Thursday, 13 December 1928
Seanad Éireann Debate
“That the question of the revision of the remuneration of the Cathaoirleach and Leas-Chathaoirleach be referred to a Committee consisting of seven Senators, and that the following be appointed to serve on such Committee: Senators Connolly, Dowdall, MacLoughlin, Moran, O'Farrell, Sears and Jameson.”
There were a few remarks made yesterday by Senator Farren that I might deal with first. He imputed motives to me in bringing forward this resolution. Senator Farren and I have sat together  so long in this House and have so often taken different sides that I had hoped he would leave me to say why I do this, and not impute motives to me. I do not like the imputation of motives. He must know that what he said came from his imagination, and I can only answer by denying the imputations and trusting that the House will take my word that these were not the motives which actuated me in moving the motion. One of the things which he imputed to me was connected with a Bill which I believe has been introduced into the other House for the reduction of the salaries of Senators. He seemed to imply that this was part of a combined move to reduce the salaries of the Seanad from top to bottom. I never heard a word about that Bill until I was in England the other day and somebody told me that Senators were going to have their salaries reduced. I knew nothing about it until then. It is only fair to say that I think such a proceeding in the other House must be injudicious, to say the least of it. That one House should proceed to deal with salaries of the other is likely to cause a great deal of ill-feeling and trouble. If such a thing is to be done that is not the right way to do it. The only way such a thing could be done would be if Senators themselves, and especially those to whom the salary is of importance, moved in the matter, and if they themselves, from patriotic motives, make up their minds that our salaries ought to be cut down; and it is from them, and from them alone, that such a motion should come. Those of us not in any shape or form dependent upon the salaries should not move in the matter.
When the Seanad was about being established I held the view that it would be a great thing if we could get a body of Senators together without any salary. I think everyone here present would say that if we could get such a body together it would have a reputation for independence and might be relied upon. But it was pointed out to me that we could not possibly get such a body; it was pointed out that there were a great many people who ought to be Senators, and who would prove very valuable as Senators, but whom we could not ask to  serve unless they got decent salaries. Then I thought that some others who could afford it ought to act without salaries. It then became quite evident that to have paid and unpaid Senators would never do, and that it was not the right thing for people who could afford to do without the salary to apparently make a patriotic offering by not taking their salaries. That would not be right. Therefore, I fell in with the idea that we should all be paid the same salary and that we should all be put on the same level. I say that if the salaries of the ordinary Senators are to be interfered with the motion to do so should come from this House and from a certain number of Senators. I should deprecate greatly that such a step should be taken by the other House, and if such a step is taken it will make it very difficult for the Seanad to deal with the matter when it comes up here. We have had difficult situations to deal with frequently in our relations with the other House. It required a good deal of tact at times to keep us working along together, but this action by the other House would cause a great deal of trouble, and I hope that members of the Dáil will see that and will avoid the occasion of any such friction. The question might be solved if we were to appoint a Joint Committee or something of that sort, but the place where the motion should be initiated is in the Seanad.
As regards the salaries mentioned in this resolution, Senators who have been here for the past six years will remember that these salaries were fixed at a time when the Seanad was rather standing upon its dignity. We thought that our leading officers should at least be paid on the same scale as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Dáil. I am avoiding attempting to use the Irish description of these officers, because I would only offend the ears of Irish speakers if I used badly pronounced Irish words.
We thought that we were upholding the dignity of the Seanad in that way. It would not do that it should appear that our officers were not in as good a position as the others. That situation has now disappeared; the Seanad does not depend for its reputation or for the  way in which it is looked at on the salary of anybody.
Mr. TOAL: Might I interrupt for a moment? I see that a Senator has entered the Seanad now, and perhaps he was unaware that he had up to 3.30 to record his vote. I think he was in the House before 3.30.
Mr. JAMESON: In the past six years also we have come to recognise that there is a difference in the amount of work that is required from the Speaker and the Deputy-Speaker of the Dáil as compared with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Seanad. Our work, although it is vastly important, is concentrated work, work of revision. Our debates have never taken as long as those in the Dáil. A great deal of the ground that we have to go over is covered in the Dáil. A great many amendments have been made to Bills before we get them. When they come before us they are in a more or less approved form, and it is not very often that we meet very strongly controversial points that take up a good deal of our time. Therefore we do not sit for anything like as long a time as the Dáil, and the difficulties in the work of our Chairman and Deputy-Chairman are nothing like those in the other House. This matter will really be for the committee to consider, but I doubt whether such salaries as are paid to our Chairman and our Deputy-Chairman can be justified from the point of view of the amount of labour that is incurred in carrying out the duties of these offices. We do not sit nearly as much as the other House; we do not meet with such difficult questions to be decided, and there certainly ought to be some difference in the pay of the officers of the two Houses. That is all that I am suggesting.
These are matters that it is very difficult to discuss in the House, and also in the presence of the two gentlemen who  hold the posts the salaries of which I am now discussing. I tried to have the matter discussed yesterday when we had no Chairman, to get the committee appointed, and to have the matter discussed before any individuals were concerned in the case at all. That was the reason why we tried to get the House to suspend the Standing Orders yesterday. But as the House decided otherwise, we have now to consider whether these two salaries can be justified in the light of the present state of affairs. I have spoken to a good many Senators who have been acquainted with the work of the Seanad in the last six years; I have asked them to say whether they thought we could stand over these salaries, and every one of them said that they did not think we could, that to leave them as they were was leaving the Seanad open to attack as a body that was not taking care of the economies of the country. Amongst the gentlemen I consulted was one who had been asked to go up for the Chairmanship, but who was prevented owing to health considerations, and he agreed with me that the salary of the Chairman was too high. All the Senators I consulted held the same view. Therefore I thought it wise to put down a motion so that the Seanad might take on to its own shoulders the responsibility either of leaving the salaries as they are or of appointing a committee to consider them. If that committee, having considered them, came to the conclusion that they could justify them, I do not think that any of us would quarrel with their decision. But the matter would be far better and more freely discussed, with better opinions formed about it, in a committee than in this House. I need not tell you how I feel in the present circumstances in bringing such a motion before the House, and I only do so from the very strongest feelings of duty and in the belief that every one of us, in the present financial state of the country, should do everything possible to see that the Seanad will have a reputation for taking care of these matters to the best of its ability. Senator Johnson proposes to move two amendments to my motion, the first being to delete the words “of the revision”——
Mr. JAMESON: Probably he and I are in agreement, but as far as he and I are concerned I do not think that these words matter. As for his other amendment, I take it that you would prefer me to wait until he has moved it.
