Dáil Éireann

06/Mar/1958

Prelude

Order of Business.

An Coiste Roghnaitheoireachta—An Cúigiú Tuarascáil.

Agriculture (Amendment) Bill, 1958—First Stage.

Supplementary Estimates, 1957-58.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 62—Social Assistance (Resumed).

Committee on Finance. - Vote 16—Supperannuation and Retired Allowances.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 24—Stationery Office.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 27—Agriculture.

Committee on Finance. - Tea (Importation and Distribution) Act, 1956 (Continuance) Bill, 1958—Money Resolution.

Committee on Finance. - Tea (Importation and Distribution) Act, 1956 (Continuance) Bill, 1958—Committee and Final Stages.

Committee on Finance. - Tea (Purchase and Importation) Bill, 1957—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Taxation and Restrictions on Agricultural Vehicles.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Unemployment Assistance in Dublin City.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Revenue from Dance Entertainments Duty.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Remission of Taxation on Exports.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Garda Rent Allowances: Assessment for Pensions.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Intoxicating Liquor Commission.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Kerry Pasteurisation Plant.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Afforestation Plans.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - School Replacement and Reconstruction.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - School Attendance Prosecutions.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Deputation from Teachers' Organisation.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - University Courses in Continental Languages.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - American Loan for Dublin Corporation.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin County Cottage Schemes.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Wexford Housing.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Employment on House Building.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Wexford Housing Plans.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin Corporation Unoccupied Houses.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin County Housing Plans.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Reconstruction of Skibbereen Town Hall.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Employment on Roads.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - North Dublin Link Roads.

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

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Foxford Sewerage Scheme.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dimming Devices on Buses.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin Underground Air-Raid Shelters.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Importation of Small-Arms Ammunition.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Facilities for Payment of Children's Allowances in Dublin.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Parnell Commemoration Stamp.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Post Office Voluntary Resignations.

Tea (Purchase and Importation) Bill, 1957—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Imposition of Duties (Confirmation of Orders) Bill, 1958—Committee Stage.

Written Answers. - Gross Domestic Fixed Capital Formation.

Written Answers. - Civil Service General Service Grades.

[1167] Do chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 10.30 a.m.

Paidir.

Prayer.

An Tánaiste:  It is proposed to take business in the following order: Nos 1, 2, 5 and in 5, Votes 62, 16, 24 and 27, and then Nos 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. It is proposed to interrupt business at 1.30 to take Nos. 9, 10 and 11, if not already reached, and, when completed, to resume the order. Questions will be taken at 3 p.m.

Mr. Sweetman:  Does the Minister mean Nos. 1 to 5 or Nos. 1, 2 and 5?

An Tánaiste:  Nos. 1 and 2 and 5. With regard to future sittings, the Vote on Account will be taken on Wednesday next and it will be necessary to have the Central Fund Bill in the Seanad the following week. We had contemplated that we might meet on Tuesday next week, but I gather there is some feeling that the notice is not long enough to justify that arrangement. I want to say, therefore, that it may be necessary to sit later than usual on Thursday to try to complete that section of business. In the following week, the week in which the bank holiday occurs, the Dáil will meet for only two days, but in order that the same situation may not arise again, I think I should say that from then on, we must contemplate three-day meetings each week.

Mr. Sweetman:  Did I understand the Tánaiste to say that the Vote on Account must be passed next week? If so, the Tánaiste may take it that this side of the House will not consider two or even three days next week sufficient to discuss the Vote on Account.

[1168]An Tánaiste:  Public business must be done and the Vote must be passed within the financial year. If it is necessary, we shall have to sit late on Thursday, and if we do not finish, perhaps on Friday.

Mr. Sweetman:  There is no possibility of that being sufficient time to discuss the Vote on Account. The House must have adequate time to discuss a matter as important as this.

Mr. McQuillan:  Surely if that is the case, there is not any objection to the House meeting on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next?

An Tánaiste:  No.

Mr. Sweetman:  Except the one thing, that it is impossible to discuss the Vote on Account on Tuesday when we shall not get the Book of Estimates until so late.

Mr. Norton:  When will the Book of Estimates be available?

An Tánaiste:  This week-end or on Monday morning. The Vote on Account does not involve discussion of the details of the Estimates and it must be recognised by the House that the financial consequences to the whole community of not getting the Vote on Account passed before the end of the year could be very serious.

Mr. Norton:  We would like to see the form of Utopia we are to have in the Book of Estimates before we discuss the Vote on Account.

Mr. Sweetman:  May I submit that it has been the normal practice of the House to have two weeks allotted for the Vote on Account, if so requested by the Opposition. It would be quite impossible to discuss the Vote on Account adequately on Tuesday when we get the Book of Estimates only on Monday. When we agreed to discuss the Vote on Account on Wednesday, it was represented to us that we were getting the Book of Estimates on Saturday. Apparently that has now been changed——

Minister for Finance (Dr. Ryan):  That may be possible even yet.

[1169]Mr. Sweetman:  I think the Minister for Finance will agree that it was on the basis of getting the Book of Estimates on Saturday that we were to discuss the Vote on Account on Wednesday. The House should take the Vote on Account on Wednesday and Thursday, and, if necessary, for part of Friday of next week and meet on the following Tuesday and Wednesday to finish the Vote on Account and the Central Fund Bill. If necessary, it could go to the Seanad on Wednesday night so that the Seanad could take it up on the following day, Thursday.

An Tánaiste:  There is certainly no desire to limit the scope of the discussion in the Dáil, but Deputies will appreciate that the Seanad will require two days for the Central Fund Bill in the following week, if they are to be given reasonable time.

Mr. Sweetman:  There are two weeks still to go before the end of March.

An Tánaiste:  But there is a constitutional requirement that the Seanad should get three weeks' notice. I presume that they will not insist on that.

Mr. Sweetman:  That constitutional requirement may be there but there have been motions for short signature on Central Fund Bills for a great many years. It would be most undesirable that discussion in the Dáil on the Vote on Account should be in any way hampered.

General Mulcahy:  The Tánaiste mentioned the public interest, No. (1), and the constitutional provision, No. (2), and the necessary time for the Seanad to discuss matters in the normal way. I do not know if I understand it properly and I should like the Tánaiste to say is he telling the Dáil now that he requires the Vote on Account passed through the House next week?

Mr. Sweetman:  He started on that and came back from it.

General Mulcahy:  I just want to be quite clear on that because, if that is so, then we have been completely deceived with regard to the Government's approach in the matter all along.

[1170]An Tánaiste:  May I interrupt the Deputy? The fact that the Vote on Account would be taken on 12th March was announced in the House a month ago.

Mr. Sweetman:  Yes.

An Tánaiste:  Certainly, I had no reason to think that that was not regarded as a suitable arrangement by all Deputies. So far as the Government is concerned, the essential thing is that the Central Fund Bill should be passed and become law before the end of the financial year.

General Mulcahy:  I am asking a very clear question now and the House is entitled to an answer. Is it the Government's proposal that the House will be required to pass the Vote on Account next week?

An Tánaiste:  The House will be required to deal with the Vote on Account and the Central Fund Bill to enable it to get to the Seanad in the following week. There are various ways in which that can be done. We can meet on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week. We can meet, as I suggest, on Wednesday and late on Thursday, adjourning at some hour later than 5.30, and we can meet on Friday. I doubt if the suggestion to meet on the Tuesday following the bank holiday will commend itself to Deputies.

Mr. Sweetman:  Why not?

An Tánaiste:  So far as we are concerned, we would have no objection but some Deputies would find difficulty in travelling.

Mr. Sweetman:  The Tánaiste has got a little mixed in his dates. The Central Fund Bill, we all agree, must be law before the 31st March in order that the machinery of Government can carry on. It is not normal practice in the Seanad to take more than one week on the Central Fund Bill. There is the week commencing 24th March. In that week the Seanad would have Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, if necessary, to deal with the Central Fund Bill, with the usual motion for early signature, [1171] to sign before the following Monday. That means that the Central Fund Bill need not leave the Dáil until either Thursday, 20th March or Friday, 21st March. This is a Money Bill. If there are three weeks for the discussion of a Money Bill, I suggest that it is reasonable that two of those weeks should be in the Dáil and one in the Seanad rather than the way the Tánaiste is suggesting, one in the Dáil and two in the Seanad.

An Tánaiste:  It would be necessary to ensure that the Seanad are likely to approve of that arrangement. I think courtesy to them is also involved in this. The Dáil can have ample time to discuss the Vote on Account and the Central Fund Bill. It is only a question of arranging the appropriation of that time in a manner most convenient to Deputies.

Mr. Norton:  Will the Tánaiste now agree that the first suggestion was a try on?

An Tánaiste:  No. I am giving notice now that we contemplate meeting after 5.30 on Thursday.

General Mulcahy:  For what purpose?

An Tánaiste:  To give plenty of time for discussion.

Mr. MacEntee:  The Opposition want time.

Mr. Sweetman:  Certainly, that is the most unsatisfactory method of providing the time. May I inquire further from the Minister for Finance about the Book of Estimates? Is it really suggested now that it will not be available until Monday?

Dr. Ryan:  I am almost certain that it will be out on Saturday. To be on the safe side, I said it will be ready for Deputies on Monday morning at the latest.

General Mulcahy:  I submit that Deputies are entitled to be convenienced in regard to what business the House will do. When the Tánaiste says that he gives warning that the [1172] Dáil will sit later than five o'clock on Thursday, I ask, for the purpose of what business?

An Tánaiste:  The Vote on Account will be the main item for discussion and I should think that the great majority of Deputies would prefer to sit late on Thursday than to meet on Friday.

Mr. Sweetman:  I am one of the people who think that rural Deputies are the first to be considered. They have to travel up from the country. If they have to stay here late on Thursday they cannot go home on Thursday night and remain over until Friday. It is just as convenient for them to sit until two o'clock on Friday so that they can catch afternoon trains, if they have to be here anyway. The Tánaiste and everybody else knows that the idea of sitting from 10.30 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. means that not everybody is in a humour properly to conduct public business.

An Tánaiste:  When it is one debate continuing through the whole day, I do not know that there is any great problem in that regard. Very few Deputies feel obliged to sit through the whole of the debate.

Mr. Sweetman:  It never works.

An Tánaiste:  This is a matter for which we can make arrangements so long as it is accepted that the business must be completed within the financial year. That I understand to be the case. I do not think that meeting on Tuesday of the following week would be practicable. I understand that there is difficulty in arranging for printing to be done for the Dáil when a bank holiday comes before the day the Dáil would meet.

Mr. Sweetman:  Meet on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week.

Mr. Russell:  When does the Tánaiste propose to take item No. 12—Control of Manufactures Bill, 1957?

An Tánaiste:  I think, subject to the debate on the Vote on Account, the week after next.

[1173]Runai Parlaiminte an Taoisigh (Donnchadh Ó Briain):  Tuairiscíonn an Coiste Roghnaitheoireachta go bhfuil sé tar éis an Teachta Seán Urmhumhan (Aire Poist agus Telegrafa) d'urscaoileadh ón gCoiste um Nós Imeachta agus Pribhléidí agus an Teachta Lionel Booth a cheapadh ina ionad agus go bhfuil sé tar éis na comhaltaí seo a leanas d'ainmniú chun fónamh ar an gCoiste um Chuntais Phoiblí ar na Cuntais Leithreasa i gcóir na bliana dar chríoch 31 Márta, 1957:—

Deputies Lionel Booth, Joseph Brennan, Seán Browne, Michael Carty, Liam Cunningham, Daniel Desmond, James M. Dillon, Seán Flanagan, Charles Haughey, Denis F. Jones, Thaddeus Lynch and William A.W. Sheldon.

Tairgim: Go leagfar an Tuarascáil ar an mBord.

Cuireadh agus d'aontaoidh an cheist.

Leave granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend and extend the Agriculture Acts, 1931 to 1935.— (Minister for Agriculture.)

An Ceann Comhairle:  When is it proposed to take the next stage?

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Smith):  Wednesday next.

Mr. Dillon:  When is it proposed to circulate the Bill?

Mr. Smith:  Immediately.

Mr. Dillon:  To-day?

Mr. Sweetman:  Why next Wednesday in view of the discussion we have just been having?

Mr. Smith:  You never know what happens. All must be ready.

Mr. Norton:  Not with this Government, apparently.

Second Stage ordered for Wednesday, 12th March, 1958.

[1174] The Dáil, according to order, went into Committee on Finance and resumed consideration of Supplementary Estimates for Public Services for the year ending 31st March, 1958.

Debate resumed on the following motion:—

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £2,023,000 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1958, for Old Age Pensions and Pensions to Blind Persons, Children's Allowances, Unemployment Assistance, Widows' and Orphans' Non-Contributory Pensions, and for Sundry Miscellaneous Social Welfare Services, including Grants—(Minister for Social Welfare).

Mr. Rooney:  Last night, before I reported progress, I was explaining that the extra 1/- a week does not properly compensate assistance classes for the increases which it was designed to meet. The Estimate which the House is asked to vote to-day is an increase in taxation of £2,000,000. Although the present Government gave an undertaking to reduce taxation, we have here an extra £2,000,000 being added on. This £2,000,000 apparently was not provided for in last year's Budget, which means that it must be accounted for in the coming Budget.

I should now like to examine this 1/- increase which has come up for discussion to-day. Let us remember that the 1/- increase was intended to compensate old age pensioners, widows, people drawing unemployment assistance and children's allowances. These were the necessitous classes for whom this extra 1/- per week was designed. It was intended to compensate them for a rise in the price of bread from 9½d. to 1/1 per loaf. In the meantime, the Government have sanctioned increases in the price of bread up to 1/3 per loaf. The loaf at the present time is 5½d. dearer than it was when the last Budget was [1175] introduced. Similarly, the price of butter was 3/9 when the Budget was introduced and it was intended to increase the price to 4/2. In fact, the price of butter has since been increased, again by Government action, to 4/4. The price of butter has been increased by 7d. a lb. and the price of a loaf by 5½d., which makes it, actually, an increase of over 1/- for one loaf of bread and one lb. of butter. Nobody will contend that any of these necessitous classes—the pensioners, the unemployed, the widows and others—could exist on one loaf of bread and one lb. of butter per week, the increase in the price of which, in fact, exceeds the 1/- a week which the Budget promised to give, and now gives, to compensate them.

I feel that at this stage we should have a statement from the Minister indicating that he is prepared to compensate these necessitous classes properly for the deliberate rises and the deliberate action of the Government in forcing these prices up. The very people who are now paying 4/4 per lb. for butter have relatives in England who are able to eat the same butter at 2/9 a lb. No attempt is being made to give this butter to the necessitous classes in this country before they export it for sale in England at 2/9 a lb.

The unemployment position in Dublin City, for which this unemployment assistance item in the Estimate is included, is worse than ever. The present unemployment figures in Dublin City are greater than last year or in any previous year. I should mention that the persons receiving unemployment assistance who got the extra 1/- a week to meet the extra costs which I have mentioned are single, able-bodied young men and their brothers, who are earning a week's wages with Dublin Corporation, made the case, and succeeded in proving, that they were entitled to an extra 10/- per week to meet the rise in the cost of living. Therefore, we have the position of the single man in the employment of Dublin Corporation making and winning the case that he is entitled to a rise of 10/- per week to meet the rise in the cost of living while his [1176] unemployed brother, who is receiving an assistance allowance, gets 1/- a week to meet these extra costs.

I feel that these people who are the destitute class in the country, the weaker section of the community, have been very unjustly treated by the Government. Even at this stage, I feel that an Order should be brought in here giving them a proper increase.

Mr. P.J. Burke:  I have been listening to my esteemed colleague, Deputy Rooney, with whom I have the honour of working in the County Dublin constituency. I am delighted to compliment him on the fact that his memory is very short. The blame for the position in which we find ourselves to-day can truthfully be laid at the door of the Deputy's Party and those fellow-travellers in the other Parties who made up the inter-Party Government. When we took office, we found that the ship of State was on the rocks. As I said the other day, the inter-Party Government ran away from their responsibilities. They were delighted to get out of office. Now they try, in Opposition, to act like a saint and cry, if you do not mind.

There is not a man on this side of the House who would not like to see everybody in employment and everybody with full and plenty. However, any opportunity we had of doing that was taken away from us by the Deputy's Party and the people who made up the inter-Party Government. When we resumed office, the position was so bad that we found it very difficult to carry on at all. Deputy Rooney knows well in his heart that money cannot be got except through extra taxation. Deputy Rooney also knows well that, during the term of office of the inter-Party Government, the loans which were floated failed because the people had no confidence in them. We supported the National Loans on every occasion because we looked upon loans as a national and not a Party affair. However, notwithstanding all the assistance we tried to give them during that period, they left us with a ship-wrecked country.

We are asked why unemployment and everything else are so bad. The fact [1177] of the matter is that by the time we resumed office every industry in the nation had gone to its lowest possible ebb.

Mr. Rooney:  It has gone lower.

Mr. P.J. Burke:  In industry a deterioration had set in. Confidence was gone. Almost overnight, we were asked to transform the situation despite the fact that a general deterioration had set in. May I ask if you can bring back a bankrupt business within one year? Can you, in the space of one year, remedy all the defects of the policy of the last Government over a three-year term of office? Their term before that was not very creditable either.

Unfortunately, it is not Deputies here but the people of the country as a whole who are suffering from the bad handling of the economic affairs of the nation during the reign of the inter-Party Government. My colleague, Deputy Rooney, comes in here and cries for the people. However, the very Party he is assisting to control in County Dublin had not very much compunction about sacking road workers. They are not doing a great deal to assist these people or to make the economic position easier for the people of County Dublin and the people of the nation as a whole. We expect cooperation from all sides of the House during this difficult period but we are not getting it. We have the experience of the usual votes of condemnation but if these votes of condemnation were turned in the direction in which they really should be turned they would be directed towards the people who now sit on the Opposition Benches.

The members of the inter-Party group are directly responsible for having us as we are to-day. While we here—I myself personally, as well as my colleagues—are sorry and very perturbed to see so many people leaving the country and so many people unemployed, it is my fondest hope that we will round the corner very soon and be able to meet the position, and try to give work to the unemployed and better conditions to our less fortunate brethren.

[1178] Some of the speakers on the other side have been shedding crocodile tears here, but, all the time, we know definitely that they are responsible for the position. They are now trying, by crying and by a saintly cloak over their ordinary clothes, to make out they are the saints and that they have the cure for all ills. If they had the cure for all ills and had left the country as it should have been left, we would have been prosperous to-day, just one year after they left office. When they left office, they were delighted to get out. I hope that in the very near future money will be found by our own Government to deal with the unemployed and the destitute and to help in a general way to do what we so much desire here in Fianna Fáil, to build up the country and to have it as we left it in 1948.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  The contribution of the last speaker was very typical of the Fianna Fáil policy— jam yesterday, jam to-morrow but never jam to-day. The Taoiseach, when speaking in this House as Deputy de Valera, condemned the introduction of Supplementary Estimates and he expressed the opinion that they ought not be introduced in the House, that the time for financial stocktaking was the annual Budget and the time for the stocktaking of the various Departments was the discussion on the various annual Estimates. Even though he expressed that opinion, we have a number of Supplementary Estimates still being introduced. It is only right that the House should be bluntly informed that the reason why this Supplementary Estimate is introduced and why this House is asked to vote this substantial sum of money is the Budget introduced and passed by the Government. I venture to say, Sir, that if we had not had that disastrous Budget, there would have been no necessity to come to the House seeking this money.

Only last week, the Taoiseach stated here that the cost of living was going down and had gone down, but there is no sane person, no person outside a lunatic asylum, who would contend that the cost of living has gone down or is going down, or that there is a [1179] reduced cost of living to-day. For the ordinary old age pensioner, for the widows and orphans, for the blind persons and for those who are in receipt of unemployment benefit, there is lip sympathy and statements that the cost of living has gone down, whereas everyone knows that, in reality, it is at its highest possible peak to-day. Since the present Government took office, and particularly within the last 12 months, the main item of diet of our people—which is bread—has increased in price. Bread is the principal item of diet for the old age pensioner and for those who are unemployed. When there is a higher consumption of bread, it means that our standard of living is dropping lower and lower, because when our people cannot have meat, fish and a variety of foods, they have to fall back on bread. Although we hear the cost of living has gone down, the price of the loaf has been increased from 9¼d. to 1/1. The increased price of bread has affected the unemployed, the children of the unemployed, the old age pensioners and the widows and orphans, more than any other increase ever imposed.

Some people speak of the unemployed or the old age pensioner having to purchase or consume butter, but it is common knowledge to those who have contact with rural Ireland to-day that butter is a complete luxury. For the information of the Minister for Social Welfare and his Parliamentary Secretary, there is no old age pensioner in this country to-day who has butter on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, because from the allowance received on Friday, a meagre supply of butter is purchased to carry them over the week-end. There are even families to-day where the father is working and where there are five or six children and they never have anything on their bread but margarine; yet we are told that the younger members of the family should be well fed and well nourished and that it is hard to equal the nutritive value of butter.

Butter is a thing of the past; it has become a luxury; and the old age pensioners, the widows and orphans [1180] and those in receipt of benefits under this Estimate, are not able to purchase butter. Take, for example, the old age pensioner or unemployed person who is obliged to purchase flour. The price of a stone of flour has increased from 4/7 to 7/-; yet we are told the cost of living is going down. You have these people not purchasing flour by the stone as they did, but going into shops and asking for a pound of flour—a thing never known before.

I have been a member of this House for 15 years and in those 15 years I never passed through a blacker year, a year of greater hardship or a year of greater distress or greater poverty than has prevailed in the past year amongst the ordinary people of this country. It was a period in which there was dire hunger and dire starvation. There was want; and decent people were reduced to having to beg alms. There was never a greater drain on the funds of the St. Vincent de Paul Society; there was never a greater drain on the charity of the people, as that which we have experienced in the past six or seven months.

When one looks upon the present time of distress, of poverty and hunger, there is no man who to-day can honestly stand up and say there is not hardship, poverty or hunger prevalent in many homes to-day. Real hunger exists in the homes but is hidden away because people will not seek charity, due to a certain amount of decency and pride. It is only those who are associated with charitable organisations and who have to go into the homes of people who, from outside appearances, look as if they are well fed and in comfortable circumstances, who know the real story. There are many like the old age pensioners who are too proud to go out in the middle of the week and say they are really on the verge of starvation and on the verge of collapse from hunger and hardship.

Those are the conditions that prevail in many homes to-day, in the homes of the tens of thousands of unemployed who were promised the hundred thousand jobs this time 12 months ago. They are sending their children to school half-hungry. The dry bread and rough [1181] crusts that were hitherto thrown to the animals are now put aside and bound up in paper for hungry children to eat on their way to school. When they arrive in the school for the school meal, they find that the bun that was available is now only a half bun, and that only half the allowance of bread is available for the school meal compared with 12 months ago. Previously the children were given two cuts of bread. Now they get only one cut, divided in two so as to make it look like two cuts.

Let us reflect for one moment on the benefits paid to unemployed workers and let us ask ourselves one simple question. Is there any Irishman who readily wants to live on the dole? I venture to say that most of our people are anxious for work, not afraid to work and will give a good return for what they are paid. The present Government lowered our people to the level of paupers by giving them free milk, free beef, free boots and free vouchers for this, that and the other. They handed out all these things in return——

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy should confine himself to the Estimate.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  This is included in the Estimate—in return for votes.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy should not travel beyond the Estimate.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  There may be a small percentage of people who want something for nothing, but all the vast majority of our unemployed people want is full-time employment and a decent wage in order that they may obtain the standard of living to which they are entitled. It is heart-breaking for many a father to have to suffer the humiliation of having to stand in a long queue outside a labour exchange or outside a Garda barracks to hand in their dole forms. I am sorry that that state of affairs has been sponsored and continues to be sponsored by the present Government.

Deputy Burke said this morning that the inter-Party Government are responsible for this state of affairs and for the unemployment position. It cannot be that the inter-Party Government were responsible for the fact [1182] that, in 1940, the unemployment figure was, in reality, 234,855 after many years of strong Fianna Fáil Government. There is no use trying to throw the responsibility on to someone else when you have the responsibility. The responsibility is that of the present Government. They are in office now and it is their job to remedy it and that is what they received the votes of the people 12 months ago to do.

With regard to the provision in this Estimate for grants towards the supply of fuel to necessitous families, if the statistics are taken, it will be found that there are more people in this city, in every other city and in every provincial town, seeking this assistance from the local authority than ever before. There are many poor people who, apart from being in hunger and distress, do not see a fire from one end of the week to the other. To add to this extraordinary insult and to add to the plight of these grief-stricken people, they get a contribution of 1/- from the Government.

It has been pointed out that, in order to meet the rise in the cost of living, those who are in employment have been seeking wage increases, which have been approved to the extent of 10/- per week. If a person who is in employment is to be given compensation of 10/- per week because of a rise in the cost of living, how is it that an increase of 1/- a week to the old age pensioner and the unemployed person to cope with the same rise in cost of living is as much as the Government can give? I was expecting that the unemployment benefits and the rates payable to old age pensioners would have been very substantially increased.

It is no harm to mention on this Estimate that the figures relating to unemployment recipients should be more closely examined, because the figures which are available are the unemployed who register at the various labour exchanges. I venture to say that there are as great a number of people living on friends and living on charity who are not registered as unemployed, and that the figures that are made available relating to the unemployed people are by no means [1183] accurate, having regard to the fact that tens of thousands of people have emigrated and that there are tens of thousands unemployed and in distress in respect of whom there are no records whatever.

I contribute to the debate on this Estimate merely for the purpose of directing the attention of the Government, and particularly of the Minister for Social Welfare, to the very serious plight of the poor people. It does not look as if they will get anything in the nature of assistance from the Government, but it is only right that Deputies should bring home to the Government the seriousness of their plight. Naturally, the House must approve of this Supplementary Estimate. The provisions which it contains must be made, but I want to place it on record that in so far as the services are concerned, they are not in keeping with present day conditions.

I wonder if the Parliamentary Secretary had any consultations with the members of local authorities or the managements of county homes throughout the country, because it is very clear that there are more demands for tickets for night shelter in every county home than ever before, by people who have neither fires to sit at nor food to eat because they have been denied the financial assistance which they should have.

