part of these officers.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I will not allow the conduct of the Garda Síochána in respect of court proceedings to be discussed on this Estimate. That can be raised on the Estimate for the Department of Justice.

Captain Cowan:  That Estimate is not before the House.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Then the Deputy will either have to wait or put down a substantive motion, if he thinks the matter is so important.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  The Deputy will have it for the next Estimate.

Captain Cowan:  I regret the Chair sees fit to rule out something of importance after listening, as you must have done, to all the tripe and irrelevancies during the last few weeks.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  That is a reflection on the Chair. You should call on him to withdraw that.

An Ceann Comhairle:  It is not pinned down to any particular person. The Deputy is quite entitled to say that.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  It is a reflection on the Chair.

An Ceann Comhairle:  No, it is not. Deputy Cowan on the Estimate.

Captain Cowan:  I agree that you cannot have any responsibility for what Deputies say but I do think it is regrettable that a Deputy who is trying to raise a serious matter on this Estimate is debarred from raising it before he gets mentioning the thing at all.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Chair is concerned with relevancy and not importance.

[2701]Captain Cowan:  I understood that on the Taoiseach's Vote, particularly when there was a reference back, one could discuss almost anything. I do not know whether there is a debate on the Adjournment of the Dáil or not. I understand that the Adjournment debate is, in fact, taking place at the moment and that the Dáil intends to rise to-night or to-morrow.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am ruling out the matter and am not proceeding to discuss it any further. The conduct of officers of the Garda Síochána in respect of court proceedings in this State should be raised on the Vote for the Department of Justice, not on this Vote.

Captain Cowan:  The Vote for the Department of Justice was taken before the matters which I want to raise occurred.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That does not make it relevant.

Captain Cowan:  If the Chair rules that it is irrelevant to mention the matters that I want to raise in that way then I will have to try to think out another way of raising them. I was discussing the general standard of education. I do think that if we had a proper conception of responsibilities the matters that I have been trying to raise and have been prevented from raising would not arise at all. Every citizen is entitled to live under the law of the land as laid down in this Dáil. I do not think that can be contested or that I would be out of order in saying it. Where a citizen is denied or deprived of rights to which he thinks he is entitled under the law, I would submit, with respect, that it is a fit subject to be discussed on the Taoiseach's Estimate. There are many people in areas of the West of Ireland who are being denied their rights as citizens and deprived of their freedom and liberty by actions that have occurred within the past six or eight months. Those actions took place within the District Courts. I indicated at another stage that I would avail of this opportunity to draw attention to the fact that citizens were being denied their rights and their liberties and [2702] their freedoms by things that are occurring and by objections that are made by ministerial officers who wear the uniform of Garda officers in these courts.

I say that it is the duty of the Government and the duty of the Taoiseach to see that citizens are not deprived of their rights and fundamental freedoms by objections that may be taken to those fundamental freedoms by officers of the Garda in courts through the country.

I know it is not the Minister for Justice who directs the Garda officers as to the line they will take. I do not know whether it is the Attorney-General who directs them or whether those Garda officers take it on themselves to take the steps that they have taken. I do not know. The citizen is entitled to have some member of the Dáil raise his voice in protest against what has been done.

In this country we have a Garda force; we have crime and criminals; we have public-houses, hotels, places of resort, dance halls. Nobody has ever said that it is the function or the responsibility of the Garda as a force to protect every citizen who may be assaulted, to be beside a citizen who may have the intentions of assault. It is not their function to be always in a public-house during opening hours and it is certainly not their function to attend dances in high-class hotels and I never see them attending such dances.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  To whom are you referring?

Captain Cowan:  On the grounds that they are unable to supervise particular places, members of the Garda seek to prevent the public congregating in those places except at particular hours.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is discussing a matter peculiar to the Department of Justice, under the control of the Department of Justice. I have said that before. The Deputy is endeavouring to get around the ruling of the Chair.

Captain Cowan:  Yes, Sir.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I will have to [2703] ask the Deputy to resume his seat if he persists in that action.

Captain Cowan:  I think the Chair will realise that if the Chair were to ask me to resume my seat it would be doing a very grave injustice, not only to me, but to many thousands of people whose voices, ideas and opinions I try to represent here.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is endeavouring to discuss a matter which is not relevant to this Vote. I have told him that it is not relevant.

Captain Cowan:  I think, with respect, that if I can get around the Ceann Comhairle's ruling, I am entitled to do it.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is not going to get around the Chair's ruling. The Deputy will not discuss that matter further.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  That is plain talk enough.

Captain Cowan:  It is. It is democracy.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy will not discuss that matter further.

Captain Cowan:  I want to say to the Chair, as a matter of right, that if a Chair rules on a particular matter, a Deputy is entitled if he can get around the ruling lawfully, to do so.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is not going to get around the ruling of the Chair by discussing that matter.

Captain Cowan:  Whether I can get around the ruling or not, I am not allowed to discuss it?

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Chair will not discuss this matter further with Deputy Cowan. The Chair is ruling quite definitely now that the Deputy is not to discuss the matter further.

Captain Cowan:  I will not discuss the matter further, but I am entitled to say to the Chair that the Chair has no right to act in an authoritarian fashion in that connection.

[2704]An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy has his remedy.

Captain Cowan:  I know I have my remedy. I am saying that.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy has his remedy.

Captain Cowan:  Yes; but I want to say, and I am entitled to say, and it has been said by Deputies in other Parliaments, that I object to the ruling of the Chair and that I resent it.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is all right.

Captain Cowan:  The Chair cannot stop me saying that.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am not trying to.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  I know if I said it you would put me out.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy will withdraw that remark.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  I withdraw it, Sir.

Captain Cowan:  As you say, Sir, there are other methods, I will have to examine them. What are the rights of a citizen of this country? If he thinks his rights are infringed, where can he raise it? Can he raise it in the Parliament of his country? Is he to be debarred from raising it in the Parliament of his country? What right has anyone to debar him from raising a matter of fundamental right and liberty in the Parliament of his country? Even if I were transgressing in some small way the ruling of the Chair, I submit, with respect to the Chair, that the Chair might have been patient and might have listened to the argument I was going to advance. This country is a democratic country. The Rules of Order that control Parliament are very well and clearly laid down.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am not going to listen to a dissertation on the rights of Parliament and the rules of Parliament. The Deputy will please address himself to the Estimate before the House.

[2705]Captain Cowan:  Very well. I have done my best. Other Deputies, like members of Parliament in other Parliaments, have tried to do the same from time to time. I know that it will certainly come as a surprise to our people that there are matters one cannot raise in Parliament. I think this is a serious matter. However, I am not going to discuss it now. The Chair has ruled that I am not to mention this matter any further, and that even if I could get around the ruling of the Chair in a lawful fashion, I would not be permitted to do so.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I did not say so.

Captain Cowan:  I understood that the Chair said that in no circumstances would I be permitted to raise this matter.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I said that the matter is irrelevant to the present Estimate and, therefore, the Deputy cannot raise it on this Estimate.

Captain Cowan:  I am sorry to delay the time of the House. I had intended to make a number of other short observations, observations of importance—at least I consider them of importance—and I do not propose to raise them this evening because while I was concerned in raising the matter with considerations of fundamental importance affecting freedom and liberty and the rights of citizens I have to consider it from another aspect —the rights of Dáil Deputies to represent their constituents. In these matters the Chair knows and understands that we are both bound by rules. The Chair is bound by rules and I am bound by rules but I think the Chair will agree with me that I am perfectly entitled to consider the matters that are now happening as of sufficient importance to warrant me considering them further. I regret, a Cheann Comhairle, that I was not built in the way that I could prepare a nonsensical speech at the beginning of a Dáil session, in fact at the beginning of the lifetime of a Dáil, and deliver it on every occasion afterwards.

[2706]Mr. O. Flanagan:  You are doing well.

Captain Cowan:  If I was of that mentality I certainly would have no trouble in speaking for an hour or a hour and a half on every subject that comes up and saying about those things the same things. I have drawn attention to what I consider a fundamental defect in this State—the fact that we have no State secondary education, and no State university education, the fact that we have no free secondary education and no free university education, and the fact that the standards of education in our primary schools are deplorably low. I sincerely hope that the Government and the Taoiseach will give consideration to these matters. I think that they are of much more importance than many of the matters which have been raised during the course of this debate.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Deputy Cowan, who has just concluded his remarks, seems to hold the opinion—probably he shares it with the Taoiseach—that no person can be right only himself.

Captain Cowan:  It is a very sound opinion.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  It may be a very sound opinion for Deputy Cowan or the Taoiseach, but it is an opinion that other members of the House cannot share, either with Deputy Cowan or the Taoiseach. When the Vote for the Department of the Taoiseach comes before the House annually for review one does not do as Deputy Cowan did. endeavour to pick one item of a particular Department and endeavour to have some matter pulled over. This is an occasion on which Government policy in general may be debated at some length, and when one asks oneself what is the policy of the present Government one finds great difficulty in finding a suitable reply. If we are going to debate the policy of the present Government over the past 12 months we are going to have very great difficulty, because they appear to be a Party that has no policy, that is seriously bankrupt of policy, that has no idea of policy and [2707] no intention of having a policy. Therefore, if we are to debate policy on this, we can only, so to speak, hold an inquest on what was a policy once. It is quite evident that there is no Government policy, because when the Taoiseach was introducing this Estimate he did not give us an idea of what Government policy was.

I want to take this opportunity, for the purpose of the records of the House, of expressing the sincere congratulations and the warm thanks of the people of the country to the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Costello, for the brilliant speech which he delivered on this Estimate, a speech which gave hope to the people of this country that they had found a ray of hope, that as far as the future was concerned, when the days of the present wild and crazy administration of Fianna Fáil had passed over, there was a policy for this country, and that with the support, again, and the very fine and splendid spirit of harmony and co-operation that prevailed amongst all Parties of the inter-Party Government, that spirit of co-operation and of goodwill and sincerity for the nation and for the people will prevail. It was from Deputy Costello's speech in this House that renewed confidence and a real spirit of hope prevailed amongst the people who read his speech or heard it over the radio.

Is it not true to say that during the few moments the Taoiseach spoke in introducing this Estimate he never once referred to Partition, that he never once referred to the cost of living, that he did not once refer to unemployment or to emigration, that he did not refer to the Government's housing proposals, that he did not refer for even one moment to the banking system or the control or issuance or creation or restriction of credit? They are items of policy, very important items, upon which Parliament would expect the Head of the State or the Leader of this House to make statements on the administration of the past 12 months and on what steps were being taken for improvement of that Government policy in the year or the years ahead. But, no. We had [2708] the Taoiseach's silence because he knew quite well that he was leading a Party that was now completely bankrupt of a policy.

The Leader of this House and the Taoiseach on this Estimate should be asked to bear in mind that the only way a Deputy has of securing information concerning a Department in order that that information may be passed on to the general public, the citizens of the country, is through the medium of a parliamentary question. I want to refer for the information of the Taoiseach to the manner in which various questions have been addressed by members of this House to different Ministers and to the fact that the replies to these questions invariably take the form that these Ministers had no functions whatever to deal with the many matters under the control of their Departments. If we are to be continuously told that every single Minister has no function in the administration of the funds voted for his Department, Parliament will be reduced to a farce. Is Parliament not an institution for the purpose both of airing grievances and soliciting information concerning the expenditure of public funds voted to the various Departments of which Ministers are in charge? I want to say that it has been more than evident in recent months that every Minister from the Taoiseach down, is shirking his responsibilities and casting his responsibility aside. In other words, the functions which this House vests in a Minister giving him ministerial rights in charge of the personnel, the administration and the control of his Department, are month after month being taken off Ministers' shoulders at their own desire and shifted over to the Civil Service. I want to object very strongly, and I want my objection to go on the records of this House, that that is a tendency which is resented by a great section of the people to-day. In my opinion it is very pitiable that having fought for the establishment of this Parliament, having through very tough times secured the establishment of a native Parliament, the very Ministers who fought for power and authority [2709] are the men who are now handing away the power and authority that they fought for.

If one addresses a question to the Minister for Local Government concerning any item of public expenditure under the various county councils, urban councils and town commissioners —concerning housing, for instance, which in my opinion is a national question and should be one of the principal items in national policy—the Minister will say that he has no functions, that it is a matter which is in the hands of the various county managers and city managers. As has been pointed out time and again, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs has handed over completely the whole running of Radio Éireann into hands other than his own. The question of appointments in various post offices has also been handed over and apparently is no longer a function of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. All these important functions for which the Minister should have the courage to shoulder responsibility, are being handed over to the civil servants month after month. I think it is a disgrace, nothing short of a national disgrace, that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs should rise and inform this House, as he has done, that he has no responsibility whatever in regard to Radio Éireann. I think it is a wrong policy, a policy which the Taoiseach should closely examine and see to it that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs should have some say as to the manner in which moneys provided by this House are expended in Radio Éireann. He should have some say in appointments and in the question of the personnel of the staff of Radio Éireann.

I want for the third time this year to support the plea put forward by Deputy Everett in connection with the large number of foreigners that have been employed by Radio Éireann. That number seems to be increasing since the present Government took office. I think the present Government are not going to take any serious notice of the position and that it will be probably left as it is until there is a change of Government. However, the warning [2710] note has been sounded in that direction and I want to repeat what I have said on other occasions that, so far as I am concerned, any help or influence I can give Deputy Everett in ridding Radio Éireann of the foreigners that are there, he will gladly have it.

Take again the Department of Lands. If one addresses a question to the Minister for Lands his usual reply is that he has no function in regard to the division and acquisition of land, the acquisition of land for forestry or in the various problems connected with forestry. If one inquires what steps are being taken to extend afforestation, one will be referred to the director of forestry and told that the Minister has no functions in the matter. As I see the Minister for Defence in the House may I say that in many important matters connected with the Army and other branches of the Defence Forces the Minister usually states in reply to questions that he has no function, that he leaves these matters to the Army and Army personnel?

Minister for Defence (Mr. Traynor):  Quote an example.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  The occasion last week when I asked some questions in regard to the Air Corps.

Mr. Traynor:  What did the Minister say?

Mr. O. Flanagan:  You replied to the effect that it would not be in the public interest to give the information that I asked for, and that it was a matter for the personnel in charge of the Army Air Corps.

Mr. Traynor:  It certainly was not a matter in the public interest but it ended at that.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Let us come to the Minister for Justice. The Minister for Justice repeatedly states that in so far as the administration of the Garda Síochana is concerned, he has no say. Is it not very strange that when crime is increasing to a degree that it has never increased before in this country, we have the Minister for Justice telling [2711] the House that in so far as crime is on the increase, he has no function, that there is nothing useful he can do to curb the increase in crime? Is it not an alarming fact, too, that huge sums of money are voted to the Minister for Industry and Commerce for the administration of C.I.E., the National Stud, the Tourist Board, Aer Lingus, the Racing Board, Bord na Móna and many other important branches under his Department and that, if a Deputy addresses a question to the Minister concerning the manner in which this money is being expended, the nature of the expenditure or concerning the fact that unemployment is caused, for instance, by the action of Bord na Móna, such as happened recently, the Minister will immediately seek to relieve himself of any responsibility and say that he has no function, that the matter in question is one for Bord na Móna, the Racing Board, the National Stud or C.I.E. as the case may be?

We have reached the stage when Ministers are treating Parliament with contempt. If Deputies or people of the country desire information on various aspects of public administration, the only way in which they can secure that information is through Ministers. I think that the Taoiseach, therefore, should give serious consideration to the whole question of the manner in which information may be obtained by Deputies from Ministers, and see that the Ministers should have responsibility for the spending of money voted by the House in connection with the various Estimates which they present here. If you put a question to the Minister for Agriculture in connection with the price of milk, he will say that he has no function in the matter. If you ask a question, as I did yesterday, in connection with the growing of tobacco, he will say he has no function in the matter. The manner in which Ministers are relieving themselves of the powers which this House gave them is something worthy of very serious consideration by the House. I want to protest against the manner in which Ministers are relieving themselves of that right which the House gave them.