Mr. JAMESON: The only other matter is with regard to the membership of the Committee. The names have been very carefully selected from the various shades of opinion in the House. If they are not selected in that way and if the list is thrown open our experience is that it is very difficult to get quickly a carefully selected committee. Most undoubtedly I think that it should be small. Again, our whole experience is that the best work comes from a small committee. I will wait to hear what Senator Johnson has to say. I have merely given my reasons for putting down the motion in this way.
Sir THOMAS ESMONDE: Senator Jameson has tabled a very important motion, and I think we might discuss it generally on the main principle, before Senator Johnson moves his amendments. I thoroughly agree with Senator Jameson in his desire to promote the independence of the Seanad. I am a believer in two-chamber government, and I think it is essential to the proper working of two-chamber government that the Houses should be independent. Having regard to the attacks made on the Seanad—attacks that have escaped me—I imagine if the Seanad is seriously attacked and the issues relating to its existence developed and debated, the Seanad will be perfectly able to render a good account of itself. With regard to Senator Jameson's proposal, that a committee should be appointed with directions to reduce the salaries of  its chairman and deputy-chairman, while I admit at once that it is open to the Seanad to take whatever steps it likes in connection with its principal officers, or indeed with any of its officers, at any time, if it has serious and substantial reason for action in the matter, I take the liberty of suggesting to the Seanad that this particular motion is somewhat premature. I think we could very easily discuss such a motion in twelve months' time, if we thought fit, or at a future date when we have had practical experience of the working of the new Seanad, because this is really a new Seanad, appointed under different conditions. My suggestion is that we ought to give the new Seanad an opportunity of proving itself, and some months hence we shall be in a better position to realise the extent and the nature of its work. I think the work of the Seanad is much more likely to be increased than diminished, owing to the very welcome addition to various sections that hitherto, perhaps, have not been adequately represented amongst us. I imagine that this Seanad will sit for longer hours in future. I imagine that it will deal with various questions with which it has not dealt heretofore, and, though I do not approve in principle of the particular machinery by which this Chamber has been brought en rapport with the various political schools into which this country is divided, at the same time it must be evident that we are much more likely to have lengthy debates, and to have discussions on various topics that we have not discussed before, and in all probability we shall have an increasing influence on legislation, which is, after all, all to the good, and was what this Seanad was really appointed to do.
I make no apology for the Seanad that existed for the last six years. It came into being under unsettled conditions. We did the best we could; there is no doubt about that. None of our opponents or antagonists can reproach us with failing in our duty. We did our duty according to our lights and according to our opportunities. We certainly did the best we could. I had reason to complain, as many members of the Seanad complained from time to time, that our opportunities for discharging  our duties were seriously curtailed. For instance, the circumstances of the time required that all sorts of Acts should be passed through, that all sorts of co-ordinating legislation should be enacted, and that all sorts of sudden emergencies in legislative matters should be met and remedied. There is no doubt about it, judging by the legislative assemblies of the world, that the Oireachtas surpassed itself, and there is no legislative body in ancient or modern times that could hold a candle to it in the matter of the number of laws that it produced. I do not know how many laws went through this Seanad, perhaps hundreds, but the conditions under which some of these projects of legislation were brought before us left a good deal to be desired, and on many occasions we did not get proper notice, or proper time, for the adequate discharge of our duties. In spite of all that we did the best we could, and certainly amended many Acts in very important particulars. If we did no more than that, we should have certainly justified our existence. Times have changed, and we are now living under much more peaceful and less hectic conditions. We have now connected ourselves with the various schools of political thought that are in existence in this country. The country itself has settled down finally on constitutional lines, the only lines on which it can possibly, rationally, and in a civilised way progress and prosper. There is no doubt about that. Now we have representatives in this Seanad of all the political schools into which this country is divided, and that is a matter which must rejoice the heart of every Irishman. However much we may differ in details in the matter of politics we are all Irishmen, and we all have the interests of this country and of its people at heart. It is a matter of intense relief and delight to the people that this Seanad is representative of every section of political thought into which the country is divided. I suggest, therefore, that the Seanad might continue as at present organised in every particular until such time as we are able to take stock of the new situation. I am perfectly satisfied that it will have more work to do, and that we shall have to sit longer hours, and  probably the reporters will agree with me that our debates are much more likely to be interesting, but however that may be, I think it would be very much better to allow the Seanad to prove itself and to have experience of its continuation under the new conditions. If, in six months or in twelve months' time, it is apparent to us that our work is diminishing or is not as exacting as it used to be, then it will be quite time enough for us to propose a remedy. I hope, therefore, to carry the Seanad with me, no matter how much we may differ on other questions, in this: that in the matter of its own domestic economy this Seanad is supreme, and that it will resent and, if necessary, take action in relation to any body who trespasses upon its dignity.
Dr. GOGARTY: I desire to preface my remarks, before opposing the motion that is under discussion, by saying that no matter what playful innuendo Senator Farren may have made against Senator Jameson, it has not altered either Senator Farren's opinion or the opinion of the House as to the honesty of purpose and patriotism of Senator Jameson. We all know what Senator Jameson's time is worth. We all know that his time is so valuable that a multiplication of his salary by ten would not pay him for the time that he spends in this House. My objection to the proposal to diminish salaries is because it arises from a wrong-headed notion of economy, inasmuch as it touches wages and not expenditure in this country. This idea may spread if we attempt to create such a position as that which would result if the motion were carried. I am opposing the motion because the position is invidious, and because, under certain conditions, I and many other members of this House would accept no salaries. I will tell you later what the conditions are. It would naturally be an invidious thing for the Seanad to insist that the salaries be not tampered with, because though at present the motion is limited to the salaries of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Seanad, there is at present a Bill in the lower House which proposes to reduce the salaries of all the Senators. That Bill, notwithstanding  what Senator Jameson has said, is promoted by a body of men who find their representation in this House is receding. I must saiy, in justice to Senator Jameson, that privately he did broach the question of the Chairman's salary before, but publicly there was not a word while the Chairman happened to belong to the landlord class or, what is worse in this country, the residuum which represents that landlord class: that is to say, all the stiffs and all the pensioners which the British Government have left behind here, and who were not able to escape.