I hope that when the Budget is introduced it will be more in keeping with the distress and poverty which is prevailing in the country. I hope that the less fortunate people, such as old age pensioners, will be given a decent allowance to keep body and soul together. It is quite clear that, on the basis of the allowances they are receiving at present, a great gap is developing between body and soul. They have not got a living but just a meagre existence from day to day and the big bulk of them are living on the charity of their friends and neighbours.

Mr. Moloney:  I listened with great interest to speakers on the other side of the House making very worthwhile suggestions for the Minister's consideration in connection with these Estimates. [1184] I am rather disappointed that some explanation has not been forthcoming from the people on the opposite side as to why there is such a discrepancy between the amount in the original Estimates and the amount actually expended under each heading. It is, of course, a fact that the original Estimates were prepared by the previous Government and handed over to us when we assumed office a year ago. The members of that Government must, of necessity, take full responsibility——

Mr. O'Sullivan:  Oh, not at all.

Mr. Moloney:  ——so far as responsibility is applicable for the preparation of the original Estimates. I would like the speakers on the opposite side to tell us how the figures, as shown in the original Estimate, were arrived at. This is very interesting because it is, of course, a fact that in many cases original Estimates, under some headings, cannot be reasonably expected to work out in practice, but there are some headings in this Vote which were fairly definite, which left very little room for the need for supplementary amounts, unless there is some very good reason for it.

Taking the case of the old age pensioners, there is a deficiency of £330,000 as between the amount estimated by the former Government and the actual expenditure. Now, the number of old age pensioners has not increased at all. My experience during the past 12 months has been that the difficulty in regard to getting through an old age pensioner, who is a border-line case, has been as great as ever, if not more so. I have often expressed my disagreement with the rigid system that is being employed to calculate and assess means against old age pensioners. On many occasions, I have discussed this matter with the Parliamentary Secretary in the hope that I could get some more sensible arrangement worked out. I have always got the answer that the Department is most sympathetic to the applications of all people who have reached the age for pensions, but that the means test system, which has been employed for a number of years, must of necessity still hold.

[1185] It was rather amusing to hear some of the speakers on the other side making a case as to why we should do certain things in that direction, people who were in power long enough and who, according to themselves, were sympathetic enough, to amend the regulations which prevailed in that connection. In the case of children's allowances, I cannot, for the life of me, understand the huge deficiency of £1,410,000 that exists and I do hope that some speaker from the Opposition will throw some light on that item.

Mr. O'Sullivan:  There is a simple explanation.

Mr. Moloney:  There is no explanation. What I want to know is why the original Estimates have, in practice. proved to be so hopelessly inaccurate. I am quite sure the Opposition would get annoyed with me if I suggested that the outgoing Minister for Finance did not know his business sufficiently well to calculate, with reasonable accuracy, the amount required to carry on the Government, if he were to be the Minister.

Mr. O'Sullivan:  Of course, he did not intend to touch the food subsidies.

Mr. Moloney:  The food subsidies are a separate question.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  They are linked very closely with that.

Mr. Moloney:  I am prepared to stand up to any cross-examination which the Deputy may like to put, but the food subsidies bear no relation to the number of old age pensioners.

Mr. McAuliffe:  The food subsidies had a great effect on the old age pensioners.

Mr. Moloney:  With regard to unemployment assistance, the last speaker tried to explain that in connection with the number of people on the live register—which shows a reduction compared with last year due to many factors—we have got quite a lot of people living with relatives and depending on their generosity. I say that we have got a lot of people, [1186] not to-day or yesterday, nor in the time of the last Government, nor the present Government, who succeeded in getting on the register some years ago and who are still on it, and who are now in a position that they do not merit to be paid unemployed assistance. Their way of living has improved. That might be due to their own hard work or to remittances from their children abroad. The position is, however, that, in my opinion, the register of unemployed should be reviewed because recruitment of labour for certain employment in public works schemes is effected through the unemployment assistance register.

We have complaints made to us, and I am sure every Deputy has this experience, by people who are unfortunate enough not to be on the top U.A. rate so far as the means test is concerned. It might be a small farmer with five or six cows in a rural area, or a man living in a grant house or cottage, and he fails to get the work because he is assessed with an extra 1/- or 2/-. That is a very objectionable practice and if for no other reason than that, I think there should be an examination of the register of unemployed in so far as the means of people on that register, who own land, and have rateable valuations of, I would say, £3 or £4, are concerned. It might provide an opportunity of increasing the rate of assistance that evidently could be paid to the people who are necessitous and who desire to be on the register.

I am aware there is a big increase of £18,000 in the grants towards the supply of fuel for necessitous families. For the life of me, I cannot agree with the case made by the last speaker as to why it is necessary to bring in this sum of money. I do think this scheme, which is a very popular one in the big centres of population, has come to stay. Furthermore, the price of fuel has increased. I do not think the increase sought is due to the dire poverty which is alleged to exist. The first reason for it is that the amount was grossly underestimated and the second is the increase in the price of fuel. Also, a greater number of people have availed of these services. If there was any [1187] difficulty in the past, it was due mostly to the quality of the fuel where turf was concerned. Happily, that quality has improved and I am glad to find more people availing of that supplementary assistance.

A suggestion has been made here in connection with butter which, of course, comes mainly under all headings. The price is 4/4 per lb. in this country and our friends in England can buy it at 2/9 per lb. I should like to make one suggestion to the Parliamentary Secretary in that connection—I do not know whether he will find it possible to implement it or not. I expect the Government and the previous Government have examined this before, and there may be some exceptional difficulty, which I cannot see, in implementing an arrangement whereby vouchers could be given to certain categories of people in receipt of social assistance on which they could purchase butter at the subsidised price of 2/9 per lb. I feel it would be a step in the right direction if we could succeed in getting our own people to purchase food of that kind which carries a subsidy abroad. If nothing else, it would give us the benefit of retaining the subsidy at home. I appeal very sincerely to the Parliamentary Secretary to examine this question in the hope that at long last he might find it possible to do something about it.

On the question of bread and flour consumption, I listened to some remarks by Deputy Flanagan who told us that the consumption of bread had gone down very considerably. I expect he was basing his calculations on the reduction on flour. For his information, I would like to tell him that, since the subsidy went off, the general usage of flour has gone down considerably, and a great deal of that is due to the fact that flour was fed to animals.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  Nonsense.

Mr. Kennedy:  Hear, hear!

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  There is not a word of truth in that.

Mr. Kennedy:  They fed it to greyhounds, too.

[1188]Mr. Moloney:  I stand over that statement. It is on record and anybody can challenge it any time he pleases.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  When Marie Antoinette was told that the French people had no bread, she said: “Let them eat cake”.

Mr. Manley:  We should approach a matter of his kind on its merits, but I feel it is my duty to deprecate the statements made by Deputy Burke this morning. I dislike very much being personal and I have a feeling that Deputy Burke is a generous-minded man, but the statements he made here have done more to damage the dignity and prestige of this House than anything I can recollect. We know that at the present time there is a wave of cynicism, disappointment and despair in the country and that condition is not helped by men who come into this House and make reckless and intemperate statements. At all times, we should have one objective in view, that is to enhance the respect for and the dignity of this House. I do hope that Deputy Burke made these remarks in a thoughtless moment, in a thoughtless way, and that he was not quite serious in what he said.

Deputy Moloney referred to the fact that these Estimates were prepared by the previous Government. At the time of their preparation by the former Minister for Finance and the various other Ministers, there was no intention on their part to slash the food subsidies and bring about the hardship which has been inflicted on the people by the present Minister for Finance in his handling of the Budget of last year. All these hardships have been brought about through the difficulties which have arisen due to the slashing of the food subsidies.

The sum sought here for the various supplementary votes, excluding that for the Department of Justice and, I think, the Circuit Court and Garda, amounts in all to approximately £6,250,000. There is no doubt that this is a staggering sum and one which should sober our thoughts considerably. I ask myself when I see this recurring expenditure: is this country going to [1189] get a chance at all? We know the struggle to-day is very tense indeed and we must ask ourselves are we going to prove ourselves as an economic entity? Have we justified ourselves, after 36 years of native Government, in providing for the needy in our midst? It is because of the needy in our midst that this Supplementary Estimate is brought in to-day. It is more alarming still when we consider that it was due to serious underestimation when last year's Estimates were prepared. It is going to affect revenue and will carry on the trend of the past, in that revenue is going to chase expenditure, and will blight the hopes of the people of having a prosperous, free and independent nation, economically as well as territorially.

We realise this Estimate is necessary. The State must meet and honour its commitments to old age pensioners, the blind, widows and orphans and so on. There is a sum of £193,000 extra for unemployment assistance. I was very edified to hear one member of the Labour Party during one of the debates last year saying it would be far better and much more judicious, if the Government provided full employment for all our people so that we would not have to fall back on such a thing as unemployment assistance. There is no doubt many of our social solaces are degrading. There is no doubt the dole is degrading. If there is one thing more than another that evokes sympathy from me, and I am sure everybody in this House, it is to come across men going round in search of work, on the verge of despair when they cannot find it. A generation ago we had more than double the population we have to-day. Admittedly our people lived under very difficult circumstances, but they certainly had more happiness and more contentment and they looked to the future with a greater eagerness than people can to-day after 36 years of native government.

It has been asserted here that emigration is not associated with this Vote, but we must remember that emigration is largely caused through unemployment and 80 per cent. of our [1190] emigrants are forced to leave because of their failure to secure employment here under a native Government. What will happen if the recession which is now beginning to show in various parts of the world strikes Great Britain with any great force and our emigrants are compelled to return home? What will their prospects be? What will they find here? How shall we maintain them if they return? We would, of course, be glad to see them coming back if conditions were favourable and they had something to which to return.

It is an extraordinary thing that in the whole of the past 36 years of native government, no Government has yet succeeded in providing the solution for either unemployment or emigration. We should not talk glibly about these serious problems. They are a reflection on our whole economic system. Certainly we shall not help towards a solution of this problem merely by blaming one another. Let us get away from the schoolboy attitude which is so apparent here in debates: “Anything you can do I can do better.” At some future date all Parties here should sit down together and try to devise some permanent scheme to bring about a permanent solution to these twin evils of unemployment and emigration.

This Supplementary Estimate, and the others that have been introduced here, do not give any grounds for complacency. Because of this unavoidable supplementary expenditure we are likely to be faced with increased taxation in the coming year. Because of the protestations, the indications and the assertions made by the Minister for Finance last year we had hoped that we were coming to the end of the era of increasing expenditure and higher taxation but, from the hints dropped recently by Ministers, I am afraid we are facing a very difficult future and if we have increased taxation again this year we will have to give up the ghost entirely.

Charitable organisations were mentioned here by Deputy O.J. Flanagan. We, in this House, do not properly appreciate the work done by the [1191] various charitable organisations all over the country.

Mr. O'Sullivan:  Hear, hear!

Mr. Manley:  They have certainly saved the State many commitments which would otherwise have fallen upon the Exchequer and which would have had to be provided from Government sources. Most valuable work is done by the various religious communities, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and all these other organisations so assiduous in alleviating the distress in our midst. It is true that the poor we shall have always with us and it is very edifying to see men and women devoting their time and services gratuitously and voluntarily to the work of helping our fellowmen on whom fortune has not smiled too kindly.

Mr. Wycherley:  Having listened to the eloquent speeches from both sides this morning and last night I, as an impartial observer, find it very difficult to make up my mind as to who is actually responsible for the chaotic conditions which exist and for the financial stringency. To me, it appears to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black because, over the past 30 years, the two big political Parties have been competing against each other for the popular vote in the cities and towns by giving free dole, free this and free that. The poorer people in the rural areas, becoming alive to that, flock into the cities and towns to swell the armies of the unemployed, the armies which must get these social benefits. The result is that their numbers have increased year in and year out. I believe in a “back to work” policy—the policy about which Fianna Fáil was so eloquent 12 months ago. I feel compelled to speak on this Supplementary Estimate to-day because it was this day 12 months that the people in my constituency elected me to represent them in Dáil Éireann.

I come from a depressed area. The majority of the people are poor. It is by no means a wealthy area. The average valuation is £8. The people work hard and derive their little incomes from their own industry—dairying, [1192] milk production, poultry production and the other small lines that go with that kind of mixed farming. They have never looked for social benefits, but it would be of tremendous value to them if they could get some benefit in the line of extra work. The people in rural Ireland were ever too proud to look for State assistance. What they desire is assistance in the form of work. They do not want money for nothing as do the people in the cities and towns.

Since coming in here I have on numerous occasions put before the House the necessity for carrying out improvements, improvements which would be of great benefit to the country, in the form of cleaning rivers, improving by-roads and boreens. I want to help the people who want to work. The area I come from is an undeveloped area. It is a shocking state of affairs that we should be providing this huge sum of money for social assistance when there is so much work to be done in the undeveloped areas. Those who are drawing this money should be put to work developing these areas.

We have heard something about the cost of fuel. We have unlimited fuel resources in this country. If the people would only go down into the bogs from now until next November, we would have sufficient fuel to supply the needs of every household in this country. Instead of providing free money, provide them with free fuel and put them into useful work.

We have heard the case of the bread and the butter. I know from personal experience that there is plenty of cheap butter produced in this country to-day. Butter can be bought freely at 2/9 or 3/- per lb., but it is farmers' butter produced by the cheap family labour in rural Ireland.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy may not discuss the price of butter on this Supplementary Estimate.

Mr. Wycherley:  Butter has been mentioned so often here last night and to-day that I thought it would be a good idea to tell the House of the [1193] cheap butter which is available but which is not bought in Ireland.

Mr. Corish:  We would take it in Wexford.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy may not pursue that line. It does not relate to any of the subheadings in the White Paper.

Mr. Wycherley:  The cost of butter was mentioned and I can assure you there is plenty of cheap butter at 2/9 and 3/- per lb., produced by the family labour of this country, but it is not considered good enough. People prefer, perhaps rightly so, the better class creamery butter at 4/2 per lb.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy will get an opportunity of raising that matter on another Estimate.

Mr. O'Sullivan:  Surely under sub-head E—Grants under the Education (Provision of Meals) Act—the cost of butter is reflected in the additional estimate of £6,500 required?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy is not dealing with that particular sub-head. He is comparing the price of creamery butter and farmers' butter. The Parliamentary Secretary has no responsibility for that matter.

Mr. Wycherley:  I just wanted to inform the House that such butter was available if people want cheap butter.

Mr. Corish:  We want it in Wexford.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy has already informed the House.

Mr. Wycherley:  This butter may not be so palatable. It is something like the Danish and New Zealand butter which was so objectionable to the people of this country three years ago.

As regards bread, the cost of bread to any household could be reduced greatly if people did more home baking. If they baked more of the one way wheaten flour, it would be much more beneficial because the bread would be more wholesome than the factory made loaf. That is a matter that cannot be [1194] over-stressed, especially for the people who want to live economically on the very small incomes they get under social welfare benefits. It would be a good thing to have more home baking. We could live better because homemade bread is far superior to factory bread.

These Supplementary Estimates are bad because they give the impression we are living beyond our means. Every sensible person in this country must realise that a person, a company or a nation living beyond its means cannot survive for long. The only way of providing all this money for social services for the ever-growing number of people joining the band wagon of unemployment is to reduce the incomes of some other section of our people. The only section of the people whose income is now being reduced is that section called the farming community.

We know that the prices of wheat, barley and pigs, have been considerably reduced within the past few months. Now the dairy farmer, if you please, of whom I spoke a few moments ago and who works 365 days a year to make a meagre existence on his farm, is threatened with a decrease in the price of his product.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  These matters would be more relevant to the following Estimate for Agriculture.

Mr. Wycherley:  I was applying my remarks to the money which is to be made up to provide the Supplementary Estimate for social services. This money must come from some source. I am wondering is it right to victimise this section of the community and to extract so much money from the farming community, who provide the bulk of the taxation and who pay most of the rates? Is it right to extract so much money from all those hardworking, industrious people to provide all the necessary social services to keep people unemployed?

The whole system is wrong. A back-to-work policy is the one which I am all for, the one which I will support in this House so long as I am in it. The work is there but it is no use talking about it from one end of the year [1195] to the other. One year has gone by but our bogs are still undeveloped, our rivers are not cleaned, they are flowing over the land and our roads are as bad as ever. Talking will not do it. It is the responsibility of the Government to put the unemployed to work at productive employment in this country. The men will then be happier.

I know that even with all the social benefits developed in this country over the past 20 years, there is more discontent among the people deriving those benefits than in the past when they were happy and contented at work. When people get into that habit of idleness and when they are idle for 12 months or two years, they cannot get back to work. Their muscles are not hard enough, and they lose the art of work; they continue, and their families after them will continue, to join the band wagon of the unemployed. It is a wrong policy. It is high time that the Government of this country took courage in their hands, rose to the occasion and saw to it that the unemployed are put to work in gainful and useful employment.

Rúnaí Parlaiminte don Aire Leasa Shoisialaigh (Micheál Ó Cinneide):  Tá cúpla poinnte a bhaineas leis an Vota seo gurb mhaith liom tagairt a dhéanamh dóibh. Deputy Manley asked if there was not a drift across the water and if our emigrants had to remain at home, what would happen? We would have to do with a lower standard of living in this island home of ours with two Governments, two Parliaments and two everything. The effort we must make, referred to by Deputy Manley and the last speaker, will have to be a Herculean one because of the unnatural division of this country. Primarily, it is the root cause of many of our economic evils. There was one point made by Deputy Corish—I am not going to follow, I hope, every point in the debate—in regard to the provision of money in the Budget. There was provision made in the Budget for this Estimate in relation to social assistance. Let us now turn to the main trend of the debate.

Mr. Corish:  I did not say that there was not provision. I think the Parliamentary [1196] Secretary may be somewhat confused since we had so many debates on social welfare last night. It was on the motion.

Mr. Kennedy:  We are dealing here with a Supplementary Estimate which, with the original Estimate, amounts to approximately £25,250,000. We have a population of less than 3,000,000 people and the taxation we have to put on our people to provide that sum amounts to approximately £8 10 0 a head in social assistance. Those who talk glibly about that not being enough ought to apply it to the national income. Would they ask themselves how the majority of our farmers to whom the last Deputy referred exist and what their standard of living is? Sixty-four per cent. of them have holdings of £20 valuation and under.

Then we had a laugh about the 1/-. In a home such as I have instanced, 12 pennies must be examined before they are spent. In these homes, there is very frugal economy. In many of these small, uneconomic holdings, where there is only one cow, there are periods of the year when there is no butter in the house. That has always obtained and there should be no mystery about it now. Consequently, the painting of poverty and pauperism is doing great injury.

Deputy Manley inferred that such talk came from one side of the House only. It came from many sides of the House. If there is to be a national effort to go ahead, we must see the sunrise. We must pull together and co-operate to get this nation out of the economic blizzard which struck it and to which the Taoiseach referred. We must condition the muscles which the last speaker said were lax and get them going again.

I will not go into the question of emigration, but I was abroad, and I saw our people work harder abroad than they work at home. Let me deviate for a minute and refer to one bright feature. I saw recently where the workers in an industry in Dublin are putting 1/- aside per week to help in the national effort. We want that from everybody, if we are to go ahead. Let us not exaggerate in [1197] regard to figures. We have a population of approximately 3,000,000 people. We are dealing with a particular Vote in respect of 35,000 registered people drawing unemployment assistance. One would imagine from the debate that the whole population were existing on social services and were in poverty.

We never contended that social services are a living wage. They are a grant-in-aid and that is all they are. A man on the list for unemployment assistance to-day may be working tomorrow. One would think he was all his life on the list. There is then no need for all the exaggerated pictures which Deputy Flanagan is so capable of painting. They talk about the 1/- a week. Fine Gael provided no social service, in spite of Deputy Rooney's statement. They initiated no social service, but they took 1/- a week off the old age pensioners. One of the Opposition's own ex-Ministers said it was one of the daftest things the Opposition ever did.

Mr. O'Sullivan:  They were building a few bridges at that time.

Mr. Kennedy:  I put my national reputation and that of my family against that of the Deputy any time.

Mr. O'Sullivan:  That is not being questioned.

Mr. Kennedy:  If we had a national approach to questions, the Deputy would not talk as he does.

Mr. O'Sullivan:  The Parliamentary Secretary started it.

Mr. Kennedy:  The man on unemployment assistance with a wife and four children gets 6/4 a week as a result of the 1/- increase, made up of unemployment assistance, children's allowance, etc. He does not get a bob a week. The family man gets 6/4 a week. The sum we have brought before the Dáil is a very substantial sum. No instructions of any kind, direct or indirect, have gone from the Minister's Department or from me personally [1198] to any social welfare officer to do anything outside the code of administration, but we will certainly make war on people who are claiming benefit who have no right to it.

The number of old age pensioners some years ago was 131,000. In the present year it is 165,522 which represents 78.5 per cent. of all the people over 70 years of age. The cost in the present financial year is £10,179,651. We are paying £10,000,000 and I wish we could pay more, but £10,000,000 is a nice little burden in regard to one item of social assistance on the shoulders of the population.

We have raised the standard in regard to the means test. A man or woman can earn £1 a week and still get the full old age pension. They can earn up to £2 a week and get 10/- per week. Deputy Manley rightly referred to the charitable organisations. I said that social assistance is a grant-in-aid. There is more good done by stealth than in any other way. We know the spirit of neighbourliness and Christian charity which prevailed throughout the centuries among our people. It is an admirable thing. We help one another out. We help the lame dog over the stile. It would be a poor day if the welfare State should ever replace that —a very poor day, indeed.

We do not want a Soviet system here. We want private property. We want the small farmer, the middle-sized farmer, the big farmer and the shopkeeper all pulling together and helping one another. With the knowledge that that was how our nation was made up, all our social legislation was framed. I was surprised to hear Deputy Gogan talk about a differential between a rural old age pensioner and an urban old age pensioner. I know the hardship it is for a poor old man or woman in a room in Dublin, but the poor old man or woman in a room in Athlone or Mullingar is just as pitiable, and in the latter cases they will not have free fuel. If one wants the flight from the land to major cities to continue, one can have that differentiation. I am subject to, and I would follow loyally, anything my Party do, but if I have any influence with them, [1199] I would recommend that they should never make that differentiation.

We had talk here about butter and we had a discussion on tea in relation to the cost of living, but the man who makes a cup of tea has to use a kettle and has to have a fire and a house for the fire. The material that makes the kettle is not found in this country and has to be imported, and the animal that produces the butter has to be exported, unless we put a steel wall round the country and stop exporting. In that case, we would not be able to talk about the six ounces of tea consumed by the ordinary individual. Once we had to make do with a quarter of an ounce, but I would like even that quarter of an ounce to come in so that we would not be cut off from all the amenities to which we are accustomed. People should examine that aspect of the matter also.

The cost of all these social services is a very great burden on the community and we must tax the community to give them. There is a point which can be reached in taxation when you cease to get any further yield, and that fact has to be kept in mind.

Deputy Rooney referred to the high number of unemployed in Dublin City. No man in rural Ireland or in the cities is ignorant of his rights in the labour exchange and the latest return we have from Dublin on 22/2/'58 shows 17,724 people unemployed as against 20,123 in the comparable period last year, a decrease of 2,399. One cannot have one's cake and eat it, and I have been listening to Fine Gael speakers giving the impression that everything good in the last 11½ months, such as the betterment of the balance of payments and every Bill that came before the Dáil and was of benefit to the State, was due to Fine Gael. They must take the swings with the roundabouts and if there is unemployment and all the terrible things spoken about here, the responsibility is theirs. Just as they claim all the good things, they must accept the bad also.

Mr. Corish:  I wonder if the Parliamentary Secretary can give any further information in regard to the establishment of a workshop for the [1200] blind for which I think there is a sum of £14,000 in this Estimate.

Mr. Kennedy:  I think we may be able to give the Deputy more information on this point on the Vote on Account.

Mr. Corish:  In order to give the Parliamentary Secretary time to look up this matter, I can put down a question next week or the week after.

Mr. Kennedy:  Very good.

Vote put and agreed to.

Minister for Finance (Dr. Ryan):  I move:—

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £30,000 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st March, 1958, for Pensions, Superannuation, Compensation (including Workmen's Compensation) and Additional and other Allowances and Gratuities under the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1956 and sundry other Statutes; Extra-Statutory Pensions, Allowances and Gratuities awarded by the Minister for Finance; fees to Medical Referees and occasional fees to Doctors; Compensation and other payments in respect of Personal Injuries; etc.

A further sum of £30,000 will be required to meet the expenditure from this Vote in the current financial year in addition to the net amount, £980,200, already provided in the original Estimate. The additional provision is required to meet payments out of sub-head B of the Vote in respect of retiring lump sums and death gratuities for civil servants, as well as gratuities to established women civil servants retiring on marriage.

Expenditure on retiring lump sums was higher than anticipated because the number of civil servants who elected to retire between the ages of 60 and 65 years was greater than in previous years. The Estimate for death or marriage gratuities must necessarily contain an element of uncertainty, [1201] and this year's provision, although it was based on previous experience, proved insufficient, owing to a slight increase in the incidence of deaths and marriages.

Vote put and agreed to.

Minister for Finance (Dr. Ryan):  I move:—

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £25,000 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st March, 1958, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Stationery Office; for Printing and Binding, and the provision of Stationery, Paper, Books, Office Machinery and other Office Supplies for the Public Services; and for sundry Miscellaneous Purposes, including the publication and sale of Reports of Oireachtas Debates, Bills, Acts and other Government Publications.

A further sum of £25,000 will be required to meet the expenditure from this Vote in the current financial year in addition to the net sum already provided, £427,300. In the main, the necessity for the extra provision arises from the fact that the Estimate was tightly drawn and demands for Stationery Office supplies and services were greater than was anticipated. This latter was particularly the case in relation to equipment for mechanised procedures designed to secure savings in staff expenditure on Votes other than that for the Stationery Office.

Even though demands were not excessive by comparison with previous years, the provision for printing and binding was also found to be insufficient to meet requirements as the year advanced.

Mr. Sweetman:  I do not think the Minister is quite correct when he says the Supplementary Estimate arises mainly because of the necessity for additional equipment. The main part of the Supplementary Estimate, 50 per cent. of it, is in respect of additional printing and binding, £12,200 out of [1202] £25,000 if I understand the Estimate correctly. I cannot see why that should be so, particularly when we have on the other side the increased deficiency for Appropriations-in-Aid. Possibly there might be a decrease in the sales of Oireachtas papers, because in the period since March 20 last the House has met less often because the Government provided less work than is normal for it. I cannot see how the two come in the same time.