The people of the country expected [2712] a long, detailed and extensive statement from the Taoiseach on Government policy, but they did not get that statement. I hope that when the Taoiseach is replying he will give even some hint of the revival of a policy by the present Government. I want to ask the Taoiseach if he has completely forgotten about the question of Partition. When the inter-Party Government were in office, as a result of the activities and of the energies of the then Taoiseach and the then Minister for External Affairs, the world was given a very clear idea of the injustice of Partition imposed by the British on this country. While Deputy Costello and Deputy MacBride at that time were making known the injustice of Partition, the Taoiseach was very busy in every part of the world speaking about the injustice of Partition, what his policy was on Partition, and what he always thought of Partition. Is it not extraordinary that when he is out of office he loves speaking about Partition, but when he is in office he never mentions Partition? What sort of a policy is that on Partition? Is it only a means, when he is out of office, of attracting a certain element of the electorate so as to be able to say: “I am the greatest republican of all; I stand for a Thirty-Two County Republic,” and the minute he gets in he has a good time administering the affairs of the Twenty-Six Counties and is not concerned with the other six?

Is it not quite true to say—there is no Deputy can deny it—that the present Government are in office for what they can get out of it for themselves and their friends and supporters, not for love of the country?

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy should not make such a statement as that.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  It is quite true. If you compare the present Government with the inter-Party Government——

Mr. Traynor:  Does that also apply to you?

Mr. O. Flanagan:  What?

[2713]Mr. Traynor:  What you are talking about?

Mr. O. Flanagan:  It applies to the Government.

Mr. Traynor:  You are here for what you are getting out of it.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Not at all. I have not reached the stage that I can get anything out of it. I have not been as successful as the Minister for Defence or the Taoiseach.

Mr. Traynor:  You had a good try, anyway.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy should come back to the Estimate.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  I have not reached that stage. In connection with the Government's policy on Partition, it is quite true to say that they are completely satisfied with the Twenty-Six Counties as they are, and that it is not their intention to make any move whatever. It is not their intention to seek the support of the United States in having a solution arrived at, or even to bring about a talk for the purpose of having the question of the injustice that has been done to the elected representative of the people of Tyrone considered. As far as the Partition of this country is concerned, the present Government seem well pleased; they make no protests.

Within the last 12 months, the Taoiseach enjoyed the jingling of the toast glasses with the British Prime Minister. Was there not an extraordinary change of policy there, considering that the Taoiseach once said that the Cumann na nGaedheal Government were specialists in tall hats and swallow-tail coats and in dining with British Premiers and at Buckingham Palace? At that time one would believe that the idea of being within 100 miles of Buckingham Palace or No. 10 Downing Street would be sufficient to make the Taoiseach fly into the air. Now it is just another change. He now takes the greatest pleasure and delight in what he bitterly condemned and criticised the Cumann na nGaedheal Government for.

[2714] Despite the fact that we have had meetings between the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach we never have had any statement issued from these meetings. Would it not have been encouraging to know that during that pleasant function the question of Partition was mentioned? If the question of Partition was not mentioned, then the Taoiseach has failed in his duty as an Irishman, because he had a golden opportunity of registering his protest on behalf of this Parliament and the Irish people and in accordance with the wishes of the vast majority of the people in the Six Counties. Perhaps the Taoiseach remained as silent at that pleasant function with Mr. Churchill as he did in this House when he was introducing his Estimate.

We would be all very pleased to hear whether on any occasion there has been any request from the Irish Government for the support and co-operation of the United States on this question. If it were not for the statements made by Deputy Finan and Senator Crosbie at the Council of Europe, there would not have been a word spoken about the injustice of Partition by our representatives there. On this important Estimate, one would have expected the Taoiseach would have referred to the statement made by Deputy Cowan at Strasbourg, but there was not a word with regard to that either. One would be inclined to ask is the Taoiseach the Head of the Government at all, or are the Government completely running amok on their own?

Last night Deputy Giles said that the Taoiseach was getting old, that he was getting on in years. I do not think so. I think he is like Santa Claus, that he is the same every year. My opinion is that he is more like Santa Claus now, when there are by-elections pending, because he is going to give out free gifts in relief of taxation, relief in regard to the interest on Small Dwellings Act loans. We are to have some more bog development schemes, rural improvement schemes and minor employment schemes. But there is always a motive behind the little gifts and there are two by-elections pending. It has been stated in this House, and most of us believe it, that when the next Budget comes [2715] along we will have a considerable display of tax reliefs which will be followed by a general election. Deputy Cowan stated that he noted that during the course of this debate there were no appeals for a general election as in other years.

As far as the Opposition is concerned there is nothing it would like better than a general election. It is not that the Opposition would like it; the people of the country would like it. It is not that those on this side of the House are anxious to go to the far side of the House but rather because of the difference between Fine Gael policy and the present Government's policy. It is because the people have become so well educated in regard to the difference in policies—they have had experience of the inter-Party Government's policy—and because they have had sad, bitter and painful experience of the present Government's policy that they are eager for a general election. That is why every taxpayer, ratepayer and citizen is anxiously waiting for a general election—to put this crowd out root, branch and brambles for ever. That is what is on the lips of every taxpayer and ratepayer; that is why the Taoiseach himself is so much afraid, and that is why he is so cowardly in facing the people at a general election.

I remember the Taoiseach saying this: “The Government are asking the people to return them in a strong position as they cannot carry on unless they are strong.” The Taoiseach made that statement in Donegal in January, 1948. He then went on to say, as reported on 30th January, 1948: “It is of tremendous importance to the country that we should have an over-all majority.” He later stated that, unless he had an over-all majority, he would not form any Government.

There are wise old heads in Fianna Fáil. We give them the credit of thinking that they have some little political intelligence in their own interest, and it is in their own interest, in weighing up their political intelligence, that they will not go to the country. They have now reached a stage when they know that if they go [2716] to the country it is farewell for ever to office and to ministerial rank. It means that they are out of office for ever when they are defeated at the next general election.

Despite the fact that we have had this extraordinary silence on Partition, I want to say that the vast majority of our citizens in the Twenty-Six Counties are thoroughly disgusted at the silence of the head of the Government on the arrest of Mr. Kelly in Belfast. Numerous questions have been put down, some by Deputy O'Donnell, some by myself, some by Deputy MacBride, with the very clear reference which was made to it by Deputy Costello in the course of his speech. What serious objection can the Taoiseach have to registering a public protest on behalf of the people here? Would such a protest not have been very useful publicity in connection with our campaign against Partition? Why did the Taoiseach not make a serious protest, if not direct to the Six-County Government, then to the British Government? Why did he not make a public appeal by protesting and asking other nations, which are lovers of freedom, democracy, peace and goodwill, to give their sympathy and support to this small, little nation that is divided unfairly and unjustly in two by the great hand and the high power of Britain?

Of course, it is very evident, as has been said time and again, that the Taoiseach will not make such a protest or such a statement, and will not publicly condemn the activities of those in the North who are responsible for the imprisonment of Mr. Kelly. He will raise no protest against Partition because if he does the invitation cards with the crown and the unicorn will not come to Government Buildings and there will be no more feasts, no more dinners and no more banquets for the Taoiseach at 10 Downing Street. That is the conclusion which the ordinary man down the country has reached, and that is the reason why no serious protest is being made by the Taoiseach in this connection.

Bad and all as the partition and the division of our country is, our people [2717] in the South have an even more pressing, serious problem to tackle, and the Taoiseach has remained as silent on it as he has on Partition—that is the question of immediate relief for our huge and vast army of unemployed. I should not be surprised to hear the Taoiseach say, in the course of his reply, that there are no unemployed in the country. It would be like him to give a statement to the effect that the number of unemployed we have to-day is not astounding or astonishing, nothing to talk about or worry about. The unemployment position in the country was never as serious as it is to-day. It is no consolation for a hungry man, going home to face a hungry family, to hear the Taoiseach say that there is no unemployment to-day. There is an unemployment problem, the greatest that this country has ever had, and the Government and the Taoiseach are silent on it.

During the past 12 months, the result of Government policy has been to add further to the unemployment figures. In that connection, I want to say that we definitely cannot regard the furnished figures as giving details of the unemployed, because there are vast numbers in rural Ireland particularly who are unemployed but who are not registered. I believe that we have a greater number of unregistered unemployed than one could imagine.

Deputy Cowan spoke of the low standard of education of our people. He wants a higher and a better one for them. He says that the standard of education for our people is unworthy of the fine traditions and culture of the Irish nation, and of its background. Is there any use in having well-educated youth who may have the Fáinne and be fluent Irish speakers or who may posses degrees of various kinds, be well qualified and properly educated, when there is nothing here for them? There is no work here for educated youth. Surely, when there is no work for those who work with the pick, the shovel and spade, there cannot be work for educated persons with degrees. The British hospitals are full of Irish nurses and Irish doctors. Every British local authority has an Irish engineer. What use is the Irish language in cases of that kind? What [2718] is the use of a good Irish background or a love for Ireland when people who are not able to eke out a miserable existence in their own country have to emigrate either to the land beyond the Irish sea or to the greater Ireland across the Atlantic? The figures relating to emigration to Canada, Australia and America are showing a vast increase again.

Similarly there is a future for the Irish in Canada, for the Irish in Australia, for the Irish in England; there is a future in every part of the world for the Irish except at home in their own country.

In a recent letter addressed to me by a Mr. Nash, who is leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives in Wellington, New Zealand—I think he had the pleasure of meeting Deputy Norton once or twice—Mr. Nash referred to the number of Irish people who were settling in his constituency in Lower Hut, New Zealand. He said he was amazed at the number of Irish who had settled in New Zealand in recent years. The Taoiseach will probably get up and tell us that the Irish are rovers, that they like moving, that they would be unsettled in their own country. If a man is hungry and has hungry dependents he will rove a long way rather than let them die of hunger. No Irishman wants to rove. An Irishman wants to live in his own country, to marry and bring up his family in accordance with Christian decency, a right which Fianna Fáil have denied to thousands. It is a right from Almighty God, but it is the policy of Fianna Fáil which prevents people from remaining at home and settling down in their own country. Sooner or later if Fianna Fáil are allowed to remain in office, you will see in this country the very young and the very old, and there will only be heard the crying of the babies and the chiming of the dead bell for the old, for there will be no middle-aged, because they will be driven out.

With regard to emigration, the Taoiseach can tell us that there are not many emigrating. There are no statistics kept of emigration, and statistics [2719] were kept up to a few years ago, but, very wisely, the Government decided that no longer would statistics of emigration be kept because they knew that such statistics would be used against themselves. I am sure that if the Director of Statistics—one of the very ablest officers there is in Europe to-day at that job—was detailed by the Government to introduce a method of keeping proper statistics of emigrants, he would do so in 24 hours. He would devise a useful and helpful scheme of keeping those statistics at very little cost to the Exchequer. But no, they will not keep figures of emigrants or statistics of emigration. I want to say that the whole policy of the Government in connection with emigration is deplorable. They have failed utterly, drastically and disgracefully, and when they know that they have failed, why, and for what reason are they clinging on to office? Is it to keep out others who have a solution, who had a solution, and whose solution was successful?

The Taoiseach goes on to say that there was also emigration when the inter-Party Government was in office. Is it not a fact that one of the Taoiseach's own Deputies broadcast on a particular Sunday night during the inter-Party Government's term of office when a special programme was arranged at 11.10 p.m. to call home the emigrants from Great Britain? Deputies may recall that it was the first time since the establishment of the State, and the first time in the living memory of Ireland's oldest citizens, that an Irish Government called home the exiles, and had a slogan: “Come home, Ireland is building.” There was a hospital drive, a housing drive, road construction, building of bridges, extensive and expensive drainage schemes, and for the first time Irish tradesmen— bricklayers, carpenters, painters, plumbers and glaziers—were called home to Ireland, asked to down tools in England, pack their bags, get into the mail boat and arrive in Dublin where there was a guarantee of employment for them. Facilities were arranged by the Minister for Social Welfare that Irish people who were interested in returning home to work had only to [2720] register at the local exchange in Great Britain and there they would get details of the various schemes of great national development undertaken by the inter-Party Government.

We saw to it that the greatest effort of the inter-Party Government in dealing with the problem of emigration was to call home the emigrants, give them work; and not alone give them work but also a guarantee of years of employment ahead. One of the Taoiseach's Deputies at present, Deputy Dr. Browne, broadcast following the broadcast of the county manager for Galway, Mr. O'Flynn, who spoke to the exiles of Ireland in Great Britain calling them to come home and take part in the huge hospital building drive that was being undertaken by that Government. Deputy Dr. Browne himself as an inter-Party Minister joined in that appeal.

Mr. Traynor:  And when all these people were coming home, how can you explain the seventy odd thousand that went out?

Mr. O. Flanagan:  We believe that the Irish workers at that time immediately responded to the call and came home and many of them settled down in homes here. Many of them drew a free breath because they were at last back again in Ireland on their native soil and because for the first time in their memory an Irish Government had concentrated all its energy in giving them a future in the land of their birth.

Next, we saw that by means of a trick, the inter-Party Government were relieved of office. Some of those unfortunate emigrants who came home with a guarantee that we gave them of future employment, were obliged, on the return of Fianna Fáil, to pack their bags again and seek a livelihood once more in Great Britain, in America, New Zealand or Australia but certainly there was no sympathy from the Irish Government to encourage them to remain at home in their own country.

So much for emigration and unemployment. Is it not a fact that in no other country in the world to-day has the cost of living gone so high as in this country? Is it not a fact that the present Minister for Industry and Commerce [2721] is exercising no control whatever over prices of foodstuffs, clothing, footwear or over the prices of the very essentials of life. These prices have gone well beyond the paying reach of the ordinary working-class people. The cost of living was permitted to rise, and was raised deliberately, by mishandling and bad management, by bungling and juggling, by the insane and unsound ideas that came individually and collectively from the Ministers of the present Government. No country in the world has experienced such insanity as we have experienced with regard to the cost of living. It has gone completely out of reach of every section of the people.

The cost of living has gone up out of all proportion. It has put essential commodities outside the reach of the labouring man, outside the reach of the wage earner and the businessman and outside the reach of every section of the community. Whilst the cost of living has been allowed to soar higher and higher, we have a silent Minister for Industry and Commerce on price control and an equally silent Taoiseach. Every Minister tries to shift responsibility on to someone else. All of them say they have no responsibility for increased prices and they are not concerned with the increasing cost of living.

The Taoiseach's silence on the matter the other day was evidence enough that he is not interested in the cost of living. He is not concerned with the cost of living. Now we know that there is no policy planned ahead, no hope of a reduction of the cost of living. There is only one thing of which we can be sure, and that is that the cost of living will go even higher. One would imagine that the cost of living was unworthy of comment, that it was of so little importance that the Taoiseach would not waste his time or his energy in referring to it. The cost of living is of vital importance to our people. To-day, some of our people are on the verge of hunger and the threshold of starvation. All sections of the community have been affected by it. All sections are put to the pin of their collar to eke out a miserable existence. Every time the man in receipt of unemployment [2722] benefit, home assistance, outdoor relief, the old age pension, or the man in receipt of a low weekly wage goes out to buy some essential foodstuffs he finds that the price has increased. It now looks as if there is no machinery available or at the disposal of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in relation to price control.

The people are fed-up and the sooner the Taoiseach realises that the better. They are determined to throw the present Government out of office on the question of the cost of living alone. When one sees the extraordinary increase in the cost of living and the reduced standard of living generally, one is inclined to ask oneself if there is even one sane member of the Government. The cost of living is a matter for which the Government will answer at the next general election.

The Taoiseach has stated that there was no restriction of credit. The only person who believes that is the Taoiseach himself. There is an old saying that if you repeat a thing often enough, irrespective of whether or not it is true, you will eventually convince yourself that it is a fact; that is exactly what the Taoiseach has done. He has stated so often that there has been no restriction of credit that he has convinced himself that that is the fact. Everybody else knows that there has been a very serious restriction of credit. Time and time again appeals have been made to the farming community to increase production but the farmers cannot increase production because of lack of capital for the purchase of live stock, the purchase of machinery and the carrying out of improvements which would result in a greater yield. The restriction of credit has been a serious handicap to production, to industry and to employment.

I heard a reply given yesterday in connection with the importation of salmon. I was amazed at the quantity of salmon which had been imported here. If our fisheries were properly administered we should at least be able to cater for our own needs. I protest against the importation of fish from abroad when we have fisheries that could be developed. We have some of the finest fishermen in the world and some of the finest fishing [2723] grounds at our disposal. I cannot understand why we should have to import fish.

Finally, I want to condemn the attitude of the present Government and particularly the attitude of the Taoiseach in regard to trading with Russia and her satellite States. I condemn the close friendship that exists between this Government and Russia. All we have heard is that the Government is prepared to trade with Russia and the satellite States provided they can get the goods cheaply. I protest against any trade with Russia or the satellite States. At one moment we have the hypocrites beating their breasts because of the persecution of the Church by Russia and the other countries behind the Iron Curtain while simultaneously those same hypocrites are leaving nothing undone to develop trade and friendly relations with these countries. I think the wisest policy would be to break off all trading relations with these countries as a protest against the persecution of the Church.