If the salaries which Senators receive here are reduced to such limits that they will no longer enable a Senator to live in this very expensive city to devote his time to Parliamentary work, it will mean, in the long run, that the masses of the people of the country will not be represented here. Men who understand and sympathise with the masses will not be represented here, men who, unlike the pensioners who were filled with dimming memories of an ancient Civil Service that was always retrograde or at least stationary, will find no representation. In the long run it is a matter of the representation of the people here. Therefore, if the salaries of the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman are interfered with, there is no guarantee whatever that the salaries of every other member of the House will not be interfered with, so that in the end you would leave the House open only to representation by stiffs and pensioners. We are not going to be worked into that in spite of any amount of misrepresentation which my attitude, and that of others, in resisting the motion may give rise to.
But there is another explanation of this economy campaign. We are told that it is a sop to Cerberus. We hear of economy in salaries only by the way. It was born in the noodle of the man whose policy of violence cost this country eleven million pounds. De Valera's policy, which is still retrospective, retrograde, reactionary and rickety, has hurt this country more than Cromwell did.
Dr. GOGARTY: Who destroyed the Mallow Viaduct? If the people of this country had the humour of a cat they would laugh at the idea of economy coming from the side of the House that it has come from. A sop of that sort to Cerberus is perfectly useless. De Valera's policy is to “simplify” the standard of living in this country, not alone by docking the salaries of Senators but of other people as well. His policy would make the standard of living in the country lower than it is.
Dr. GOGARTY: I am rebutting policy, and anticipating criticism, and for the confusion that naturally arises in Senator Dowdall's mind I have no responsibility. I am merely pointing out this, that it is the intention, and has been deliberately so stated, of the Fianna Fáil Party to lower the standard of living in this country. I was going on to say that people are beginning to look upon De Valera as the representative of the Back-side of Irish life.
Mr. CONNOLLY: I repudiate the suggestion that that is the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party. I do not think that, in discussing the matter under consideration, Senator Gogarty is entitled to attack the Fianna Fáil Party on any question of reducing the standard of living in this country. There is no question of the standard of living in this country arising on the motion that is now before the House.
Dr. GOGARTY: I do not want to make any other further reference to the Fianna Fáil Party. My point is this, and I submit it is quite easy to appreciate it: that once economy begins in a wrong-headed direction, and I think I have proved that this is an attempt to begin it in a wrong way, it will proceed along the whole line of the Civil Service. Economy in wages is false economy, because you cannot get good work for bad money. There are many directions in which expenditure in this country might be reduced, but it is not my province to point out the curtailments that might be made. But I may point out that we have had an exhibition of Dives legislating for Lazarus, an exhibition from people who cannot naturally from their outlook realise that if the Seanad is made impossible for representation of the masses, the country will naturally fall back into a condition and outlook which, as I have said, will not be national. The proposal that I was going to make about the Seanad salaries is this. Five or six years ago the Seanad discussed this matter privately.  If there was a Bill brought in forbidding anybody in receipt of a British pension to be allowed to become a legislator in the Oireachtas, I am sure that every Senator would serve in the Seanad free. I again stress the point that an economy campaign of this kind will, in the long run, hit representation of the masses in this House.
Mr. CONNOLLY: Before dealing with anything Senator Gogarty has mentioned, I would like if possible to keep to the matter under discussion, the appointment of a committee, and to deal with it on its merits. In the first place, I do not think a committee is the way in which we should deal with the matter proposed. As I see it, a committee, if set up, would come to certain decisions, or it would not, and it would report back to the House and this body would have to analyse the report and go through every detail of what the Committee had done. I may be wrong in that, but I think that is what the result would be. If we are to discuss the salaries of the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman, I think the proper place to do so would be here. I would not be content to sit on a committee which would have to report to the House and then have the whole matter re-opened. With regard to the salary of the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman, in spite of the protest, which I accept, from Senator Jameson as to their attitude on the matter of the salary for the last six years, I am quite satisfied with Senator Jameson's personal assurance on that issue. I am not satisfied that the matter, which has become a burning one at the moment, should not have been dealt with five or six years ago. It is a matter of cynical amusement to find that all this issue is now being brought up under the altered conditions.
As regards the economy of the country, and the standard as set by Governmental administration in this country, I would say that our fundamental point of view on that is that economy must be practised, and economy as a standard example to the country must be shown and demonstrated at the head of affairs if we are  to hope to have any economy permeating right down the mass of the people. This country has been faced and is being faced with a great deal of expenditure. Senator Gogarty may have very different views to me as to how that expenditure was created. We will leave that for the moment, but the fact remains that what is necessary to maintain the dignity of the governing classes in Dublin—pardon the expression for want of a better one—what is necessary for the maintenance of the dignity of these people, ourselves included, and the Chairman of the Seanad, the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, the President, and all these people, does not seem to re-act to what is necessary for the dignity of the ordinary citizens in the State.
In other words, it is rather ironical and paradoxical to find that in Dublin in Government circles it is argued that it is impossible to maintain the dignity of certain offices on salaries under £1,700, £1,500, or £1,000 a year, or whatever the case may be. Yet, when we come down to the plain working people we find that 32/- a week is sufficient on the Shannon scheme for the ordinary labourer, who has difficult and very heavy work to do for 8½ hours a day. I hold that whilst we all would like to feel that we would earn as much as possible—mark the word “earn”—and be adequately compensated for all our work, we should not lose sight of the fact that the big bulk of the people in this country are earning money and not being paid it, and that the salaries, wages and standard of living for the under dog are an outrage on humanity. I speak as an employer. I am paying at present the highest wages we can pay in our particular line of industry, and higher than most, and I know the majority of the workers are not getting a living wage. Economic conditions will not enable me to pay more, but that does not blind me to the ordinary sense of justice, and I know that many of my employees and their families are not getting a decent livelihood.