So fas as additional equipment is necessary for increased mechanisation, I willingly give the amount in question to the Minister. The more one can streamline efficiency, the better for all of us and the better ultimately for the taxpayer. I think there must be some reason other than that which the Minister has mentioned to account for the increase in printing and binding. That is an Estimate which it is to a large extent within the power of the Minister to determine. The Minister, by keeping a tight rein there, can ensure that Estimates are not exceeded and on that sub-head, D., I should like some greater explanation than the Minister has vouchsafed.

Dr. Ryan:  I am afraid I cannot add very much, except that printing and stationery were higher than had been anticipated. I do not blame my predecessor. Of course, he cut the Estimate as far as he could get agreement, but the Estimate was cut by £40,000 and it was a little bit too much. That is all I can say about it. Whatever stocks of stationery and so on we had were running down. On that sub-head, let us say an error of judgment was made more than anything else. They had to buy more stationery than was anticipated.

Mr. Sweetman:  If any Estimates have to be cut, it is a good thing that it should be those with which the Minister for Finance deals, in order to set a headline.

Dr. Ryan:  I agree.

Vote put and agreed to.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Smith):  I move:—

That a supplementary sum not [1203] exceeding £3,007,000 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1958, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Agriculture, including certain Services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain Subsidies and sundry Grants-in-Aid.

The Supplementary Estimate, which has been circulated to Deputies, indicates that the amounts estimated at the beginning of the year for a number of sub-heads of my Department's Vote have proved inadequate and that there has been a deficiency in the estimated Appropriations-in-Aid. The total amount needed to meet the additional expenditure and short fall under those headings comes to £3,507,400. There will, however, be a saving estimated at £500,400 under other sub-heads, leaving a net additional sum of £3,007,000 to be voted by the Dáil.

Under sub-head B, £5,000 extra is required to meet increased rates of subsistence granted during the year and also additional travelling expenses incurred in dealing with outbreaks of swine fever and in the extension of the bovine tuberculosis eradication scheme.

An additional sum of £5,000 is required under sub-head E (1) to cover the cost of stocking Backweston farm and a new farm adjoining it, which was acquired last October. These two farms will be worked as one unit and will be used primarily for the breeding and propagation of nucleus stocks of seeds of various kinds.

A token provision of £10 has been inserted under sub-head E (5) for the purpose of broadening the ambit of the sub-head to cover the cost of investigations on “Virus S” in potatoes. This virus has been identified in other countries as the cause of a serious potato disease and has recently been observed in this country. Investigations into it will be carried out by the Plant Pathology Department of University College, Dublin, and it is estimated that the cost can be met from savings in the provisions already made for [1204] wheat midge and eelworm investigations.

An additional sum of £10,500 is required under sub-head G (2). The funds made available under this sub-head in recent years for the purchase of stock bulls for leasing to cattle breeders was limited for reasons of economy. It is, however, essential for the sake of our important live-stock trade that bulls of the highest possible quality should be available and the additional money now required will enable the purchase of an increased number of bulls of high quality. This will benefit not only the breeders themselves but the cattle trade generally.

A supplementary sum of £17,500 is needed under sub-head J for the purchase of lands at Tully, County Kildare. These lands, containing 674 acres, are the major part of the lands occupied by the National Stud Farm but have hitherto been held by the Department under a yearly tenancy only, terminable on six months' notice.

The demand for ground limestone has been greater than was anticipated at the beginning of the year. It is expected that total deliveries to farmers this year will reach the record figure of 1,250,000 tons, and an additional sum of £60,000 is required under sub-head M (8) to meet increased delivery costs.

Under sub-head M (13), an additional sum of £717,000 is needed for payments to the Pigs and Bacon Commission arising out of the scheme of support prices for exports of Grade A bacon.

Deliveries of pigs to the bacon factories here have been at a high level during the last six months, deliveries during the period April to December, 1957, totalling about 826,000 pigs as compared with 614,000 pigs in the corresponding period of 1956. It is expected that deliveries will be maintained at a high level during the coming months and that total deliveries of bacon pigs in the current financial year will be approximately 1,150,000 as compared with 815,000 in 1956-57.

As a result of the increase in the numbers of pigs reaching bacon factories, relatively heavy shipments of Grade A bacon are being made under [1205] the scheme. During the period April to December, 1957, a total of approximately 190,000 cwt. of Grade A bacon was exported. It is expected that a further 127,000 cwt., approximately, will be exported in the January-March, 1958, quarter, bringing total exports of Grade A bacon in the current financial year to 317,000 cwt. as compared with 46,700 cwt. in 1956-57.

The bacon market in Britain has been very depressed in recent months, mainly as a result of exceptionally large supplies of British and Danish bacon and a marked improvement in the position cannot be expected in the near future. The price realised for Irish bacon in the British market, which averaged about 275/- per cwt. in the first eight months of 1957, has recently been as low as 210/- to 230/- per cwt., necessitating a subsidy of £5 to £6 per cwt. on Grade A bacon exports. Because of the present slump in bacon prices in Britain and having regard to the prospects for the next few months, it is probable that the actual realised average price for our bacon in that market during the present quarter will not exceed 236/- per cwt. and during the whole of the current financial year will not exceed about 250/- per cwt.

On this assumption, the total cost of subsidising Grade A bacon exports during this financial year will amount to about £1,325,000. There was a balance of £258,000 in the subsidy fund on the 1st April, 1957, and proceeds from the special levy on bacon pigs during the year will amount to £280,000, leaving a balance, to be provided by way of Exchequer contribution, of £787,000, which is £717,000 in excess of the sum voted.

Swine fever has persisted in the country through the year, and an amount estimated at £62,000 is required for the payment of compensation at full market value of all pigs slaughtered as a result of outbreaks of the disease and for concomitant expenses.

An additional amount of £2,544,000 is required under sub-head P. This additional provision is mainly for recoupment to the Butter Marketing [1206] Committee of losses incurred on exports of creamery butter produced in the seasons 1956 and 1957.

The original provision of £666,000 was intended to cover (1) balance of home-market subsidies on butter— production and sales allowances—up to 8th May, 1957, after which date such subsidies were discontinued; (2) cold storage allowances payable to creameries and the Butter Marketing Committee on the storage of butter for winter use; and (3) Butter Marketing Committee losses on the export from 1st April, 1957, of creamery butter produced in the 1956 production season.

The Butter Marketing Committee's losses up to 31st March, 1958, on the export of butter of the 1957 season's production account for £2,229,400 of the present Supplementary Estimate. The balance of £314,600 is required to meet (1) the balance of home-market subsidies on butter up to 8th May, 1957; (2) cold storage allowances paid to creameries, and (3) Butter Marketing Committee losses on the export after the 1st April, 1957, of butter produced in the 1956 season.

It is estimated that for a number of items under sub-head R there will be a gross deficiency of £105,500 in receipts brought to account during the year. This shortage has been mainly accounted for by the fact that expenditure on some of the services in respect of which recoupments are obtained from the American Grant Counterpart Fund will be lower than had been expected. Creameries have not availed of grants towards the cost of pasteurisation installations for separated milk to the extent allowed for in the original Estimate, and it has not been possible, owing to staff difficulties, to avail fully of the grant for technical assistance. When however, account is taken of the normal variations which occur from year to year as between amounts estimated and amounts realised in some of the numerous items which make up this sub-head and the definite prospects of increased receipts under some of them, it is estimated that the net deficiency in receipts will be £85,000.

[1207]Mr. Dillon:  I cannot help expressing some surprise that the Minister introduced a Supplementary Estimate, a part of which consists of subsidies, allowances, and so forth for dairy produce amounting to £2,544,000 in the first week of March, without giving us any indication of what his intentions are in respect of the year which began on 1st March. The Minister would have done us a service, if he had availed of this occasion to state to the creamery industry that it was intended to maintain the existing price structure for the coming year, because there is a good deal of malaise in the country which I think it is right to say at this stage is probably unfounded. I anticipate that the Minister will face the situation and deal with it in a sane way as it would be a catastrophe for the country if any other approach were made.

I want to avail of this occasion to emphasise to the House what appears to me to be a very important and fundamental economic fact, that is, that the value of a subsidised export produced in this country is substantially the same as, if not greater than, a protected industry to the national economy. I want also to direct the attention of the House to another aspect of this question—that where, for the development of an agricultural export for which there is virtually an unlimited market, we assist it with an export subsidy, every penny of that subsidy appears upon the records of the annual Estimate and the House is informed to the last farthing of what is charged to the community in respect of that industry.

When you bear in mind that industrial tariffs are levied on hundreds of industrial products in this country and that the result of each industrial tariff is to authorise the industrial producer to charge the consumer some margin in excess of the current world price of his product, you will realise that each of these tariffs represents a charge upon the consumer in this country of a substantial annual sum, but with this profound difference, that, in the case of an industrial project, it is a silent charge. It is never measured; it is never recorded; it is never brought to [1208] the attention either of the consumer or of the taxpayer of this country.

However, if, in the reverse procedure, in order to promote not domestic consumption but exports, without which the nation cannot function, we give a corresponding aid to agricultural production in the form of an export subsidy, every penny of it appears on the records of this House, and for no more significant reason than that the machinery requires that the money shall be drawn into the Exchequer, on the one hand, and paid out to the producer, on the other hand; whereas, in the case of the industrial tariff, the charge is never drawn into the Exchequer, but the producer receives the proceeds of the charge and the domestic consumer or taxpayer pays it, nonetheless.

I know that some people associate with the procedure of assisting the agricultural industry through periods of wild fluctuation on world markets the allegation that that procedure can properly be described as “dumping.” I do not know what that means. Certainly, in the case of butter, nobody in Ireland wants to sell butter cheaply in Great Britain or anywhere else. We will sell butter wherever we can get the best price for it. Our aim, wherever we offer butter, is to get the highest price the consumers are prepared to pay for it. However, it is not within our power to control the price of butter on foreign markets. We have not the slightest desire to dump it anywhere. We are quite prepared to co-operate in any plan to regulate markets and ensure that butter may sell at a reasonable price in world markets, if anyone will combine with us to that end. It is fantastic to say that when we offer top-grade butter on foreign markets, and accept the best price that salesmanship can secure for it, the process can fairly be called “dumping”.

I have been amazed at the claim made that discriminatory tariffs should be levied against Irish butter on the ground that Ireland was not a traditional exporter of butter to the British market. Happily, in Article I of the 1948 Trade Agreement, there is an acknowledgment by the Government of Ireland and the Government of Great [1209] Britain that Ireland has always been one of the traditional suppliers of the British market in butter. I think we are entitled to register some surprise that the fact should be challenged by some country which I do not think had been discovered when Ireland first started shipping butter to Britain. But I suppose that, in the difficult marketing circumstances of the world, strange allegations are liable to be made, and I do not wish to dwell further on that aspect of the present situation beyond saying what I have said.

I want to put this on record; let it be put on record in public; it is necessary that it should be put on record in public. I believe that those who appear to affirm in public here that the maintenance of an economic price for butter producers in this country is a departure from economic rectitude unparallelled in the world, are ignorant of the fact that over the last 18 months or two years the Government of New Zealand has spent approximately £12,000,000 maintaining the price of butter exports from New Zealand to the world markets. I do not profess to be able to follow all the complications of the various financial devices operated by countries on the continent of Europe who are in the butter export market, but I have not the slightest doubt that by a variety of devices butter prices are being maintained in those countries with very little regard to the amounts realised by them for butter on their export markets.

It requires protracted study—and very often the essential facts are not available—to detect how those export subsidy schemes operate in continental countries; but it is certain that it was not Ireland that knocked the bottom out of the butter market in Great Britain. I think I could say on whom the responsibility for that rests. I do not think it expedient to be more specific in that regard, but I believe that, in an ill-considered desire vigorously to compete with margarine in the British market, certain exporting interests spent vast sums of money artificially to depress the price of butter, to bring it into more vigorous competition with margarine, oblivious [1210] of the fact—which they might well have borne in mind—that while it is very easy to knock the bottom out of the price for an international commodity like butter, it is often extremely difficult to put the bottom back. Nobody can charge this country with any attempt to demoralise the foreign markets in butter and nothing we do at the present time can fairly be described as a contribution to that demoralisation.

Here is something to which I wish to direct the attention of the Government most emphatically, and I speak with some knowledge, as I think the Minister knows. I am convinced that there are certain interests who compete with us in the British market who would be glad to see us permanently withdrawn from that market and who would cheerfully bear the extreme difficulties in which they now find themselves, if they thought that the future held for them the compensation of our disappearance from that market. All our resources now should be deployed to ensure that that effort will not succeed. I want to warn this House that butter and bacon are, at the moment, relatively marginal exports for us. Our great mass of export is cattle on the hoof and on the hook, but if the economic life of this country is to survive it will survive as a result of the success that attends our effort further to expand our export of live stock and live-stock products—and by these I mean principally cattle, pigs and bacon, butter, wool and other animal products.

I rejoice to think that when Fianna Fáil was warning us two years ago and when Deputy Childers, as he then was, was thundering from this bench that the bottom had fallen out of the cattle market and that we ought to accept it as inevitable, and when Deputy Vivion de Valera was speaking from that bench there, to say that he and the Irish Press were merely forewarning the farmers of Ireland of the steps they ought to take for their own protection—then, as Minister for Agriculture, I advised our people that where they kept five head of cattle in the past they should keep seven in the [1211] future, where they kept ten head of cattle in the past they should keep 14 in the future and where they kept 20 head of cattle in the past they should keep 28 in the future and that if their equipment did not enable them to milk them all, to let the calves suckle the cows. Those calves are going out to-day at £66 apiece—and if they were not, the economic life of this country would be in a state of utter chaos.

I emphasise that because when we look at the state of our competitors who would wish to see us driven out of the British market for bacon and butter, let us not forget that whatever burden these subsidies may represent on us at the present time, we have the massive prop besides of our cattle exports. They have not. Their existence depends on bacon, butter and eggs. We know what the international egg market is like. We appreciate, in respect of our very limited exports of butter and bacon, the cold draught we feel in that regard presently; but we shelter happily under the splendid protection of a thriving and expanding live-stock industry. We exported last year—let us recall the figure— 830,000 cattle, worth £45,711,000. Last year we exported beef and veal— fresh, chilled and frozen—worth £6,000,000.

Faced with the problems involved in holding our place in a market where there is ample scope for great expansion in bacon and in butter, I welcome the silence of the Minister for Agriculture, because I interpret it as a clear indication that at the Fianna Fáil meeting held in this House last night he told the Deputies, or the Deputies told him, that there must be no interference with the creamery industry if the economic life of this country was not to be irreparably disrupted.

I welcome the announcement to-day by the Minister for Finance that the Book of Estimates will not be with us until Monday, as I interpret that to mean that perhaps there was some change of mind, that evil counsels were rejected and that prudence has prevailed; but I hope that before this [1212] debate concludes the Minister will go on record as agreeing with me that we should hold our place in the British market for bacon and for butter and that we should not recoil from any exertions necessary to make it possible for our people to continue and to expand that absolutely essential element in our economic life.

I note that the amount of ground limestone distributed this year has reached a record figure, 1,250,000 tons, and I direct the attention of Deputies to the visible consequences of that scheme and the land rehabilitation project. I remember that Fianna Fáil did not think much of either of those schemes when they were initiated.

Mr. Smith:  We forced the lime scheme on you.

Mr. Dillon:  I rejoice to discover that they now not only adopt them, but, in part at least, claim to have begotten them, a most edifying attitude for a foster father. I should be very happy indeed to share the paternity of these schemes with any member of the Fianna Fáil Party who has repented of his past irresponsibility. Lest, however, in the future, the bad thoughts that clouded their minds in the past should recur, I should like to direct attention to columns 598, 599, 600, 601 and 602 in Volume 165, No. 4 of the Official Debates of 20th February, 1958.

I will give myself the pleasure of reading out some of these figures which were provided by the Taoiseach on my request, because I think they may be fairly described as being in large part the result of the policy adumbrated by the Government of which I was a member in 1948, the cornerstone of which was the land rehabilitation scheme, the lime scheme and, finally, the removal of the tariffs from superphosphates, all of which were directed towards increasing the carrying capacity and output of the land of Ireland. How far did that fail or succeed? That is a question we ought to ask ourselves when we are called upon to vote additional money under sub-head N (8) for the distribution of ground limestone. Can we do it with a clear conscience? [1213] I think we can and I think these figures will confirm that view.

In 1947, on well-nigh 600,000 acres of land—mark the acreage—we produced 1,468,000 barrels of wheat; in 1957-58, on little more than half that acreage of land, about 350,000 acres, we produced 3,220,000 barrels of wheat. In 1947, we exported no bacon or ham at all; in 1957, we exported £4,300,000 worth of bacon and ham and the bulk of it was fed on skim milk and barley grown on the soil of Ireland. In 1947, we exported 482,000 cattle for which we got £15,600,000—I am speaking in round figures; in 1957 we exported 830,000 cattle for which we received £45,700,000. In 1947 we exported 14,000 cwt. of beef and veal worth £78,000; in 1957, we exported 530,000 cwt. of beef and veal for which we received £6,000,000.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Will the Deputy say how these exports arise on the Supplementary Estimate?

Mr. Dillon:  Every one of them arises out of the lime scheme and the land project.

General MacEoin:  And he has asked the question: is that money well spent?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I would point out to the Deputy that, on a Supplementary Estimate, it is not usual to have a general discussion on agricultural policy. That is reserved for the main Estimate.

Mr. Dillon:  Surely we must ask ourselves are we right in spending money on the limestone scheme?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy is dwelling on the limestone question too much.

Mr. Dillon:  I would not like to make the Leas-Cheann Comhairle a short answer, but I was six years Minister for Agriculture, and I must know something about limestone.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I do not want to restrict the Deputy, but I think he is going outside the ambit of the Estimate.

Mr. Dillon:  I cordially endorse the [1214] appropriation for limestone because I anticipate that the Minister's aim is to facilitate the farmers to get the limestone and spread it on the ground. I am satisfied that, in that aim, the Minister is not actuated by a desire to change the colour of the grass. He hopes the rain will wash the limestone down into the grass and that, as a result of that procedure, there will rise up out of the ground mainly grass, barley and beet which would not rise up out of the ground if we did not put the limestone into it. I am sure the Minister does not want to see grass grow for the purpose of decorating the horizon. He hopes live stock will eat the grass, that farmers will cut the grass and make silage of the grass.

What reasonable consequences do we expect to flow from that? I want to reassure the Minister that one of the consequences of cattle eating grass that grows out of limestone is that they give milk, provided they have had a calf. The consequence of their giving milk is that the milk is brought to the creamery. I want to direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that, in 1947, we brought only 154,000,000 gallons to the creameries, but as a result of the limestone scheme, in part at least, in 1957, we brought 289,000,000 gallons of milk to the creameries.

Therefore the expenditure on the limestone which made the grass grow and which fed the cows and resulted in the milk being brought to the creameries is, in my opinion, justified. I think the Minister will agree with me that if we stopped bringing the milk to the creameries, and did not investigate what experience has shown to have been successful we would be engaged on a futile inquiry. But when we appreciate that from the increased cartage of milk to the creameries our production of creamery butter rose to a record figure in 1957, we shall all feel satisfied that the output of lime was amply justified, always provided that at this crucial hour the Government will not get cold feet and inform the farmers that because they have succeeded in increasing their output of butter they are to be treated differently from the industrial exporters. We have provided that [1215] anyone who increases industrial exports shall be free from all income-tax on the profits arising therefrom. It would indeed be hard on the farmers if they were to be told that not only are they not to be relieved from any increased taxation, but that they are to be heavily penalised for the success which has attended their efforts on the export market.

I think it would be unreal if we turned our minds from the whole problem which confronts the pig and bacon industry, because there is a problem. We ought to dwell, when voting the money which this Supplementary Estimates provides for— £717,000—on the fact that the industry itself has provided approximately £500,000 in this year through the levies made in the course of this year and the proceeds of the levies that had accumulated from last year, to help the stabilisation of the price of bacon on the British market. It is natural and right that a lot of people must ask themselves what are the prospects. Are we to see the price of bacon further declining? The Minister says to-day that he sees no immediate prospect of an improvement. We have got to bear in mind that the present prices ruling on the British market are mainly due to massive imports of bacon on to that market.

If we are dismayed by the price differential that exists between our cost of production and the price received in Great Britain I think we ought ask ourselves what are the reactions in other countries where bacon is being produced for sale on the British market as well, more especially bearing in mind that some of these other producers have no other exports than butter and eggs. I have not the slightest desire, and I am sure that nobody in this Oireachtas has the slightest desire, to maintain a price war either with the British farmer or anybody else. We would welcome a reasonable price level on the British market, not a famine price level nor a panic price level, but we have no desire whatever to prosecute a price war and attempt to drive anyone out of the British market and their fair share of it.

[1216] At the same time we should make it clear that no combination of producers in any other exporting country need entertain any hope whatever that by the massive deployment of their financial resources they will succeed in driving us out. The sooner that is said, and the sooner it is clearly made manifest that that is our intention, the sooner we may anticipate that the present demoralised state of the bacon market in Great Britain will itself disappear. So long as there are people who believe that if they make the pace hot enough they can induce us to throw in the sponge, the pace may well be made hot. But the sooner it is brought home to their minds that, while we have no desire to engage in a price war, nobody is going to deprive us of traditional markets, the sooner may we expect some return to a price level to make producers produce more bacon and have a modest profit on honest labour, efficiently and expeditiously done.

I would be grateful if the Minister when concluding would tell us what is the current percentage of Grade A pigs going to the factories. I think I am right in saying that when we first introduced grading some years ago the percentage was running at about 56 and rose to 63 per cent. I think that is a good percentage but I should like to see it rising to 70 per cent. I think that if we are to reach a reasonable objective, it would be that 70 per cent. of all pigs reaching the factories were Grade A, and I think we shall reach that percentage.

In that connection I should like to ask the Minister what has become of the Progeny Testing Station at Cork. I see under “Appropriations-in-Aid” that one of the deficiencies is for £6,390—“Receipts from sale of bacon/ pigs at Pig Progeny Testing Station (sub-head E (7)).” So far as I am concerned, when I was leaving office 12 months ago, the Pig Progeny Station was finished structurally. There were some alterations to be made in the ventilation or something like that, but has it not been possible to put the station in operation yet? I know that I myself was concerned and felt I was open to rebuke in this House, that I [1217] had not had the station operating before I left office. I think a matter which the Minister should explain to us is how in the last 12 months he has not brought it into operation. I know that progeny testing on a restricted scale has been proceeding at Ballyhaise but that is something very different from what we had hoped for when the Pig Progeny Testing Station was operating in Cork.

I notice that there is certain additional money for seed testing, propagation and certification. It is so regularly the habit of anyone in this House to hurl whatever bricks he can put his hand on, that it is no harm to pass on some good news when one gets it. I was told recently by a farmer who was sowing a very large acreage of wheat this year that several of his neighbours had sought out and secured supplies of seed certified under the Department's seed certification scheme because their own experience had taught them that the difference in yield, consequent on using Department certified seed, far more than compensated for any additional price charged for it. I should like to congratulate the Minister on the quality of the seed bearing the Department's certificate and I think it is a matter upon which other Deputies might, with propriety, record their experience and their neighbours' comment. I did not catch —it was my fault—what the exact potato disease was.

Mr. Smith:  It is a disease known as Virus S.

Mr. Dillon:  It is certainly very necessary that the research resources of the universities should be employed in investigation of any disease of that kind. If past experience is any guide, whatever can be done will be done in that research office of the Department which, under Professor McKay, has an international reputation for applied and pure research.

I do not want to trespass upon the time of the House by referring to wider matters as these can be properly reserved for the main Estimate, but I do think the Minister could, and [1218] should, avail of this occasion to give the House at least some general indication on the lines which I now urge, both to pig producers and milk producers, that for the next 12 months they can anticipate stability at present price levels.

When the Minister is dealing with that, I should be grateful if he would reaffirm that the arrangement under the existing price stabilisation scheme for pigs continues, in that the price guaranteed for Grade A pigs is expressed to operate for a term of six months, and that there is no change possible without six months' notice to the producers. The Minister has announced the change from 235/- to 232/- to operate from 31st July. May I assume that the producers are guaranteed that no other change will be announced without a similiar six months' notice?

Mr. Smith:  I thought that was made clear in the announcement that was made to the Press.

Mr. Dillon:  There is no harm confirming it.

Mr. Smith:  I am not a person to change my mind so often.

Mr. Dillon:  No need to be cross about it.

Mr. Smith:  I am not cross.

Mr. Dillon:  I think Deputies will agree with me that his confirmation now is a material contribution towards stability, and if the Minister shares my apprehension that a great many sows are coming to the factories——

Mr. Smith:  It is not my information.

Mr. Dillon:  I want to add this. Perhaps my voice, added to that of the Minister, may contribute to a result which I have no doubt he and I earnestly desire. I want to say, with great deliberation, to the pig producers of this country, that they should not be panicked into throwing their sows upon the market, selling them for less than their value, and sending them to the factories for slaughter, [1219] because it is the people who keep their sows now who will do well in the long run. It is the people who jump in and out of pigs in this country who lose money. Those who stay in it usually come out on top in the end. My strong advice to the pig producers of this country, particularly in view of the assurance that there is a continuing guarantee of six months available to them, is to stick to their pigs, in the conviction that their market will continue to receive a fair modicum of support and, if we are going through a difficult time now, the future may be a very great deal brighter than at present appears possible.

Mr. Cunningham:  I want to refer briefly to the subsidy for the export of butter. As Deputy Dillon has rightly said, we cannot control the price of butter on the foreign market, but we can do a lot more to influence the price of our butter when it is sold in England and elsewhere. We are spending this very large sum to export butter and, on the experience which I have from travelling in both the Six Counties and in England, I can say we are not getting one penny worth of advertising value from all this money. We have a large number of Irish people in England, Scotland and Wales who know the excellent quality of Irish butter and who would be very anxious to purchase it. It is first quality butter, and can compete with any other butter imported into the British market, but what is the position in regard to the butter which we are exporting, and have been exporting for the past 18 months? As far as I can see, it is that, in order to effect a saving, a great deal of that butter is being sent to and sold in the Six County area. There is no indication whatsoever that it is Twenty-Six County, Republic of Ireland creamery butter. It is wrapped in the wrappers of the Six County creameries. There is no point in our trying to build up an export in the Six Counties for our butter.