I hope the Taoiseach will not be silent on these issues when he comes to reply. The people are waiting for him to break his silence in an appeal to the President to dissolve this Dáil. When the time comes the people will show in no uncertain fashion what they think of his silence on these matters of vital importance to the community. By the time the people are finished with Fianna Fáil after the next general election there will be a very small Party of very small men with very little talk.

Mr. Norton:  It has been customary on the Vote for the Taoiseach for the head of the Government to give the House a review of the Government's over-all policy. If the Taoiseach examines the Official Report of the discussion on his Estimate last year I think he will find that he accepted that as the natural rôle of the Taoiseach when introducing the Estimate for his Department. He then suggested that a discussion on the Taoiseach's Estimate should provide an opportunity for a wide and broad review of the Government's activities during the [2724] year and afford the House an opportunity of expressing its views on the Government's activities or inactivities in various fields of national endeavour. This year, for some reason which he did not explain, the Taoiseach introduced his Estimate in a rather brief and casual way, as if his Department were an institution of no importance whatever, and as if his functions as Taoiseach did not impose on him an obligation to review Government policy during the last 12 months.

It is because of the attitude which the Taoiseach has adopted in that respect and because we have had no opportunity of hearing from the Taoiseach what the Government's policy was or what its proposed activities were likely to be that it has been found necessary for the House to test the Government's policy and to refer to the Government's policy over the past year.

In the course of my remarks on this Estimate I want to test the Government's policy against broad national issues which affect the lives of the ordinary people. I want to test the Government's policy against the unemployment problem, against the high price level which exists to-day, against the sagging in our house building programme, against the continued and greatly increased emigration and against the stagnant agricultural position into which the nation has drifted and continues to repose.

The Government cannot deny that when it took office employment was increasing. The figures issued by the Central Statistics Office show that during the three and a quarter years that the inter-Party Government was in office it put 37,000 additional people into employment. The figures issued by the Central Statistics Office show that when the inter-Party Government was in office unemployment was falling at a greater rate than ever before. As everybody knows the cost of living when the inter-Party Government was in office was much lower than it is to-day. The Government have taken steps to prevent the people continuing to enjoy the price levels which operated for the entire period of the inter-Party Government. Industrial production [2725] was then rising, as the Central Statistics Office figures prove. House building was increasing rapidly and was then providing employment for a greater number of persons than are finding employment in house building to-day.

Let us contrast that situation, which can be tested against the official figures, with the situation as we see it to-day. To-day there is serious unemployment throughout the country, which is not being arrested even by the last minute decision of the Government to make grants available here and there to stop the large holes of unemployment in the social fabric of the State. Since the inter-Party Government left office there have been demonstrations of hungry men in the city of Dublin, sitting on the side walks to call attention to the fact that they could not get employment. That is something we have not seen in the country for many years. Let it be said—it is one of the ways, and a very effective way, of bringing home to the Government the responsibility they have for dealing with the unemployment situation and of bringing home to the community the necessity to develop a social awareness of the less fortunate sections of our people.

In my constituency and I suppose in every other constituency there are people unemployed to-day who were in good and regular employment when the inter-Party Government was in office. They knew that on Monday morning they would go to work and were sure of a week's wages on Friday or Saturday. To-day, instead of going to useful and productive work, they are making the miserable pilgrimage to the labour exchange for the pittance on which they must try to keep themselves and their families at the present high cost of living.

He would be a brave Deputy who to-day could find employment for the unemployed people in his constituency or who could direct them to employment. Is there any Deputy from the City of Dublin or the City of Cork who knows where he could place an unemployed man in employment to-morrow if he were asked to do so? Every Deputy knows that it is harder to-day [2726] to get a job in Ireland than it has been for the past ten years and harder still to keep the jobs that are available.

Is it any wonder that that is the situation? When we were in office we introduced a Local Authorities (Works) Act, the purpose of which was to drain flooded lands, to deepen and widen streams and generally put into profitable cultivation land which had been destroyed by floods. In the year 1950-51 we made available £1,750,000 for that very valuable work. In 1951-52 we made available £1,250,000 for the same kind of work. In 1952-53, when this Government came into office, the amount allocated was reduced to £650,000. In the current year, 1953-54, the figure has been reduced to £400,000. When we were in office, in March, 1950, almost 14,000 men secured employment on schemes of work under the Local Authorities (Works) Act. In 1952-53, last year, the maximum number that got employment under Fianna Fáil's schemes of allocation of grants was 1,840. Is it any wonder then that there is this cancer of unemployment in rural areas, typified by a question asked to-day by Deputy Sweetman?

Deputy Sweetman and I called attention to the fact that the little town of Kilcock was being flooded by waters from the choked-up Rye river which flows through the town. There are many unemployed persons in the vicinity of Kilcock. The town and the surrounding lands are suffering from flooding. The Taoiseach says that there is money available for all credit-worthy schemes. Because of the mechanism now operated by this Government, the land remains flooded, the men remain idle, the money supposed to be available for worth-while works remains unused. That is the kind of intelligent organisation you get to-day.

The serious curtailment of grants under the Local Authorities (Works) Act has been responsible in very large measure for the growth of unemployment, particularly in rural areas. I challenge contradiction of the statement that money spent on Local Authorities (Works) Act schemes, bringing land into cultivation, helping the farmer to get more and more production [2727] is a thousand times better from a national point of view than taking off corners or widening roads on main thoroughfares.

Works carried out under the Local Authorities (Works) Act is valuable work of national reclamation, work which, properly executed, will pay dividends in time. It is a crime that at a time when there are 67,000 people unemployed, thousands upon thousands of them in rural areas, the expenditure of money under the Local Authorities (Works) Act should be cut down.

Let us examine for a few moments the figures in respect of unemployment. According to the Central Statistics Office, the number of persons unemployed on 15th December was 67,500. On the same date in 1950, the number of persons unemployed was 57,300, so that the number of unemployed has gone up by no less than 10,000, notwithstanding the fact that since 1950 our emigration has increased and the Army has absorbed additional people. This figure seems to me all the more striking when you refer to an answer given by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in this House on 21st October. He was then asked by a Fianna Fáil Deputy if he would state the number of new industries established since 13th June, 1951, and the Minister made this striking reply, that since that date 187 new industries had been established. Is one awkward in asking here what those 187 new industries are manufacturing? Is it unemployment, because our number of unemployed has increased by more than 10,000 since December, 1950, although we are told by the Minister that since June, 1951, 187 new industries have been established? I thought that this year I would hear from the Taoiseach, in an introductory statement to this Estimate, that the Government had some plans for dealing with the unemployment problem, plans which the Taoiseach was so fond of quoting in his other and salad days. Last year, the Taoiseach told us, on his Estimate, that in fact the Government frankly had no plans for dealing with unemployment. These things had to take [2728] their course. There was nothing special that could be done about them, it was just too bad that people were unemployed.

The Taoiseach was not always of that opinion. We know that in 1932 and even later he and his Ministers had readymade plans for dealing with the problem of unemployment. While I have quoted these before I think it is well worth while, on the principle that dripping water will ultimately break the stone, quoting them again for the Taoiseach now in order that he may endeavour to recapture some of his enthusiasm for solving the unemployment problem which he radiated with such vehemence and vigour in other years. Here in this House when he was aspiring to take over the reins of government, the Taoiseach said—column 2362, Volume 40, Dáil report of 2nd December, 1931, 22 years ago this month:—

“I have time after time said that in my belief the solution of unemployment is easier to find in this country at the present moment than it is in any other country facing that problem.... If we make up our minds to apply a remedy we have the remedy.... It is a question of organisation and of a proper lead from the Government.”

There was a simple formula. It was a question of organisation and a proper lead from the Government. That was all that was necessary to solve the unemployment problem in 1931 in the Taoiseach's mind. Are we being unreasonable or peevish or impetuous if 22 years after that comment was made by the Taoiseach we say to him to-night: “What steps are the Government taking or do they propose to take now to apply the facile remedy that he saw with such naked clearness when he made that statement in this House this month 22 years ago?” Are we not entitled to have from the Taoiseach now either an admission that that was all cod and that he never meant it, or a confession from the Government that their policy was one which either they did not want to put into operation or have been unable or incapable of putting into operation? The Taoiseach cannot [2729] leave those great words to history and not explain afterwards why the promise made therein remains infulfilled.

I do not want to conceal from this House or from the Irish nation some other striking statements made by the Taoiseach on the question of unemployment, and I want to put them on record here for future generations to see the ease and simplicity with which unemployment can be met if this nation towards the end of this century ever becomes afflicted with the problem again. The Taoiseach, speaking in this House on 29th April, 1932—Dáil Reports, Volume 41, column 904—said:—

“I am quite willing to admit that one of the principal things we were elected to do was to try to deal with the unemployment problem. We are quite willing to do it and we stand or fall by our ability to do that work or not to do it.”

Twenty-one years ago the Taoiseach was willing to stand or fall by his ability to solve the unemployment problem. As we meet here to-night there are still 67,000 unemployed people registered in the labour exchanges of this country, notwithstanding the fact that according to our own census and the British census figures 500,000 of our people have left this country in the last 21 years as emigrants. The Taoiseach goes on in column 905:—

“I want to repeat what I said outside. I said that looking around the world and trying to understand what were the causes of unemployment in different countries, I came to the conclusion that there was less reason for unemployment in this country than in any country of which I know.”

The Taoiseach, in 1932, said that. Still, 67,000 of our people remain unemployed and our unemployed people, beggared by long-continued unemployment, stand in the main streets of the capital city appealing to the social consciences of our people to rescue them from the miserable plight in which they have been allowed to remain for over 21 years, notwithstanding the instantaneous [2730] remedy for unemployment which the Taoiseach acquired in his own mind in 1932. We got the Taoiseach again. He says at column 906, Volume 41:—

“Let us look around at the circumstances of this country. What do we see? We see a country capable of producing food for far more people than are in the country. We see resources of various kinds, all the resources necessary to provide for the material needs of the human beings in this country. We see the hands that could be put to those resources for the purpose of working them up and making them available for the material comforts of our people. We see that these resources which could be so readily utilised have not received any attention.”

All the resources were available then, but since then 500,000 have left our country because of the fact that notwithstanding these promises nobody ever provided them with the opportunity of operating on those neglected but abundant resources.

On that occasion, too, the Taoiseach got into a radical rôle, of course only for a few moments. Here is what he said about systems:—

“It may be that under the present system we cannot do the full work we would like to do but we are going to try. I am going to say this, that if I try within the system as it stands and fail, then I will try to go outside the system, and I will go to the country and ask them to support me to go outside the system.”

Brave words but the system survives and hundreds of thousands of Irish people still fill the emigrant ships and the employment exchanges of the country still yield up 60,000 or 70,000 unemployed. Has the Taoiseach gone outside the system? Has the Taoiseach ever meant to go outside the system? Is the Taoiseach satisfied that a system which has given such appalling results and such evidence of national and economic frustration is a system that still commands admiration? Where does the Taoiseach now stand with his threatened fracture of the system [2731] which he thought was impeding him in 1932? This is a gem, too:—

“Our purpose as a Government is to see that these burdens rest heaviest on the shoulders of people who are best able to bear them.”

When you remember the simple way in which we gave £140,000 to the dance-hall proprietors last year and £1,100,000 to the tobacconists in order that they might be able to pay dividends of 30 per cent., talk of putting the burden on backs best able to bear them has an ironic ring against these actions by the Government.

The choicest gem of all is a speech by the present Tánaiste. He went down to the Red Bank Restaurant on the 23rd January, 1940. Not to be outdone by the brave words of the Taoiseach, he delivered himself on “systems.” He said then—I quote from the Irish Press of the 24th January 1940:—

“It was necessary to stress the urgency of the problems arising out of unemployment. If it persisted, their economic system could not survive. If unemployment persisted, it did not deserve to survive. There were obviously major defects in their methods of commercial organisation or their financial system, if they were unable to provide an adequate livelihood for every man willing to work. If within the limits of the present system they could not cope with unemployment, then the system must be changed.”

The Red Bank Restaurant, January, 1940! The Red Bank Restaurant still survives, so does the system, so does the unemployment problem which was going to bring about the destruction of the system that night in the Red Bank Restaurant when the present Tánaiste uttered these words.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach (Donnchadh Ó Briain):  May I interrupt the Deputy for a moment to announce to the House that an agreement has been arrived at between the Government Party Whip and the three Opposition Whips that the Taoiseach will be called upon to reply to the debate not later than 9.15 p.m.?

[2732]Mr. Costello:  And that he will finish the debate to-night?

General Mulcahy:  I take it that I shall have an opportunity of getting in.

Mr. Norton:  In that case, I shall not treat the House to any more of the gems. I shall reserve them for some other time, but I do hope that the Taoiseach will digest even the few I have quoted. I hope he will examine his conscience and that now, on the eve of Christmas, we shall have some declaration from the Taoiseach that he intends to do penance for having misled the nation by these statements. We had that declaration from the Tánaiste that the system would not survive if the problem of unemployment were not solved. We had the declaration from the Taoiseach that they would stand or fall by their ability to solve the unemployment problem. On that basis, the Taoiseach should be on his back for the last 21 years because he has failed to solve the problem of unemployment. The number of unemployed is now 10,000 more than it was in this month three years ago. Obviously, somebody is completely unencumbered by the inconsistency of their declarations when constrasted with their performances.

There is one great hope in this bleak scene and it is radiated by the Minister for Post and Telegraphs. This is a Minister who alternates between gloom and optimism. In 1951 he joined the orchestra of gloom. Everybody knows that he went around the country chanting despair, telling the nation that it was only a matter of time until the end came and that unless Fianna Fáil could get control of the reins of Government and pull the nation back on the right road, the country would be landed in bankruptcy. If Fianna Fáil could again get into office there was a chance he said that disaster could be averted. Since that he has left that orchestra and he has joined another one, the orchestra of optimism. At week-ends the Minister is sent down to Longford-Westmeath to prospect for prosperity down there and, judging by his statements, he has struck oil on a few occasions. Some of his speeches are [2733] worth quoting and worth contrasting against the realities of life in Ireland. Some months ago the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs went to Laragh, Wicklow and there he uttered these brave words:—

“About 10,000 men and women had found work since April 18th and the money came from the savings and production of the Irish people. It was not the slush money from unbalanced Budgets.”

Ten thousand people got work since April last! That was one statement. We get another and this is a real gem. It is amazing the prosperity that is found at annual dinners The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs went to the annual dinner of the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce according to the Irish Press of the 5th November this year when he said:—

“Unemployment recorded on October, 17th showed that there had been a dramatic recovery in the general position.”

What are the facts? At that time, according to the Central Statistics Office there were 53,500 people registered as unemployed. The figure now is 67,500. The figures have gone up from 53,500 to 67,500. That is the dramatic recovery and that is the dramatic discovery which the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs made at the annual dinner of the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce last month. I think the Taoiseach will almost pray that we have not more dramatic recoveries in this country, dramatic recoveries of the type which sent the number of unemployed up by 14,000 since the Minister uttered that statement.

We had another gem from the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and I hope the Taoiseach will elucidate this for me. I am not sufficiently informed to judge the situation myself. He claimed that the subsidy prevented the price of the loaf from rising. Has not the price of the 2 lb. loaf gone up by 3d. since last year?

The Taoiseach:  If there was not the present subsidy, what would it be?

Mr. Norton:  I know what it was before the Government came into [2734] office. You could buy a 2 lb. loaf for 6d. in 1951, and you now pay 9d.

The Taoiseach:  When we brought in the subsidies the Deputy went around the country denouncing us.

Mr. Norton:  Not for that purpose. I would not finish until 11.15 to-night if I travelled over that ground, if you want that cleared up, but I will do it on some other occasion. I am sorry I annoyed the Taoiseach, but perhaps he will clear it up.

The Taoiseach:  You did not annoy me at all, but I want facts.

Mr. Norton:  Then the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs added: “At little cost, prime foods have been made a little cheaper.” What prime food has been made a little cheaper? Does anybody know any food which has been made a little cheaper? If you let the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs out to a dinner, there is no knowing by how much he will reduce the number of unemployed or the price of prime food commodities. That brings me to the question of prices generally. Before the last election, we got a declaration of policy by Fianna Fáil in their 17-point programme which was produced to deceive some simpleminded people into thinking that the Government had a policy.