On the question of dignity, I hold it is more dignified to have the mass of the people living at least not below a standard of frugal comfort than to have  the maintenance of certain institutions, and certain displays and certain window-dressing, if we might call it so, for the edification of foreigners, and who from that might proceed to our slum areas and find there a very unedifying contrast between the standard that prevails amongst the ruling classes and that of the under dog, who has to supply the nucleus for all of us. I think the question of dignity is very much abused and misunderstood. Decent dignity is what is needed in this country, and dignity goes with character and not display of garish wealth or entertaining. Dignity means being honest, paying your bills, and having some Christian humanity for the people among whom you are living, but dignity and display while we have the existing conditions prevailing throughout the country to me is all wrong. It is not dignity. It is hypocrisy and window-dressing, which is not deceiving even the foreigners who come over here, and I have met a good many of them. In other words, in my opinion the standards in this country are wrong.
In the first place, we followed the British Imperial forces in this country automatically. We felt because the British Empire had for the maintenance of its alleged dignity to maintain certain definite governing influences, certain things that stood for the imposition of authority, certain things that dominated and tyrannised perhaps the populace, that we have to live up to their standard. That is, we are faced with a contrast between the great incubus called the British Empire and this struggling people of 2¾ millions. The sooner we adjust our point of view the better, and try to live according to the conditions as they are in this poor country. It is a question of a point of view. I hold that in all Governmental activities, in all our lives—and I do not claim to be immune—we are setting an entirely false standard and one which we cannot afford. I am speaking now more as an economist than as a politician or as a member of any party. This country has got to get down to a bread and butter basis, paying its way and trying to live decently and cleanly if simply. We are a struggling and not a wealthy people, and in this maintenance of the various classes of officials  we ought to cut our cloth according to what is available. Our attitude in regard to the salary of the Chairman of the Seanad is that it does not require to go to a committee. Our feeling is that the Chairman should be paid a salary somewhere about £750, an adequate salary for whole-time service, and the Vice-Chairman ought to be an honorary official. When Private Bills are brought forward they could be placed in the hands of the Chairman, who will then probably earn his salary.
If they are not, he will not earn his salary and we put this forward not so much for the few hundred pounds to be saved but as a standing example to the country of what ought to prevail until such time as the main body of our people are in a fit condition to afford more. I do think, and I cannot stress it too much, that it is quite wrong, quite unjust and quite humiliating to any sense of decency to find the contrast that exists between what is necessary for the dignity of an official in Dublin and a workman at Ardnacrusha.
With regard to the matter mentioned by Senator Gogarty, I do not know whether he would like to develop an acrimonious spirit within the Seanad or not, or whether he wishes to indulge in attacks on people who are not here to defend themselves. I want to say if the whole issue of the civil war, its precipitation, its rights and wrongs are to be gone into here, we are in a position to hold our own with Senator Gogarty or anyone else. I do not propose to deal with it because I do not feel it is the spirit of the House that it should be dealt with, but if Senator Gogarty wants to adopt this attitude we will have to act accordingly. He may feel that de Valera, as he mentioned, caused losses in this country. It might also be argued that when the Republican army was destroying barracks and mansions and holding things up generally throughout the country that it also caused serious material losses. These issues are in my opinion things of the past. That does not mean that we are running away from them. The controversial elements of that will never be finished with so long as the present generation  stands. If Senator Gogarty tries to introduce them here, we will have to be prepared for them.
The point at issue is the question of the Committee. I would not like to act on the Committee. It is a matter for the entire Seanad. I have expressed my views frankly as to how I feel with regard to the Chairman's and Vice-Chairman's salaries. That is all I have to say. When the matter of the Senators' salaries comes up we can discuss that in due course.
Mr. MILROY: I would like to say a few words on this motion of Seanadoir Aindrias Mac Seamais. I am quite sure before the discussion is over Seanadoir Aindrias Mac Seamais will be convinced that a new era is dawning on the Seanad. Whether the Senators are sorry or not, the Cathaoirleach is going to be put to the pin of his collar to keep the discussion at the level which is required by Standing Orders. I have no intention of imputing motives to the proposer of this motion. As a matter of fact, I think it would be wrong to forget the very valuable assistance which those whom the proposer represents afforded to this State when its existence was in jeopardy. We are not forgetting that, but I want to say that he is unfortunate in the circumstances of his proposal. It comes at a time and under conditions for which, no doubt, he has no responsibility, but which inevitably have created in the minds of many an atmosphere of suspicion, whether well grounded or otherwise. I think that impression was considerably strengthened by what seemed to me, and to many others, the unseemly haste with which it was sought to precipitate this Seanad into discussing the motion yesterday. It would not have relieved the situation in any way. If the discussion had taken place and the committee were appointed, they could not have met and given a decision prior to the election of the Cathaoirleach and the Leas-Chathaoirleach unless that election had been adjourned for a very long period. The only effect of such a procedure would have been to have held up the ordinary business of this House.
The introduction of this motion, and the manner of its introduction, gave rise in my mind and, I think, in the  minds of many others, to the belief that action taken in another place was flurrying this Seanad into making, in a spirit of panic, some gesture that would placate public feeling and dissipate the idea that it was not doing its duty. While that atmosphere exists, we can take no action without dealing, in my opinion, a very serious blow to that intangible thing which some people have referred to as the dignity of this House. We have had a very interesting lecture on dignity, but I think there is a dignity in this Seanad as part of the Oireachtas. This Oireachtas is the highest Assembly in this land, the greatest in this nation, and we have got to regard it as an institution of which we should be proud, and one we should try to make great, strong and revered.
I am glad to see that certain new adherents to this Assembly seem to have changed their attitude, seem to have found that there is some use in the Seanad, and are prepared to make some use of this institution in order to amend legislation which comes from that part of the Oireachtas which certain other spokesmen have declared is the only part that should be left in existence. I am glad to see that change. It is an indication of better times.