In regard to Great Britain, the situation is even worse because it is being sold there unwrapped and in bulk. So far as I know, there is no indication [1220] given in England that the customer is purchasing Irish creamery butter. Though we are spending this very large sum, we are falling down seriously on the marketing of our butter in the export markets. On the other hand, our competitors in the British market are taking full advantage of our weakness. The Danish people must be spending very large sums in advertising their product in Britain. Buses and placards all carry advertisements proclaiming the merits of Danish butter. We do not do that. Again, in the presentation of their products, the Danes are very far ahead of us. They are selling butter wrapped in tin-foil on the British market. They are selling it in wrapped tin-foil pound and half-pound packets.

Mr. Dillon:  When it was brought in here, you called it “Dillon's yellow butter”, and you would not eat it.

Mr. Cunningham:  The whole matter needs to be examined into very strenuously because the present situation is not fair to our farmers who are producing first-quality butter. It is not fair to our people who are paying for the export of this butter that our butter should not have, when sold over there, at least a trade mark or some other indication to show that it has been produced in this country. I suggest to the Minister that he should go into this question of advertising our butter in the export market, because as far as I can gather there is a difference. Even with the slump in butter, to which Deputy Dillon referred, there is a big difference between the price we are getting in the British market and the price the Danes are getting. I understand that some weeks ago our price was about 2/3 per lb., whereas the Danish price was 2/10 per lb. While it is true that we cannot control the price, we could, by proper sales methods, advertising and the proper presentation of the product to the customer, influence the price and in influencing it, improve it.

Mr. Wycherley:  It is only a few short years since we had to import large quantities of butter from Denmark [1221] and New Zealand and the stench of that butter is still fresh in the nostrils of the vast majority of our people who were obliged to consume it. I am glad the Minister has introduced this Supplementary Estimate because it shows his appreciation of what the dairy farmers have done in that short time. They have responded to the call of the people and the Government and increased production, thereby enabling our own people to eat their own first-quality butter. It is certainly a remarkable achievement to have increased production to such an extent in such a short time. That increased production is due to the hard work and industry of the dairy farmers and to the long-term guarantee which the dairy farmer got for his produce.

I sincerely hope we shall have another long-term guarantee from the Minister now so that our farmers will not be left in the dark. At the moment there is too much speculation because of uncertainty as to what will happen the price of milk and the dairy industry generally. In such an important industry as this—perhaps the most important in our economy—it is hardly right or fair to keep the dairy farmer in suspense. He has to plan ahead. I sincerely hope the price of milk will not be reduced. We had an assurance from Deputy Dillon that it will not be reduced, but I would much prefer to have that assurance from the Minister.

The price of milk must have some relation to the cost of production. A technical expert who came over here to inquire into the cost of production of milk has proved that the cost is 1/9¾ per gallon. Milk production deserves all the support this Government can give it and the Minister should make it known at the earliest possible moment that there will be no reduction in the price of milk. Should there be a reduction, I have no hesitation in saying that, before two years are out, Danish and New Zealand butter will have to be imported again because our dairy farmers will not produce milk at an uneconomic price. They have no control over the cost of production. The cost of production is fixed by the Government, by the county council increasing the rates and by [1222] other factors over which the farmers have no control.

We have now to grapple with the eradication of bovine tuberculosis. That will be a heavy expense on the dairy farmers because of the cost of replacements. These replacements will be a mighty burden on the dairying industry and it would be a retrograde step if the Minister saw fit now to reduce the price of milk by even one farthing.

The dairying industry is the greatest industry we have, if figures count for anything. I asked the Minister last week the number of employees engaged by the creameries and the Minister informed me there were roughly 4,500 employees directly employed in the creameries. I am sure there is no other industry giving employment to approximately 4,500 people. All these enjoy a good standard of living. If there is any interference with the price of milk, I have no doubt that some of these employees will automatically lose their employment because milk production will go down, purchases of stores will be reduced and employment in the dairying industry will decrease.

Now, in addition to those 4,500 directly employed by the creameries, there must be hundreds of thousands employed in the production of milk, in the production of butter, cheese and all the other subsidiary commodities. This is, therefore, a very important Estimate in relation to a very important industry and the sooner the Minister makes his plan known to the dairy farmers, the better it will be for the economic future of the country. If the farmer is assured of an economic price for his milk, he will get more heifers in calf; he will build up his dairying herds, these herds which are the corner stone of the future economy of the country; we will have more cattle for export, more cheese, more butter, more pigs, more poultry, all founded on the dairy cow. I would like the Minister now to make known his long-term policy, so that the dairy farmer can plan ahead, secure in the knowledge that the money he invests in this very important industry will reap for him at least a meagre reward. It is not sufficient to do it [1223] for one or two years because the life of a cow could be ten or 12 years.

I should like the Minister to make it known that he will guarantee the dairy farmers an economic price for milk for the next five years. This would be an incentive to them to get rid of their tubercular cattle, to buy in good T.B. free heifers and to put them in calf. It would help to increase the prosperity of the country by having more cattle, sheep and everything else for export.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. S. Lemass):  I move:—

That it is expedient to authorise such payments out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas as are necessary to give effect to any Act of the present session to extend the period during which the Tea (Importation and Distribution) Act, 1956, is to continue in force.

Question put and agreed to.

Money Resolution reported and agreed to.

Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.

Question proposed: “That Section 5 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Sweetman:  It is quite clear that where a person has ceased to carry on the business, the appropriate [1224] parts of the section must operate, but there must be some method—I suppose it will be done administratively— by virtue of which the Minister would not cancel a registration without sending a specific notice to the tea trader concerned and giving him an opportunity of making his case.

As I read sub-section (1), the Minister could deal with it on representations made to him by someone else and the notice provided for in sub-section (3) might not necessarily reach. There should be in sub-section (3) the provision that it would be sent by registered post. There is a provision in clause (a) that he must give notice in writing to the person concerned but people are somewhat inclined sometimes to put aside letters without stamps coming from Government offices. It would be only right, when such a cancellation is on the mat, that the importance of it would be stressed and that could be met by registered post.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I am not sure of the legal effect of the phraseology here. It is not sufficient for the Minister to post the letter. He must give notice by post. It seems to me that that would place upon the Minister the obligation of ensuring that the notice was in fact given to the person concerned. I am not sure about the legal interpretation of the phraseology and I shall have it examined.

Mr. Sweetman:  If that is his interpretation, I should hate to be the Minister. Let us have it examined.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 6.

Question proposed: “That Section 6 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Sweetman:  The interpretation of notice applies in the same way, does it not? It is the same sort of thing?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Quite so. I shall have it examined.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 7.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Amendments [1225] Nos. 2 and 3 in the name of Deputy Cosgrave have been ruled out of order.

Mr. Cosgrave:  May I make a submission to you, Sir? I understand from your letter that you consider that the deletion of the two sub-sections concerned in respect of amendments Nos. 2 and 3, sub-section (2) and sub-section (4), is a direct negative. I submit that the purpose I seek to achieve by these amendments is not to negative the section but to allow individuals or tea traders other than the company to import tea. The section, as drafted, confers the right to import tea on the company alone. In those circumstances, Sir, I submit that the ruling which you made in itself differs from the purpose which I seek to achieve by deleting the two sub-sections.

Mr. Sweetman:  Would you allow me, Sir, to support that submission? Amendment No. 2 deals with the provision in the section prohibiting anyone other than the company to import tea. Amendment No. 3 deals with the provision in the section by virtue whereof such tea can only be imported if it is purchased in the country of origin. I suggest to you, Sir, with respect, that the Dáil should be given an opportunity of deciding separately, if it so desires, two separate questions that arise, one separate questions being whether only the company shall buy tea or not or whether any tea trader may buy tea, and the other question being whether tea, no matter by whom it is bought, by the company alone or by everyone, can be bought in the country of origin or anywhere else.

These are two separate questions and the Dáil should be given the opportunity of considering these two separate questions separately and deciding on them separately. The only way in which the House can be given that opportunity is by the separate matters being referred to in separate amendments, as has been done by Deputy Cosgrave.

Mr. S. Lemass:  That is the main principle of the Bill. Having given it a Second Reading, the Dáil would be stultifying itself if it proceeded to amend it in this way. As I understand [1226] it, the Bill would become completely unnecessary and futile.

Mr. Sweetman:  There are two different questions.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I have to consider the cumulative effect of the two amendments. If the two amendments are moved, the cumulative effect would be to negative the section. Sub-section (2) states:—

“No person except the company shall import tea.”

Sub-section (4) states:—

“No person shall purchase tea for importation unless——”

and so on. If these provisions disappear from the section, clearly the opposite position becomes law.

Mr. Cosgrave:  The company will still be allowed to import tea but would not have the exclusive right.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I can assure the Deputy that I gave more consideration to this than I liked.

Mr. Sweetman:  Might I make a slightly different submission? When introducing this Bill the Minister said two principles were involved. One was that the company would be set up for the purchase of tea. The second was that tea would be bought only in the country of origin. I do not see how separate decisions can be taken on either of those principles, except by the method which is included in this amendment, unless you, Sir, would be prepared to rule on another basis and be prepared to accept an amendment to delete sub-section (b) of sub-section (4). Then there could be one decision on that, and another decision on the other.

Instead of having amendment No. 3 in its existing form, which deletes clauses (a) and (b) of sub-section (4), could we not have an amendment which deletes clause (b) (i) of sub-section (4)? My submission is that there should be some method available by which the House could take separate decisions on the two points available—one, should the purchase of tea be only in the country of origin and, secondly, [1227] should the purchase only be by the new company? It seemed to me that the amendments submitted by Deputy Cosgrave would give that opportunity to the House. Would the Chair be prepared to accept such an amendment on Report Stage?

An Ceann Comhairle:  I would be prepared to consider the amendment without committing myself in the matter of order.

Mr. Russell:  With regard to sub-section (3) (b), “... imports it under and in accordance with an authorisation given by the Minister” does that mean an authorisation to import from a country other than the country of production?

Mr. S. Lemass:  On a point of information, the answer is “yes”. It is contemplated that circumstances might conceivably arise where, because of disturbances in the countries in which tea is grown, or on account of international difficulties, it might not be possible to procure tea in a country of origin.

Mr. Russell:  In actual fact, the wording in sub-section (4) (b) (ii), at the top of page 5, “The Minister has authorised”——

An Ceann Comhairle:  I do not want to interrupt the Deputy, but——

Mr. Russell:  Am I out of order?

An Ceann Comhairle:  Not exactly. I am trying to get the debate somewhat regular.

Mr. Sweetman:  Might I ask for the Chair's guidance on one point? On Report Stage, would we be in order in putting down an amendment to delete Section 7?

An Ceann Comhairle:  Sections do not come up on Report.

Mr. Sweetman:  Can we put down an amendment to delete the lines from line 52 on page 4 to line 12 on page 5?

An Ceann Comhairle:  Yes; that would be its form.

Mr. Sweetman:  It is a global one.

[1228]An Ceann Comhairle:  That would be the form of the amendment.

Mr. Sweetman:  I want to be sure if I cannot persuade the Chair between this and the end——

An Ceann Comhairle:  I shall facilitate the Deputy as far as possible.

Mr. Sweetman:  I have no doubt about that.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am not deciding on the particular amendment, however.

Mr. Sweetman:  You are indicating the way your mind is working, Sir.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I move amendment No. 4:—

In sub-section (5), to delete paragraphs (b) and (c) and substitute the following paragraph:—

(b) tea—

(i) which is shown to the satisfaction of the Revenue Commissioners to be imported for the personal use of the importer or his household, and

(ii) which, if it exceeds 5 lb. in weight, is imported under and in accordance with a licence granted by the Minister.

This is a drafting amendment to clarify the point in regard to tea imported for personal use.

Mr. Sweetman:  Exactly where was the previous draft deficient? Could the Minister indicate how this improves the situation?

Mr. S. Lemass:  The belief was that paragraph (c) did not remove all doubts that the tea that might be imported in accordance with it would be imported for the personal use of the consignee.

Mr. Sweetman:  Paragraph (c) has now become paragraph (b) (ii)?

Mr. S. Lemass:  But it is read in relation to (b) (i) which brings in the import for personal use and makes it common to the two sub-sections.

[1229]Mr. Sweetman:  What are the circumstances in which it is anticipated that there would be a licence granted for a tea import for personal use, exceeding 5 lb. in weight? I understand that in paragraph (c), as it was originally, it was intended to be tea for which a licence was given for import not for personal use. Now it is classed as personal use.

Mr. S. Lemass:  The principle of the Bill is that tea imported for commercial reasons will be imported by the company, but exception is made in respect of tea imported for personal use. It is possible for the Minister to grant a licence for the importation of tea exceeding 5 lb. in weight for the personal use of the consignee.

Mr. Sweetman:  In what circumstances would such a licence be granted?

Mr. S. Lemass:  I am told that occasionally parcels exceeding 5 lb. in weight are consigned to people in this country.

Mr. Sweetman:  Is it meant to cover the possibility of gift parcels?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Yes.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Russell:  I am not quite clear as to what is happening in regard to these amendments. Are amendments Nos. 2 and 3 going by the board?

An Ceann Comhairle:  I have ruled out amendments Nos. 2 and 3, and amendment No. 4 has been agreed to.

Question proposed: “That Section 7, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Cosgrave:  I understand that the purpose of this Bill, when the Minister introduced it, was to embrace two main principles—one that tea could be imported only from the country of origin and, secondly, that it could be imported only by a company complying with certain conditions, which, in effect, means an Irish company. I do not think there is any great objection to the second.

I wonder if it is wise to compel [1230] people to import from the country of origin only? As we argued on an earlier stage of this measure, if that principle is adopted in regard to tea, why is it not adopted in regard to other commodities, particularly at a time when there appears to be a general movement—at least lip-service is paid to it—in favour of freer trade? Remember, under another measure which is being considered here, we are attempting to take steps to liberalise the right to trade and manufacture here under the amending Bill to the Control of Manufactures Acts. In this measure, we appear to be going in the opposite direction; we want to compel people to import tea through a company—admittedly, a company of tea traders, but regulated by statutory authority.

I suppose the people to whom we look most for external capital for industrial development are the people of the United States and no people abhor more than they do State control and direction. Surely we cannot contend, on the one hand, that we are liberalising the means of manufacture here, freeing conditions under which people are allowed to manufacture or trade and, on the other hand, sustain a case that tea should be treated in an entirely different way. If we do decide in favour of restricting tea imports, then the same justification can be pleaded in relation to other commodities, even oil and petrol. If it is decided in principle, if the Dáil considers it is wise, to limit imports of tea to the countries of origin, then that could be achieved by a Bill compelling tea traders, whether primary or secondary wholesalers, or even individual traders who felt like it, to import directly.

The Bill could also contain, if it were considered necessary, provision whereby the company would have to comply with certain conditions regarding financial backing, direction and control— that control being in the hands of Irish people or people normally resident within the State. If that is the objective, it could be achieved in a much simpler fashion by compelling traders to import direct from the country of origin and by enforcing compliance with [1231] requirements in regard to the management, control and financial backing of the business.

If that is not our objective, why do we in this measure single out tea for regulated control, a control which does not apply to other commodities which could be treated in a similar fashion, especially at a time when there is a general movement towards freeing trade? Some efforts have been made to encourage the investment of external capital here, but this measure restricts any possibility, if there is any, of development from outside along the lines we are proceeding in the case of other measures. There has been a good deal of encouragement, not alone by this Government but also by the previous Government in that direction.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I think I can show that there is a very good case for proceeding on the lines proposed in this Bill. One of the factors which weighed with me in deciding on the method of changing from the present arrangement regarding the importation of tea was that the present arrangement provides for an economy in shipping freights. At the moment, there is one buyer of tea who buys all our requirements and arranges for their shipment from India as complete cargoes on vessels chartered for that trade. It could be contended that it is undesirable to change from the existing arrangement because of the economy which that system offers and because of the facilities it gives in insuring these cargoes with Irish insurance companies and in the warehousing of the cargoes when they arrive here.

If we had not provided for the continuation of that system of importation, it could possibly be contended that the effect of the change would be to increase the cost of tea landed here, because of higher shipping costs when individual traders had consignments sent forward to them as part-cargoes on ships which might be calling to other ports before landing their cargoes here. The net effect of that arrangement might be to raise the average cost of tea to Irish consumers.

There are obvious advantages in having the tea purchased in the countries [1232] of origin by the individual merchants channelled through one agency into this country. When I say “obvious advantages,” I mean advantages in respect of the landed cost of tea here. That is one consideration. There is, however, another and, from some points of view, a more important one. It is that we have the aim of putting all traders on an equal footing as regards shipping freights, the small wholesaler coming into the business for the first time, or in business only on a limited scale, as well as the great multiple stores with unlimited finance behind them and contacts in India of which they can avail as required.

The purpose of this arrangement is to ensure that the small trader importing small lots will not be at a disadvantage in respect of freight costs as compared with the large trader who will be able to bring in a shipload or who, because of the business he is offering the shipping firms, is able to get an advantage in freight charges. One of the effects of that arrangement is to ensure that every trader will have exactly the same freight costs in relation to his tea, irrespective of the scale of his operations.

We must recognise, however, that just at the present time there may be some difficulty in getting this thing going. I pointed out already that for almost 20 years no tea wholesaler here has been able to purchase tea except by going to Tea Importers Limited and buying the tea they had to offer. The restoration of freedom to purchase on their own account abroad will create problems for many of these companies and these problems are such that at the present time we are discussing and negotiating on the transitional arrangements that will operate this year and next year in order to avoid any possible difficulty in regard to future tea supplies. It may be that in the course of time another situation may develop in the tea trade which may justify reconsideration of this provision, but at the moment it seems clear to us that the advantage is in having tea channelled through one agent so that the fullest economy in respect of freight charges can be secured and that no additional [1233] freight charges will rest upon the smaller trader because of the smaller size of his purchases.

I also have in mind, in the uncertain state of the world, the possibility that we may, judging the future, decide at some stage to accumulate certain reserve stocks over and above those which the trade itself might reasonably be expected to carry and it would certainly facilitate an operation of that kind to have this organisation there with these powers and facilities.

Deputies will appreciate that one of the matters that have to be negotiated by the company now is the availability of bank credit to support its transactions. The present organisation, Tea Importers Limited has, of course, the support of a Government guarantee for its borrowings. It is not contemplated that this new company will have that support and the tea merchants themselves, with whom this matter has been very fully discussed, believe that an arrangement such as is contemplated here will facilitate them in obtaining from the banking organisation of the country the credit facilities they require.

There is a long term objective which I mentioned here on Second Reading of building up a tea market in this country. On that I have insufficient information to express any authoritative opinion. The practice of sending tea forward to be auctioned at local markets operates in some parts of the world but not in others. When I examined this matter some years ago I was brought to the conclusion that it would be to our advantage to have such a market developed in this country. The conflicting evidence as to the policy of the Indian Government in that matter may create some doubts but it is, I think, an objective which we should keep in mind. The tea trade tell me that it will take many years before there is any hope that it can be developed but, nevertheless, it would appear to me to be on the whole a desirable situation to work towards and, again, that would, of course, involve the necessity to create some channel by which tea sent forward for auction would be brought to this [1234] country and this Tea Importers, 1958, Limited would be the obvious channel.

The main reasons, therefore, why I think it desirable that we should keep this system of bulk shipment of teas purchased independently by tea merchants are, first, because of the economy it will achieve in regard to shipping freights; secondly, because of the fact that it will make it possible to guarantee to every merchant, big or small, that his freight charges will be equal and, thirdly, because of the fact that it keeps in existence an organisation which we may require at some stage for the purpose of accumulating and holding reserve stocks of tea.

Mr. Sweetman:  I must confess that I believe the Minister has disclosed his hand on this Bill largely only in the last few minutes. It is for the third reason that he has given that he hankers after reverting to the general bulk buying by a unified concern, that he wants to keep an organisation there that he can switch it to. That is the real purpose behind the institution of this company.

Mr. S. Lemass:  There is no power under this Bill to switch it to them.

Mr. Sweetman:  I know that but I think that is what is at the back of the Minister's mind. I must confess that I disagree with him totally and entirely that this Bill will produce the results that he has outlined. I think it will produce exactly opposite results, that it will have the effect, not of stimulating competition, but of stimulating restriction.

I hope it will not happen under this Bill but it has been universally accepted by people in India that the effect of bulk buying there has been to raise prices, not to diminish them. There has been pretty consistent evidence through the years that immediately a bulk buyer appeared on the scene in India the price was promptly jacked up for him. It is one of the results of bulk buying, perhaps, all over the world, not applicable only to tea. I have discussed this question, not just now but over a period of years, with people whom I have known, who have been tea planters themselves or [1235] who had this Indian association in the past. They were all pretty well unanimous in the view that bulk buying had tended to increase prices rather than to diminish them. I appreciate, of course, that the Minister has said that this Bill does not propose bulk buying in the same way as existed.

Mr. S. Lemass:  It does away with bulk buying.

Mr. Sweetman:  I appreciate that or, shall I put it this way—I appreciate that the Minister has said that it will do away with bulk buying but I do not think it will. The reason why I think it will not do away with bulk buying is that it will tend, not towards competition, but towards restriction and that we will have the same thing again.

We all want to get for the consumer here the best tea we can at the cheapest possible price. Whatever arguments there may be, there will not be any argument about that. I do not think this is the right way to do it. We must also remember that this Bill not merely sets up a company to deal with the matter in a way that, in my view, will not stimulate competition, but it also provides in this section the matters to which Deputy Cosgrave had hoped to advert to in amendment No. 3, and to which we will hope to advert in a slightly different type of amendment on Report Stage.

The Minister got very cross with me when I told him last week when discussing this Bill that there was at the back of his provision that the company could purchase only in the country of production. I still think that is the sole reason why he stipulates that. Let us examine for the moment what are the disadvantages. We all know, for example, that, on the general economic front, one of the difficulties from which we suffer here is a difficulty in regard to shortage of capital. The Minister himself has said that on many occasions and it is part of the reason why we have relaxation of the provisions of the Control of Manufactures Acts as set out in the 1932 and 1934 statutes. His colleague, the [1236] Minister for Finance, has taken the same view. I took the same view before. We all know that we are suffering from a shortage of capital and that we want additional capital more fully to develop our potential resources at home. One of the effects of this Bill would be to throw back on our own capital demands that might be met otherwise if this Bill were not in operation.

Mr. S. Lemass:  How?

Mr. Sweetman:  I will have the pleasure of explaining it to the Minister. One of the functions of Mincing Lane is to finance tea from the gardens to that point. That means that capital is being provided for that process, not out of our own resources, but out of other resources. We are deliberately cutting ourselves away from that source of capital.

It is not true to say, as the Minister said in the earlier stages of this debate, that we are doing this for the purpose of ensuring that the warehousing, packaging, and so forth, can be done here. We all know there is a package duty and that if there is a way round the existing package duty that way round can be closed. So long as the package duty remains operative, there is no possibility of tea being mixed and coming in here in packages in the manner the Minister indicated on the earlier stages of this Bill. Package duty obviously must prevent that from being done.

Mr. S. Lemass:  The duty is 2d. per package and it cannot be changed.

Mr. Sweetman:  The Minister is not so devoid of ingenuity that he will assert there is not a method of dealing with the package duty which would cover that aspect of it without any difficulty whatever.

Mr. S. Lemass:  It is consolidated. It cannot be changed.

Mr. Sweetman:  It can be changed but only in certain ways. There is not a complete embargo on change. There is an embargo on change, except after certain steps. The Minister then went [1237] on to talk about our tea market here. I cannot visualise our consumption of tea here in Ireland being such as to make it in any way practicable to set up a tea market here unless the position in relation to tea varies substantially from that which obtains. The overheads on a market for our relatively small consumption would, I am afraid, be such as to make that not really a practical proposition. Any market of that sort must depend on the quantity of the commodity that will pass through it. I do not see how our home consumption for a population such as we have can justify it.

Admittedly, we do consume per head more tea than many other countries. Incidentally, we consume or we are anxious as a people to consume a higher quality tea than is the average in other countries. I think, also, it is true to say that the quality of the tea consumed in Ireland varies inversely with the wealth of the household. There may be obvious reasons for that. However, in a small country such as ours, the possibility of our being able to set up a tea market, except at such overwhelming overhead expense as to create a burden on the consumer, puts it completely outside the realm of a practical proposition at the moment. Really, I do not think it is an argument that should come into the discussion of this Bill at all. There will be a great many amending statutes of all sorts on the Statute Book of this House before any such suggestion becomes a practical proposition. If circumstances did change so much as to make it a practical proposition, it would be quite easy to amend the law. Certainly, however, it is not one for the foreseeable future and, accordingly, it is not an argument for this Bill.

Section 7 will do certain things, but it will not promote the competition the Minister advocates for the section. In my view it will, instead, promote restriction. It will promote a greater grip than pre-war by the larger tea firms, but it will not provide as much grip, I admit, as Tea Importers; that was an emergency organisation set up to deal with an emergency situation and we all hope we are moving out of [1238] emergencies. It will not provide, by ensuring that we buy in the country of origin, cheaper tea. It will not provide better quality tea at equivalent prices. It will provide that we shall utilise somewhat needlessly in these circumstances capital which we could otherwise use for the development of our native resources.

I still think that the sole reason for that part of this Bill is that the Minister, because of something that happened about 16 years ago, wants to have a swipe at Mincing Lane. It is a bad policy to cut off your nose to spite your face. It may be pleasing to the Minister to do it, but if that is the reason—and I believe it is—it is bad national policy.

Mr. Norton:  I do not think the possibility of establishing a tea market here in any way makes an argument for supporting this Bill. I think the idea of a tea market here is very largely a pipe dream. Any advantages we will have in that respect are paralleled by advantages which other countries have because other countries have larger populations and are closer to the large centres of population. Most European countries will have advantages in the matter of establishing a tea market that would be greater than anything we could possibly have. Therefore, I think the idea of establishing a tea market here is a dream and does not, in fact, make weight for a Bill of this kind.

I support this Bill for a number of reasons. Frankly, I would prefer if this Bill provided for bulk purchase in which a single organisation could buy all our teas in the country of origin or elsewhere and sell those teas on a non-profit-making basis to everybody engaged in the tea trade in this country.