One of the 17 points in that programme was this:—

“Fianna Fáil declares that it is its policy to maintain the food subsidies and to control the prices of essential foodstuffs by the operation of an efficient system of price regulation for all necessary commodities.”

Fianna Fáil promised to maintain the food subsidies. But the food subsidies have been very substantially slashed and the Taoiseach knows the consequences. You now pay 4/2 a lb. for butter which, when the inter-Party Government was in office, you could buy for 2/8. You now pay 9d. for a 2 lb. loaf that you could get then for 6d. You now pay 5/- per lb. for tea which you could get then for 2/8. You now pay 7d. a lb. for sugar which was sold during our period of office at 4½d. [2735] You now pay 4/6 a stone for flour instead of the 2/8 at which you could get it when the inter-Party Government was in office. That does not take cognisance of the increased price of tobacco, cigarettes and the modest beverages which people consume. If you want to look at index numbers here they are. In February, 1948, the cost-of-living index figure was 99; in February, 1951, it was 103; in February, 1952, it was 114; in February, 1953, it was 123; it is now 125. All these substantial increases have been indelibly associated with the advent to power of the Fianna Fáil Party.

I should now like to refer to housing, in regard to which there appears to be a certain misunderstanding so far as members of the Government Party are concerned. I think everybody knows that there has been a considerable sag in the house building programme. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture was let out to a dinner the other night given by house builders with the brave job of telling the house builders that there was no sag in house building, that everything was grand. Although one can understand the normal courtesies and niceties at dinners given by builders, the builders on this occasion could not restrain themselves, because the person who presided at this master builders' dinner opened on a very gloomy note. He said that house building was in a very bad way, that there was a decided sag, that private house building was closing down, that in fact there were 400 carpenters idle in Dublin and that the number was only 400 because a substantial number of workers had been forced to go to Great Britain. That is a reasonable picture of house building activities in Dublin.

Anybody who travels outside this city and sees the sites on which private building was taking place will notice that, as compared with three years ago, there is complete inactivity on all these sites. If you ask builders what is the position in regard to orders for new houses or the possibility of selling existing houses, in every case you will be told that it is almost impossible [2736] to sell the houses which are on hands and that there are no orders coming in for new houses.

Here are the figures given in reply to a parliamentary question: In August, 1951, 11,400 men were employed on local authority housing schemes; in August 1953, the number had fallen to 7,300. That is on local authority building schemes alone. Yet we were told by the Minister for Local Government, again in reply to a parliamentary question on the 5th August last, that we still needed 42,800 houses. So that, although we need 42,800 houses, the number of people employed on building schemes has fallen. There were registered at the employment exchanges on 17th October last 1,500 skilled building operatives, not counting the unskilled labourers, although we are told by the Taoiseach that there is no restriction on credit and no cutting down on house building activities.

In reply to a parliamentary question in June last, to ascertain the number of persons employed on local authority building schemes, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach said that in the first quarter of 1950 approximately 13,000 were employed on local authority building schemes, and in the first quarter of 1953 that number had fallen to 7,300. Yet a Parliamentary Secretary is sent out to do the tough job of telling the builders, who know what has happened, that there, is no falling-off in house building. Of course, there is a substantial falling-off in house building, notwithstanding the fact that we are told by the Government that they have done nothing to bring about a fall in house building, that there has been no restriction of credit as far as the banks are concerned.

That brings me to the restriction of bank credit. I took the trouble to read the quarterly statistical bulletin of the Central Bank for October, 1953, and some of the figures are interesting. In regard to advances to builders and general contractors, I find that in July, 1952, the banks advanced to builders and general contractors £4.3 million; in 1953, that had fallen to £3.6 million. The Taoiseach, of [2737] course, will say that there is no restriction of credit.

The Taoiseach:  There is the question of demand.

Mr. Norton:  The Taoiseach is a miracle worker in the interpretation of mathematical problems.

The Taoiseach:  I am trying to interpret the figures.

Mr. Norton:  I will give you a few more figures. According to the same return, the net external assets of the banks in June, 1951, amounted to £107,000,000. In September, 1953, the net external assets of the banks had jumped to £124,000,000.

The Taoiseach:  What happened during the period in which the Deputy was a Minister?

Mr. Norton:  The Taoiseach's memory is at fault. He knows what happened in June, 1951. The net external assets of the banks were £107,000,000 in June, 1951, and in September, 1953, the net external assets of the banks were £124,000,000, although our rcent national loan failed to fill. Let us go further. The bank advances to persons other than the Government in July, 1952, were £122,500,000, and in July, 1953, £119,000,000, a fall of £3,500,000. Bank advances for mining and manufacture in June, 1952, were £20.1 million, and in July, 1953, £16.4 million. There was a fall in the advances under every head set out in the report. Then we come to this:—

“Total bank investments in the September, 1953, quarter within the State, £19.2 million; elsewhere £141,000,000.”

The banks continue to invest their money elsewhere and we continue to spray our human population elsewhere.

The human population follows the money and the national loans here do not fill. The Minister for Lands was sent to tell the bankers: “Look, lads, you will have to cough up more money in the future because it is not coming in in the ordinary way.” I agree with [2738] the Minister that the banks should be made cough up more money and should be made recognise their social obligations to the country and to the people, and further, that they should be prevented from getting 5 per cent. on fictitious money which they create with a pen and ink in a bank ledger.

Time does not permit me to discourse further on that to-night, but in so far as the Minister's speech was an interpretation of Government policy, I am thoroughly in sympathy with it. I hope it will not be like some of the declarations which the Taoiseach used to make at dinners in 1932 and be forgotten afterwards. I think this had more sincerity about it. I hope it will not be like some of the speeches which the Tánaiste used to make at the Red Bank Restaurant, or the speech in which the Taoiseach promised to cure unemployment 22 or 23 years ago.

Is it any wonder that we have emigration on such a large scale as we have it to-day? The Taoiseach, of course, will majestically say that: “We have no figures, and cannot judge what is happening, we do not know where the Irish are going or in what direction they are going, we do not know whether they are going for holidays or for work; the whole picture is confused and, therefore, do not ask any questions about it, because you cannot get an intelligent answer; think about something else.”

That is the general line of the Taoiseach bursting, of course, all the time to be able to come to the House to give all the figures which the House naturally wants on this matter. It does not require statistics to know what is happening. I wonder if the Taoiseach would ask Fianna Fáil cumainn in Clare how many boys and girls have left there in the past two and a half years.

The Taoiseach:  Unfortunately they have been leaving for more than the last couple of years. They left during the period of the inter-Party Government.

Mr. Norton:  The Taoiseach is not suffering from loss of memory. He has a very crafty memory and is a cunning politician. He was in office from 1932 to [2739] 1948. During that period, almost 500,000 people left this country. The latest British figures prove that there are more Irish born people living in Britain now than at any time in living memory. The Taoiseach was in office during all that period, and he can have all the credit he likes for these excursions of Irish people to Britain. The fact of the matter is that under a Fianna Fáil Government nearly 500,000 people took up residence in England, forced out of this country by economic conditions. The Irish went there, and our money went to Britain for investment there. Is it any wonder that there are people in this House, described of course by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs as crackpots, who say there is some association between the export of our money and the export of our human population? We have pursued the policy of investing our money abroad, a policy that is being pursued by the banks aided and abetted by our peculiar economy at home. Now we have set up in Foster Place a Central Bank which regards it as its function to issue an annual sermon at the nation's expense to carry on the policy of investing our assets in Britain—that that is an essential policy for the survival of this country, to keep sending our money to Britain, as the banks are doing, and to keep sending our human population there as well.

There were some other matters that I wanted to refer to, but time does not permit. I do, however, want to make some reference to the present position of agriculture. Everyone who has contacts with the realities of life in this country knows that, with the exception of turf production in a certain limited number of areas, agriculture is the only field of activity in which we can provide employment for our people in the rural areas. Agriculture is, and will remain, the main source of employment for our people. Anyone who looks at the position of agriculture today, and reflects on the position of that industry 30 years ago, cannot feel pleased with the work which has been done in the meantime.

The plain fact of the matter is, and this is a challenge to every Party [2740] within the State, that during the past 50 years agriculture has remained stagnant—perhaps producing a little more wheat one year compared with another at the expense of barely and oats, but the over-all acreage under cereals is about the same as it was in the opening years of the century. The over-all acreage of tilled land, if you exclude turf, is about the same as it was 50 years ago. In other words, the farmer in that industry to-day is trying to attain 1953 standards of living on a 1900 volume of production. So long as we permit a condition of that kind to continue, then we are going to have for all time a stagnant position in agriculture, with a flight from the land, accompanied by mass unemployment, under-employment and the casualisation of employment in the rural areas.

I am beginning to think that what we have to do is to review the lines both of our agricultural and industrial policies over the last 30 years. We have concentrated on developing our secondary industries. I am in favour of doing that so long as there is adequate supervision in the public interest and in the interests of the workers employed in these industries which are there as a result of a tariff or quota policy. I want to ensure that those who have got tariff assistance, rendered by the willingness of the community to pay higher prices for their products, will be compelled, in return, to produce the best possible article at a reasonable price, and that they must be geared up to produce the entire requirements of the home market.

I think we have neglected our agricultural position. If we had put into the development of agriculture all the energy that has gone into industrial production I think that the national economy could be, and would be wealthier and healthier than unfortunately it is. The Minister for Industry and Commerce talks from time to time about the possibility of industrial expansion. In so far as that expansion takes the form of having made in this country goods which are present imported, I think there is abundant scope for development there. I think that we ought to be manufacturing many commodities [2741] which we at present import. This Government has a pathetic faith in private enterprise and imagines that some well intentioned philanthropist will be satisfied some day to manufacture stuff completely untouched by the profit motive. Of course he will not do that, and so it may well be necessary for the State to set up State public utilities on the E.S.B. pattern, but smaller in size, in order to ensure the manufacture here of commodities which are at present being imported, many of them being made by Irish labour driven from this country.

The greatest folly of which we could be guilty is that of self-deception. I think that anyone who imagines that we can build up here an industrial economy which will enable us to export goods to Britain or to other parts of the world is living in a fool's paradise. While we should do everything in our power to develop our secondary industries for our own use and benefit and because of the employment potential contained in those industries, I do not believe that there is any great market for our exports abroad.

Many of these industries which exist to-day and which produce industrial goods can only do so against foreign competition, because we impose a 50 per cent. or 75 per cent. tariff against the foreign-manufactured article. How, in the name of heavens, can you imagine that these goods made here in this country with the protection of a 50-75 per cent. tariff could hope to compete in foreign countries with those industries with which the Irish industries are not able to compete on equal terms in this country? We have very few industrial commodities that can be exported but in agriculture we have a powerful agricultural export potential. In view of the present food situation throughout the world, the expanding population throughout the world, the demands of depressed people for a higher and better standard of life, I think there are almost unlimited possibilities before our agricultural industry in the matter of securing export markets in Britain and other European countries.

I would strongly urge the Government [2742] and, indeed, commend to every other Party in the House that the time has arrived when we ought to try to do on the agricultural side what for more than 30 years we have done on the industrial side. There are immense possibilities in our agriculture potential and by developing agriculture we can produce a vast volume of goods, easier to export, and which will pay for such commodities as we must import at the same time. By expanding agriculture we are providing substantial employment in the rural areas for many of our people who are either driven into the cities and towns to find work, or are compelled to take to the emigrant ship as relief from long-continued unemployment in their own land.

Those figures which I will now quote for the Taoiseach are of significance. Between June, 1952, and June, 1953, the number of people employed on the land decreased by approximately 22,000. In the period of 12 months the number of people employed on the land decreased by 22,000, the most significant drop in employment on the land for 25 years. I want to say to the Taoiseach how can you hope to expand agricultural production; how can you hope to take out of it the immense possibilities that arise within it if you have the condition of affairs represented by a falling off of 22,000 people employed on the land, every ounce of the produce of which we can find a market for at home or abroad?

What we have to recognise is that our agricultural industry is in a backward condition. Irrespective of our political labels in this House, it is essential if this nation is to survive and if we are to maintain our existing standard of living and hope to improve it, that something must be done to get from agriculture a greater volume of production than we are getting from it to-day. In my view, it is the chief source of additional wealth so necessary to improve living standards and carry the superstructure of social and welfare services which are in operation in this State, but we know that the desideratum in regard to agriculture will not be reached unless we are prepared to put into agriculture more [2743] energy and more effort in exploiting agriculture than we have done for the past 30 years.

We have land here which is the envy of many other countries in Europe; we have a climate which is the envy of every country in Europe; we have a first-class market next door; we have idle men and women in the country; we have assets at home and abroad; and the marriage of the possibilities of our land, the availability of markets, the availability of skilled labour and the abundance of money which could be utilised for the exploitation of agriculture would give us, probably, one of the healthiest agricultural economies in Europe, if we only had the courage and foresight to adopt methods other than those which we have relied on in the past.

Some of us may have read in this connection an examination of vocationalism in Great Britain, which shows that of all the people gainfully employed in Great Britain only 5 per cent. find a livelihood in agriculture; in the United States, 12½ per cent.; and in this country, the predominance of agriculture is exemplified in the fact that out of all our people gainfully employed, 45 per cent. find a livelihood in agriculture. Yet it is in that field that we employ less drive and less energy, and I feel if we devoted to agriculture half the energy and half the time—and it need not be on a subtraction basis—that we have given to industry, we might to-day have a much healthier position than we have at the moment.

It has been arranged that this debate shall finish at 9.15. I want to bring my remarks to a close and I want to say this in conclusion. I do not think anything we have seen during the past 12 months entitles us to feel in any way confident that the Government has any policy or has a policy that will commend itself to the people. Judged by the high prices that are operative to-day; by the growth of the unemployment problem; by the continued emigration; by the stagnation in industry; by all the economic and other indices that are available, [2744] this Government during the past 12 monthes has not produced anything which would occasion national congratulation or national consolation. The Government is just drifting; it has no policy that one can discern, except these make-believe policies which the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs picks up over week-ends in Longford or Westmeath. The Taoiseach has now reached the stage when you annoy him if you ask him for a statement of Government policy. Nowhere was that seen more clearly than when the Taoiseach stood up when he was introducing his Estimate some days ago and said that: “It was customary to discuss economic matters on this Estimate and you can discuss them if you like to do it, and that is all I can say”. It was an insult to the Deputies and to the House. The Taoiseach has now got tired of policies and all the fire and flame of youth which gave us the speeches that I quoted of 1932 have all evaporated and the Taoiseach now thinks that one insults him when one asks for a policy. You are supposed to take that as an article of faith. I refuse to do that and the nation refuses to do it.

General Mulcahy:  When a ministerial pronouncement is made in surroundings which Deputy Norton has so effectively described and when such a pronouncement is taken to the bosom of the Irish Press and put into big headlines, then we may take it that something has to be said. A conjunction of that particular type told us a couple of weeks ago that 1953 was the Government's greatest year. It is a rather astounding thing that in such a year, the Taoiseach comes in dumb to introduce his Estimate. He holds out a certain amount of promise of something, at any rate, in that he asks for one and three-quarter hours to reply to the debate here but those of us that are used to the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil Party's precedents here in this House and outside it, cannot but be struck with the astounding recurrence so faithfully reproduced of the Fianna Fáil tactics, the Fianna Fáil running true-to-type policy, here and in the country and the shocking and disastrous results to the people. [2745] We have all kinds of things promised, development policies of one kind or another. The greatest year that the Government ever had is just drawing to a close. What have we? We have the old tactic being pursued of stirring up division and animosity all over the country merely for the purpose of obscuring from the people what conditions really are, blinding the eyes of the people by prejudice and by anger so that the dangerous moment may pass while division and dissension prevent the people taking a grip on themselves and on their country.

Having heard the discussion that has taken place here, having heard the reactions to that discussion from the Government benches and knowing what conditions are in the country outside we may well re-echo—particularly when we hear Deputies like Deputy Vivion de Valera sneering at and defaming men like Griffith and Collins in relation to the Treaty—we may well re-echo Griffith's words: “Is Ireland never to get a chance?”

We have Senator Seán Hayes going down to Tipperary in this, the Government's greatest year, with the Government's greatest plans in front of him. To tell the people what? To tell the people not to mind half what they hear at home; that their fathers and mothers had not the opportunity of reading the Fianna Fáil version of Irish history, and that what they should be doing to-day is reading Irish history as expounded in the Sunday Press.