There is a small point I want to make. I am not aware that, save the Cathaoirleach and Leas-Chathaoirleach, there is any member of this House drawing a salary. I think it is a wrong term to use, and I think it should be emphasised that this allowance which is made is not a salary to members, but merely an allowance for expenses. That should be cleared up. I think that it is a serious injustice to many men who attain to an assembly like this to have that particular phrase harped on. I would resent the suggestion that that is the inducement which makes citizens aspire to become members of this assembly. To right-minded citizens that is the least inducement. To myself it is the most distasteful part of my association with the assembly that such an allowance has to be made, but it is part of modern democratic institutions, and those who take pride in the institution and membership of it do so, not because of what it brings to them, but of what they can bring and contribute to the  building of the State and the making of the institution an instrument for national good. Therefore, for these reasons I strongly support the suggestion of Senator Esmonde. I think he put up a very good and almost unassailable argument. How can you tell, even those of you who have had experience of this assembly in the past, what is going to be the fate and what the duties and work of the Seanad in the near future? The Agenda Paper today contains another resolution in the name of Senadoir Tomás MacEoin, indicates if the motion is carried that the position of Presiding Officer or Senator will be nothing in the nature of a sinecure, and Senadoir Tomás MacEoin is only beginning. Before he is finished, so far as I can see, the Minister for Finance will have to introduce a supplementary estimate to deal with remuneration if the services of Senators are to be adequately remunerated.
Mr. MILROY: I say that you cannot foresee it and if those who are veterans in the ranks of Senators and who have had six years' experience here cannot see it I wonder how my friend Senator Connolly, and my colleague Senator Sears, who are as innocent as new-born babes as to the work of Senators, are going to sit on a Committee and give a judgment which will be of any service to the Seanad in making up their minds. In six months hence, we will have some opportunity of judging this matter on its merits and in the light of experience. We will have some opportunity—this is of vital importance to the value of the decision arrived at—of discussing and considering it in an atmosphere which is not tainted as the present atmosphere is, with the suspicion and apprehension that there is some ulterior motive behind all this discussion which has suddenly sprung up. If we want to inspire confidence in the decisions and deliberations of this assembly, we want definitely to cut that kind of thing out, no matter from what side it springs. If there is one section of the country that should be more guarded than any other and which should try to make itself, like Cæsar's  wife, above suspicion, it is the section which has at its disposal the power of finance and the power of the Press, silently and insidiously to mould opinion. If we are going to make the institution something which will win the full confidence of all sections of this State and wean sections already in revolt against it from that revolt, and make them realise that this Oireachtas is their Parliament, flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone, we must have our decisions immune from this atmosphere of suspicion which surrounds this proposal and which also surrounds a similar proposal in another House. That is my reason for opposing this motion. I would like to see this question discussed in all its bearings on its merits but that cannot be done on this motion. For that reason, I oppose it and if it is put to a division I will vote against it.
Mr. JOHNSON: Senator Milroy has reminded the Seanad that the scale of remuneration is wrong, that new-born babes such as Senators Connolly and Sears are not competent, because of lack of experience, to discuss this question. Unfortunately for that analogy the present scale was fixed by new born babes six years ago who had not any experience then, and who have only been obtaining experience through the years that intervened. I felt, when putting down the amendment which stands in my name, that it would be impossible to discuss the proposition without regard to all the circumstances, not alone in connection with allowances, but with the whole cost of Parliamentary institutions. The present scales were fixed in the early stages both in the Dáil and Seanad and were clearly tentative, clearly the result of mere arbitrary views, without experience, and I think it is quite reasonable to say that periodically such scales imght be reviewed. It is not my view that that is implied by the word “revision.” It is implied in the speech of Senator Jameson that the Seanad should decide without regard to all the circumstances being considered that there should be a change, an alteration by reduction. It is conceivable that consideration of this matter might  even result in advice to increase. I do not, however, think that that is likely, and I would certainly vote against any such proposition, but consideration might well lead to that conclusion if, as I think Senator Connolly suggested, the House is being carried away by the example of British Imperialism. Those of us who follow the news of the day in other countries recently read the scales paid to members of the Cabinet in Great Britain, and we learned that £5,000 a year is a mere fleabite, a mere bagatelle, according to Imperialists whose example we are supposed to be following.
I do not think that it is fair to say that the scales have been based and that the other salaries of the Ministers and officers of the Dáil and Seanad have been based upon the British scales. Though there is much to be said for the views expressed by Senator Connolly, regarding the standard, I do not believe that it is the right thing that we should assess merit or dignity by the amount of the remuneration. I think that one has to consider all the circumstances in which the mass of the people are living and the reactions of that consideration upon the scales that may be fixed for our own officers. I am reminded that in 1925 a discussion took place in this House upon the very question that was raised by Senator Connolly when a motion was moved by Labour Senators protesting against the scale of wages fixed on the Shannon Scheme. Only four, other than the Labour Senators, supported the view that 32/- a week then being fixed was inadequate. I am glad to commend Senator Sir Thomas Esmonde for being one of the four. Amongst those who are opposing this motion were some of those who thought that that was quite an adequate wage. I think that the question of the remuneration of the Cathaoirleach and Leas-Chathaoirleach ought to be considered, but I do not think it can be assessed openly in this Chamber. Certain figures were mentioned by Senator Connolly. He discussed the commercial value of the officers. I think he would be the first to admit, if one is going to treat it as a commercial proposition, that to discuss  the commercial value of the officers here openly in this House and across the table in the way issues are discussed is quite impossible. If changes are to be made, they will necessarily have to be made by a discussion in Committee where many factors have to be taken into account.
It is stated that the scale of salary —in this case the scale of salary is the correct term—cannot be isolated from many other questions. I think they should not be isolated from other questions. One has to remember that the relative position of the two Chambers has to be considered, and we have to be content with the proposition that the scale of salary of the officers is not an indication of our acceptance of a different status. We have become familiar in recent years with the idea of equality of status and difference of functions. I think the Seanad has claimed in the past, and none has claimed that more persistently than those with whom Senator Jameson acts, that there is to be no subordination attributed to the Seanad as compared with the Dáil. We have to be satisfied that the question of salaries or their amounts is not an indication of any subordination. Supposing that the salaries of the officers are reduced, I think it is possible before this issue is decided that other questions will arise. We will have to consider the type of man or woman who is accepted in the future, as an officer to preside over the Seanad.