Notwithstanding what Deputy Sweetman says, I believe the man who goes into a market—whether it is a fair, a shop or whether he is seeking a service—and says: “I have £5,000,000 in my pocket; I want the best possible price I can get” has obviously a much better bargaining power than a fellow who says: “I have £1,000 in my pocket. I want £2,000 worth of tea. If you give me £2,000 worth of tea I will pay [1239] you £1,000 now and, one of these days, I will give you the other £1,000.” Obviously, the man with the money in his pocket, in the commercial world in which we live, has the bigger bargaining power. That is our everyday experience.

If we have a bulk-buying organisation which would send a buyer to India who could say: “Our requirements are 24,000,000 lb. of tea and we have all the money in our pockets to buy it”, surely he must be able to get a better price than a whole flock of relatively impoverished people, small in their own line of business, striving to buy tea at whatever price they can manage to get it on their completely insignificant power so far as the strength of the tea market in India is concerned.

Therefore, frankly, I would prefer if this Bill were to establish a bulk-buying organisation on a non-profit-making basis to get us good quality teas as cheaply as possible and to sell them to the tea merchants here at the lowest possible price consistent with not losing money. This Bill does not do that. If I have any complaint about it, it is the imperfection that it does not provide for the establishment of a bulk-buying organisation of that kind.

At all events, let those who criticise the idea of confining our purchases to the country of origin remember that for 20 years now we have been buying tea in the country of origin. That has been the normal pattern of our buying over the past 20 years; we have been buying only in the country of origin. This Bill is merely continuing what has been there for 20 years. To allow people to go to any market in the world they like or to places where tea is not grown but merely auctioned for the benefit of the auctioneers is going back to a situation which we have not experienced for the past 20 years. I think Tea Importers did a very good job in extremely difficult circumstances during the war years and during, perhaps, the worst post-war years from the point of view of buying tea.

From the point of view of buying tea, I think the bulk buying has shown [1240] up to advantage, not merely in war time but in peacetime as well. Frankly, I would prefer personally if this Bill were to enshrine an organisation for buying tea in bulk, but there can be no argument I know of— and certainly those who have the arguments have managed to keep them pretty secretive up to now—against requiring people to buy tea in the country of origin. At present there is only one organisation which can import sugar and in that connection there has been a gain to this country. Now we are paralleling that by establishing an organisation which is to be the only one that can purchase tea. If we were right in regard to the sugar company I cannot understand what argument there is against tea. I think the system makes for order and planning.

The only outstanding question is why registered tea dealers should be confined to buying their tea in the country of origin. The alternative is to let them go to Mincing Lane. One might say they could go to Amsterdam or anywhere else, but the only practical alternative, in our circumstances, to buying in the country of origin is to buy in Mincing Lane. In this country we have large tea selling organisations which have more than a nodding acquaintance with Mincing Lane and, of course, if you allow people to go back to Mincing Lane, these people will be completely unconcerned with the idea of buying in the country of origin. Their parent company does that and regards it as good business to buy in the country of origin, but the offspring established in this country will be required by the parent—who himself already has bought in the country of origin—to buy from the parent where the parent has a depot, and that depot is not far from Mincing Lane. Now, all the big tea importers in England buy in the gardens and in the auctions in India. They would not think of going to Amsterdam to do it; they would not think of coming here to buy it if we had a tea market. They buy in the country of origin and out of the accumulated stocks so bought they will require the commercial offspring here to buy tea.

Deputy Sweetman appears to think it would be possible to keep these [1241] advocates of Mincing Lane purchasers from sending packaged tea in here, if we permitted purchases in the Mincing Lane market. I do not think it would. The present package tax is a pretty well fixed package tax and, as the Minister says, it cannot be changed except, if at all, by going through an elaborate process and possibly then you could not even change the tax because of our contractual obligations under the tariff régime. I do not think the present package tax would be a serious obstacle to branches of their companies here buying package tea in London.

The package tax on a packet of tea is about 2d. What is to prevent people packaging 1 lb. of tea in London and sending it to Dublin, even if they have to pay the 2d.? Between the time tea lands in Dublin and gets into the hands of the retailer, there is possibly 1/-, if not more, added to the lb. of tea. What is to prevent a person packaging in London and saying: “All right, we will pay the tax, less the weight of the packet in which the tea is packed, and we will send that across and sell it in Ireland.” That can be done; there is no difficulty in doing it, if you can buy in Mincing Lane.

What follows from that? It means that the packaging instead of being done here, is done there; it means that the storage of tea, instead of taking place here, will take place in the London docks; it means that the warehousing of the tea would also take place in London and there will be a regular drip of tea into this country as this country requires it. The breaking of the bond, the blending of the tea, the storage of the tea, the insurance of the cargo of tea, the packaging of the tea and all the other ancillary operations will be done in London, to the detriment of everybody who now gets a living at any one of those operations in this country. For those reasons, it must obviously be more advantageous to us —at least until we are shown there are opposite advantages—to buy our tea in the country of origin and do all these operations in this country.

Deputy Sweetman makes the point that, if we allow people to go back and buy in Mincing Lane, the kindly merchants [1242] of that commercial centre will buy all the tea for us in India and they will package it for us, they will insure the cargo coming in and do all these things. Of course they will. Why would they not do so? But they will charge the tea consumer in this country for all those operations. Is it not better, if we have to pay for those operations, that we should pay our own people by arranging that they will engage in those operations in this country?

On the question of Mincing Lane providing the capital, it is true that Mincing Lane provides the capital, but only because we are so intellectually Victorian in the way we handle our own money. The Central Bank lends £70,000,000 to the British Government, which now owes it £70,000,000 in guarantee for this loan. If the Central Bank took even £5,000,000 of what it lends the British Government, it could finance the whole tea trade. It could do that by discounting the tea organisation's bills or by a regular advance from year to year to the tea traders, which would earn more money for the Central Bank than they get on their present lendings to the British Government. It would ensure that there could be no default, because every year our people consume approximately 24,000,000 lb. of tea at a money cost of £5,000,000. The capital problem presents no difficulty, if we have only the sense to adjust our financial methods to enable us to meet any difficulty which arises because of our own folly in the way in which we invest our money elsewhere.

I have heard no argument, no solid argument whatever, against buying in the country of origin. There are many arguments which have been repeated many times in the course of this discussion showing why we should buy in the country of origin. It is because I think there are advantages in buying in that way that we support this section and the Bill in its entirety.

Mr. Cosgrave:  We have had repeated statements that this Bill will do a certain number of things and that if we buy in the country or origin tea is bound to be cheaper. I am not wedded by any means to the idea that we purchase [1243] only in Mincing Lane but nobody —neither the Minister nor Deputy Norton—has proved that we got tea at a cheaper rate than anybody else or that we got better tea at a cheaper rate than other buyers during the last 20 years. It is quite true, as Deputy Norton said, that Tea Importers did a good job during a difficult period and that bulk buying was obviously the only method that could be adopted but nobody has shown in the course of this debate either that the tea we got was cheaper compared with comparable varieties of tea purchased by other large purchasers or that it was of a better quality.

In the past, we did generally buy and use a higher quality of tea than was used in Britain—at least, that was the reputation we had as tea consumers but in the past 20 years we have had to take whatever tea we got, and while the quality sold in recent times is better than it was during the war years, or the acute post-war years, nobody could suggest that the quality sold at the present time is anything like as good as it was formerly. In fact, Deputies generally and the public get complaints from time to time about the quality of tea that is available, and, because of the changed circumstances, the ranges of tea which are sold are not anything like as great as was the case formerly.

On the question of employment, we would all support any proposal which would maintain existing employment or create circumstances or conditions in which it could be expanded, but again no figures have been produced to show that there is greater employment given here than was formerly given except in respect of whatever warehousing is done at Dublin and I think that is comparatively limited employment that may have replaced people who formerly had employment in blending, and so on, in stores in cities or towns throughout the country. Certainly as regards the suggestion that there is a lot of employment given in packaging tea, that was true long ago, but nowadays a good deal of packaging is done by machinery and there is not anything like the same [1244] handling of tea by individual persons which existed in the past. Admittedly there is probably some business given in respect of Irish insurance.

In effect what this Bill will mean— and Deputy Norton, I think, is in favour of this and there may be something to be said for it—is bulk purchase or, if not bulk purchase, bulk importation which in effect will mean a few large primary wholesalers purchasing consignments or consignments being shipped by this new company, and the amount of competition will be negligible. It will be merely a transition from the present bulk purchase by tea importers to purchase by a group of tea traders who will subscribe to this new company and who are the largest people in the trade.

I cannot see how, as the Minister has suggested, this will mean cheaper shipping rates because if it is known that the only importer of tea to Ireland is Tea Importers (1958) Limited, then unless we get preferential treatment, say, from Irish Shipping or some company of that sort, it is obvious that shippers will be in a position to jack-up their freight rates because the only company with the right to import will be the company established under this Bill.

Again if this is true in respect of tea, why is it not also true in respect of petrol or oil? They are two commodities that we purchase here in large quantities. The oil is the same except that there might be slight changes, whether it is light or heavy, and so on, but subject to those different types of oil, if there is a strong argument for purchasing tea in the country of origin, the same argument ought to operate in respect of other commodities.

I have no strong views as to whether we should resume, and I do not think we can resume, the same conditions that existed when purchases were made through Mincing Lane. Conditions have changed a good deal since 1938 or 1939, but if there is an argument for bulk purchase then there is a great deal to be said for what Deputy Norton has stated. If there is not, we ought to free the whole thing and not leave a finger in the pie.

[1245]Mr. Russell:  It would not be unfair to say that the proposed arrangement is a compromise between what Deputy Norton had in mind and what I would call private enterprise which operated pre-war. It is only fair, as Deputy Cosgrave has suggested, that if we go back 18 or 20 years during which Tea Importers operated and certainly operated efficiently, particularly during the war, it is just as relevant to go back 21 or 22 years when the tea was imported through the normal channels of the trade. At that time certainly there was no dissatisfaction either with the quality of the tea which was distributed throughout the country or the price or with the whole arrangement of tea distribution.

I do not think you can make a compromise between some form of State control and private enterprise, and there is merit in the views of Deputy Norton. It would be far better to continue with the arrangement that has existed for the past 20 years or so and allow private enterprise to operate. Personally I am in favour of private enterprise doing the job.

The Minister has mentioned as one of the advantages in the proposed new arrangement that there will be an economy in shipping. I do not know how valid that is because I do not know what effect economy in shipping had on the arrangements 21 or 22 years ago. Apparently in the mid-30's we did get tea at a reasonable figure. Again the Minister suggested the new arrangement would put all traders on an equal footing. I do not regard that as a desirable thing to do. If you want to preserve the element of initiative and progress you must make it at least attractive for the smaller man to get on, to develop his business and give him a target to aim at. If you put everyone on the same footing you will leave the position exactly as it is and take away the impetus which is one of the arguments in favour of private enterprise.

One of the ideas which the Minister suggested he had in mind in this arrangement was that if the State would ever wish to accumulate a reserve of tea, this new company could be a convenient way of doing it. It is hardly [1246] necessary to set up a new company to do that. An arrangement somewhat similar to what, say, Grain Importers had in connection with grain would suffice. The Minister could arrange with the bigger tea importers to reserve tea under the auspices of the State and that could be held there for as long as the Minister and the Government required it.

Deputy Norton compared the importation of sugar, which is done, as we know, only by the Irish Sugar Company, with the possible importation of tea through a sole agency. That is not a valid comparison because, as everybody in the House knows, the Irish Sugar Company are the only manufacturers of sugar in the country. They are manufacturers and importers and it would cause a great deal of disruption in the sugar trade if sugar was imported except through the company which has a monopoly for the manufacture of sugar.

This Bill will not, I feel, achieve the good intentions for which I give the Minister credit. It would be far better to continue the arrangement of the past 18 or 20 years which I do not think is the best arrangement. The only grounds for setting up a monopoly is because private enterprise has failed to do the job. With the exception of the past 16 to 18 years, I think it can be shown that private enterprise, in the form of the normal tea trade, has done a pretty good job over the 100 odd years we have been importing tea. I quite agree that we should seek to preserve and develop the biggest possible amount of employment in the tea industry, but ways and means of doing that, other than this Bill, could be found. My personal views are strongly for reverting to private enterprise which should be allowed to do the job it has done cheaply and effectively over a long number of years.

Mr. Booth:  I was very glad to hear Deputy Cosgrave draw an analogy between the importing of tea and the importing of oil and petrol. That is a very appropriate analogy to draw. The oil companies at present are exclusively controlled by non-nationals. They can strangle the whole life of the [1247] country at any moment and yet they are allowed complete control over the importing of oil and petrol. When it comes to tea, its importation is now to be confined very strictly to Irish nationals. I still hope that the Minister can convince me that it is both necessary and desirable.

The Minister has stated there will be a reduction in freight costs with one importing agency. Here again I would like information on the point in greater detail than we have had. My information is that the minimum freight costs are achieved by a shipment of six chests of tea, which in itself is a very small shipment. I cannot verify that. The information has been given to me and doubtless the Minister will be able either to confirm or deny it. Furthermore, I remain unconvinced on the question of the economy of buying in the country of origin. I am told that over 1957 the average price in London on the market there of the quality of tea normally consumed in Ireland was 6d. per lb. cheaper than the same quality purchased in Calcutta and landed here.

I understand that the reason for that was that there was heavy bulk buying on the Calcutta market by the Russian Government, which would tend to confirm what Deputy Sweetman said, that heavy bulk buying puts up the price rather than reduces it. I have got all this information only at secondhand and the Minister has sources of information which are not open to me. I should like some verification of the information which has been given to me, but it would appear that if we confined our buying during 1957 to the country of origin, and I believe we have not—I believe some tea at least was purchased by Tea Importers on the London market during 1957—we were buying at an unnecessarily dear price. I am not in favour at all of bulk buying as being necessary to our economy. Very often, a man who is bulk buying is not the man who is going to do the retail selling.

My experience in business is that a bulk buyer is not as selective as the man who is buying in small quantities for resale by himself. The Minister [1248] has stated, and, I think, probably correctly, that it would be very difficult to go back instantaneously to individual tea importers buying on the Indian market, by reason of the fact that they have been excluded from that market themselves for nearly 20 years. That is probably correct and the net result of that will be that, on the passing of this Bill, individual tea wholesalers will not buy at all, but will rely on Tea Importers (1958) Limited, to do the buying for them.

If that happens, and I think it will happen, we will find that Tea Importers (1958) Limited, will not only be the sole importers but virtually the sole purchasers. I am uncertain, too, in regard to the paragraph which refers to the authorisation given by the Minister, which is presumably an authorisation to purchase otherwise than in the country of origin. I should like to hear from the Minister under what circumstances he foresees such an authorisation would be given. Would it be only where supplies were not available at all in the country of origin, or would it be where the Minister has satisfied himself that the price on the Indian market, for instance, was higher than on the London market? At the moment, it gives the Minister a discretion and I would like some indication as to how the Minister could be influenced in using that discretion.

All in all, I still feel that further information should be given to justify the creation of an import monopoly, which, in my view, will almost certainly develop into a purchasing monopoly. If, as Deputy Norton would prefer, it was purely a State company, I think in many ways it might be less objectionable, but when the company exercising the monopoly is a company formed from a proportion, and only a proportion, of the tea traders of this country, I feel there is a danger that this company may get into the wrong hands and may not act in the public interest. I hope the Minister will be able to give us further information on these points and that he will be able to convince me, as he states he hopes to be able to do. I am afraid at the moment I remain in some doubt.

[1249]Dr. Esmonde:  We are still in the same position with regard to this Bill. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Norton and the Department of Industry and Commerce appear to be the sole supporters of this Bill. Otherwise, it does not seem to be arousing any enthusiasm on the part of any section of the House.

I would like to deal with a few things that Deputy Norton said. He said it was common sense that if anybody could go to a country of origin with £5,000,000 in his pocket he would get a better deal than anybody else. I wonder where they are going to get the £5,000,000. True, Deputy Norton qualified that and said they would get it out of the Central Bank, but if Deputy Norton, or anybody else, can get £5,000,000 out of this Central Bank to buy tea, he will be doing a good job.

Mr. Norton:  Where do they get it at the moment?

Dr. Esmonde:  They get it by getting a credit from the Government.

Mr. Norton:  No, they borrow it from the banks. That is not a credit from the Government.

Dr. Esmonde:  Exactly, but if Tea Importers, Limited, as the Deputy says, borrow it from the banks now, you will have Tea Importers (1958) borrowing it from the banks as well.

Mr. Norton:  Tea Importers, Limited, are being wound up.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Money for what?

Dr. Esmonde:  I presume if we are to have a company to buy tea——

Mr. S. Lemass:  This company will not buy tea. I have been trying to impress that point for two days.

Mr. T. Lynch:  They will only take the profit; they will take their commission.

Mr. Norton:  They are going to arrange for its shipment. They do not buy it.

[1250]Dr. Esmonde:  Who is going to get the money for the tea?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Anybody who wants to do it can buy tea in India or other countries of origin.

Dr. Esmonde:  But they cannot get it, except through the company.

Mr. Norton:  They must be on the register first.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Anybody can register.

Mr. Norton:  Even the Deputy can register.

Dr. Esmonde:  If they put up enough money. Is that not controlling the import of tea?

Mr. S. Lemass:  They do not even have to belong to the company to buy tea in the country of origin.

Dr. Esmonde:  I think I will have to read the Bill.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I think that is a good idea.

Dr. Esmonde:  It states “no person except the company shall import tea”. Is that not right?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Yes.

Dr. Esmonde:  Why does one have to belong to the company to import tea?

Mr. S. Lemass:  The Deputy said “to buy tea”.

Dr. Esmonde:  No. I referred to the importation of tea after Deputy Norton's interjection.

Mr. S. Lemass:  The Deputy is now seeing the advantages of having read the Bill.

Dr. Esmonde:  This Bill is a complete fiasco. It is a waste of the time of this House. It is establishing control, definite control, for a definite section of the people. I admit that Tea Importers Limited did a good job under difficult circumstances, when things were abnormal, but now we are [1251] coming back to normality but things are not allowed to be free because some people in this House are State-minded. I am happy to note that there are only two parliamentary representatives supporting that State-minded idea.

Mr. Norton:  It gives a right to anybody to import tea from India.

Mr. T. Lynch:  They cannot buy tea in Mincing Lane at all.

Dr. Esmonde:  We object to this Bill because we object to the Minister, with the assistance of Deputy Norton, setting up this trading company to import tea. We object to that because it is not free trading. We are told we are not allowed to buy tea in Mincing Lane. We want people to be free to buy and import their tea from where-ever they like. Any other trade as big as the tea trade with a volume of business worth £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 a year can do what they want. They do not want a Bill from the Minister for Industry and Commerce at any time. They are free and why should the tea people not be free as well? I can see no argument in favour of this Bill, except that the Minister goes back to the old story of buying it from the countries of origin.

What will the company do? Will they have an agent in the country of origin? Is the tea to be shipped in Irish ships? Is it Irish labour that will do that? Is there any guarantee that it will be Irish assurance? No matter what the company want to do, they are not free, because in every section there is an overriding clause by which the Minister can come into it. If there is one Minister in this House who should know that restrictive practice is not a suitable thing to bring in at the present moment, considering the discussions that are going on in Europe, it is the Minister for Industry and Commerce. People should be freed from this control in this country. That is what has us the way we are. We are regimented from morning to night.

I would like to ask the Minister the same question as Deputy Booth has [1252] asked. Section 7, sub-section (3), states: “The company shall not import tea unless the company either— (a) imports it direct from the country in which it was produced”—and we know that is the whole basis of the argument by the Minister—but we have in the other section, “(b) imports it under and in accordance with an authorisation given by the Minister.” What does that mean? I have listened for days to this discussion and we have been told they will import only from the country of origin. Paragraph (a) of sub-section (3) of Section 7 says that, but, under paragraph (b) of the same sub-section, why have they to get authorisation from the Minister? Why is the Minister in that? Is the Minister a little suspicious that the company may do the things we say it will do, that they will establish monolithic control? Does he want this saver to stop that? Does he intend this to ease the hand of the Department of Industry and Commerce, of civil servants and of bureaucracy, to stop their stranglehold on the tea trade?

Mr. Norton:  Supposing there was a strike in the country of origin, the Minister could give authorisation to get it elsewhere.

Mr. T. Lynch:  Even at this late stage, I think the Minister should take this Bill out of the House because I have heard nobody speak in favour of it, except Deputy Norton and the Minister himself. I read in the papers to-day, and heard on the radio yesterday, that the Minister initiated a great export drive to increase our exports. I suppose we are to increase our exports to England, but we will have to have the goodwill of the English merchants. It looks as if we will not have the goodwill of the people in Mincing Lane. An attempt has been made recently by New Zealand to drive us out of certain markets in England. I am sure the New Zealanders will be able to recruit the interests of Mincing Lane behind them against a Government which is bringing in restrictive practices in the tea trade.

The only reason I spoke on this was to repeat what Deputy Esmonde said, [1253] that people can go to India to buy tea, but they cannot import it. There was talk of buying a shipload of tea. That is only nonsense; it is going back to the days of the clipper ships. There is nobody going to buy 10,000 or 25,000 tons of tea. Nearly all the tea coming from India and other countries is coming in part cargoes and in small parcels, some only as much as six chests a time.

The Minister is the champion against restrictive practices in this country, but in bringing this Bill before the House he is guilty of restrictive practices himself. It is turning over the whole of the Irish tea trade to a monopoly set up by himself. I consider that if people in the tea trade want to buy tea, or want to buy any commodity, it would be a good thing if they could go and buy it wherever they wished, import it in their own fashion, and not be subject to a hidden commission. What I do not like about this is that if other people go to India to buy tea, these gentlemen can sit in their offices and take commission which they never earned on that tea.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

Mr. Palmer:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he has recently received a memorandum from the National Farmers' Association suggesting modifications of the present position with regard to the licensing, taxation and insurance of vehicles such as tractors and lorries used solely for agricultural purposes, and if he will introduce amending legislation to the Road Transport Act, 1956, to remove the existing disproportionate taxation and restrictions on such vehicles.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. S. Lemass):  I have received the memorandum in question. The references in the memorandum to the licensing, taxation and insurance of tractors and lorries are matters for [1254] the Minister for Local Government, and the National Farmers' Association has already been so informed. The feasibility of making any amendment of the Road Transport Acts in respect of agricultural tractors is under examination.

Dr. Esmonde:  I am sure the Minister realises that vis-a-vis the farmers of other countries, the Irish farmers are at a great disadvantage.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I certainly do not agree.

Dr. Esmonde:  Does the Minister not think so? The tax is very much less in other countries—90 per cent. less as compared with this country.

Mr. Sherwin:  asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will state the basis on which it is considered that 41/- unemployment assistance plus a possible 10/- or 15/- home assistance is sufficient to keep a family of eight or ten persons in Dublin City.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. Kennedy):  The rates of unemployment assistance are fixed, having regard to all the relevant circumstances, in relation to the amount which the Exchequer can reasonably be expected to provide.

The amount payable by way of home assistance is decided by the public assistance authority and is not restricted by legislation.

In the type of case referred to by the Deputy, children's allowances would, of course, also be payable.

Mr. Sherwin:  Is the Minister aware that the new manager of the Board of Assistance has given instructions to his home assistance officers to reduce the amounts?

An Ceann Comhairle:  Surely that is a separate matter.

Mr. Sherwin:  Is the Minister also aware that at least from £5 to £6 is paid to persons in the same category in England and Northern Ireland?

[1255]Mr. Kennedy:  We do not pay our social welfare in England and Northern Ireland.

Mr. Sherwin:  But their stomachs are not different from ours.

Mr. Sherwin:  asked the Minister for Finance if he will indicate the revenue obtained from dance entertainments duty for the period 1st August, 1947 to 1st February, 1948 and 1st August, 1957 to 1st February, 1958, the revenue obtained in respect of dances for which the admission charge was 1/- and under in both periods, and the cost of collection in each case.

Minister for Finance (Dr. Ryan):  Entertainments duty was not chargeable in respect of dances in the period 1st August, 1947 to 1st February, 1948.

The net receipt of revenue from the entertainments duty in respect of dances for the period 1st August, 1957 to 1st February, 1958, was £89,000 approximately. It is not possible, without undue cost in time and labour, to state how much of this was paid in respect of particular admission charges or the relative costs of collection.

Mr. Sherwin:  Can the Minister say how he compares the present with the past? This tax was withdrawn by Fianna Fáil on the grounds that it did not pay to collect it. Does it pay now? My information is that all halls are idle three days a week and half the musicians are working only three days a week.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is making a speech.

Mr. Sherwin:  Does it pay now as compared with the time when it was withdrawn by Fianna Fáil on the first occasion? I will put down a further question next week.

Mr. Norton:  asked the Minister for Finance whether the Government have decided not to extend the five-year period for the remission of taxation on [1256] increased exports of manufactured goods.

Dr. Ryan:  The Deputy will appreciate that I cannot say in advance what my Budget Statement may or may not contain.

Mr. Norton:  Has the Minister seen the statement made by Deputy Briscoe on the eve of his departure——

Dr. Ryan:  Is the Deputy joining in the hunt now?

Mr. Norton:  I will not be put off by these disorderly tactics of the Minister. I insist on asking this question and I shall raise it on the Adjournment, if necessary, so as to ensure that I exercise my rights here.

Mr. MacEntee:  Be merciful!

Mr. Norton:  I want to ask the Minister for Finance whether he has seen the statement made by Deputy Briscoe——

Dr. Ryan:  I have not.

Mr. Norton:  ——to the effect that the Cabinet was opposed to any extension of relief from income-tax beyond the five-year period and that he believed that American industrialists could not be got to come here, unless the Cabinet extended the period of relief from income-tax?

Dr. Ryan:  I did not see the statement, but he had a perfect right to say that; it was his belief.

Mr. Norton:  Is this a new method of announcing Cabinet decisions—to send a Deputy to America who will tell the Government's business at Shannon?

Mr. MacEntee:  Do not be a stooge for Deputy Flanagan.

Mr. Corish:  This is an excuse not to answer the question.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  May I take it, since the Minister did not see that published statement, that the Minister for Finance does not read the Irish Press?

[1257]Mr. Norton:  Who now speaks for the Government? Is it Ministers or Deputies?

Minister for Local Government (Mr. Blaney):  A Cheann Comhairle——

Mr. Dillon:  How did the Minister for Local Government get in?

Mr. Blaney:  I will tell you. I happened to be there and that is not the statement Deputy Briscoe made.

Mr. Dillon:  Fight that out with the Irish Press.

Mr. Blaney:  He did not make that statement at Shannon Airport.