What is wrong with the Government's plans to-day that the people of Belturbet cannot be told about them by Deputy Vivion de Valera? Is there not something wrong with history, as it is written in the Irish Press, if that history tells the young people of Tipperary not to mind what their fathers and mothers are saying by the fireside, and not to mind the experience that they had in their own time both of politics and economics, they who are the fathers and mothers of the children in Tipperary to-day? Is there not something wrong with that history?

That is the technique of the whisperer and the defamer. We here are dealing with the practical aspects [2746] of life. That history may flower and bloom like the cockle in the field, but it will pass, and our advice to those who listen to that to-day is to let history be what it is; let the men and women of to-day do the work they have to do and let the Government's actions and the action of this Dáil have some effect on the people. While that technique is resurrecting itself at the cross-roads and on the platforms what is happening in finance, in employment and unemployment and in emigration is the same as that which happened in the past. I would like Deputies to realise that what is happening to-day in relation to increased taxation, decreased employment and emigration is a reproduction of the past, but it is a bigger reproduction of what happened under Fianna Fáil in the past.

To-day in relation to our taxes we have the position that during the three years from 1st April, 1948, to 31st March, 1951, the average tax revenue was £65,000,000 per year; that was for the three years of the inter-Party Government. From 1st April, 1951, to the 31st March, 1954, the average tax revenue is £81,500,000. It will be a little more than that actually but, nevertheless, on these figures the Government has been taking off the people in tax revenue £16,500,000 every year more than its predecessor took. It has been getting in non-tax revenue £12,000,000 for the three years as against £9.3 million during the inter-Party régime; in other words, it has £2.7 million more from such income as the Post Office, land annuiities and so on.

Now we come to the rates. The average annual payment in rates during the years of the inter-Party Government was £11.2 million per year. For the three years of the present Government up to the end of next March it is £14.2 million. In tax revenue this Government is getting annually £165,000,000; in non-tax revenue £2.7 million and the people are being charged £3,000,000 more for rates.

There is a slightly familiar ring about that, and it can be magnified to a very great extent. In the five years before Fianna Fáil originally came [2747] into office, by the time that five years had passed, in the year ended March, 1927, as compared with the year ended March, 1932, not only had taxation and rates together not increased but there was about £330,000 less taken out of the pockets of the people in the year ended March, 1932, than in the year ended 1927 before the Fianna Fáil Party came into office; by the time they had been in office for five years they were taking annually from the people, over that period of five years for every year when it was averaged out, £3,500,000 more in taxation, £2,000,000 more in non-tax revenue such as land annuities and so forth, and they had not yet dipped their hands so deeply into the ratepayers' pockets as they subsequently learned to do.

At that time derating was the Fianna Fáil policy and they only took about £29,000 more. There one had, immediately they came into office first, a raising of taxation by a very substantial amount. To-day taxation has increased enormously. On an average over the first five years they only raised it by £3.5 million. They raised it by £16.5 million in tax revenue alone over the last three years and the people who are suffering these impositions are the people who are paying more for their bread, more for their tea and more for their butter. What is the effect? We have been complaining about the employment position and we have been comparing the employment position brought about by the present Government with the position that obtained during the inter-Party régime in transportable industries. We have shown clearly that for every year the inter-Party Government was in office 1,000 additional people were put into full employment every month in the production of transportable goods. The position is now that by December, 1952, there has been a fall as compared with December, 1950, in the number of persons employed in the manufacture of transportable goods from 136,000 in December, 1950, to 128,000 in December, 1952. There has been an increase in March and June of this year but whereas, in December, 1950, there were 136,083 employed in transportable [2748] industries, there were in June, 1953, 136,608. There were less than 600 additional persons put into the manufacture of transportable goods between December, 1950, and June, 1953. They got back to the position of employment in transport able goods that they found when they came into office. The 1,000 additional persons going into employment every month were completely stopped as far as transportable goods were concerned.

It reminds me of their earlier period from 1926 to 1931. Based on the sale of national health insurance stamps, there was an average yearly increment of persons put into employment of 11,400. There is a rather remarkable similarity between the figures but the figures for the inter-Party time refer only to transportable goods. The Fianna Fáil Government took office in 1932. From 1932 to 1939, based on a letter from the Board of Works of February, 1940, certain overlapping was eliminated in the part-time employment in respect of which stamps were paid. The average yearly increase from 1932 to 1939 was only 8,594, although a very substantial number of additional people had been put into the building industry under the Government's building programme at that particular time and a very substantial number of people had been given employment on relief.

What happened with regard to taxation in Fianna Fáil's first year, what happened in regard to employment in Fianna Fáil's first year, is just what is being reproduced here, in terms of poverty affliction, distress in families and difficulty in rearing families and finding work.

There is one method that can be adopted in order to test the position of the country from a population point of view, that is, to look at the population figures in the Registrar General's returns. In the Registrar-General's return for estimated population every year from 1926 to 1939 there is a figure that shows that what is happening now under the policies that are being applied by the Government to the country happened then. The first Irish Government took over [2749] the conditions that existed here that were brought about by the war but, by the year 1930 they had stopped the fall of population and by the year 1931, the population, having reached the lowest level, went up by 4,000. The incoming Government got that position of rising population. They got a position in which that rising population could be secured and established, based upon what Deputy Norton speaks of, that is, a soundly established Irish agricultural industry. The doors of the Ottawa Conference were opened to the incoming Government and they were enabled to go there to argue, to fight and to get the advantage of the Imperial preferences that were arranged at that particular time and, on that basis, were put in a position to build up and get our population right.

They spurned those agreements and entered the economic war. By 1935 the rising curve was stopped and by 1936 the population was driven down again by the economic and political policies pursued by the Government.

We find ourselves to-day looking at exactly the same thing as happened then because of the spite and the aggression and the great supranationalism of Fianna Fáil. To-day they are concerned with getting people out of their way. They are concerned with going on platforms and, in the most malignant way, making such speeches as Deputy Kennedy, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Welfare, made on the eve of the poll in Ballinasloe. He got up on a platform there and, in the face of the fellow citizens of the Fine Gael candidate, charged one of the most respected, one of the stoutest and most upright characters in the whole of Galway with using the funds of an organisation formed in the name of a French saint to buy votes. He charged the President of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Ballinasloe with using St. Vincent de Paul Society funds to buy votes in Ballinasloe. That particular type of thing and other examples of it that could be mentioned are the weapons the Government are using to-day to hide the disastrous results of their policy.

[2750] We had the Government at that time explaining to the people whose income from the cattle trade with Great Britain they had destroyed, that the British market was gone forever. In 1934, store cattle of two or three years old were fetching £6 16s. 6d. and the Taoiseach was going from one part of the country to the other telling the people that to cry for the British market at that time was like crying for the moon. The same animal, in April-June, 1953, that in 1934 was fetching £6 16s. 6d., was fetching £47 8s. 9d. No wonder we are now hearing more about live stock and live stock products.

There is one thing that has to be said here in a Northern accent. We must allow the Taoiseach in at 9.30 and I crave to be allowed to let Deputy O'Donnell of Donegal say what might be another part of my speech.

The Taoiseach will have one and three-quarters of an hour to reply. I ask him, am I drawing an unfair analogy between what is happening now and what happened as far as our people were concerned in 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936 and 1937? Does he not realise that the policies he is pursuing now are having as disastrous an effect on our people as the policy that he pursued during the economic war had? He has taken policies that are purely British: the policy of restricting consumption in ordinary domestic consumer goods, the policy of restricting credit that was devised in Britain for the purpose of driving people out of normal peace-time employment into employment in the heavier industries, for war and other purposes.

The result is that the people who are thus driven by these policies out of normal employment here are derooted here and inevitably go to Britain to seek work that is available there. I ask him to read in the report of the chairman of the Arklow Pottery Factory published in to-day's papers the phrase there on emigration which says: “The fact is generally not realised that the main cause of our abnormal emigration is that the labour market in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland is one.” In the one market so far as financial relations and labour are concerned [2751] the Government deliberately and in the teeth of all the warnings and all the entreaties took the British policy of restrictions of consumption, restriction of imports and the making dear of credit, with the inevitable result that our people are driven over there. Other results flow in very many ways from that, and the Taoiseach cannot be deaf to the sound of distress and of entreaty that come from one end of the country to the other. I challenge him that his policy of to-day is the same as the economic war policy in so far as the effect on our people is concerned, and the tactics of to-day are as discreditable as the tactics of yesterday were, when here in this House he was charging Deputy Cosgrave with running away from the Black and Tan people and charging me with consulting and consorting with British Ministers for the purpose of overthrowing the Irish Government here in 1933 and 1934. I will leave it at that. I look forward to hearing what the Taoiseach has to say, and I ask you, Sir, to allow Deputy O'Donnell to say what he has to say.

Mr. O'Donnell:  Speaking here from the Front Bench of the main Opposition in this House as an Ulsterman and as representative of Tirconnell in Dáil Éireann I wish to protest against the arrest and imprisonment by a puppet Government of a fellow-Ulsterman, a representative of Tyrone, the elected representative of the people of Tyrone, namely, Liam Kelly. Kelly was elected by the people of that historic county, the home of that great Irish chieftain, Hugh O'Neill, to represent the people of that county in this House.

Deputies:  Hear, hear!

Mr. O'Donnell:  He has been refused admission to this House. We have insulted the people of Tyrone, and to add injury to that insult the puppet Government of the six North-eastern counties have interned him, the democratically elected representative of the people there. Now there may have been something to be said for giving serious consideration to the question of admitting representatives of the Six [2752] Counties to Dáil Eireann, but at this moment and in view of recent events there is now a duty on us to throw open the doors of this House to all the elected representatives of the Six Counties, and to-night I look forward to the Taoiseach sending a message to our fellow-Irishmen in Ulster extending to them a hearty céad míle fáilte to Dáil Éireann. It is the least we can do for our fellow-Irishmen, those friends of ours on the other side of this artificial Border. I have endeavoured for the past two weeks to have some public pronouncement from the Government as to their attitude towards the arrest and imprisonment of Liam Kelly. The Taoiseach, as head of the Government, has made no statement. I sincerely hope that to-night he will extend that céad míle fáilte to which I have already referred, and I can assure him that if he does he has the full support of every member of the Fine Gael Party in this House.

The Taoiseach:  Before I begin to talk on general matters of policy I would like to refer to the matter which was introduced here by Deputy McGilligan in a partisan and untruthful manner, the question of the buying of certain property by University College Dublin. I regret that this matter was treated by him in the way in which he treated it. It was in marked contrast with the way in which a colleague of his dealt with the matter when it came up in the Seanad, and also, I think, in contrast with the spirit of the remarks which the Leader of the Opposition made in regard to it. I hope that we will approach the consideration of this question, when it comes before the House for a final decision, from the point of view of the national interest and not in any party manner. University College, Dublin, was originally intended for about one third of the number of students who attend it at present. When the new university and the constituent colleges were set up they were but very meagrely endowed, and even at that time the provision made was such that only a fraction of the buildings which it was intended to set up could be erected. An effort has been made to fasten the present inadequate financial position of [2753] the college on the Government. The Government were not at fault in that matter.

Personally I have known of the position of the college from the very beginning. I happened to be a student at the time when the plans for the college, the existing building, were being drawn up. I happened to be in a class taught by the registrar of the college, and I remember he showed me the plans, some two or three different sets of plans, and, when I used to pass by Elmville on the way to the college I remember asking whether it was not a mistake to put the building in Earlsfort Terrace in a cramped position, allowing no opportunity for expansion.

I remember the reason given for it was that it was a matter of convenience for the students, and particularly for the medical school, who had to attend the hospitals as well as to attend lectures in the college. Attempts have been made at various times to increase the accommodation. These efforts to get sites in the neighbourhood of the buildings failed. When, as a result of the good offices of the late Earl of Granard, we were presented by Lord Iveagh with Iveagh House and the gardens attached to it, I took the opportunity of asking the Government to present to the college the greater part of the gardens. I had got Lord Iveagh's permission to do that when he was presenting the property to the State. I said that when the State got it we would be anxious to make most of the gardens over, under a lease, to University College, and the permission was readily granted. There was one thing, however, that was asked, and that was that no building would be erected on certain parts of the gardens.

The whole of Iveagh grounds attached to Iveagh House consisted of two properties. I was told that objection would not be raised to the erection of buildings on the portion of the property which adjoined Hatch Street. After a time the university authorities set up a committee and plans were made for adding to the present accommodation by buildings on that part of the property and in other parts which [2754] were also available. Personally, although I did not want to interfere with the discretion of the college authorities in the matter I thought it was a pity to start building in that area, because I felt that there, too, the room for expansion was limited, and if the college were to get an area that would be satisfactory for its purposes, it would have to extend not merely to Hatch Street on the one hand, and to Stephen's Green on the other, but it would have to extend at least to Har-court street and it might be a difficult question to acquire property in these particular areas. However, the plans proceeded to a certain point.

Then, new college authorities came along, new views were put forward and, certainly to my relief, I found that the idea was changed to that of acquiring a site, a virgin site, which would give opportunities for expansion according as the college developed and which would give opportunity for a continuing process of building over a period of years, starting with a complete plan and carrying it out in accordance with the most pressing needs. I remember seeing in University College the conditions under which students in the architectural faculty were working. It was certainly no credit to our country, and no credit to the university of the nation, that our students should have been compelled to work under these conditions. A property, Belfield, had been bought on the Stillorgan Road, probably two decades ago, or at least well over a decade ago. It was used as a sports field. The new authorities thought that it would be desirable, when any property in that neighbourhood came on sale, to acquire it. I may say for myself, although we were not in office at the time, and I had no official notice of any kind, I was pleased to see in the newspapers a report that a property, Montrose, on the Donnybrook road, on the other side of the road from Belfield and nearer the town, had been purchased by the college authorities. I expected it was done in full consultation and agreement with the Government of the day, because I do not think that anybody would say that any of the colleges of [2755] the university, properly jealous as they are of their autonomy, could hold the position that they could incur debt and simply present the bill to the Government for paying afterwards unless there had been some consultation with the Government beforehand. I think it is only right and proper that should be the case. On one occasion we had to meet a very substantial overdraft which was a heavy burden on the college. We had to pay a considerable sum of money, some tens of thousands of pounds, although the Government, which had to make the payment, had not been consulted in regard to some of the items at any rate in the overdraft, so I expected when I saw this purchase had taken place that the Government had been consulted about it.

Later I expected we would find on the Government records or certainly in the files of the Department of Finance, definite sanction for the incurring of the necessary expense. Later I was told—I think the actual signing took place some time about the time of the change of Government —that a new property had been acquired, Merville. This property is beyond Belfield further up in the Stillorgan direction adjoining Foster Avenue. Again I must say for my part I was delighted that had been done. I felt that the college authorities were quite right in acquiring that property. I thought long ago that Elmville might have been acquired but that property, on the Dublin road had been built on. My regret was that it was not the property on that side of the road that had been taken, so that, in the distance at any rate, there would be a sea front to any new buildings that might be erected there.

I found, when the Minister for Finance was approached to foot the bill for the properties purchased, that there were no records of prior consultation in connection with the matter. The point is that, when large sums of money have to be met by the State or the public authority, it is most unfair that the Minister for Finance should be presented with a large bill without having been given any opportunity [2756] for considering the matter beforehand. I think it is largely a matter of getting the procedure right and I hope in future the procedure will be put right. As I say, the university is very jealous of its autonomy but again I repeat that that autonomy cannot extend to the point of incurring debt, which the public authority will have to meet, without some previous sanction for the incurring of the debt. There was a reluctance to go to the Department of Education because that would suggest that the Department of Education and the Minister had some sort of control over the college of the type which is exercised over primary schools.

I think that is a fear which is unfounded. Under the Minister and Secretaries Act of 1924, it is clearly set out that the Minister for Education is responsible for university matters in so far as they come to be dealt with here in this House. It makes for safe and proper procedure if payments to the university colleges come up for consideration by the Government in the usual way after proper examination by the Department of Finance, and if these matters come to the Dáil through the Department of Education. I think that is now fairly well accepted and I think that henceforward there will be no such question as the Dáil being asked to pay considerable sums of money without the Government having had an opportunity of properly considering them.

Having said that I want to say that I, for one, am completely satisfied that the University College authorities acted well and prudently in acquiring these properties. As the acting-Minister for Finance pointed out, we are not in any way committed to any programme of providing buildings by the fact that the University College owns these properties. I do hope, however, that the matter will be considered and that we will in fact deal with it on a non-Party basis in the national interest. I think that this further equipment in the way of buildings is essential for the University College. If another site can be suggested by any member of the Dáil, and it is decided that a more suitable site is available, I am certain that [2757] the properties which University College have acquired can be readily disposed of as they are well worth the money that is being paid for them. A certain amount of caution had to be exercised in the process of trying to secure these properties, because there was the danger that, if certain portions were acquired and it was known that certain other portions were about to be acquired to complete the area that seemed to be essential to give University College the necessary room for expansion, there would be a fantastic price demanded for these properties.