I think, also, and it was stated here, that the position of Ministers and the position of Deputies and Senators and similar matter will have to be considered in the light of the experience of the past six years and in connection with the possibilities of the future. After all, it is not entirely true that the social conditions differ in this country from the conditions in neighbouring countries, but the material, shall I say, for manning political institutions differs in quantity. We have not the reserves, the men of leisure, professional men who can afford the time for the study of political affairs, and there will need to be, in my view, some consideration given to the necessity for attracting or, at least,  making it possible for people to devote a great share of their time to the serious study and application of the bigger questions of politics in this country if it is desired that the Parliamentary institution should be maintained, and that it is by Parliamentary methods that the country shall in the future be governed. You have the fact, and there is no use blinking it—it is as well at least that the Seanad should be reminded of it— you have a Ministry, mainly of young men who have broken their professional careers for over five or six years, living on salaries that are commensurate with the scales that are now in question. As time goes on, they will inevitably be displaced—and some would say the sooner the better. But when they have been displaced, what is their future? What is it going to be? Back to their professions. They will require to recover their positions. Then these men will have to devote their time to their professions and leave politics aside. What will be the effect of that? A new Government of similarly inexperienced men will take their places. They will have to devote their whole time and, if possible, even more than their whole time to the work of political study, and their professional life and their business life will be broken. In course of time they, too, will be displaced. By whom? By the men that they displaced, and in turn they will again have to go back to their professions and to their businesses. They will not be able to devote their time to the careful study of politics and an entirely new body of men, equally inexperienced, will come forward.
This raises a very serious question for the Seanad and for the country, and it is quite appropriate to the discussion that is now under way. The whole question of the future political government of the country is involved in this question of salary, and while I would like to see generally a moderate scale of salaries and earning generally in the higher ranks, one has to take into account the requirements of the situation, and that you cannot take untrained men from the bench or office or shop and place them in Government positions in this country, prepared to leave  entire control to the Departmental official. You may say that would be perfectly justifiable and that the country would be better governed as a result. You may make that claim. If you do that, then give up the idea of parliamentary government. So that we are really in touch with a much more serious question than the mere few hundred pounds that is at issue as between the salary mentioned and the salaries that have been paid. It is for that reason that I have thought it well now to move the amendment or to put down the amendment that stands in my name. If a committee is to be set up to consider this question, it should not be with a prejudgement that there is to be a change downwards. It is to be a reconsideration with an entirely free view which the committee may have regarding all the circumstances that are impinging upon this question at issue.
I ask Senator Connolly when he is touching on this question of the burden upon the country, the relative dignity of the workman and the official, and the cost of the official class, to concede that as far as the workman and the general economy of the country are concerned it is no greater burden to place on them a salary of £1,700, £1,000, £2,000 or £3,000—if such salaries were to be paid —to men who are serving their country as civil servants, than it is to pay such sums to men who are acting as directors of companies, to professional men, or to men in service of a similar kind. There is no greater burden in the case of an official person than in the case of an unofficial person in private trade or industry. When people, and especially those writing to newspapers owned by men of considerable wealth, draw the attention of the country to the burden placed upon the general public by the excessive amounts drawn by civil servants and Ministers, and the like, they should bear in mind that the burden is equally great if the money is drawn by way of dividends upon investments or by way of payment for managerial experience. I have touched upon my reason for asking for the deletion of the words “of the revision.” I ask the Seanad not to come now to any decision as to whether there should be a change  whether that change should be by way of a reduction. I also ask that there should be no committee appointed by name by the mover of the motion. The Senator mentioned that this matter had had very careful consideration. By whom? By the Senator. As I gather from the reading of the motion, it is a question——
Mr. JAMESON: As far as the mover of the motion is concerned, I may say that I quite agree with Senator Johnson as regards his first amendment. There is really only one amendment to be discussed, as far as I am concerned.
Mr. JAMESON: It is really a question whether Senator Johnson will move two amendments or one. As I said, as far as I am concerned there is only one amendment. My resolution will be altered by taking out the words the Senator suggests.
Mr. JOHNSON: It has been the practice, except for special reasons adduced, that the Committee of Selection appoints committees. The Committee of Selection is guided by the general character of the House in regard to its selection. I think it would be quite undesirable that the House should depart from that practice and name Senators who are going to constitute the committee. It has been suggested that the figure seven is too small. If the House approves of the suggestion that the committee should be larger, a larger committee could be set up. I desire to move the amendment.
Sir WALTER NUGENT: I rise for the purpose of bringing about a compromise. I have listened attentively to the speeches made, and it seems to me that it would not be a very difficult matter to change the motion so as to meet the wishes of other Senators. The idea of a compromise was put into my head by what Senator Johnson said. He asked the House to take the two amendments concurrently, and I was going to appeal to Senator Jameson, having heard what Senator Johnson said, to amend the motion something in this way: “That the question of the remuneration of the Cathaoirleach and the Leas-Chathaoirleach be referred to a committee consisting of seven Senators to be appointed by the Chairman or the Committee of Selection.” It seems to me from the speeches I have heard that that would meet with agreement from all parts of the Seanad.
Sir WALTER NUGENT: Perhaps there may be a small number who would not agree. As each argument was made, it seemed to me that Senators were in a certain amount of agreement. As Senator Johnson said, they felt it might be a proper thing to look into the remuneration of the Cathaoirleach and the Leas-Chathaoirleach; but before the matter was looked into the committee should not be bound to consider the remuneration from the point of being downwards only. If you appoint a committee do not tie the hands of that committee. With regard to the appointment of Senators on the committee, Senator Jameson said he did not mind whether the committee would be nominated by himself or by others. One Senator stated that he disliked the idea of serving on the committee. Having regard to all that has been said, I think Senator Jameson ought to amend his motion by accepting the suggestions of Senator Johnson.
Sir THOMAS ESMONDE: I must congratulate Senator Johnson on the admirable speech he made when introducing  this amendment. I may also add I am delighted to see him here. I will vote for the Senator's first amendment, because it withdraws the direction to the committee to reduce the salaries of our Cathaoirleach and Leas-Chathaoirleach. I shall also vote for the second amendment, and I will vote against the resolution, no matter how much it is amended, for the reasons that I gave in my speech. I do not wish to emphasise the matter, but I certainly think it would be a most injudicious resolution for the Seanad to agree to at the present time.