Mr. Sweetman:  Have a word with Deputy Vivion de Valera about it.

Mr. T. Lynch:  What about the statement the Minister made at the Ard Fheis?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. O'Donnell:  asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of the fact that the annual rent allowance payable to married members of the Garda Síochána is assessable for income-tax purposes but is disregarded in assessing annual pension rights, he will take steps to remedy the position, if necessary, by introducing legislation.

Dr. Ryan:  There is no necessary connection between liability to taxation and the pensionability of allowances or other receipts by way of remuneration and, accordingly, I do not propose to take any action in the matter.

Mr. Belton:  asked the Minister for Justice if he will state the complete cost of the recent Intoxicating Liquor Commission and whether, in view of its report, he proposes to introduce legislation and, if so, when.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Traynor):  The cost of preparing the report was £3,752.

The report is still under examination in my Department and consequently I [1258] am not yet in a position to answer the second part of the question.

Mr. Palmer:  asked the Minister for Agriculture if, as County Kerry has been declared a tuberculosis eradication area, he will state in detail the steps being taken by the co-operative and Dairy Disposal Board creameries in the county to install pasteurisation plants in their premises, the progress made in that direction, the efforts, if any, which are being made to install such plants in the board's travelling creameries and the stage reached in regard to the plans envisaged.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Smith):  I have been informed by the Dairy Disposal Company that plants for the pasteurisation of separated milk at 48 of their 50 creamery premises in County Kerry have either been installed or will be installed shortly and that plants for the remaining two premises will be provided as soon as possible. According to the latest information available in my Department, pasteurising plants have been installed at two of the 12 co-operative creamery premises in the county. Plants for pasteurising separated milk must be installed at all creamery premises not later than 30th April, 1959, and pending such installation separated milk must be rendered safe by steam injection.

As regards the pasteurisation of separated milk on travelling creameries, I would refer the Deputy to my reply to a similar question on 5th March.

Mr. McQuillan:  asked the Minister for Lands if he will state the Government's plans in regard to afforestation; and if he will indicate the targets aimed at in respect of each of the next five years and whether financial aid from outside sources is envisaged and, if so, if he is in a position to give details.

Minister for Lands (Mr. Childers):  I am not prepared to make a general policy statement in reply to a question like this. The Deputy will have to [1259] await my statement on the Estimate for Forestry.

Mr. McQuillan:  Is the Minister in a position to give a reply with regard to the latter portion of the question— whether the programme will be financed from home resources or whether financial accommodation will be made available from outside the State? Is there likely to be any change in the arrangement which has been in operation over the past 20 years?

Mr. Childers:  The Forestry Division will not depend in any sense on outside foreign capital.

Mr. MacEntee:  That is a sidekick to Deputy Flanagan.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  Then Deputy Briscoe is wrong again. He did make that statement.

[1260]Dr. Browne:  asked the Minister for Education if he will state in respect of each county the number of national schools (a) that require to be replaced by new schools, (b) that require to be reconstructed or enlarged, (c) which have been completed since July, 1956, and (d) which have been reconstructed or enlarged since July, 1956.

Minister for Education (Mr. J. Lynch):  I propose, with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, to circulate in the Official Report a tabular statement giving in respect of each county the number of national schools (a) that require to be replaced by new schools, (b) that require to be substantially reconstructed or enlarged, (c) that have been completed since July, 1956, and (d) that have been substantially reconstructed or enlarged since July, 1956.

REPLACEMENT, Reconstruction and Enlargement of National Schools.

County Number of National Schools which require to be replaced by new schools Number of National Schools at which substantial schemes of reconstruction or enlargement are required Number of New National Schools which have been completed since 1st July, 1956 Number of Schools substantially reconstructed or enlarged since 1st July, 1956
Carlow 14 2 3 1
Cavan 31 3 Nil 1
Clare 45 6 2 1
Cork 77 17 4 5
Donegal 48 25 9 2
Dublin 27 15 10 4
Galway 55 11 10 2
Kerry 62 10 2 1
Kildare 18 7 5 1
Kilkenny 22 1 1 1
Laois 15 5 3
Leitrim 14 1 1 1
Limerick 47 6 2 1
Longford 8 2 1 1
Louth 18 5 3
Mayo 48 16 1 4
Meath 14 7 5 1
Monaghan 27 3 2 1
Offaly 21 5 5
Roscommon 24 11 Nil 3
Sligo 18 1 Nil
Tipperary 67 16 6 1
Waterford 21 5 5
Westmeath 19 5 1
Wexford 27 15 1
Wicklow 34 3 Nil 2
TOTAL *821 †203 82 34

*In 136 of these cases Grants towards the cost of erecting new schools have been sanctioned.

†In 69 of these cases Grants have been sanctioned towards the cost of the necessary works.

[1261]Dr. Browne:  asked the Minister for Education whether it has been decided that a conscientious parent who in the exercise of his parental responsibility to protect his child's health refuses to send his child to a derelict school, or to one which he is advised by a competent medical authority is unfit for use because of its unhygienic condition and of the danger to the child's health, is liable to prosecution under the School Attendance Acts.

Mr. J. Lynch:  The enforcement of the School Attendance Act is a matter primarily for the “enforcing authority” designated in the Act, i.e. the School Attendance Committee for the appropriate area in the case of the county boroughs of Dublin, Cork and Waterford and the borough of Dún Laoghaire, and the appropriate officer of the Gárda Síochána in the case of all other areas. The final decision rests with the court of jurisdiction. I have no function in the matter.

I am not aware of any decision of the nature referred to in the Deputy's question.

Dr. Browne:  Does the Minister not agree that a parent has the right, in so far as parental responsibility goes, to refuse to send his child to a derelict school or a school in which the child's health would be jeopardised in any way?

Mr. J. Lynch:  I would not dispute parental rights of any kind, but, as I said to the Deputy, the enforcing of the School Attendance Act is one for the appropriate authority, and I am satisfied that the Act is administered in all cases with due discretion.

Dr. Browne:  Where the State compels parents to send children to school up to the age of 14 years, surely the manager and those responsible have a duty to provide adequate and proper school buildings for those children? If the parents observe their part of the bargain, surely the State should insist that those responsible should conscientiously observe their part of the bargain?

[1262]Mr. J. Lynch:  I agree the State has such a duty.

Dr. Browne:  Arising out of that, if the Minister tells us there are nearly 1,000 schools still derelict and unfit for human habitation and that from 40,000 to 50,000 children attend them, surely it is a very serious reflection on the Department, after 35 years of native government?

Mr. J. Lynch:  I would like to correct the statement of the Deputy when he deduces from replies I have already given that up to 1,000 schools are derelict and unfit for human habitation. Something in excess of 800 schools require replacement and the state of dereliction is not, as the Deputy suggests, such as would require immediate evacuation.

Dr. Browne:  Presumably they have all been condemned by an appropriate medical authority.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  asked the Minister for Education if he will make a statement on the results of his meeting a deputation from the Irish National Teachers' Organisation on 25th February, 1958; if he will indicate whether agreement was reached on any of the matters discussed and, if so, the nature of these agreements.

Mr. J. Lynch:  At my meeting with the deputation from the I.N.T.O., certain matters of mutual concern were discussed. I indicated to the deputation the present position in regard to these matters. Since the meeting was of an exploratory nature and did not entail the promulgation of decisions, I do not propose to make any further statement about it.

Mr. Larkin:  asked the Minister for Education if he will state the number of students who completed full courses in continental languages in each of the universities in each year since 1946.

[1263]Mr. J. Lynch:  As the reply is in the form of tabular statements, I propose, with the permission of the Ceann [1264] Comhairle, to have the statements circulated with the Official Report.

Following is the statement:—

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN.

FRENCH GERMAN SPANISH ITALIAN
B.A. (Pass) B.A. (Hons.) B.Comm. B.A. (Pass) B.A. (Hons.) B.Comm. B.A. (Pass) B.A. (Hons.) B.Comm. B.A. (Pass) B.A. (Hons.) B.Comm.
1946 18 17 6 6 2 5 3 18 4
1947 20 16 7 3 1 1 6 12 4 5
1948 10 16 6 4 4 5 9 2 5 2
1949 21 26 6 1 6 6 8 32 5 5 2
1950 14 19 11 1 3 2 10 4 34 4 2 2
1951 13 25 10 1 3 5 11 22 4 4 3
1952 23 24 12 2 4 1 6 11 20 5 4 8
1953 14 22 1 3 11 9 3 4
1954 19 30 6 4 8 1 4
1955 29 21 2 2 6 4 1 6
1956 28 27 5 6 6 1
1957 25 26 3 2 5 1 8

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, CORK.

I. Number of students who completed a full three-year course in a modern continental language. (Third Year students in the session indicated.)

Session French German Spanish
1945-46 19 2 3
1946-47 19 2 38
1947-48 14 11
1948-49 16 10
1949-50 23 3 25
1950-51 15 2 44
1951-52 20 1 21
1952-53 16 27
1953-54 16 19
1954-55 18 1 39
1955-56 19 1 16
1956-57 20 23
1957-58 (22) (2) (30)

II. Number of students who completed a First Year Course in a modern continental language.*

Session French German Italian Spanish
1945-46 30 1 34
1946-47 46 4 2 41
1947-48 55 20 4 73
1948-49 38 16 32
1949-50 48 15 33
1950-51 42 12 40
1951-52 34 12 63
1952-53 43 12 2 44
1953-54 40 20 1 54
1954-55 58 51 2 41
1955-56 45 51 1 99
1956-57 38 56 5 30
1957-58 (41) (65) (3) (32)

*These numbers include those who subsequently completed the full three-year course (Table I above), as well as a small number of students who continued the language concerned for a second year.

Numbers of Students who passed in Modern Continental Languages at University Examinations from 1946-1957 in University College, Galway.

French German Spanish Italian
1946:
First Arts 13
B.A. Subsid. 1 1
B.A. Pass 3
First Science 1 2
First Comm. 1
Second Comm. 2
B.A. Hons. 4
M.A. Degree 1
26 3
1947:
First Arts 14
B.A. Subsid. 2
B.A. Pass 2
First Science
First Comm. 2
Second Comm.
B.A. Hons. 4
24
1948:
First Arts 18 3 1
B.A. Subsid.
B.A. Pass 3
First Science 5 2
First Comm. 6
Second Comm. 1
B.A. Hons. 7
40 5 1
1949:
First Arts 23 4 1 1
B.A. Subsid. 3
B.A. Pass 2
[1265]First Science 1 1
First Comm. 3 2 1
Second Comm. 6
B.A. Hons. 4
42 7 2 1
1950:
First Arts 24 1 4
B.A. Subsid. 3
B.A. Pass 1
First Science 2 1
First Comm. 2
Second Comm. 3 1
B.A. Hons. 7 2
42 5 4
1951:
First Arts 20 1 4
B.A. Subsid. 4
B.A. Pass 1
First Science 2 1
First Comm. 2
Second Comm.
B.A. Hons. 6 2
M.A. Degree 1
35 5 4
1952:
First Arts 21 1 2
B.A. Subsid. 4 1
B.A. Pass
First Science 4
First Comm. 2
Second Comm. 5
B.A. Hons. 11 1 1
M.A. Degree 1
48 2 4
1953:
First Arts 25
B.A. Subsid. 2
B.A. Pass 3 2
First Science 11 1
First Comm. 2
Second Comm. 7
B.A. Hons. 5 1 2
55 2 4
1954:
First Arts 25 7 2
B.A. Subsid. 4
B.A. Pass 1
First Science 7
First Comm. 5
Second Comm. 3
B.A. Hons. 4 2
M.A. 1
50 9 2
[1266]1955:
First Arts 23 1 3
B.A. Subsid. 7
B.A. Pass 3
First Science 4 2 3
First Comm. 5 1
Second Comm. 6
B.A. Hons. 2
50 3 7
1956:
First Arts 31 3
B.A. Subsid. 2 3
B.A. Pass 3
First Science 13 2
First Comm. 4
Second Comm. 8
B.A. Hons. 3 1 2
64 9 2
1957:
First Arts 16 1 3 1
B.A. Subsid. 2
B.A. Pass
First Science 9 1 2
First Comm. 7
Second Comm. 7 1
B.A. Hons. 7 1
48 2 6 2

UNIVERSITY OF DUBLIN.

TRINITY COLLEGE.

Number of students who completed full courses and obtained a Moderatorship in continental languages in each year since 1946:—

French German Italian Spanish
1946 19 9 1 10
1947 24 6 1 7
1948 33 7 2 12
1949 33 8 2 11
1950 30 8 4 9
1951 45 9 3 9
1952 52 13 3 18
1953 45 14 7 8
1954 43 11 2 8
1955 32 9 2 4
1956 43 7 8 10
1957 40 11 3 6

A Moderatorship is a B.A. Degree with honours.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  asked the Minister for Local Government whether his [1267] Department and the Dublin Corporation were consulted in regard to the proposal by Deputy Briscoe to seek in the United States of America a loan for the capital purposes of the corporation and, if so, if he will give details as to the amount of the loan, from whom it is proposed to seek it, and the rates of interest proposed.

Minister for Local Government (Mr. Blaney):  I have no information about this matter beyond what has appeared in the public Press. The Deputy referred to is a member of the Dublin Corporation. My sanction is required to borrowing by the Dublin Corporation and to the terms thereof but consultation with my Department is not required as a preliminary to negotiations for borrowing.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  Is it not a serious matter for any citizen to represent himself as an ambassador-at-large on behalf of this country in the United States, and why is a suitable denial not forthcoming from the Government?

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is an entirely different matter.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  May I ask the Minister whether the statement made by Deputy Briscoe that he was going abroad to seek funds for Dublin Corporation is in accordance with the facts?

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Minister is not supposed to reply in respect of statements by every Deputy.

Mr. Blaney:  As far as discussing facts are concerned, the last person in this House with whom I would discuss facts is Deputy Flanagan.

General MacEoin:  Arising out of that reply, Sir, is it parliamentary for a Minister to refer to any Deputy in that contemptuous manner? (Interruptions.) When the jocular mood has cooled down, might I ask if it is in order for a Minister to refer to any Deputy as being unworthy to discuss any matter of fact with him? Is it not a fact that every member of the House is an honoured member of the House, until he is expelled by the Chair?

[1268]Mr. MacEntee:  Even Deputy O.J. Flanagan.

General MacEoin:  Even Deputy Flanagan and even the Minister for Health.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  Please do not insult me by associating me with the Minister for Health.

General MacEoin:  I would ask, Sir, that the Minister for Local Government be requested to withdraw the statement he has made.

Mr. Blaney:  What statement?

Mr. Larkin:  Would it not be in order for matters that come within the competence of Dublin Corporation to be left with that body, until such time as it may be necessary for that body to approach the Department?

An Ceann Comhairle:  In reply to Deputy MacEoin, there are many statements made in the House that the Chair deplores, but in the case of this statement, as in the case of other statements, the Chair does not see that it has any method by which they can be dealt with effectively.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  May I ask your permission, Sir, to raise this matter on the Adjournment?

An Ceann Comhairle:  I will communicate with the Deputy.

Mr. MacEntee:  The Deputy should take Deputy Larkin's admonition to heart.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Smith:  They are resting to-day.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Order!

Mr. P.J. Burke:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will indicate the county council cottage schemes which have been submitted to him for sanction in respect of County Dublin during the past year and the number of houses proposed to be built in each area.

Mr. Blaney:  As the reply is in the form of a tabular statement I propose [1269] with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, to circulate it with the Official Report.

Following is the statement:—

PROPOSALS for the erection of cottages submitted for sanction by the Dublin County Council during the year ended 28th February, 1958.

Type of Proposal Location Number of Cottages Proposed
Acceptance of Tenders Malahide 4
Crockaunadreenagh 1
Planning Lucan 42
Stillorgan 35
Tallaght 16
Shankill 29
Swords 24
Malahide 10
Rathcoole 6
Portmarnock 16
Skerries 7
Isolated rural cottages 10

Mr. Corish:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the number of houses still required in Wexford town.

Mr. Blaney:  A survey of the housing needs of working-class families in Wexford borough carried out in 1956 indicated that 234 additional dwellings were required. Since then, the corporation have completed 42 houses and 79 existing dwellings have become available for re-letting. It would appear, therefore, that the current needs are, approximately, 113 houses. The corporation have two schemes comprising 64 houses in course of construction.

Mr. Corish:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the number of men employed by all local authorities on house building at the latest date available and at a similar date last year.

Mr. Blaney:  The number of men employed by local authorities on house building at 31st January, 1958, was 2,604. The number of men employed at 31st January, 1957, was 4,580.

[1270]Mr. Corish:  Can the Minister reconcile those figures of substantially reduced unemployment with the statement by the Minister for Finance last week that the Government have provided much more money this year for housing as against last year?

Mr. Blaney:  Yes, I think that can be reconciled. The fact is that much more money was provided.

Mr. Corish:  It was not taken up then?

Mr. Blaney:  Possibly it was taken up to pay some of the debts already incurred.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  That looks well, coming well from a company director.

Mr. Blaney:  Will the Deputy dry up?

Mr. Smith:  To pay for the spree of the boys.

Mr. Corish:  It was not to pay for any spree.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Order!

Mr. Corish:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will give details of proposals for house building from each local authority in County Wexford, at present under consideration in his Department.

Mr. Blaney:  Proposals for the acceptance by Wexford County Council of tenders for the erection of seven rural cottages and for the erection by Wexford Corporation's direct labour unit of 17 houses at William Street, and 21 houses at Fishers Row, Wexford, are at present under consideration in my Department.

Mr. Corish:  I asked the Minister for figures in respect of each local authority in Wexford. I think he gave only the figures in respect of one local authority?

Mr. Blaney:  To give details of proposals?

[1271]Mr. Corish:  For each local authority. This is only in respect of Wexford Corporation.

Mr. Blaney:  Apparently they are the only proposals we have had.

Mr. Belton:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the number of old corporation houses unoccupied in Dublin City.

Mr. Blaney:  I am informed by the local housing authority that 177 of their houses and flat-dwellings were unoccupied at 28th February, 1958. Included in this total were 56 dwellings completed prior to 31st March, 1938, and 41 completed between that date and 31st March, 1947.

Mr. Cosgrave:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state how many houses have been sanctioned by his Department for erection at (i) Stillorgan and (ii) Shankill by the Dublin County Council.

Mr. Blaney:  Dublin County Council have been informed that no objection will be raised to the preparation of schemes of 32 houses at Stillorgan and 26 houses at Shankill.

Mr. M.P. Murphy:  asked the Minister for Local Government whether he has received an application from Skibbereen Urban Council for a loan from the Local Loans Fund towards the reconstruction of Skibbereen Town Hall and, if so, if he will indicate if his approval will be forthcoming.

Mr. Blaney:  No application has been received in my Department since June, 1957. On that occasion it was suggested to the council that they should again investigate the possibility of borrowing from sources other than the Local Loans Fund. In view of the heavy commitments on the fund and the necessity for conserving it for the [1272] most essential works, I consider that the council should use their best endeavours to follow the advice then given to them. Any assistance which they may ask me to give them in that direction will be readily forthcoming.

Mr. Corish:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the number of road workers employed by county councils at the latest date available and at a similar date last year.

Mr. Blaney:  The total number employed on 31st January, 1958, was 14,365. The total on the corresponding date in 1957 was 15,650. These figures do not include persons employed on schemes financed from the Employment and Emergency Schemes Vote.

Mr. Corish:  Would the Minister reconcile those figures of reduced unemployment with the statement of the Minister for Finance last week that this Government had provided much more money for road works in the present financial year?

Mr. Blaney:  We had to put up the money. In fact, it is the same answer. We are trying to pay the debts incurred before we came in.

Mr. Sweetman:  Tripe!

Mr. Corish:  Would the Minister be prepared to state what sum of money out of this year's allocation was spent to finance road works in the last financial year?

Mr. Blaney:  I think we have to foot the bill to the tune of £900,000 in the present year and we have still a bit to meet in the years to come.

Mr. Corish:  I am not interested in what the Minister thinks.

Mr. Blaney:  I know that £900,000 will have to be got from the Exchequer in order to bolster up a Road Fund that had already been wrecked.

Mr. Sweetman:  Nonsense. We shall have questions about the National Development Fund and Road Fund allocations.

[1273]Mr. Corish:  I asked a question to which I did not get an answer. What was the exact figure taken out of this year's allocation to pay for Road Fund works in the last financial year, 1956-57?

Mr. Blaney:  I shall give the Deputy another one. In 1954, when Fianna Fáil left office, outstanding commitments against the Road Fund——

Mr. Corish:  Will the Minister answer my question?

Mr. Blaney:  I shall answer the question in the way I intend to answer it. If Deputies are allowed to ask questions surely I should be allowed to answer them. In 1954, when Fianna Fáil left office, the outstanding commitment against the Road Fund, which is now under discussion, was £1.8 million. When the Coalition left, after three years in office, the outstanding commitments had risen from £1.8 to £4.4 million.

Mr. MacEntee:  That is the answer.

Mr. Corish:  Would the Minister say what bridge expenditure was incurred in that?

Mr. MacEntee:  The bridge between Labour and Fine Gael.

Mr. Cunningham:  The Deputy should bridge that gap.

Mr. Corish:  I have not got an answer to my question.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan:  The Minister is too busy as a company director.

Mr. Blaney:  I certainly shall not perjure myself in any of my transactions anyway.

Mr. Belton:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he is aware of the great inconvenience experienced by residents in the Drumcondra North area because the proposed connection between Collins Avenue and Ballymun Avenue has not been constructed; and if he will state why this work was not carried out, and if there is a possibility [1274] that it will be carried out in the near future.

Mr. Belton:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he is aware of the appalling condition of the temporary link road between Shantalla Road and Brookville at Santry, and if it is proposed to have it repaired.

Mr. Blaney:  With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 23 together.

I have no information on these matters and the Dublin Corporation has submitted no proposals to my Department regarding them.

Mr. Kenny:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the amount paid in grants under the Local Authorities (Works) Act, 1949, to each local authority in respect of each of the years from 1950 to 1957 inclusive.

Mr. Blaney:  The reply, as regards the financial year 1956-57, is in the form of a tabular statement, which, with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, will be circulated with the Official Report. Full details of the grants for the preceding years are contained in the appendices to the Department's annual reports.

Following is the statement:—

GRANTS allocated to local authorities for schemes under the Local Authorities (Works) Act in the year 1956-57.

Local Authority Amount
County Councils: £
Carlow 23,000
Cavan 20,500
Clare 20,500
Cork 43,000
Donegal 26,500
Dublin 12,500
Galway 24,500
Kerry 23,500
Kildare 21,500
Kilkenny 20,000
Laois 25,000
Leitrim 27,000
Limerick 21,500
Longford 37,000
Louth 12,500
[1275]Mayo 26,500
Meath 33,000
Monaghan 19,500
Offaly 12,500
Roscommon 16,000
Sligo 23,000
Tipperary N.R. 15,000
Tipperary S.R. 19,000
Waterford 15,000
Westmeath 16,000
Wexford 24,000
Wicklow 22,000
County Boroughs:
Limerick 2,100
Urban Districts:
An Uaimh 90
Athlone 750
Athy 95
Ballinasloe 325
Bundoran 500
Carrick-on-Suir 203
Castlebar 165
Cavan 460
Clonmel 420
Cobh 580
Drogheda 650
Dundalk 1,525
Dungarvan 737
Enniscorthy 450
Galway 900
Killarney 485
Kilrush 540
Kinsale 420
Listowel 280
Longford 550
Macroom 360
Mallow 560
Midleton 530
Nenagh 165
New Ross 330
Skibbereen 100
Templemore 190
Thurles 165
Tipperary 550
Tralee 493
Tullamore 199
[1276]Westport 432
Wicklow 500
Youghal 2,200

NOTE:—

(1) Grants allocated (not grants paid) are given as they give a better representation of the volume of work carried out.

(2) Local authorities to whom grants were not allocated are not included in the above table.

(3) In addition to the above grants, a special allocation of £500 was made to each county council (£1,500 to Cork County Council) for certain works undertaken in connection with the Land Project.

(4) Available records relate to the financial (not calendar) year.

Mr. Calleary:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the position concerning sanction for the proposed sewerage scheme for Foxford town, County Mayo.

Mr. Blaney:  Contract documents for this scheme have been approved for some time but I understand that the process of acquiring the necessary lands has not yet reached a stage which would permit tenders to be invited.

Mr. S. Flanagan:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he is aware of the continued failure of C.I.E. to provide suitable dimming devices for both single- and double-decker buses, as legally required in the interests of the public; and if he will introduce legislation with a view to imposing increased penalties for dousing the light or lights on the nearside to the oncoming driver.

Mr. Blaney:  I understand that only a small proportion of the C.I.E. bus fleet is now fitted with the older type of lighting, making use of a “dimming” mechanism which extinguishes the right-hand headlamp and deflects the other headlamp downwards. As these older vehicles go out of service, [1277] they will be replaced by vehicles with a double “dimming” device. I may add that the older type of device does not appear to contravene the law.

The question of the adequacy of penalties for breaches of the lighting regulations will be considered in connection with current proposals for new road traffic legislation.

Mr. Sherwin:  asked the Minister for Defence if he will make a statement on his Department's policy as regards the provision of underground air-raid shelters for the citizens of Dublin.

Minister for Defence (Mr. K. Boland):  I am not at present in a position to make a statement of policy on this matter.

Mr. Sherwin:  I do not think that is a very good answer.

Mr. Dillon:  Hear, hear!

Mr. Sherwin:  I put it to the Chair that the building of air-raid shelters in the capital city is a serious matter for the Minister for Defence.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy must understand that he cannot make a speech in connection with every question.

Mr. Sherwin:  I am putting it to the Minister that I am not satisfied with his answer.

Mr. K. Boland:  The fact is that I am not in a position to make a statement of policy on this matter.

Mr. Sherwin:  The Minister should make up his mind.

Mr. Sherwin:  asked the Minister for Defence if he will state the annual cost of importing small-arms ammunition during each of the years from 1929 to 1935, inclusive, and during the years 1956 and 1957 and whether he has satisfied himself that the danger of depending on imports under emergency [1278] conditions has been fully considered.

Mr. K. Boland:  It is not in the public interest to give details of the imports of small-arms ammunition for the Defence Forces.

I have satisfied myself that the danger of depending on imports under emergency conditions has been fully considered.