I think the work which has been done has been well done. I cannot say anything in defence of the procedure that was adopted up to the time when I was officially informed that this money was required in order to get possession of further properties. A letter came when I was in Utrecht and I got a copy of the letter and plans, and arrangements were made by which the Department of Education and some officers from the Department of Finance and the office of Public Works would keep in contact with the college planning committee to see exactly what was intended and to establish the necessary liaison between the Departments and the college.

We will have, I think, to take a decision very soon on this matter and to consider what is going to be done. The college authorities consider that it is desirable to get the University College established in the new area. The idea is that the transfer will take place over a number of years. The Departments that require accommodation most urgently will be transferred first of all in accordance with a plan properly drawn up and arranged beforehand, so that when all the buildings are finished there will be satisfactory accommodation for the college. I do not think it is necessary for me to go any further into the matter at this stage. As I said in the beginning, I think that the Party spirit introduced by Deputy McGilligan, if it has taken any possession, should be exorcised and that we on all sides of the House should approach this matter of national interest with the idea of doing what is best for University [2758] College, and thereby doing the best for the nation.

I will leave that subject and come to the criticism of general Government policy. I have been criticised for not making an introductory statement, but I pointed out that in fact that would be the exception, not the rule. Looking back over the years, in many cases the motion for the Taoiseach's Estimate was moved by the Minister for Finance. It is true that when the Government which immediately preceded us was in office, the then Taoiseach gave a more or less detailed review of the situation when introducing his Estimate in 1949 and 1950; I have to admit that Deputy Norton was right when he said that I had commended that practice. This year, however, the Statistical Survey published by the Central Statistics Office has been available to Deputies for some months. At one time I thought that by proceeding along the lines of a general survey it would lead to a more compact debate than we have been accustomed to in the past.

In the past we tried to get the debate concentrated by asking the Opposition to furnish us with a few topics on which we could concentrate, so that, on the one hand, those who were on the side of the Government, or the Taoiseach when replying, would have an opportunity of looking up the statistics which might be referred to or otherwise getting the detailed information, which one could not be expected to carry in one's head, which was necessary in order that the Dáil might be informed of what the actual facts were. This year I was confident that, no matter what I said at the start, my speech in reply would practically cover the same ground and deal with the same matters; that whether I had introduced them or not, they would be dealt with by the Opposition in their speeches. I was not mistaken in that. The old myth has been introduced again, that we deliberately set out upon a policy of austerity, that we were dictated to by the British or by the banks, whether it was by the commercial banks or by the Central Bank, and that we meekly followed their policy. I have tried time after time to [2759] show that there was no truth whatever in that.

The policy of austerity was a policy which was adopted in England at a certain time and which was referred to by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was a policy which meant for the people restriction of food, rationed food, restriction of fuel, which they had to export although they were badly in need of it themselves. They were restricted with regard to motor cars, which they produced themselves, because they had to be exported in order to buy the raw materials and imports which they required. There was a mopping up of purchasing power through the Budget, which aimed at a surplus and, except in what was regarded as vital, there was a restriction on capital investment. These were the essentials of a policy of austerity. They had deliberately to tighten their belts and forgo the things they were producing in order to buy goods from outside.

Let us compare that with what has happened here. If we were following the policy that has been suggested, we would cease or drastically reduce capital investment. We would cease pouring out purchasing power through capital investment and capital development, and we would in our Budget have attempted to achieve a substantial surplus. By any test you can apply you will find that our policy has not been a policy of austerity. I have said it so many times that I am almost tired of saying it even though it has not dissipated the myth, because it is convenient for the Opposition to adopt that explanation for things for which there is a very good, sound explanation, but of quite a different character. They want to attribute things that happened to a policy of restriction deliberately adopted by the Government. They never try to explain why a democratic Government that has to depend for its existence on the votes of the people should deliberately adopt a policy of that kind.

We have not, of course, adopted that policy. We were confronted, when we got into office with two serious problems that had to be dealt with. One was the fact that when we came [2760] to examine possible income and expenditure on our current Budget we found that expenditure exceeded income by several millions of pounds. When it came to the 1952 Budget, which is the Budget to which reference is always made when anyone wants to pretend that we adopted a policy of austerity, we found that there was a difference of some £15,000,000 between the expenditure that had to be incurred and the revenue that was forthcoming. That gap had to be filled.

I have challenged the Opposition time after time to say whether they would have gone on and budgeted for that deficit. I was told, of course: “Oh, no; you are not budgeting to balance at all—which was really our aim—you are not budgeting to balance but you are budgeting to get a £10,000,000 surplus.” If we were indeed budgeting to get a £10,000,000 surplus, then we might be accused of a policy of trying to reduce purchasing power by taking from the people, for capital purposes, money which was needed for current needs. But we did not do anything of the kind. We repudiated that suggestion from the start. There was not a scintilla of real evidence produced by anybody at the time but absurd statements were made and figures were produced which were proved to be absurd almost the moment they were uttered or put forward. When the year was closed, and the accounts for the year became available instead of this mythical surplus of £10,000,000 we had a deficit of £2,000,000. Deficit budgets come badly indeed on the steps of an alleged policy of austerity. We had to face this problem in 1952—we either had to put on £15,000,000 of extra taxation or reduce expenditure so as to diminish the amount of taxation that had to be imposed or to try a combination of both.

There was £15,000,000 at that time being provided by the Exchequer in the way of food subsidies. As I said this evening to Deputy Norton, it is very interesting to see the Opposition reaction to our proposal to reduce these subsidies. Remember, that when we put on these subsidies originally to meet what was expected at that time [2761] to be a passing transitory situation, we were attacked all over the country because, if we were going to subsidies, it was necessary to find the money, which could be found only by taxation, and if we did not reduce the subsidies in 1952 we would have been compelled to add the equivalent amount of taxation.

We did not get rid of the subsidies altogether. There is about £5? million still being paid by the general community, through the Exchequer, to subsidise bread and flour. If we did not have to provide that £5? million we could have reduced taxation by that amount, and had we taken the whole of the £15,000,000 away we would not have had to add on the taxation that was necessary in order to close the gap between anticipated revenue and expenditure. Not merely have we, this year, provided £5? million yearly for bread and flour subsidies, but we are giving about £3,750,000 in the way of compensatory allowances in order to lighten the burden on the shoulders of those whom Deputy Norton wants to pretend we have no regard for—those who could bear the pressure less easily.

The white collar workers and the middle sections of the community have been referred to. The effect of wars has been, in most cases, to lift the remuneration of the labouring classes and to reduce the gap that exists between them and some of the other sections of the community. The result of that process is that the difference between the various classes is less than it was before and the relative position of the middle classes in the community has been changed.

These things are almost inevitable because of the fact that we are not prepared in this country, and neither, I think, are most democratic countries prepared, to continue the old system in which there was such a big gap between those who were in certain employments and those who were in certain other employments. I, for one, am glad to see that heavy, disagreeable labour is getting a greater reward relatively than it used to get. Many of us, no doubt, can be in occupations which please us and which leave us at [2762] the end of the day not completely exhausted. Others have to be in less agreeable occupations, and I think it is only just that those who are in the less agreeable occupations should get a relatively better reward. I know that there is a big way to be travelled before we reach a point like that. Considerable social changes would have to take place before we could come to the stage in which those who have the hard and disagreeable work would be better rewarded than those who have the less disagreeable work. However, a change is gradually taking place. When we were thinking of the compensations that were necessary to affect subsidy reductions, we were alive to that fact and that is why we increased the income-tax reliefs to such an extent that, even after the increase in the standard in the rate of tax, 170,000 out of 188,000 income-tax-payers were in a better position after the 1952 Budget than they were before it.

However, the main point is this: that so far as that Budget was concerned we had either to reduce the services or add to taxation. Of course, the Opposition can have it both ways. You listen to Deputy Mulcahy and he will talk all the time about increased taxation. He did not talk about the increasing trend in expenditure and in the amount of revenue which continued during the period when they were in office. I remember one Department alone in which the expenditure increased to about three times what it was when we left office. These changes are taking place. The value of money has been changing and these changes will continue to take place no matter what Government is in office unless the whole trend is changed, and instead of providing the social services and other things, which the majority of the people, in my opinion, are in favour of, you reverse the policy and go back to the old Cumann na nGaedheal policy. But, of course, Cumann na nGaedheal has changed its coat and we never know where the spots are going to appear. It is hard to know when you listen to a speaker from their side whether they are speaking with the old Cumann na nGaedheal views of long ago or whether they have now become [2763] more extreme than Deputy Norton. The unfortunate people of the country are left in doubt. They will hear two contradictory policies from election platforms: one for more social services, and on the same platform you will find one of the coalitionists talking about reduced taxation. Now those two things cannot go together to any substantial extent. You may talk about certain economies that can be made. I am not going to deny that it is possible, if we go with a fine comb through all the expenditure on the Civil Service—as we were at one time trying to do, many years ago now, before the war began—to obtain, to some extent, more efficient methods of organisation for the public services. But one of the troubles is that if you put in machinery, for instance, where you have human beings at work at present you can get efficiency but you will get it at the cost of disemploying a number of people who in the past had the idea that in coming into the State service they were coming into stable employment. If you are definitely prepared to face the position that is created by the sacking, if I may use the word, of people employed in the service, you may get a certain amount of reduction in expenditure.

I do not know how far it would go, but I do not think it would go very far. Recently, in the case of one Department in which temporary employees had been taken on for certain purposes, the question arose of whether we should continue to employ these people when the period for which they were temporarily employed had expired and the work for which they were engaged had finished. We did our best to see if there was any other part of the Service in which they could be employed? Should we put them out, or not? I am afraid we will have to face the very bitter unpleasant task of saying: “Well, this was temporary employment in which you were employed for a certain purpose for a certain time and we regret very much that the work on which you are engaged is ended and there are no other parts of the public services in which we can employ you.”

[2764] That is what Governments have to do. They have to face these very unpleasant tasks, if they want to do their duty to the community as a whole. We had to face an unpleasant task in the 1952 Budget. It was an unpleasant task, but we did face it because it was our duty as a Government to do it. It is all very well to dream that you will get millions of pounds, but the Minister for Finance in a responsible Government cannot approach his task in that way. He may, perhaps, on occasions be somewhat over-conservative, and perhaps on some other occasions be somewhat too optimistic, but he ought, in general, to proceed on the line that he has to use his best judgment regarding the future trend of receipts and payments, and he ought to make it one of his primary duties in any case to balance current expenditure by current revenue.

That was our first task, and we performed it, and we challenged the Opposition as to whether they would do otherwise. Do they stand for unbalanced Budgets? Do they stand for deficit budgeting? It may be permissible and practicable to adopt that policy under very exceptional circumstances and for a very limited period. I am not going to deny that. There may be occasions in which it would be wise in the national interest to permit a deficit even in the current Budget, but it should be a rare and exceptional thing, and surely in the situation which obtained when we resumed office, there could be no justification that I can see for deliberately planning an unbalanced Budget. I challenged the Opposition to tell us if we did not take off the subsidies what other commodities we were going to tax.

When we first introduced the subsidies, the Labour Party, among others, went around the country denouncing us, because it was necessary at that time—again in order to balance the Budget—to put taxation on the pint of stout and on the ounce of tobacco. We cannot have it both ways. The Opposition can do that. Two members of the Opposition Front Bench can stand up and speak in different voices in regard to this [2765] matter, one of them advocating a reduction of taxation and the other advocating in the very same breath social services which mean additional expenditure.

Our second task was even more serious and that again had to be faced. That was the deficit in the balance of international payments.

For a few years up to and including 1951 the deficits in our balance of international payments were such as to almost exhaust the addition to our net external assets that had been accumulated during the war years. In peacetime, as a rule, we have an unfavourable deficit; in other words, in peacetime we are normally reducing our net external assets and the only case in which we have added to those assets has been during a time of war when we were forced to, so to speak, because of the fact that all the foreign goods which we required were not available. We were not able to get the commodities, the raw materials or the consumer goods we would otherwise have brought in. There was, if you like, a certain austerity imposed upon us during that period because of war conditions and the result of that was that during the war we increased our net external assets by roughly £160,000,000.

Now, in the years following the end of the war, we brought in more in the way of imports, visible and invisible, than we exported, and we were in the position that, on the most accurate calculations available to us, the amount of our net external assets at the end of 1952 was about £120,000,000. Over the years these deficits have been rising. They went from £10,000,000 to £30,000,000 and then to £60,000,000 in three successive years. That rate of increase, if it continued, would in a very short time have exhausted our net external assets completely. As I have pointed out more than once, two such years of successive deficits as that in the year 1951, in which the deficit was close on £62,000,000, would have completely exhausted our net external assets and our position would have changed from that of a creditor nation to that of a debtor nation.

[2766] No Government in its senses could face a situation like that without feeling a certain amount of alarm. When the deficit was only half that amount the Government of the day expressed alarm at it and said that measures would have to be taken to safeguard the position. It is only when people are out of office that they can afford to treat cavalierly the question of a deficit in our external payments. When the responsibility rested on the shoulders of the Coalition Government they faced it in quite a different way. Now that they are in opposition they feel that they are at liberty to pretend that it was a matter that would automatically rectify itself. But we could not take that complacent view of the situation when we were in office. We had to regard it as one of the most serious general indicators of the position at the time and we had to do our best to take steps to remedy that position. Of course, Deputies on the opposite side now say the position would have remedied itself anyway: we can all be wise after the event, but we could not as the Government take any chances of that kind and we had to take such measures as were open to us and would not, in our opinion, fundamentally harm our economy. Certain immediate hardships might follow one way or the other.

Mr. O'Leary:  There are hardships now.

The Taoiseach:  Permit me to deal with the problem we had to face. We could not complacently face a repetition of a deficit of £62,000,000. As I have said, the serious part of it was that two more such deficits would have changed us from being a creditor nation with certain advantages to being a debtor nation with all the disadvantages that position implies.

Mr. O'Leary:  Sixty-two thousand unemployed.

The Taoiseach:  We set out to do our best to remedy the position. We recognised that if we could increase our exports, diminish our imports and develop such things as tourism we could rectify the situation with which we found ourselves confronted. The [2767] income from tourism is equivalent to an export and whenever I think of tourism I think, too, of some of the Deputies opposite who denounced us when we were trying after the war years to develop that particular industry. I have not denied for a moment that we were to a large extent favoured by fortune. Import prices have gone down and export prices have gone up. We were very fortunate in having an increased volume of agricultural exports. At first we felt we would be fairly fortunate if we could reduce our adverse balance by one-half, although a deficit of even £30,000,000 would be very serious.

But fortune favoured us—I am quite willing to admit it—and the result was that instead of having a deficit of £62,000,000, as was the case in 1951, or £30,000,000 as some thought might possibly result even when we had done our best under the measures adopted in 1952 the deficit was reduced in 1952 to the manageable figure of about £9,000,000. This year that favourable trend has continued and we will probably end, so far as one can see at the moment, with a deficit which will certainly not be any greater than it was last year. It may even be somewhat less.

We have solved the two problems. Some people would apparently like to have omelettes without breaking eggs. Unfortunately we cannot have that. If we want to solve our problems then we must be prepared to face some of the consequences that result from our efforts to solve those problems. I think we have now solved these problems. We are once more on a steady keel and, as far as I can see into the immediate future, our position is assured. It is foolish for anybody to look too far ahead in some of these matters because international events affect us, whether we will it or not. We cannot completely insulate ourselves and the history of recent years shows that there is a parallel pattern in other countries.

In relation to decreased industrial production, the decrease in employment, the increase in unemployment, [2768] and so on, these have all been to a large extent paralleled in the majority of European countries. Notwithstanding anything that may be said to the contrary, that is the general pattern. There were, of course, fundamental causes common to all countries which produced these results. Any economist looking back and trying to interpret economic happenings in the last few years will see that the Korean war had a predominating influence in its effect. The Korean war began about the middle of 1950. It threatened at one stage to develop into a world war and the result of that threat was that prices increased for certain fundamental commodities. There were tremendously high prices for wool, for instance, and for some other essential commodities and all countries rushed to secure as quickly as possible all the raw materials and finished goods which they felt would be in short supply should a world war occur. We joined in this rush. I am not blaming the Government of the day for permitting that to be done because none of us could foresee what the result was going to be. The stocking up inevitably meant that we would have in the years immediately following, less production and less industrial employment. If a man thinks that prices are going up and if he buys in one year the clothes he would normally buy in the year following, his needs are supplied for the following year. He does not want to order a suit, and the manufacturer of the cloth, the tailor and the rest will not get the work which they would normally have got in that particular time. They get more work in advance and then there is less work until the period of stocking up has exhausted itself. That has been the case here. The fact that there was this rush for goods, this stocking up of goods, meant that our wholesalers, retailers and even a large number of private individuals had supplied themselves in advance with the things they would require over a long period. In the stocking up, manufacture was stimulated also because people were ordering things in the view that prices, though high, were less than the prices that would obtain after wards.