Mr. COMYN: We have had a variety of opinions expressed in this discussion. I rise to support the proposal made by Senator Esmonde. In doing that, I must say I am very glad Senator Jameson moved his motion, because when I saw it on the Order Paper and remembered that it was of the same character as a motion that was made in the Dáil, it filled me with profound suspicion. I regarded it then as a political manoeuvre. Having heard Senator Jameson move his motion, I now see that it is the motion of a kindly gentleman who, for six years, has been labouring under a sense of anxiety and wrong that the Chairman of the Seanad was in receipt of a salary of £1,750 a year, in addition to a pension of £4,000 per year, but that during all that time Senator Jameson was dissuaded, let me say, deterred, perhaps appalled, by the basilisk eye of the gentleman who then occupied the Chair. If Senator Jameson was diffident about moving his motion in the last six years, was there no person of his Party with greater assurance or with greater courage to face Mr. James Campbell, now Lord Glenavy?
Mr. COMYN: I will say no more on that subject but emphasise the gratification which I feel that the impression which I had formed on seeing the motion on the Paper was a wrong impression, so far as it regarded Senator Jameson. There were, however, one or two things in the speech of Senator  Jameson to which I should like to call attention. He stated that the motion had been carefully considered and that the personnel of the Committee named had been carefully considered. Might I ask where and when were the personnel carefully considered? Was it in Kildare Street, and if it was in Kildare Street, in what part of Kildare Street? I will not go further than to say that the governing body of this country is located in Leinster House and that the personnel of any committees which this Seanad may choose to appoint will be selected in Leinster House and nowhere else.
The view of our Party in relation to the salaries of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman has been stated by Senator Connolly, the leader of this little group. I do not say that a salary of £1,750 is too much for the work, but I say that, having regard to the financial condition of the country, it is perhaps more than we can pay. If this country flourishes, as no doubt it may, and as I hope it will, we may increase, and increase considerably, the salary of the Chairman, and in addition to that a flourishing country may give him allowances as well. But our position is that in the financial condition of the country we think a reduction in the salary is necessary, not because it is more than the holder of the particular office is worth, but because it is more than perhaps, in the circumstances of the country, we can afford to pay. Our Party is committed to a general reduction. The office of the Chairman of the Seanad is the highest office in the gift of the people of this country. We think it right perhaps to begin at the top. The office of Vice-Chairman is only second in importance to that of the Chairman. That is my view of the dignity of the office from a constitutional point of view, and also, I am happy to say, from a personal point of view. We have had a discussion on this question of salaries. I for one will never consent to have a discussion of that kind submitted to a committee. There are no backwoodsmen in this House. I hope we are all men and women who are ready, willing and able to do our work. If you appoint a committee to discharge the duties which you ought to discharge yourselves in  open debate before the people, you will not continue to hold the respect of the people.
What is the proposal in this resolution? That two men should be selected from each group, that they should sit in private—the world outside will say, in secret—that they should whisper amongst themselves what is to be the salary of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, and that they should present to this House a fait accompli, a settlement which the ordinary——
Mr. COMYN: It amounts to that, because an agreement arrived at by representatives of every group in all human probability would be accepted by this House, notwithstanding the opposition of any independent Senator. All things considered, it is better to debate this question fully in the House, but better still, I say, to leave the matter over, to leave it to the consideration and discretion of the two able gentlemen whom we yesterday appointed to the respective offices; give them time to think and to see what the duties of the office will be. It is perfectly obvious that the proceedings of this Assembly will become more lengthy, that the duties of the Chairman will become more onerous, that the whole thing will become more lively, and that Senator Dr. Gogarty and his stiffs will have to look to themselves. Therefore, in all the circumstances, I suggest with great respect that the time has not arrived to continue this discussion further; that we have not the material, and that the best thing—and I put it to all parties in quite an impartial and national spirit—is that the motion should be allowed to drop for the moment until such time as the Chairman considers it might be brought forward again.
Mr. SEARS: Senator Esmonde emphasised the fact that this is a new Seanad, and that is a point I would like to make particularly in moving that the debate be adjourned. Anyone present yesterday and to-day needs no argument to convince him that we are a new Seanad. We have the satisfaction of having in this Seanad a new group which completes its representation, and there is no one more glad to see that group here than I am. The presence of that group will, as Senator Comyn said, altogether change the tone of business in this House. Without agreeing with him or differing with him as to whether the proceedings will be more lively or not, at all events, there will be a cleavage between two points of view and that is extremely important.
Then we have the advantage of the entrance into this House of one of the ablest Parliamentarians in the Free State—a man who discharged, I might say, the whole business of the Opposition in the Dáil single-handed for three or four years. No House could have  introduced into it a man of the industry and ability of Senator Johnson without having its work, I might say, doubled and trebled. These are very important reasons as to why this motion is now inopportune. A committee set up would not be in the position to have the facts before them. I submit that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of this assembly may have their work trebled and, therefore, while that uncertainty remains any committee considering this matter would not have efficient data before them.
I listened with great interest to the speech of Senator Connolly, and while I agreed with the greater portion of what he said, I was surprised to find that a man engaged in industrial pursuits and with long industrial experience such as he has had should take such a short view on the question of salaries. With regard to the size of salaries, I submit great weight should be attached to the points made by Senator Johnson. Let us look round and see what are the salaries prevailing in commercial life, in banking life, in county council life. We may have men in the future as Chairmen who are not well off, as far as the goods of this world are concerned, as our past Chairman. We may have Labour Senators as poor as myself sitting in the Chair. Why should not they be paid salaries adequate to the dignity of the position?
Senator Johnson pointed out a consideration with regard to men in political life that I have often heard discussed before. Men may be in this Chair, giving to the State the advantage of their knowledge, of their integrity, of their experience for four, five or six years, and then they may be flung out of it to take up their professional life again. There is a possibility of great injustice being done in that way. I submit that Senator Connolly had his table of values upset altogether when he mentioned the sum of £750. I saw an advertisement in the Dublin papers recently from an English tea firm offering their representative in Ireland a salary of £1,000 a year. I saw where a municipal body in this country advertised for a tramway manager at £2,000 a year. There are professional men in the small towns of Ireland earning £2,000 and £3,000 a year. There are  county council officials earning over a £1,000 a year. Perhaps the argument had a wider scope than this resolution, but any man who is qualified to give to this State his services, in an important position, has to consider whether a larger salary might not be got from the nearest bank or the nearest railway company or the nearest county council.