Mr. Sherwin:  I put it to the Minister that it does not matter now what was imported ten or 15 years ago. If we only had two bullets or 2,000,000 it is past history. I am not satisfied with that answer either. He should know what was imported ten or 15 years ago.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I told the Deputy that he is not entitled to make a speech in connection with every question. I insist upon that.

Mr. Sherwin:  What if I do not get a proper answer? I am putting it to the——

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy will sit down.

Mr. Sherwin:  I am not satisfied with the answer.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy will sit down.

Mr. K. Boland:  There are no records with regard to the years from 1929 to 1935 in respect of which the Deputy asks.

Mr. Sherwin:  There should be.

Mr. N. Lemass:  asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will arrange to have better facilities provided in the sub-post offices in the Kimmage, Crumlin and Ballyfermot areas for the more expeditious payment of children's allowances, and thus obviate the necessity for queuing in inclement and cold weather.

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Ormonde):  About 5,650 children's allowance payments are made at six sub-post offices in the areas mentioned. [1279] The staff at these offices is augmented on the first Tuesday of each month when the payments become due. Every possible effort is being made to minimise delays in making payments, but some delay is unavoidable on account of the large numbers seeking payment at the same time.

Mr. Moloney:  asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will arrange for the introduction of a special commemoration postage stamp in memory of Charles Stewart Parnell.

Mr. Ormonde:  I would remind the Deputy that a special postage stamp was issued in 1946 to mark the birth centenaries of Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt. The issue of a further special stamp in honour of Parnell, unrelated to any significant anniversary date in his career, would not be appropriate.

Mr. Norton:  asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will state the number of persons of each grade, up to that of Post Office clerk, who have voluntarily resigned from service in his Department in each of the years 1948 to 1957, inclusive, and for the months of January and February, 1958.

Mr. Ormonde:  The information required by the Deputy is not readily available and is being compiled. If the Deputy repeats his question in a week or so I shall then have the figures.

[1283] Question again proposed: “That Section 7, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. T. Lynch:  As I was saying, the Minister has been out against restrictive practices in various trades and businesses in this country. He could be accused of being guilty of restrictive practices himself by the introduction of this Bill because he restricts the buying and the importation of tea to ten people. What I am more concerned with and what I was elaborating upon up to Question Time was the fact that the Minister initiated an export drive yesterday and he exhorted everybody to try to increase exports. I am sure that he must have had the increase of exports to Great Britain in mind.

Perhaps Deputies did not read the papers and might not know what was going on. There was a campaign in England against this country's products, our butter and bacon, by New Zealand only recently. We should preserve as much goodwill as we can with our customers. That is a normal feature of business and, therefore, I put it to the Minister that it is not good business to bring in a Bill that actually prevents anybody from buying tea in Mincing Lane, meaning Great Britain. That could be used against us by people not friendly to this country.

I do not consider it right that any group of men should control the buying of anything in times like the present. It is right during an emergency or a war, when it is better to have the commodity controlled, but in times where there should be free trade and free sale of tea, I am convinced that if the people in the Irish tea trade were allowed to buy tea where they would, and at what prices they would, the ordinary people of the country— those we should be most concerned for —would be able to get much cheaper tea.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I think I would have had more expedition in the passage of this Bill through Committee if I had circulated a White Paper with it to explain its provisions because much of [1284] the debate is clearly based on a misunderstanding of the measure. All the points that have been raised concerning the intention of the Bill and its modus operandi have already been covered in earlier discussions and I do not know that it is necessary to go over them again, but in the course of the debate on this section, some points were raised to which I want to refer.

Deputy Norton argued in favour of continuing the system of bulk purchasing of our tea requirements, the continuation of something like the present arrangements for acquiring the tea supplies of the country. Deputy Sweetman argued that bulk purchasing has the effect of putting up the price against us. Deputy Norton, I think, would argue the reverse, that a person buying tea in large quantities could buy to advantage. I do not know if it is possible to prove the truth of either contention; personally, I find it hard to believe that the purchase through a single agent or a number of agents of the 24,000,000 lb. or the 28,000,000 lb. of tea that we require every year could influence the price of tea in the Indian auctions one way or another. Deputy Booth made the point that bulk purchasing also involves less selective purchasing than would take place if there were a number of buyers, each having regard to the particular requirements of his own trade.

I think that is true. Tea Importers, Limited, when buying the tea requirements of this country, bought a number of varieties of tea and generally tried to supply the merchants of this country with the varieties they were most likely to need; but no doubt there were many varieties they did not purchase, or perhaps did not purchase in the quantities it eventually turned out the merchants would like to have had. None of us can pretend to be experts in regard to the qualities of the different varieties of tea.

I want to be clear that one of the purposes of this Bill is to abolish bulk purchasing and create a situation where every individual merchant will buy his own tea, whatever varieties or qualities he wants. When this Bill is in full operation—and that will not be [1285] I suppose, until 1959 or 1960—bulk purchasing will cease. Tea Importers (1958), Limited, will not be buying tea; the tea will be purchased by anybody who wants to buy tea and who is a registered merchant, and he will buy whatever tea he wants and whatever quantity he wants. I do not think it will make any appreciable difference to the prices of tea in the Indian markets, but I think it will mean there will be more selective buying of tea to meet the requirements of the individual traders.

Somebody asked me to prove that tea will be purchased cheaper for the Irish market by going direct to the countries of origin for it than by going to markets in Britain or elsewhere. I do not know how that proof can be given; I can point to the Trade and Shipping Statistics, which show that over a number of years the average cost per lb. of tea imported into this country was slightly less than the average cost of tea imported into Britain, but that does not prove anything.

Mr. Sweetman:  That depends on the quality.

Mr. S. Lemass:  It depends entirely on the quality of the tea purchased. In 1956, my predecessor, at a time when Tea Importers, Limited, were suffering some credit restriction, authorised them to make purchases in London, and they said that the tea they purchased in London could have been purchased by them more cheaply in India.

Arising out of Deputy Lynch's remarks, Deputies may have seen in the newspapers that we are exporting tea, tea blended and packed in this country. There is a rather important export trade in tea of that character, and I presume that trade would not be possible, unless tea was available here on terms competitive with those prevailing in other countries. It seems obvious to me, on the face of it, that having purchased tea in India, the cheapest way of getting it to this country is to fill up a boat with it and sail it direct from Calcutta to Dublin, or from some other Indian port to [1286] some other Irish port. I cannot see how any Deputy can believe that it could be cheaper to bring tea in via some intermediate port or via some transshipment arrangement at a British port, as happened before the war.

Mr. Sweetman:  Is it not obvious that the freight charge must depend on the round trip utility of the vessel?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Yes. My point is that the cheapest method would be to bring a full cargo in one ship direct from one port to another. If the ship has part of its cargo for another port or if the tea has to be trans-shipped at another port and has then to come on here, it will clearly cost more.

The next point I want to make is that there appears to be a complete misapprehension as to the probable effect of not having this arrangement. One of the effects of the arrangement, as I have emphasised, is that every tea wholesaler bringing in tea, whether it be 100 lb., 1,000 or 10,000 lb., will have the same freight rates to pay. If we do not have this arrangement, it is almost certain that the trade would be completely in the hands of a very few wealthy firms in a large way of business.

Deputies have been speaking here as if the trade in tea in future will be confined to Irish-owned firms. That is not correct. Every existing tea wholesaler will be entitled as of right, without question or condition, to get on to the register in future and that will include some of the very powerful and wealthy multiple chain store organisations and one can conceive certain circumstances under which they could, because of their international ramifications and large financial resources, trade on much better terms and arrange for shipping on much better terms than could a newcomer to the trade or a small Irish trader requiring supplies on a much smaller scale. It seems to me almost inevitable that if we were to do what is being suggested here, to make the condition of purchase in the country of origin and to confine trade to registered traders, and to leave all other restrictions aside, the effect would be to [1287] squeeze out the traders who are in a smaller way of business and to give superlative advantages to the large external firms.

It is also necessary to keep in mind what I have said before that for nearly 20 years we have had a system of bulk buying, with one centralised organisation buying all the tea and no individual merchant having contact with the countries of origin at all. It is inevitable that many of them will be handicapped for the time being by lack of knowledge of the procedures for arranging for purchases and shipping and hesitant about undertaking the financial arrangements involved. Again, that situation requires, in the interests of these tea traders themselves, the establishment of an organisation like this and the institution of an arrangement by which that organisation will act as their agents in the shipping to this country of the tea they buy from the countries of origin.

Deputy Esmonde has repeatedly spoken on the basis that I am setting up a company to do something. I wish again to emphasise that I am not setting up any company. The company to which this Bill refers is being set up by the tea merchants of this country themselves.

Mr. Sweetman:  At your instigation.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Not at my instigation. I discussed with the merchants the arrangements that would be most likely to facilitate the realisation of the aim of restoring freedom to trade in tea to everybody and at the same time to preserve the aims of policy with regard to purchase in countries of origin. Out of that discussion arose this suggestion that they should set up a company which would act as an agent for all of them in the shipment of the teas they purchased. It will be their company, controlled by them, directed by them and there will be no State interference at all with the operations of that company.

Deputy Cosgrave has more than once asked why if this organisation is good for tea, is it not good for other commodities. I think it is good for other [1288] commodities. I cannot see any reason why we should buy our supplies of other commodities that have to be imported through the medium of middlemen in third countries. Are we going to do anything about it? That is a different question. Here, because of the special character of the tea trade and the special obligation there was on the Government to try to maintain tea supplies during the war, we have the situation in which there is a bulk buyer of tea and in which the Government is involved, financially and otherwise, in the conduct of the tea trade and, as we are getting out of it, giving the trade back to merchants to operate freely in competition with one another, there is an obligation on us to see that the system which will in future operate with regard to tea is one which conforms to our conception of what is most likely to be in the interests of the consuming public in this country. That is what we are doing. But, if I were again asked the question as to why an arrangement that is considered desirable in the case of tea does not apply to rice, coffee or anything else, I say, of course, it should apply to them. I would prefer to see an arrangement under which traders in those commodities purchased direct in the countries of origin and shipped direct from those countries rather than that they should pay a commission to middlemen in other countries to do business for us.

I resent the mentality which appears to think that this country must always necessarily be a sort of tail-end of the British distribution system. That was something which was perhaps inevitable when we were one political unit, but it surely is a situation which was bound to disappear in the course of time. Purely commercial considerations would bring it to an end. There is certainly no reason why we should think of deliberately going out to preserve it when it is not to our advantage.

Let me say in connection with what Deputy Sweetman said in regard to my personal feeling in regard to this matter, if he can show me that there is one advantage of any sort to the people of this country in getting back [1289] to the pre-war situation in which the primary wholesalers of Mincing Lane handled the tea trade of this country, I am prepared to let it happen but I have to be shown that there is any advantage in it. There is no reason why we should do it merely because it was the pre-war practice and certainly there is no reason why we should do it when our investigation of the situation seems to show beyond doubt that the advantage to the country lies in pursuing the course that this Bill indicates.

Mr. Dillon:  May I put this point to the Minister? His thesis now on this section is that the device envisaged by this Bill will redound to the advantage of the consumer in Ireland and he defends it on that ground. Very well, I say, strike out sub-section (2) and let the two systems work side by side.

Mr. S. Lemass:  They would not work side by side.

Mr. Dillon:  Why not? All I want to ensure is that the person who actually purchases and blends tea for sale to the consumer in this country shall have the widest option to get the best value he can for his customers' money. If the Minister's thesis be true, that the distributor can get better tea cheaper as a result of the bulk purchase arrangements catered for in his Bill, how can he argue that a distributor seeking the best value will elect to purchase in Mincing Lane poorer tea for more money than he could buy in the City of Dublin? That is just crazy.

I have no objection at all if the Minister wants to set up machinery to enable a group of tea importers in this country to deal direct with India. All I am concerned with is that he will not compel me to deal with them but that he will leave me or any other merchant in the country free to deal where we can deal to the best advantage.

The Minister speaks of this country as being the tail-end of the British distribution system. I do not believe a Minister for Industry and Commerce in this country can seriously make that contention. Does he regard the Metal Exchange, does he regard the Baltic, [1290] does he regard the numerous international markets that function in Great Britain as a great international banking centre as being tail-ends of the British distribution system or are they not great international markets?

It is well for Deputies to hear this story before they make up their minds. A question of purchasing jute arose in time of scarcity and I remember asking the head of a big jute firm in London could jute best be purchased in London or in India. His reply was: “It does not matter very much. If you want to buy jute in London, we can sell it to you or, if you go to any of the 15 firms represented around this square, they can sell it to you or, if you go to Calcutta, we will meet you there and will sell it to you there, or, if you want to go up country to where they grow jute, we will make you very welcome there, but you will still be buying through us.”

It is quite illusory to imagine that any group of merchants here will take an aeroplane and go out to Calcutta. Any group of importers here must deal with an agent in the Calcutta market. I should say that over 80 per cent. of the agents trading in the Calcutta market are themselves agents for British firms. I do not want to denigrate that procedure. I do not care if a group of merchants here want to combine and take up their residence in Calcutta. I do not mind if they want an Irish speaker to act as their agent in Calcutta—or an Englishman or a Parsee, and so on. It is eminently desirable that enterprising business persons in this country should be facilitated in adopting any machinery they like, provided they do not say to all the other enterprising businessmen in Ireland: “You may not trade the way you think best.” That is all.

What I cannot understand is how the Minister can go on making the case that it is expedient to prohibit the vast majority of experienced tea buyers in this country from buying tea the way they think they ought to do it.

Mr. S. Lemass:  The Deputy has tried to make the case that if there are all these advantages in buying tea in the country of origin, we do not need [1291] controls—that that is how the tea will be purchased, anyhow. Does he seriously contend that organisations such as Lyons, Liptons, the Home and Colonial, would be allowed by their parent organisations to buy anywhere except in Mincing Lane through the central organisation of these giant concerns? Does the Deputy contend that they would be allowed to conform to what we think is best for the Irish people—and remember that these organisations buy a large part of the tea for this country? Does the Deputy visualise Irish merchants, knowing that the way was open to powerful Mincing Lane merchants to get back on the Irish market and not knowing what moves they might adopt to establish themselves here, risking substantial sums on the purchase of tea in such a situation? It would not happen and the Deputy knows it. Deputy Dillon knows that if there were not the provisions which are in the Bill the whole idea of developing trade with the country of origin and getting the advantages which that means could not be achieved.

Mr. Dillon:  My contention is that, in my judgment, if the two systems are allowed to function side by side one system will prove itself infinitely superior and the other will wither away. I understood the Minister for Industry and Commerce to say that the advantages of the system envisaged in this Bill were so great that he could not understand how any sane man would not wish to adopt them. Accordingly, it is my judgment against his. Let the two systems function together. I believe that, from the point of view of the consumer here, the great advantage lies with Mincing Lane—and it is of the consumer I am thinking. Bear in mind that 1d. on 1 lb. of tea represents £100,000 a year. Therefore, if the consumer in this country is getting tea of a quality 4d. a lb. below what he ought to be getting, it represents very nearly £500,000 a year.

Mr. McMenamin:  Plus commission.

[1292]Mr. S. Lemass:  Why should he pay the £400,000 to the Mincing Lane merchants?

Mr. Dillon:  If we can get tea cheaper and better under the machinery of this Bill, why should anyone go to Mincing Lane? Do you really imagine that Liptons, Lyons, the Home and Colonial, in order to please the people of Mincing Lane, will enter into competition with merchants in Ireland who, under the machinery of this Bill, have the forehand advantage of them in regard to price and quality? If this machinery will work cheaper for Lyons, Liptons, Home and Colonial, and so on, surely they will use it? The reason they will go back to deal through London is that they know as well as I know that, in purchasing on an international market, such as for teas, it is much more advantageous to use the international machinery of trade.

Under my proposal, both schemes can be put into operation, one with the other. If the Minister's proposals are the better, they will ultimately prevail.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Give them about ten years' start. Otherwise, they will never start.

Mr. Dillon:  Tea Importers have been 20 years importing bulk tea.

Mr. S. Lemass:  This is another scheme.

Mr. Dillon:  Yes, but it is closely analogous to the other, because bulk purchase is the key to the business. The Minister has no personal knowledge of the tea trade, which is very complex. I do not hold myself out for a moment as an expert in tea, but I have been 30 years, only in a very small and trifling way, a buyer, a retailer, wholesaler and distributor of tea to suit my customers' choice and desire. I depended for my livelihood on being able to offer what my customers thought was better and cheaper than what my neighbour had to offer, and I know what persuaded them to deal with me.

I tell the House deliberately—I assign no blame—that I believe it was a difficult period of scarcity and that [1293] we had to accept the fact that, over the past 12 years when the war was over and scarcity and market difficulties made it expedient to continue centralised buying, our people have been buying worse tea at dearer prices than they should have been asked to do. I do not believe it was anybody's fault. I believe it was a defect inherent in the attempt to buy our requirements of tea and ship them direct from India and Ceylon to this country.

It leaves us open, however, to the kind of treatment by the Bengal State Government to which the Minister referred in answer to a question which I put down last week. The Central Government of India—I imagine for its own reasons—would consider it wise not to discriminate between one country and another. However, in certain fiscal matters the State Government of Pakistan and India have certain autonomy. The Bengal Government announced that they would levy about two and a half rupees per lb. on all teas exported from East Bengal to any country other than Great Britain.

Mr. S. Lemass:  That is not it at all. I gave the Deputy a reply to the parliamentary question, and that was not the situation. They charged a levy on all tea produced in the State but exempted tea sent forward to auctions in any part of the world—which is contrary to the policy of the Central Government which is to encourage the sale of all teas at auctions in India.

Mr. Dillon:  If we are discriminated against now in respect of that levy made by the Bengal Government, whereas teas handled on the London market are not so discriminated against, that is merely one of the instances of the implications of central buying. I do not want unduly to elaborate this problem or to bring in a vast number of highly speculative considerations. I am prepared to stand on this issue. Let this scheme function and leave the ordinary shopkeeper to buy his tea where he can get the best value. I believe that the vast majority of the Deputies agree with me. I would regard Deputy Haughey, who now shakes his head at [1294] me, as a singularly valiant man if he agreed with me in these circumstances but I believe that the average country Deputy who knows how things work in rural Ireland agrees with me.

May I again advert to the fact that every ld. means £100,000 a year? The Minister truly says that, theoretically, under the machinery of this Bill, any wholesaler can participate in the importation of tea—and that is true, theoretically. But hundreds of things are true in theory that bear no relation whatever to the pragmatic fact. I am prepared to say that, when this Bill is operating, not more than 20 Irish wholesalers will participate directly in the importation of tea because the others are not circumstanced to do so. Their turnover is not sufficient to admit of their trading in that way. I say that we are about to put into the hands of fewer than 20 individuals, three or four of whom may be very powerful London combines such as Lyons, Liptons, Home and Colonial, and so on, the exclusive right to import tea into this country. Is that not so?

Mr. S. Lemass:  It is the reverse of what is going to happen.

Mr. Dillon:  I admit that in theory that could be so. I am saying that, in fact, about 20 firms will control this business. Three or four of them will be powerful London firms like Liptons and Home and Colonial.

Do Deputies advert to the fact that these 20—be they firms or individual citizens—have it in their power, for every ld., to levy £100,000 on the consuming public of this country and divide it up amongst themselves? I think the Minister takes pride in the fact that once this Bill is passed he washes his hands and from that moment forward—unlike Tea Importers, which he had a duty to supervise continually—this new organisation is to be utterly free and allowed to function without further supervision or interference of any kind.

I think the whole thing is utterly daft and I cannot understand any sound or just reason for refusing our simple request to delete sub-section (2) and [1295] let the two systems stand side by side. The direct importers would have all the advantages accruing to them from the quasi-monopolistic position this Bill will confer upon them and, if the Minister is right in his forecast, all the additional advantages that he has envisaged from the direct shipping, and so on, against the small individual grocer up and down the country, seeking the best value he can get for his customer. If the Minister's beliefs are well founded, every small grocer and every small wholesaler will ultimately look to the direct importers in the City of Dublin for their supplies; but my experience tells me that, if the interest of the consumer is to prevail, in fact it is free trade that will capture all this business and this abracadabra will break down.

The London tea market is a large one. It gave us, pre-war, four months' credit, or £4,000,000 to £6,000,000, continuously. But they are a representative body of London merchants. Let us not forget that these markets, to which we wish to have access on terms of fair equality with all others who seek access to them, depend very largely on the goodwill of the mercantile community of England. I need not tell the Minister that the difference between Mincing Lane and Smithfield and the various other markets where we trade in England, is not very wide and the contacts are pretty close. If by legislation of this House we prohibit these merchants from having access to our markets——

Mr. S. Lemass:  They are not in the market now.

Mr. Dillon:  They were put out of it by us.

Mr. S. Lemass:  They withdrew from it.

Mr. Norton:  How does the Deputy reconcile what he says now with his jute story—that you meet the man in Mincing Lane but you also meet him in India? How can they complain, so? What is the basis of complaint?

Mr. Dillon:  I think they object to [1296] being excluded from the Irish market. Does the Deputy want to know how the tea market works? I gave the House an outline on that when I intervened in the debate on the Second Stage. I do not want to go over it again. Besides, the Deputy and I have often discussed this on other occasions.

There were misunderstandings during the war. I do not believe it was the fault of the British merchants, but the fault of the British Ministry of Food, if fault there were. When you come to think of it, when the British made available to us a quarter of our annual average purchases, in the circumstances in which they found themselves in 1941, I do not think they treated us badly. It was fair enough, when you consider the difficulties under which they laboured at that time. The Minister apparently bitterly resents it, but I am sure that it was not the tea merchants' fault. They carried out the instructions of their own Government—which I do not think were unreasonable but which, whether reasonable or unreasonable, cannot be laid to the individual charge of the tea merchants in London.

It is a dangerous principle we are adopting here, by legislation to exclude the important commercial community in London from access to our markets, particularly at a time when it is vitally important for us to persuade the British Board of Trade that it should not be persuaded by any other person to levy discriminatory tariffs against our butter. Remember, we are going to make the case that we have been traditionally trading with them for butter. What are we going to say if the British Board of Trade replies to us: “It is true that you were sending us butter before New Zealand was discovered by Captain Cook, but we were sending you tea since shortly after Christopher Columbus arrived on the American continent; and if you think it is appropriate to set yourselves to exclude us from the Irish tea market, can you complain if we do not exclude you but if we put you in a less preferred category in regard to butter? I think this is dangerous and that there is no corresponding advantage to be got out of it. It is a system that [1297] cannot stand, as far as I know, if the Free Trade Area is formulated on anything like the present proposals which are being made by O.E.E.C. in Paris.

Why do we take this risk? Why do we embark on this departure, when every counsel of prudence seems to argue against it? I am as certain as I am standing here that, if the Minister believes that the end result will be to get our people better tea at a lower price, he is completely misled. I am as certain as I am standing here that, quite apart from all the other objections I have advanced to this proposal, there is the overriding interest that it means that our people will get worse tea at a higher price. It is admittedly pure speculation on my part, but for whatever my experience is worth, I want to tell this House that, in my judgment, the consumers of this country will pay either in cash or quality approximately £400,000 per annum more for their tea under this restrictive system than they would pay if sub-section (2) of Section 7 were deleted and every man were allowed to buy where he thought best, bearing his customers' requirements in mind.

Mr. S. Lemass:  It is far more likely to be better tea at a lower price.

Mr. Dillon:  Now, let the House judge between us; but may I beg of the Minister that, while in Paris on his present mission, he turn over in his mind the other considerations I have made? I think they are vitally important to us at present. The Minister knows that from this side of the House he can expect the most energetic support in pressing the view that we are entitled to expect access to the British market, in our traditional forms of trade, on the most favourable terms and our most energetic support from this side of the House for the case that one of the grounds on which we claim that is not only the contents of any trade agreement but the fact that we are one of Great Britain's best customers in Europe, that we are not seeking one-sided favours but seeking to maintain and develop a mutually advantageous relationship. May I submit to the Minister that the proposals in this Bill have no part in the overall [1298] mutual arrangement that he and we desire to promote between ourselves and the British market.

Mr. S. Lemass:  If that case is going to be made on behalf of any interests from Britain, for Heaven's sake, let them make it for themselves.

Mr. Dillon:  No. Surely we should make it here, examine it here and if there is force in it, we should prepare ourselves, but the one thing we should not do is to make it a matter of face. If we commit ourselves to that system and we are met with representations from the Board of Trade that they regard that as unfair discrimination against them which entitles them to take action against us, there would instantly be joined between us all kinds of irrelevant considerations and it would become a matter of national honour that we should stand forth on the terms of the Bill. In the name of common prudence, is there any side of the House that wants to raise issues of that kind on this Bill, when all that this Bill provides can be made available simply by the deletion of sub-section (2) and let the two systems march side by side.

Observe what the Minister for Industry and Commerce says now: if any interests in England want to make that case, let them make it themselves. If they do make it, the Minister will be coming back in defence of the national honour of this country, all for a daft, crazy Bill like this, the result of which will be to cost our people £400,000 a year more for their tea and, in addition to that, we are in danger of becoming embattled on the highest level with interests which it is our vital interest to conciliate in every way we can.

Mr. Norton:  May I ask one question of the Minister? Is it not true that a majority of the Irish tea merchants agreed to this idea of buying tea in India?

Mr. Dillon:  Not at all.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Yes. The whole proposition was canvassed and voted [1299] on by all the wholesale tea merchants in Ireland.

Mr. Dillon:  Ninety individuals.

Mr. S. Lemass:  After a long and protracted discussion on the merits and demerits of other schemes, what is in this Bill is what the majority of the merchants voted for.

Mr. Dillon:  How many voted?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Every single one of them, I believe.

Mr. Sweetman:  They were told to vote, with this one overriding principle, that no matter what happened, the Minister for Industry and Commerce required the tea to be purchased in the country of origin alone and they were not given any discretion on that.

Mr. S. Lemass:  The Deputy is chancing his arm.

Mr. Sweetman:  The Deputy is not chancing his arm. The Deputy knows very well what took place. They were not given that discretion in relation to this. They were told that, on that, there was a fixed unalterable policy of the Government and that whatever scheme was to be worked out was to be worked out subject to that provision.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Is it not sound common sense that Irish merchants would prefer to be handling the tea of the country of origin rather than handing it over to somebody else?

Mr. Norton:  There were a number of “nays.” What did the “nays” vote for?