[2769] We had these stocks that were acquired at high prices. Naturally, those who acquired these stocks at high prices did not want to lose on them; they wanted to try to hold out and get prices for them which would cover their expenditure. In fact, however, there was a buyers' resistance and there was delay in getting rid of these goods. The man who had bought extra suits of clothes in advance did not want any more and was in a position to resist high prices to a certain extent. The result was that there was a certain amount of delay in getting rid of stocks. Whilst these stocks existed there was a reduction in orders to manufacturers, and therefore there was a reduction in industrial activity.

That is the fundamental cause of the whole position that occurred in 1952. It is silly to try to attribute to a supposed mythical policy of the Government results which clearly followed from something that was quite different and that is easily explained.

In that connection, for instance, let us take the question of bank advances. My recollection is that at the beginning of 1947 bank advances were about £56,000,000. They went up then to about £90,000,000 in 1948, and stayed more or less steady at that figure until, roughly, the outbreak or shortly after the outbreak of the Korean war. Then immediately the curve went up until it reached its peak about March, 1952. These advances were going up at the time that the Opposition were already in full cry saying that there was restriction of credit. The increased credit was extended by the banks for the purpose of purchasing dearer and bigger stocks and when import prices fell and when stocks were reduced to the normal amount of stocks the advances fell in accordance with the decline in the demands of trade. We are told that there has been severe restriction of credit. What has happened is that there has been a reduction of credit. At least one element in the reduction of credit that can be pointed to is the reduction in the credit required to finance the ordinary business of the country. Obviously a less amount of advances was sufficient to meet the ordinary commercial needs [2770] of the country. A greater amount was required when there were high prices and when there was extra stocking of goods.

Now, I am told by the Opposition that everybody knows there is restriction of credit. I suppose every one of us would like to get cheap money or to get money easily if we thought we had some enterprise in which we could use that money profitably, but the fact that not every person who goes to a bank and asks for credit, gets it, is no proof that there has been a general policy of restriction of credit. As far as this Government are concerned, time after time I have said that if there was any such policy on the part of the banks it was against Government wishes and against Government policy. If that was not a clear indication to the banks and to everybody else that we did not want a general restriction of credit, I do not know what else we could have done.

I have interviewed the governor of the Central Bank with regard to these matters and I have been assured that there have been no directives. It has been suggested that the Irish banks have received directives from the Bank of England. I have been assured that no such directives have been received or followed; no directives were given by the Central Bank or by the Government to the Central Bank or the commercial banks to follow a general policy of credit restriction.

As a matter of fact, I would have been definitely against the restriction of credit, in our circumstances, for any ordinary productive enterprise. If the whole banking system were nationalised and under the control of the Government, the Government could not say to everybody who was looking for money that they would get it. There would not be agreement as to whether the right people got credit and the right people might not get it. It does not matter what the control is, these are matters that have to be examined in each particular instance.

Sometimes too easy credit is not good for the borrower. We had an instance of that at the end of the First World War when considerable [2771] sums of money were lent to the farmers. These debts had to be repaid and in many cases, where the price of one cow would have paid off the debt when it was incurred, the unfortunate farmers found that it would take the price of perhaps three or more cows to pay off the debt at the time the debt became due. You can have too easy money, which is not good for the creditors, and when it leads to failures, is not good either for the people who get it.

To examine and deal with every case is beyond the power even of a Socialist Government. To completely and directly deal with individual cases is almost out of the question. A sort of general direction is possible. Personally, I would have no hesitation in saying that to give credit for productive purposes is always good if the productive purpose is sufficient to cover the charges that the loan involves. To a certain extent, you can stand over loans and credits for social purposes. You can, however, go too far with that. The position here at present is that some half of the money that is being spent by the State on capital account is going on purely social purposes and is not directly related to productive purposes. That is a very high proportion and we have to be very careful in regard to that matter.

The next thing of importance that we have to deal with is the question of capital investment. The suggestion has been all the time that somehow we cut down on capital investment. The figures disprove any such contention. We have increased capital expenditure. In 1949-50 and 1950-51 the figure was about £24,000,000; in 1951-52 and 1952-53 it was about £33,000,000. This year, £39,000,000 or nearly £40,000,000 is the figure for capital purposes, even excluding expenditure from the National Development Fund, which the Dáil will deal with, I hope, before we adjourn. Where is the evidence there of restriction? There is no restriction in capital investment. Our opponents pretend that this idea of State capital expenditure was one that they first thought of. The fact is that the only new thing I saw in their time was the [2772] formal segregating, as capital, of certain items in the Budget. The fact is that there was always a certain number of capital items deducted from expenditure to arrive at the figure to be met by taxation; there was, in addition, considerable below the line expenditure, and much of the development that took place in our time was, of course, in the nature of capital investment.

You would imagine that it was only during the time of the coalition Government that there was any drive in housing. I have said before—we hear this pretence all the time that they somehow originated the wonderful drive in house building, but you have to remember the fact—that the biggest number of houses, about 17,000 odd, I think the figure was 17,016, was built and reconstructed in the year before the war when we were the Government, and the next two largest figures were in the years since we became the Government again. Of course, the Opposition say: “That was because we had put the train in motion and you only stepped on to the carriages.” We had set the train in motion long before that. After the war we had designed this plan of development. We had published a White Paper in which constructional development to the extent of tens of millions of pounds was projected. There was, in fact, nothing new, during the time of the Coalition Government but the suggestion was, of course, that there was something new and that we are now simply copying them. We are to-day continuing the policy which we believe to have been a good policy for the country, and that policy is to use all the resources of the country that we possibly can for productive purposes, for developing our resources here.

Deputy Norton reminded us this evening of some of the statements which I made many years ago. I was glad to be reminded of them and to examine myself and ask myself how far my outlook had changed since. I was very glad when I was put to the test as far as my own examination was concerned to see that I at least do not seem to have changed in my outlook in the slightest. One of the things I [2773] said in those early days was that there was an unemployment problem here in this country which I believed could be better tackled here, that there were more opportunities for tackling it here than there were in other countries. I pointed out that we were importing goods here into this country which we could very well manufacture for ourselves. My recollection is that there were about 87,000 unemployed at that time—85,000 or 87,000, I forget which of the two figures. I remember that we made a calculation to try to find how many people it would be possible to employ in industries, in building up the boot industry, the textile industry and some other industries where development was clearly possible and which could have absorbed that number at least. But of course we have proved in fact that our industries have given employment to far more than that.

Figures I saw some time ago showed that there were about 220,000—I am not able to relate it to the exact year but a year or two ago I remember looking up the number of people employed in industry—industries that we were mainly instrumental in establishing, and I found that it was about 220,000. When we came into office the number employed in industry was only half of that, so that we have in fact done better than I anticipated at the time.

I will admit that there was another side of it which I had not anticipated, and that was that according as we were building up industries and giving employment in industries there was another movement, a countervailing movement, taking place, namely, a reduction in the number of people working on the land. I believe that that movement would have taken place in any case. In fact it would have taken place with greater rapidity had we not embarked upon our industrial programme. I wish that there was somebody who could really give us a solution for this departure from the country to the cities. Figures were given here—I do not know if it was by Deputy Norton —which showed about 45 per cent. of the workers are on the land. That number is not quite right—I think the [2774] correct figure is 40 per cent.—but the numbers on the land compared with those in industry are far higher here in this country than they are in other countries. The trouble is that it is very difficult to alter trends that are common trends in different countries. Various factors are at work and it is very difficult to alter those trends. I wish we or anybody else could get an effective solution to it. One of the ways to try to do it is to try to make work on the land more profitable so that more will be employed on the land.

I pointed out many a time that there was a certain reduction in the numbers employed on the land which was inevitable, that if all the land of this country were divided up into small farms we would still have this reduction. If there are four or five children in a family, only two of those at most could remain on the land so that three others would have to get employment off the land. You will always have a surplus, after you have exhausted the possibilities of the land, of people who will have to get employment either in industries or the professions or somewhere else.

We have to look out and see in what direction it is possible to put our people at work productively, because that is the best way to progress. I say productively; the amenities are all right but we will not be able to live on amenities alone and the cost of those amenities and the provision of them must be met by the production of the rest of the population. The more you have employed in amenities the less is the proportion of those who have to support those amenities and provide for them. It does not matter what system you are in, you will have to meet by production whatever standard of living is aimed at and whatever amenities go with that standard of living. Therefore, if we want to improve the conditions here in this country, if we want to try to remedy and deal with the problem of unemployment, if we want to deal with the problem of emigration, or any of these problems, the fundamental way to deal with them is to try to provide and encourage productive enterprise. There [2775] are two directions in which that can mainly be done. One is in the manufacturing industries.

A total of 187 new productive industries have come into operation since we came into office. These include big and small industries. Over 200 proposals in regard to productive enterprises of a similar character are being examined. To the extent that these industries are of a really productive character, they will give employment to some people who otherwise would probably have to remain idle or to emigrate. Therefore it is right we should by every means in our power endeavour to stimulate efforts for more and more production on the industrial side. I have pointed that out several times; Deputy Norton stressed it to-night, and I am glad that we are at one about it.

There is an attempt at times to try to put the countryman up against the townsman. You will naturally have a certain effort on the part of each section of the community to get as large a share as possible of the national product for themselves or to get what they would regard as their fair share of it. It is not easy for every person to know what is a fair share. The farmers are looking for a fair return for their labour; the people in the cities and towns engaged in industry are doing the same, so that there is a certain natural conflict between the efforts of each section to improve their particular position. There, again, if you take the over-all picture, industry in the towns helps agriculture and agriculture in its turn helps the towns. They are complementary one to the other. They should be complementary with us; in other countries they are regarded as such even though in these countries the usual conflict takes place. The townsman objects to paying 4/2 per lb. for his butter because the farmer insists on a certain price for his gallon of milk. The townsman objects to having to pay that because he thinks the farmer is getting too much out of it. On the other hand, when the farmer buys a pair of boots, a suit of clothes or some agricultural implements that are being manufactured [2776] here, he immediately looks at the price. We all look at the price of what we buy but when we are selling any commodity we always think the price we are getting for it is too low. That is a natural and a common thing and it represents the interplay between the various sections of the community which ultimately determines the relative level of prices.

Agriculture is our great hope, the greatest immediate hope that we have. The fact has been demonstrated over and over again that with very little expenditure in the way of ground limestone and fertilisers the land will give a considerably increased return and this gives us an opportunity of increasing our agricultural production by at least 50 per cent. within a very short time. The only trouble is to get the farmers to understand that and to have an organisation built up which will give them an opportunity in the first instance of having their soil tested so that they can find out exactly what it requires, and then to make available for them ground limestone and fertilisers. That could possibly be done more quickly by a completely State enterprise.

By erecting plants and arranging for transport, we might possibly supply the farmers more rapidly than they are being supplied at present. We deliberately rejected that as a solution because, although it might give us more rapid results, we felt that, in the long run, it would not serve as well as private enterprise, supplemented if, and where, necessary by State endeavour, or by direct action of the State.

Perhaps as we get older we begin to see that there are more snags in some of the schemes we had than we observed when we were young. That is one of the things you learn by experience. Sometimes, perhaps, it is dangerous to rely too much on experience. I think it was Deputy Hickey who spoke about the dangers, on the one hand, of so-called prudence, and, on the other hand, of false courage. I think all that points to the middle of the road as being, in the long run, the wisest policy.

Mr. Hickey:  I wonder.

[2777]The Taoiseach:  I am afraid that, having had to deal with other matters, I have not had sufficient time to deal with many of the points raised in the very interesting speech, the well-delivered and cogent speech of Deputy Hickey. I hope that what he suggested will some time come about, that we shall have a full-dress debate on the whole question of credit. Nothing in the world would please me better than that we should have it. Perhaps, as I have a few minutes to spare, I might deal with that aspect for the moment.

The fact is that our policy, the policy which we have operated over the years, is a policy which has given us by far the greatest number of the 200,000 houses which have been erected since 1932. As I said we had the biggest number built and reconstructed in 1938. The next highest number was built last year and in the year before that we had the third highest number. The three highest peaks were reached under our period of office. Out of 200,000 odd houses that have been built and reconstructed since 1932, probably about 170,000 can be attributed to the time we were in office. Surely, then, Deputy Norton or nobody else can pretend that we were negligent. They say that the vim has been knocked out of the housing drive, but surely Deputy Norton will admit that when you are approaching the completion of a programme, you will not have the same amount of work carried out, particularly in the case of the erection of houses, as you had in the beginning.

There are I think about 116 local authorities and, of these, about 50 have indicated that the housing programme which they envisaged in 1947 is coming to a close. That means that local authorities will not have as many houses to build as formerly. That means, too, that one of the problems left to us will be to try to do our best to initiate other schemes which will provide employment. As local authorities complete their housing schemes, a number of workers will become disemployed and the problem is to provide other employment for them. Is there alternative work of a productive character or, if not work of a productive [2778] character, something of the amenity type, such as school building, that could be substituted for these local authority schemes? It is not unnatural at all that house-building on private account should be slowing up. There is not the same demand for houses at the present time as there was some years ago. There is not the same rush or the same intense desire to acquire houses. There is not the same rush to pay high prices as there was some years ago. Therefore, in my opinion we are coming to a stage in which some other form of employment will have to be substituted for house-building. There was a tremendous rush, a tremendous drive, to provide houses for our people in recent years. That has not been, of course, the case here in Dublin. I am told that to complete that the whole programme there would take generally about seven or eight years more. But ultimately, some time, this drive for the building of houses will come to an end, unless our needs expand considerably. If we could keep a greater population, have earlier marriages, and so forth, we would probably have an expanding demand which might continue for a period.

There was a very big slack which has been taken up to a large extent. So long, of course, as the need still lasts, I admit we ought to do everything to try and meet it.

I could talk about afforestation, about turf development, electricity development, rural electrification, and so forth. I should like very much to have an opportunity to deal with some of the points that were raised by Deputy Hickey on the whole question of credit. I should also like to have an opportunity of pointing out how it is quite possible for the external assets of the banks, for instance, to increase in a period when, in fact, we were reducing our total net external assets. The external assets of commercial banks and the Central Bank, and such external assets as the Minister for Finance controls in departmental funds constitute what might be called the public sector of external assets. In addition, there is a private sector which amounts to a substantial sum. Here is an example of how the banks' [2779] external assets can increase at the same time as there is a deficit in the balance of international payments. Suppose a private firm had £500,000 in foreign securities and suppose they sold them to bring in goods of various kinds. Suppose they spent £400,000 in the purchase of the goods which came in here. They might put the balance of £100,000 in an Irish bank. That is an instance where £400,000 of external assets were, in fact, repatriated in the form of being brought into this country while, at the same time, the commercial banks appeared to be increasing their assets by £100,000. You can see, therefore, that these things have to be examined carefully.

Certainly I will try, if I can manage it at all in Government time, to arrange to have this question of credit discussed. I would be delighted if Deputy Hickey put down a motion so that we can go to the bottom of this thing and examine this home. We have always admitted, as the Deputy actually pointed out, and we have embodied it in the Constitution, that the control of credit is a matter that immediately concerns the public and that it ought to be examined from the point of view of the public welfare. In so far as any controls are required or operated the effect of these controls should be to enhance the public welfare. The Deputy referred to the Minority Report of the Banking Commission. I may say of a number of people on the commission that I was very dissatisfied myself—because I had a good deal to do with their nomination—that they were not able to make a better impression on their colleagues. The banking report was the stick used by Fine Gael for a number of years to beat the Government and to tell us that the policy which we were pursuing—this policy of trying to use the resources of the nation, which had the effect of reducing some of our external assets at the time—was a bad policy. The Banking Commission became the Bible and the Testament of the Deputies on the opposite benches.

Mr. Hickey:  Signs on, we are as we are to-day.