Are not the affairs of this State, small and poor as it may be, of more importance than the distribution of tea, or the running of tramways? There is a great deal more to be said about salaries than dismissing them in that summary way. I am sure that when Senator Connolly looks more closely into the matter his view on that question will be as level and as sensible as the views he expressed in other portions of his speech. I submit that the House has not sufficient information before it to discuss this question, and I propose that the debate be adjourned for twelve months.
Mr. WILSON: I am aware of that. Listening to the debate this evening, I seem to have been transported into an atmosphere of unreality as to the conditions which operate in this country, that what is at issue in this motion is after all, a fleabite in the expenses of the country, and that a steam hammer is being used in order to drive in a pin. The greatest saving would be, perhaps,  £300 or £400. The opposition is unreal, and the arguments are unreal, and, as a matter of fact, I expected that instead of opposing the motion, every Senator would have been impressed by it. For that reason I want to suggest to Senator Jameson that he should add, after the word “Leas-Chathaoirleach” the words “and the allowances of Senators,” so that the whole question of sixty members constituting this unit should be brought before a tribunal set up to consider it. Is there anybody here who does not know the circumstances of the country? I come from the country, and I know that there is an insistent demand that the expenses of Government and of Government activities must be reduced.
Mr. WILSON: The Minister for Finance has definitely stated that there will be a Budget deficit next spring. Who is going to support the imposition of further taxation, or how is he going to balance the Budget? Instead of quibbling all the afternoon about saving £300 or £400, the question the House should have been considering was “How much will the sixty Senators lose in the good cause of trying to balance the accounts”? That is the position, and for that reason I oppose the adjournment. The matter will have to be brought to an issue. These salaries were fixed when the Senate was set up. At that time the cost of living was 120 points above pre-war. To-day the cost of living is 60 points above pre-war. Is there no relevance to that in the question? If the cost of living has fallen, the salaries have increased in a similar proportion, and the £360 which was considered a reasonable sum five or six years ago is to-day 50 per cent. higher than when the amount was fixed. These are the reasons why we think there should be a Committee to inquire into this matter. For this reason the public expects the matter to be handled in a business-like way. This atmosphere of unreality, and this question of living in a kind of vacuum, forgetting the circumstances that exist, is a waste of time, and not acting in a business-like way, so as to enable the Minister for  Finance to save money and enable us to pay our way and confront the world as an honest nation.
Mr. O'FARRELL: I hope that we are going to conclude this discussion this afternoon. The debate, in fact, tends to outrival the famous Treaty debates. We are engaged here on the most solemn orations in regard to questions in which not a single person outside this House has the slightest interest. So much has been said about dignity that I think it would have tended far more to the dignity of this House if we had disposed of the motion one way or the other, without all the fulsome orations that we have had to listen to. I had the other experience of listening to equally eloquent orations just about this time three years ago, in support of a wage of 32/- a week for workers on the Shannon scheme. It is surprising how some people can wax eloquent in support of high salaries where they themselves are concerned, and be equally eloquent for miserable wages where ordinary workers are concerned. I do not desire to express any opinion on the subject matter of the salaries of the two officers of the House. I think that is really a matter that could be best discussed and settled by a Committee, but I appeal to the House to terminate the discussion and vote on the merits of the motion.
CATHAOIRLEACH: I have a motion proposed by Senator Esmonde and seconded by Senator Sears that further consideration of the matter be postponed sine die. As we have already had two hours consideration of this matter I would ask the House to vote forthwith on this.
Mr. JAMESON: I agree with what Senator O'Farrell has said, that the plain issue before the House ought to be dealt with, and dealt with by a vote. This House is accountable for the salaries of these two officers. When they were fixed it was by the direct action of the House. That is the question we  are dealing with now. The question of the payment of members depends on the Oireachtas and not on this House. They are two totally different things. We must take on our own shoulders the merits of settling this and we must decide it one way or the other. If the majority of the Senators consider that the salaries should be left alone, say for a year, or for some definite time, and that the debate should then be resumed, that would be one opinion. If the majority consider that the salaries are too high, then we have arrived at a decision, and that matter ought to be settled first. Then the question as to whether it should go to a committee or not arises. That also would have to be voted upon. I agree with Senator Johnson that now that we have a Selection Committee that would probably be the right body to select the committee, if this matter is to go before a committee. There was no Selection Committee when I drew up this motion, but a Selection Committee has been appointed, and if the House decides to refer the matter to a committee, that committee should be selected by the Selection Committee. There are two questions before the House, and I would ask the Chairman to put the first one. The motion that is now proposed means that the matter would be adjourned sine die.
Mr. JAMESON: That is a direct negative to the proposal that the salaries of the two officers should be considered. Therefore the Seanad will understand what it is voting for. All those who vote that the motion should be adjourned sine die vote for the continuance of the present salaries of the two officers; those who vote against it consider that the salaries ought to be looked into by a body appointed by the Seanad, or, as some members seem to think, by the Seanad itself. It is a direct yea or nay, and I think we have had enough of debate to-day to enable us to decide that now.
Mr. COMYN: On a point of explanation, I am misrepresented if it is thought that I am in favour of a salary of £1,750 a year. I said £750. Therefore  this does not bind anybody. I say that when Senator Jameson represents those who are in favour of adjourning this debate as being in favour of £1,750 I am misrepresented. I am in favour of £750 a year for the Chairman, and nothing for the Vice-Chairman.
Mr. CONNOLLY: Would I be in order in asking a question? There seems to be some confusion of thought as regards this proposal. If we vote in favour of an adjournment now the matter is practically put aside.
|Sir Edward Bellingham.
Caitlín Bean Uí Chléirigh.
Michael Comyn, K.C.
Sir Thomas Grattan Esmonde.
Seán E. MacEllin.
|General Sir Bryan Mahon.
Sir Walter Nugent.
Michael F. O'Hanlon.
James J. Parkinson.
Siobhán Bean an Phaoraigh.
The Countess of Desart.
James G. Douglas.
Sir John Purser Griffith.
Henry S. Guinness.
|Right Hon. Andrew Jameson.
Sir John Keane.
Patrick W. Kenny.
John T. O'Farrell.
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