Mr. Sweetman:  There were two questions involved. One was that, as I have said, they were not to put forward any scheme that did not include the provision that they must buy in the country of origin. The question on which they had some discretion was whether there would be a company method like this, or an individual method of buying, subject again to the overriding direction that was given by [1300] the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

I know that is the fact and the trade knows it, but I want to take the Minister up on two other questions he mentioned earlier. Earlier to-day, he was waxing very eloquent on the line that under this Bill the various parties who were permitted to import tea were free to buy as they wanted. It is common ground that under this Bill existing wholesalers, as of right, are entitled to import through the agency of the company. It is common ground that certain of the big London wholesalers like the one he mentioned, for example, are existing wholesalers here, and would, therefore, be able to purchase under this Bill, if the arguments that were put forward by the Minister this morning are accurate. How then can he possibly justify the statement he made on the last occasion he spoke that if it was not for this, they would be free to come in and buy, with all their resources? If they were free in his argument this morning, they are still free in his argument this afternoon, and the Minister cannot have it both ways.

The second point I want to make is in relation to shipping freight costs. The vital element is not whether you have a whole ship, a half ship or a quarter ship. The vital element in relation to any freight cost is whether you have freight both ways for the round trip. It is perfectly obvious that freight costs must depend on the full user of the ship going both ways and it is nonsense to say that they depend solely on the amount of space you take in the particular ship for one part of the journey only.

Mr. S. Lemass:  The Deputy must not think there is any obligation to use only the vessels of Irish Shipping Limited.

Mr. Sweetman:  I do not mean that at all. It is the round trip that fixes freight costs.

Mr. Dillon:  I should like to ask the Minister a question. Suppose the Minister sets up this exclusive company and in four years' time, we seek to repeal this Act, will this company [1301] claim to have no assets or will it claim to be worth a million of money? Will it be argued that it does not make any difference or, on the other hand, that we are seeking by law to take away from this company a very valuable business that they have built up?

Mr. S. Lemass:  They will not ordinarily be buying tea at all or trading in tea.

Mr. Dillon:  We have argued it out to the limit of our capacity, but I want to register a most emphatic protest against the suggestion that all the tea merchants of Ireland were canvassed in regard to this matter. I assure the Minister that if he believes that, he will believe anything. I do not know if the Minister is in a position to say how many voted?

Mr. S. Lemass:  There are 90 registered tea merchants.

Mr. Dillon:  There are 90 registered tea merchants according to the Minister's estimate.

Mr. S. Lemass:  There are 90 registered under the existing Act.

Mr. Dillon:  There are in Ballaghaderreen 19 tea merchants.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I am talking about wholesalers.

Mr. Dillon:  I am talking about people who sell tea.

Mr. S. Lemass:  That is the retailer.

Mr. Dillon:  He is the man who buys the tea and sells it. Would the House not have imagined from what the Minister told us that all the tea merchants in Ireland were consulted about this? In fact, 90 tea merchants were consulted and this bait was held-out to them:—“Get in on the ground floor and those of you who are able to get in on the ground floor are guaranteed in perpetuity a monopoly of the entire tea imports of 24,000,000 lb.” Let us assume that all of these 90 tea merchants will come in—I am certain that not more than 20 of them will come in because they will not have the resources or the outlet for tea to [1302] justify it—and they are going to have a complete monopoly.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Nobody is going to have a complete monopoly.

Mr. Dillon:  Because there is nobody else from whom they can buy.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Anybody who wants to may become a tea importer.

Mr. Dillon:  I know that. Theoretically I can become an aeronaut and fly a jet plane to Timbuctoo and there is nothing to prevent me.

Mr. Corry:  I hope the Deputy will not crash.

Mr. Dillon:  But I am not fit to do it. What is the use of telling me I am free to become a jet aircraft pilot? You can tell people that they are free to do anything they like——

Mr. Norton:  Why is it not possible to be a buyer in the country of origin?

Mr. Dillon:  Because I have not got the outlet for tea. An ordinary retail distributor in perfecting the blend of tea that his customers want may use seven separate teas. He may use tea from Ceylon, Darjeeling, Southern India or he may even add China tea. He buys all those teas in relatively small parcels on the open market but he is never in a position to buy from Calcutta and import directly to Ireland the variety of teas which he uses to prepare the blend for his customers which in their judgment they consider the best for the lowest price.

Goodness knows, Deputy Norton should be aware that if a very limited number of people manage to get effective control of a trade the tendency for a ring to form, even though it be of an informal character, is almost irresistible.

Mr. Norton:  Is that not the position in many other cases? Take a merchant who wanted to buy dried fruit in Greece. He cannot go to Greece and buy direct. He has to buy from a wholesaler in Dublin.

Mr. Dillon:  Not at all, in Dublin, in London or in Liverpool.

[1303]Mr. Norton:  But he cannot go to the country of origin. He is limited.

Mr. Dillon:  He is not limited.

Mr. Corry:  On a point of order, would you, Sir, insist on those Deputies addressing the Chair?

Mr. Dillon:  Any Irish shopkeeper, according to the Minister, may buy a chest of tea from 15 different areas of the Far East.

Mr. Norton:  Over 90 per cent. of the tea comes from India.

Mr. Dillon:  Different parts of India. These 90 fellows can buy but a shopkeeper distributor is going to find himself dealing with these people and nobody else.

Mr. Norton:  Why denigrate the Irish wholesaler?

Mr. Dillon:  I am not denigrating him. On the contrary, I say let him compete in free open competition. I say to the Minister, certainly have the Bill but take out sub-section (2).

Mr. Norton:  The Deputy is unfairly judging the Irish wholesaler already.

Mr. Dillon:  I do not want to score points off the Deputy but I have been a trader all my life. I try to live in the world and I know that the tendency for rings to form, once a restricted market exists, is wellnigh irresistible. The present Minister for Industry and Commerce is himself the Minister who brought in a Bill to provide for fair trading conditions and it was Deputy Norton who brought in several sets of rules laid down by that fair trading body to restrain groups who were enjoying relative monopoly conditions here and all of whom had established, over the years, monopolistic practices. Some of them have come out in public and said that they were the best practices. Is that not so? This Bill is to enable them to do these very things.

Mr. Norton:  We must be reading two separate Bills.

Mr. Dillon:  Oh, no, we are not. I [1304] suppose the intentions of the Minister and the Deputy are of the best when they tell us what is going to happen. The Minister says that it is plain as a pikestaff that by bringing tea from India to Ireland it will be cheaper than importing it direct from London. If that is so why should Lipton——

Mr. Norton:  Does he not grow tea in India?

Mr. Dillon:  Lipton would not grow in India as much tea as would fill his packets for two days out of 365. He buys like everyone else.

Mr. Norton:  Does he buy in India?

Mr. Dillon:  I am sure he does. The group will probably be buying from Lipton's agent in Calcutta because he is probably one of the most efficient agents. They can afford to pay for the very best man, and it is quite likely that the same man will buy for us. It might be wise for us to get Lipton's man if they would allow it.

All I am asking, and goodness knows it seems to be a modest request, is that the ordinary shopkeeper in rural Ireland will be able to say: “Very well buy, but let me buy tea and try to hold my own against Liptons and against all the packaged tea.”

What puzzles me is this. I think the Minister is thinking exclusively in terms of packaged tea. He appears to have made up his mind that all the tea sold in Ireland is packaged tea. That may be true of Dublin but it is not true of rural Ireland. The only way in which the merchants of rural Ireland can hold their own against Liptons, the Home and Colonial and other wholesalers of packaged tea, is by being able to buy their own tea. The Minister is talking about wholesalers as the people who sell packaged tea, but we are going to wipe out every independent tea blender in rural Ireland by this Bill. I think if Deputies realised what this means, that we are handing over the entire tea trade into the hands of a restricted number——

Mr. S. Lemass:  We are doing the very opposite. I should have circulated a White Paper using words of one syllable only.

[1305]Mr. Dillon:  I have forgotten more about the tea trade than the Minister ever knew. I have been a long time in the tea trade and I am appalled that Dáil Eireann should legislate to prohibit the ordinary shopkeeper in rural Ireland from getting for his customers the best quality of tea at the lowest price, in order to establish what will be less than 20 individuals controlling a trade on every penny of which they collect £100,000.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 8 agreed to.

SECTION 9.

Question proposed: “That Section 9 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Dillon:  I see that there is imprisonment provided as a penalty for offences against Section 9 and we are to go to jail if we contravene any of the provisions of this Bill. Is the House sincere about that? I imagine that section is taken from some other Bill and just put in holus bolus. Do we want the law to protect a statutory group of this kind, to provide that any citizen who violates the regulations can go to jail for six months? Perhaps the Minister would consider that between now and the Report Stage.

Mr. S. Lemass:  If there is any feeling that the penalty is too severe we can discuss that.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 10 agreed to.

SECTION 11.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I move amendment No. 5:—

5. Before the section, to insert the following new section:—

11.—Where, before the 30th day of September, 1959, a registered tea trader (in this section referred to as the purchaser) requests, under Section 8 of this Act, the company to act as agent for the importation of a particular consignment of tea (in this section referred to as the purchaser's [1306] consignment), the company shall forthwith inform Tea Importers, Limited (in this section referred to as the existing company) of the request, and thereupon, notwithstanding anything in the said Section 8, the following provisions shall have effect—

(a) the company shall not comply with the request of the purchaser unless and until authorised by the existing company to do so,

(b) the existing company, for the purpose of disposing of stocks of tea then held by it or in its control, may, before the expiration of the period of 14 days commencing on the date on which it was so informed of the request of the purchaser, serve by registered post on the purchaser a notice requiring the purchaser to purchase from it within a specified time and at a specified price a specified quantity of such stocks, being a quantity which is, in the opinion of the existing company, equitable having regard to the quantity of the purchaser's consignment and the quantity of such stocks,

(c) if the said notice is served on the purchaser and the purchaser complies therewith, the existing company shall forthwith authorise the company to comply with the request of the purchaser,

(d) if the existing company decide not to proceed under paragraph (b) of this section, the existing company shall, as soon as may be after so deciding, authorise the company to comply with the request of the purchaser.

As I mentioned in the course of the debate on various sections of the Bill one of the problems arising at the present time is to secure the regular and orderly disposal of the existing stocks of tea held by Tea Importers, Limited without loss to Tea Importers, Limited. They hold about 18,000,000 or 19,000,000 lb. of tea, all of which was purchased on money borrowed on [1307] State guarantee, and it is necessary to have some arrangement that that will gradually pass out to the ordinary wholesale traders who will be importing tea in the future. An arrangement has been worked out with the Tea Wholesalers Association which will ensure that. Under that arrangement wholesalers who purchase tea this year in the country of origin will accept an obligation to purchase a corresponding stock of the tea of Tea Importers, Limited, so that by September next year, it is hoped that all the stocks of Tea Importers, Limited, will have been passed out and will have been liquidated. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that this obligation will be attached to any new entry into the trade.

Mr. Norton:  When this Bill becomes law and the new company is set up, the traders operating through the new company have agreed to purchase portion of their requirements in the manner provided for in the Bill in the Articles of Association, and portion of their requirements from the present Tea Importers, Limited?

Mr. S. Lemass:  I would not put it quite like that. When the new company comes into operation the old company will have a stock of tea on hands which at the moment is about 18,000,000 lb. It will possibly be smaller than that by then. These traders will start to purchase tea on their own account and if they did that without regard to that stock, Tea Importers, Limited, would be left with it and, as storage charges would be accumulating, the possibility of a loss would arise. The arrangement is that, over the next buying period, they will buy tea from India and, simultaneously, buy on an agreed basis, the tea held by Tea Importers, Limited, with the aim of having all that tea taken by the merchants by September, 1959. In that way there will be an orderly disposal of that tea without loss and, at the same time the merchants will have begun the practice of buying their own requirements directly from the countries of origin. After September, 1959, there will be no problem [1308] of existing stocks and they will buy their whole stocks from the country of origin.

Mr. Norton:  In other words, the tea merchants in this new company will, when buying in the country of origin, buy in such a manner that they will regulate their orders in such a way as to syphon off the 18,000,000 lb. of tea which Tea Importers now have?

Mr. S. Lemass:  There will be no restriction on any quantity which merchants may buy, but for every ten chests that a merchant buys in India he will buy, say, three or four chests from Tea Importers, Limited.

Mr. Norton:  The tea merchants registered under this Bill have contracted to take 18,000,000 lb. of tea from Tea Importers, Limited.

Mr. Sweetman:  Not £18,000,000; 18,000,000 lb. weight.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I think it is likely that for this year the merchants would prefer that Tea Importers, Limited would buy some part of the total quantity of tea to be bought. That will be a matter for negotiation, because perhaps they would have less difficulty to programme their own purchases ahead, but the intention is that by September, 1959, the trade will be back in the hands of the merchants.

Mr. Dillon:  Is the Minister in a position to say has the debt accumulated under State guarantee by Tea Importers, Limited, been liquidated?

Mr. S. Lemass:  There is about £200,000.

Mr. Norton:  Surely not £200,000?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Yes, about £200,000.

Mr. Sweetman:  I thought that was liquidated last September. I think the original debt was liquidated and this is a new debt.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I think there is some debit balance on the profit and loss.

Mr. Dillon:  I should like to make this clear. We all know that, in the ordinary trading, there were some [1309] trading losses and balances, but there was a specific loss built up by us, as the Minister will remember, when we were holding back the price of tea in the hope that world prices would come back. That was a funded loss, and we then proceeded to work that off over a further period.

Mr. S. Lemass:  My recollection is that there was also an earlier loss of a similar kind, or an earlier debit, on the profit and loss account and, on the sum total of these two debits, there is still a certain amount due.

Mr. Sweetman:  The Minister, in his prepared speech on the Second Reading, referred to the termination of the method of financing to which we are now referring. That is being worked off.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Tea Importers, Limited, will still have the Government guarantee attached to its borrowings until these borrowings are repaid.

Mr. Sweetman:  I understand that perfectly.

Dr. Esmonde:  The Minister stated that Tea Importers, Limited, have 18,000,000 lb. of tea on hands.

Mr. S. Lemass:  In stocks or in transit-purchased, anyway.

Dr. Esmonde:  I understand that normally each year stocks for the year are bought between August and the end of the year. Is that not right?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Sometimes between the middle of the year and the end of September.

Dr. Esmonde:  That is the usual procedure. In the ordinary course of events, whether or not this company comes into existence, nobody would be buying tea or importing tea until next August or September. The wholesalers or retailers will have to buy tea from somebody. If this supply of tea is in the country, surely it will be disposed of quite easily and simply without necessarily legislating in the matter; it will automatically be bought by the consumers.

[1310]Mr. S. Lemass:  There must always be a stock there.

Dr. Esmonde:  I do not see how Tea Importers, Limited, could be left with that tea in 1959.

Mr. S. Lemass:  They will not. It will be gone by then.

Dr. Esmonde:  It will be gone this year.

Mr. S. Lemass:  No.

Dr. Esmonde:  Why? Is there a couple of years' supply in the country?

Mr. S. Lemass:  It is very nearly a years' supply anyway.

Dr. Esmonde:  The Minister said on the Second Reading that they buy a year's supply of tea. One of the reasons for this Bill is to ensure that that supply of tea is bought each year. We have this balance of tea. Surely that will be sold. There is no question about it.

Mr. S. Lemass:  It will all be sold, certainly.

Dr. Esmonde:  Nobody may import tea except Tea Importers, Limited. Why are they worrying? The Irish people must still drink tea and they will sell that tea, even if they can get it only from Tea Importers, Limited. Automatically, it will be bought from them and automatically it will be taken over by the consumers of tea.

Mr. S. Lemass:  It will not be taken over. On 1st July next, there will be nobody to take it over, except the wholesale tea merchants in the country, and the purpose of the amendment is to regulate the procedure by which the wholesale tea merchants will, in fact, take it over.

Mr. Dillon:  We must encourage them to take it over.

Dr. Esmonde:  Surely they cannot take it off anybody else.

Mr. S. Lemass:  On 1st July, they can buy in India quite freely.

[1311]Dr. Esmonde:  But they cannot import.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Yes, they can.

Dr. Esmonde:  I thought this Bill was to limit import. No one can import tea except the company.

Mr. Dillon:  Is it not the plain truth that Tea Importers, Limited have in stock a large quantity of tea that nobody on God's earth would buy, unless he was made buy it? On 1st July next, the boys who get in on the ground-floor can buy tea anywhere they like.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Any merchant can buy, whether he is on the roof or on the ground-floor.

Mr. Dillon:  The boys on the ground floor will be free to buy anywhere they like, and those are the only boys who will be allowed to import tea.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I should have circulated this White Paper.

Mr. Dillon:  Unless there is some inducement to make the boys take up this tea, they will not take it up.

Mr. Sweetman:  The White Paper might have prevented the Minister contradicting himself so often.

Mr. Dillon:  If you are going to get rid of the tea, there must be some inducement, such as that envisaged here. On the whole, if you are going to operate this rotten, cock-eyed, crazy scheme, this is as good a way as any other to do it.

Mr. S. Lemass:  We are not going to operate the Deputy's scheme, anyway.

Dr. Esmonde:  The Minister said distinctly anyone can import tea. Is that true or not?

Mr. S. Lemass:  On 1st July, anybody who is a registered tea merchant can purchase tea.

Dr. Esmonde:  Himself directly?

Mr. S. Lemass:  And import it through the company.

Dr. Esmonde:  Ah!

[1312]Mr. S. Lemass:  But he can import as much as he likes. He can fill every store in the country with tea, if he likes.

Dr. Esmonde:  That is a different thing, but he cannot get the tea, unless he goes through the company.

Mr. S. Lemass:  The company cannot refuse to bring it in.

Mr. Norton:  Is it the position that, in fact, they will not bring it in? They will arrange with some shipping line to take it in for them. The importer has to bring it in by ship, at any rate.

Mr. Dillon:  If he buys in the country of origin and gets in on the ground-floor and has the means to finance the transaction, he can bring it in.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 11 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 19th March.

Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.

SCHEDULE.

Question proposed: “That the Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill.”

Mr. Sweetman:  Could the Minister tell us the geographical places in which the various articles enumerated here are now manufactured within the State?

Mr. S. Lemass:  The whole lot of them?

Mr. Sweetman:  Yes. I want to see what policy of decentralisation is operating here.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Prepared wheaten breakfast foods—the principal place is Dublin. The next is malt extract— Mountmellick. Iron and steel bars— that is only an exclusion. The next is shirts—all over the place. The next is drags and forks—Cork, Navan and [1313] Galway. Agricultural machinery is next—that is mainly Wexford. Glazed fireclay pipes and connections—Athy.

Mr. Sweetman:  But in the Laois part of Athy.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Iron and steel sheets —Haulbowline; yarn of man-made fibres—that is a new industry in Sligo; cement articles—County Dublin; flower pots—Wexford; iron ropes— Wicklow; coil springs—Wexford; gummed paper—Dublin.

Mr. Sweetman:  It could almost be called the Dublin and Wexford Bill, as far as I can gather.

Mr. Dillon:  The Minister for Agriculture might have saved the Minister for Industry and Commerce some trouble if he told us what he was going to do about the maintenance of subsidies on agricultural exports. I want to direct the attention of the House to this Schedule of 15 duties which we are imposing to-day, including a duty on agricultural drags and forks, a duty on agricultural machinery and a duty on iron and steel sheets used in farm buildings, as well as duties on a variety of other things which the agricultural community, as well as the rest of the community, habitually use. As a result, the producers of these industrial products can charge consumers in this country some margin, great or small, over and above the world price ruling for these commodities——

Mr. S. Lemass:  Not necessarily. I do not know what the Deputy means by “world price”.

Mr. Dillon:  The price at which he would have to compete, if competition were available.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Over and above the lowest possible price.

Mr. Dillon:  Yes. Accordingly, we hand them out in 15 sub-heads to add to the vast catalogue that at present exists. I would ask the House to bear in mind that we do so almost without comment. It seems to be self-evident that that must be done. The argument [1314] made by the Minister is: “Do you want them to compete with these commodities drawn from the cheapest source in the world, because, if you do, then you will deny these tariffs, and if you are prepared to concede that industrial producers are entitled to some protection from that kind of competition, you must give them this protection.”

I want to direct the attention of the House to the fact that whatever the sum of the charges that come in course of payment by the consumer in the country as a result of our decision in regard to this schedule of tariffs may be, it is that sum that is to be compared with the figure which appears in the Supplementary Estimate this morning as the subsidy requisite to equip the farmer to meet competition from the cheapest sources in the world in the export market where he sells bacon and butter. We are giving him in that subsidy nothing more, and I doubt if we are giving him as much as we are giving to these manufacturers here.

Bear this in mind. The farmer who seeks a subsidy which, in my opinion, is a lesser charge on the community than these tariffs, is competing in foreign markets with his produce. None of these producers for whose benefit we are enacting these tariffs, even aspires to look for foreign markets.

Mr. Corry:  When were they put on?

Mr. Dillon:  I could not tell you. I do not know.

Mr. Corry:  I will tell you before I leave.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Order!

Mr. Dillon:  We are now confronted with these tariffs, some of which on the merits we might not approve, notably the one on agricultural forks and agricultural machines; but I do not propose at this stage to go into that. The point I want to make is that this protection of the domestic market for these producers is just as material a burden on the taxpayer and consumer in this country as the subsidies which we voted this morning for the agricultural [1315] exporter. The House should bear that constantly in mind, with the additional factor that the agricultural exporter is a competitor in foreign markets and is earning foreign currency for us, without which the raw materials of none of these industries could be imported.

These industries simply cater for the domestic market and get their profits and trade union rates of wages out of the prices they are enabled to charge as a result of the tariff protection which we provide for them, which in some cases is 75 per cent. ad valorem. They earn nothing by way of foreign exchange. The raw materials, on which they operate and without which they could not operate for an hour, are paid for by the butter and bacon exports of the Irish farmer. Unless we continue to ensure that those who produce these things continue to get a price for them which will make it possible for them to earn a modest livelihood—far lower in standard in many cases than is enjoyed by the humblest workman employed in these industrial activities—unless we continue to ensure that the exporter of agricultural produce gets a price which enables him to live and have a modest standard of comfort, not only will he be unable to produce, but all these industrialists and their employees will fall by the wayside, for it is the exports [1316] of the agricultural community that make it possible for these industries to survive.

Mr. Norton:  Would the Deputy agree that the manufacture of these commodities here does save imports?

Mr. Dillon:  No. I do not believe the manufacture of forks saves imports here. All the raw materials have to be brought in.

Mr. Norton:  In this case, they are German forks, not British forks.

Mr. Corry:  I would like to point out that those tariffs were imposed——

Mr. Dillon:  You are depriving the Minister of the Bill.

Mr. Corry:  You took up two-and-a-half hours here to-day.

Mr. S. Lemass:  All the tariffs in this Bill were imposed by me.

Mr. Sweetman:  Except the first.

Mr. Corry:  I am only starting on this business now. I am in possession, and I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

The Dáil adjourned at 5 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday 12th March, 1958.

Mr. Norton:  asked the Taoiseach if [1280] he will give the breakdown of the figures of gross domestic fixed capital formation in the transport and communication sector for the years 1955 and 1956.

The Taoiseach:  The estimates of gross domestic fixed capital formation are based primarily on the type of capital goods produced or imported and not on the sector of destination. For that reason, the allocation of items to the various industries of destination can only be made approximately and, therefore, it is not considered desirable to give official currency to a more detailed analysis than that already provided. It may, however, be mentioned that the gross domestic fixed capital formation under the heading “Transport and Communication” includes such items as new construction and reconstruction of roads, of railways, of harbours, docks and canals, as well as new Post Office construction, the manufacture of railway, bus, etc., vehicles, and of ships and boats, together with the imports of such vehicles and of aircraft ready for use. It does not include expenditure on private motor cars or on commercial vehicles used by manufacturing or distribution concerns.

Mr. Norton:  asked the Taoiseach if he will state the constituents of gross domestic fixed capital formation in 1938 and for each of the years 1945 to 1954.

The Taoiseach:  The information requested by the Deputy for the years 1949-54 is shown in the following table. Corresponding information in respect of earlier years is not available.

[1281][1282] GROSS domestic fixed capital formation

Sector 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
£ million
Agriculture, etc. 3.1 3.3 5.2 5.7 7.4
Mining, etc. 1.1 1.0 1.2 0.8 1.0 1.7
Manufacturing and construction 5.6 7.4 8.2 9.0 10.0 10.3
Electricity, gas and water works 5.2 6.2 7.4 7.6 7.7 8.7
Transport and communication 7.2 7.5 7.9 9.8 11.8 12.0
Dwellings 12.0 13.9 15.5 15.8 14.3 13.3
Public administration 1.1 1.3 2.3 3.1 2.2 2.3
Other service trades 11.3 12.7 13.7 18.1 19.7 17.2
TOTAL 46.6 53.3 61.4 69.4 72.4 72.9

NOTE.—The available data are not sufficient to account completely for the capital formation in each of the specified industries of destination and, therefore, the amount allocated to “other service trades” (which is a residual item) is inflated by the short fall of all the other items.

Mr. Norton:  asked the Minister for Finance if he will state the number of staff, distinguishing between male and female, in each of the general service grades of the Civil Service at 1st January, 1951, and at the latest available date.

Dr. Ryan:  It is not possible from the statistics available in the Civil Service Census to give precisely the information asked for by the Deputy.

The available particulars are as follows:

Group 1st January, 1951 1st January, 1957
Male Female Total Male Female Total
Administrative Officers, analogous and higher grades 529 15 544 550 15 565
Higher Executive Officers 350 10 360 369 19 388
Executive Officers 588 85 673 555 89 644
Staff Officers 617 114 731 585 129 714
Clerical Officers (including upper section) 1,665 1,173 2,838 1,445 1,279 2,724
Writing Clerks and Writing Assistants 32 1,743 1,775 6 1,639 1,645
Temporary Clerks and Temporary Clerical Assistants 359 407 766 184 316 500
Typing Grades 2 968 970 2 879 881
Head Messengers, Messengers, Cleaners and other subordinate staff 1,248 800 2,048 1,626 827 2,453

NOTES:—

(1) Since 1951 there have been certain rearrangements in grouping for census purposes and consequently comparisons between the 1951 and 1957 group figures are not always valid.

(2) The figures do not relate exclusively to general service grades; because of the format of the census as compiled it was not found possible to exclude all departmental grades.

(3) Persons casually employed and civilians employed under the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923, or the Defence Act, 1954, are not included.