[2780]The Taoiseach:  We did not attend to them although they pointed out that from their point of view our policy was a bad one. I cannot discuss the question of the Central Bank here now. There are too many questions to be discussed in a single speech like this. However, speaking for myself— and, I am sure, for the other members of the Government—we will be delighted to have a really detailed examination and debate of this whole matter. If Deputy Hickey or anybody else puts down a motion on this question of credit, its effect on the general welfare of the community, its control, and so forth, we shall be very glad to debate it and we will debate it with open minds.

Mr. Hickey:  Why does the Taoiseach not give a lead himself?

The Taoiseach:  I see snags which the Deputy does not see. I see limits. No one denies that the banks can create credit but there are limits. None of us will assert that the banks cannot, under certain circumstances, give credit at lower rates than the ordinary commercial rates. Our Government got money from the banks for short-term purposes at nearly as low a rate as was got by any Government. When our successors came into office they tried to get money from the banks at the same rate as we got it.

That reminds me that Deputy McGilligan spoke about having the bankers together and of how they laughed at the end of the day. If they did, why did he allow them to charge 3½ per cent. to the Dublin Corporation? These are things which we should be glad to examine at close quarters. We are not afraid of this question. We have open minds on it. We are quite prepared to discuss it with anybody. It will be very interesting to see the attitude, when it comes to close quarters, of some of the people talking at the present time and saying “Hurrah!” to Deputy Hickey. They did not say “Hurrah!” to that line of policy when they were quoting the Banking Commission Report. But there are limits to it. All I can say is that there has been [2781] no real change in policy so far as the Government are concerned. The circumstances have changed. We are in a very different position. We now have a deficit of £9,000,000—and probably less than £9,000,000—in our external payments while at one time we were faced with a deficit of £62,000,000, which would exhaust our net resources in a period of two years. I am afraid I must stop now as the time is up.

[2782]Mr. Hickey:  I am disappointed with the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach:  I should just like to explain to the House that I am very sorry that there is a point which I should have dealt with concerning Partition. I cannot do so now, because the time is up. Perhaps I might get an opportunity of dealing with it before the Dáil adjourns.

Question—“That the Supplementary Estimate be referred back for reconsideration”—put.

The Committee divided: Tá, 58 Níl, 67.

Barry, Richard.
Beirne, John.
Belton, John.
Blowick, Joseph.
Byrne, Alfred.
Byrne, Thomas, N.J.
Cafferky, Dominick.
Carew, John.
Cawley, Patrick.
Collins, Seán.
Corish, Brendan.
Cosgrave, Liam.
Costello, Declan.
Costello, John A.
Crotty, Patrick J.
Crowe, Patrick.
Deering, Mark.
Desmond, Daniel.
Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Henry P.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Donnellan, Michael.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Dunne, Seán.
Esmonde, Anthony C.
Everett, James.
Fagan, Charles.
Finan, John.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Giles, Patrick.
Hickey, James.
Kyne, Thomas A.
Larkin, James.
Lehane, Patrick D.
Lynch, John (North Kerry).
MacBride, Seán.
MacEoin, Seán.
McGilligan, Patrick.
McMenamin, Daniel.
Madden, David J.
Mannion, John.
Morrissey, Daniel.
Mulcahy, Richard.
Murphy, Michael P.
Norton, William.
O'Donnell, Patrick.
O'Gorman, Patrick J.
O'Hara, Thomas.
O'Higgins, Thomas F. (Jun.).
O'Leary, Johnny.
O'Reilly, Patrick.
O'Sullivan, Denis.
Palmer, Patrick W.
Reidy, James.
Reynolds, Mary.
Rooney, Eamon.
Sweetman, Gerard.
Tully, John.

Níl

Aiken, Frank.
Allen, Denis.
Bartley, Gerald.
Beegan, Patrick.
Blaney, Neil T.
Boland, Gerald.
Brady, Philip A.
Brady, Seán.
Brennan, Joseph.
Breslin, Cormac.
Briscoe, Robert.
Browne, Noel C.
Buckley, Seán.
Burke, Patrick.
Butler, Bernard.
Calleary, Phelim A.
Carter, Frank.
Childers, Erskine.
Cogan, Patrick.
Colley, Harry. [2783]Humphreys, Francis.
Kenneally, William.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Killilea, Mark.
Lahiffe, Robert.
Lemass, Seán.
Little, Patrick J.
Lynch, Jack (Cork Borough).
McCann, John.
MacCarthy, Seán.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
Maher, Peadar.
Moran, Michael.
Moylan, Seán.
Collins, James J.
Corry, Martin J.
Cowan, Peadar.
Crowley, Honor Mary.
Crowley, Tadhg.
Cunningham, Liam.
Davern, Michael J.
Derrig, Thomas.
de Valera, Eamon.
de Valera, Vivion.
Fanning, John.
ffrench-O'Carroll, Michael.
Flanagan, Seán.
Flynn, John.
Flynn, Stephen.
Gallagher, Colm.
Gilbride, Eugene.
Harris, Thomas.
Hillery, Patrick J.
Hilliard, Michael. [2784]Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
O'Reilly, Matthew.
Ormonde, John.
O'Sullivan, Ted.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ryan, James.
Ryan, Mary B.
Sheldon, William A.W.
Sheridan, Michael.
Smith, Patrick.
Traynor, Oscar.
Walsh, Laurence J.
Walsh, Thomas.

Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Doyle and Mac Fheórais; Níl: Deputies Ó Briain and Killilea.

Question declared lost.

Supplementary Estimate agreed to.

Vote 3 and Vote 6, 22 and 60 passed on 1st and 3rd instant, reported and agreed.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The following messages have been received from the Seanad:—

Seanad Éireann has passed the Mental Treatment Bill, 1953, without amendment.

Seanad Éireann has passed the Vocational Education (Amendment) Bill, 1953, without amendment.

Seanad Éireann has passed the Rates on Agricultural Land (Relief) Bill, 1953.

An Ceann Comhairle:  On the motion for the Adjournment, Deputy Kyne has given notice that he intends to raise the subject matter of Question No. 40 on to-day's Order Paper.

Mr. Kyne:  To-day, when I asked Question No. 40, it must have been obvious that the question was intended to elicit information following a question I put down at a former date. I had intended, if the reply was as I expected, to ask for further information in regard to butter supplies by means of a supplementary question. The reply I received from the Minister indicated by the nature of the word “continued” that the one wholesaler who the Minister indicated was distributing supplies of New Zealand butter was not the wholesaler in whom I was interested, Mr. Gallagher. A supplementary question put directly by me to the Minister confirmed that assumption of mine. I propose to prove that the information given to me by the Minister in reply to the question was incorrect.

I do not suggest that it was a deliberate incorrect statement by the Minister. I am satisfied that he replied correctly by virtue of the information he received, but I propose, because of being denied the right I had as a Dáil Deputy of seeking the information which I could normally get, to take advantage of the privilege that is given to a Dáil Deputy, when dissatisfied with the nature of a reply, to raise the matter on the Adjournment in the hope that the Minister will equally take advantage in his reply to give to this House the information I sought. He was aware that Mr. Joseph Gallagher, in addition to——

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Walsh):  What has Mr. Gallagher to do with this, a Cheann Comhairle? Nothing, as far as I know.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I made it quite definite that what I would allow the Deputy to discuss was how many wholesalers were distributing New Zealand butter in the Dublin area and from what date. I told the Deputy that very specifically because he had raised the matter here about a week ago. I [2785] cannot allow him to traverse the same ground to-night and the Deputy will see that is quite obvious.

Mr. Kyne:  I take it that it is the Chair's ruling that not only can I deal with the subject matter of the question as written, but also with the Minister's reply to the question. Is that not my right?

An Ceann Comhairle:  I will hear the Deputy as far as I conceive it to be relevant.

Mr. Kyne:  The Minister in his reply stated that there was but one wholesaler who had been continuously distributing New Zealand butter. I hope to prove that that reply is incorrect and I suggest that I must name the gentleman in order to be able to prove my case. According to the Minister there is but one wholesaler continuously distributing New Zealand butter. When I prove that another is distributing New Zealand butter, obviously I prove that the statement of the Minister is incorrect. I will give reasons why the House should believe that another man is distributing New Zealand butter. To do that, I think I am entitled to quote a statement made by that man that he is compelled to distribute New Zealand butter.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy traversed that ground this day week.

Mr. Kyne:  Let me put it this way— that the wholesaler, Mr. Gallagher, informed me that he is distributing New Zealand butter. He also informed me that to his knowledge—and he is a well-known man in the trade in Dublin—there is no other wholesaler distributing New Zealand butter.

Mr. Walsh:  The implication is that my answer to-day was incorrect. That implication will have to be withdrawn.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy stated he was not imputing that the Minister made any incorrect statement.

Mr. Walsh:  The Deputy has now stated that my reply was incorrect or untruthful.

[2786]An Ceann Comhairle:  There is a difference between incorrect and untruthful. The Deputy has not charged the Minister with making a deliberate statement of untruthfulness.

Mr. Kyne:  I did not suggest and neither do I suggest that the Minister deliberately told an untruth. I suggest that the Minister, acting in good faith on information which I can only presume he received from the Butter Marketing Committee, made a statement which I propose to prove incorrect. I am quoting that Mr. Joseph Gallagher, a wholesale butter merchant claims that he has been compelled to distribute New Zealand butter. I am also prepared to state that Mr. Joseph Gallagher, who is a wholesale butter dealer, can confirm from his wide knowledge that not a single retail shop in Dublin is receiving New Zealand butter from any wholesale butter merchant. If these things are correct surely the information the Minister has given this House is, to say the least of it, inaccurate. I thought the Minister would take the opportunity to make a statement and to check up on the position. Dealing with another question last week he stated that he would seek a report. Normally if I put down a question in this House and the Minister states: “I have not the information” he usually adds: “Will the Deputy table this question next week,” or perhaps after a fortnight or a month or whatever time he thinks. If that is not done I must assume that the Minister would make the report when it came into his possession.

Mr. Walsh:  I must interrupt the Deputy again. The statements being made by Deputy Kyne have no bearing on the question he put to me to-day. The question he asked me was:—

“To ask the Minister for Agriculture if he will state how many wholesalers are distributing New Zealand butter in the Dublin area and from what date.”

Mr. Kyne:  I take it that the Minister's decision as to what is or is not [2787] procedure is to say the least of it implying that you are failing——

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am not taking it in that way. The Minister is entitled to make a submission that the Deputy is travelling beyond the question.

Mr. Kyne:  I am prepared to bow to your ruling when you tell me I am out of order.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am giving the Deputy as much latitude as possible to make his case. He must not travel beyond the terms of the question as to how many wholesalers are distributing New Zealand butter in the Dublin area and from what date. Those are the only two pertinent points.

Mr. Kyne:  Surely I am entitled to ask the Minister that he might, from courtesy, give certain facts in his reply or state whether or not he is now in a position to give that information? I am indicating that the reply he got was incorrect. I am suggesting that because of the fact that I can prove that another wholesaler is involved in this the Minister should give an undertaking to make further inquiries because of the inaccuracy of the reply he has got. If he will give that assurance I will be perfectly satisfied. I am seeking this opportunity because the Dáil is dissolving——

An Ceann Comhairle:  Not dissolving.

Mr. Kyne:  Not for another while anyway. Because the Dáil is going into Recess I cannot put down another question but I can take advantage of a technical point to give the Minister an opportunity of dealing with what I believe to be a matter of vital interest. I submit the Minister can reply to that. Let me say that I would take the same opportunity to raise this matter with a Minister of my own Party if in power if I believed the information received was incorrect. The Minister would ease the minds of the Dublin people if he would reply. It is as much in the Minister's interests as in mine that the truth should be known as to whether or not [2788] there has been victimisation of a person or not.

Mr. Walsh:  I answered a question which was put to me to-day. I think I gave a full answer to the question, which was: “To ask the Minister for Agriculture if he will state how many wholesalers are distributing New Zealand butter in the Dublin area and from what date?” My answer was:—

“Since the full-scale distribution of imported butter in the Dublin area was discontinued in July last one wholesaler has continued to purchase imported butter regularly each week from the Butter Marketing Committee.” I did not think there was anything ambiguous about that answer. In a supplementary question afterwards, Deputy Kyne tried to bring in other matters which we discussed in this House last week. I gave him a further answer that it was not the person to whom he had referred who was taking the butter from the Butter Marketing Committee but that another person was taking it. There is no compulsion on anybody to take imported butter or to distribute it here in Dublin. No compulsion has been introduced into the matter. It might be information for the Deputy to know that the reason for the restriction on a certain number of wholesalers in Dublin is, as I pointed out last week, that at this period when New Zealand butter is about to be put on the market—in a short time from now—it is necessary in many cases to restrict the sale of Irish butter from the Butter Marketing Committee to wholesalers, simply for the purpose of avoiding the hoarding of stocks that would be placed on the market when the imported butter would be coming along. This has happened every year—this is not the first time.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I stopped Deputy Kyne——

Mr. Walsh:  I am merely giving him an answer.

Mr. Kyne:  I have no objection.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I do not want either side to go beyond the limits.

[2789]Mr. Walsh:  I do not wish to go into the matter any more fully than I did last week, but it was a case of explaining to the Deputy that there was no victimisation of anybody in this regard. If he thinks there is, then he is wrong. The steps were taken for the purpose of preventing somebody hoarding Irish butter, to put it on the market at the same time as the New Zealand butter.

Mr. Kyne:  I want to inquire from the Minister—this is not a trick question—why no inspection was carried out as to whether the person involved was genuine or not? Is the Minister or the board not satisfied that he is a genuine wholesaler?

Mr. Walsh:  Nobody has said anything about the genuineness of any wholesaler.

Mr. Kyne:  You mentioned hoarding.

Mr. Walsh:  The steps were taken [2790] in order to avoid it. The same quantity of butter is going out to the Dublin consumer. If the Deputy states that the people of Dublin are eating far more butter than they were two months ago that is another question. I gave the Deputy a straightforward answer to his question and to his supplementary and there was nothing more I could do.

Mr. A. Byrne:  Might I ask the Minister whether, during the Christmas season or shortly afterwards, the Dublin public will get their share of the Irish creamery butter?

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is a different matter. I got no notice of that.

Mr. Walsh:  There is no scheme prepared for the distribution of any butter.

The Dáil adjourned at 11.20 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 18th December, 1953.

Mr. Rooney:  asked the Taoiseach if he will state the quantity and cost of wheat imported in 1951, 1952 and 1953 to date, the average moisture content on delivery, the average price per barrel and countries from which the wheat was imported.

The Taoiseach:  Particulars of the quantity and c.i.f. cost of wheat imported in 1951, 1952 and in the period January-November, 1953, average price per barrel, and the countries from which the wheat was imported, are given in the following table. The average moisture content on importation of wheat (other than for seed) in the periods in question is estimated at 13.3 per cent., 14 per cent. and 12.7 per cent., respectively. Information is not available on the moisture content of wheat imported for seed.

[2629] IMPORTS of Wheat in each year 1951 and 1952, and in the period January-November, 1953.

Description and Country of Origin Quantity Value Average price (c.i.f.) per barrel
cwt. £ £ s. d.
For milling:
1951:
Canada 3,533,373 5,649,844 3 19 11
United States of America 756,381 1,177,515 3 17 10
Australia 1,515,938 2,291,165 3 15 7
TOTAL 5,805,692 9,118,524 3 18 6
1952:
Canada 4,330,089 6,645,143 3 16 9
United States of America 414,183 718,659 4 6 9
Australia 887,612 1,346,786 3 15 10
TOTAL 5,631,884 8,710,588 3 17 4
1953 (Jan.-Nov.):
Canada 2,483,828 3,802,735 3 16 7
United States of America 622,093 899,838 3 12 4
Australia 1,062,585 1,564,904 3 13 8
TOTAL 4,168,506 6,267,477 3 15 2
For seed:
1951:
Great Britain 45,615 94,829 5 3 11
Denmark 1,760 3,940 5 11 11
Sweden 47,063 93,497 4 19 4
TOTAL 94,438 192,266 5 1 10
1952:
Great Britain 63,332 140,981 5 11 4
Denmark 795 1,716 5 7 11
Sweden 1,945 6,136 7 17 9
Union of South Africa 1 4
TOTAL 66,073 148,837 5 12 8
1953 (Jan.-Nov.):
Great Britain 83,447 185,352 5 11 1
The Six Counties 100 219 5 9 6
Denmark 7,885 16,758 5 6 3
Sweden 1,220 3,605 7 7 9
Switzerland 9 28 7 0 0
TOTAL 92,661 205,962 5 11 1