Thursday, 18 July 1935
Seanad Éireann Debate
Minister for Finance (Mr. MacEntee): I do not know whether it is necessary to give a long explanation in regard to this Bill. Its purpose is of a stereotyped nature. Practically speaking, it is to give statutory effect to the Resolution of Dáil Eireann in relation to expenditure on public services. The Seanad is aware that already under the Central Fund Act a certain sum of money, the amount of the Vote on Account, has been authorised to be issued out of the Central Fund to meet expenditure for approximately one-third of the current financial year. The Appropriation Bill gives authority for the issue of the remaining sum necessary for the service of the year out of the Central Fund. It also enacts that each Grant and Vote during the session shall be expended on the service to which it is thereby appropriated according to the terms described in  the Resolution in Committee on Finance. It is usual also to bring within the scope of the Bill any Supplementary Estimate which has been passed and reported at the time of the Bill being drafted. In the present instance, one Supplementary Estimate, that for External Affairs, Vote 67, is included for 1935-36. The House may be interested to know what that was for. It was a Supplementary Estimate for the establishment of a Legation in Spain. Any further Supplementary Estimates will be covered by the next Appropriation or Central Fund Bill. I do not know whether any explanation of the various sections is necessary but, for the purposes of the record, it might be desirable if I briefly refer to them. Section 1 authorises the issue out of the Central Fund of £17,240,796 which, together with the sum of £10,172,000, authorised to be issued under the Central Fund Act, represents the amount of money required from the Central Fund to meet the cost of the supply services for the current year, including the Supplementary Estimate for £5,000 odd, to which I have already referred. In connection with this section and with the figures I have mentioned, I should say that the full amount of the Local Loans Estimate, part of which was included in the Vote on Account—£1,330,000—was withdrawn in view of the provisions of the recent Local Loans Fund Act. Accordingly, allowance has been made for that in arriving at the figure of £17,240,000 odd.
Section 2 gives the Minister for Finance the necessary power to borrow for the purpose of meeting the demands on the Exchequer. It authorises the Bank of Ireland to advance to the Minister for Finance any sums not exceeding the total of £17,240,000 odd mentioned in Section 1. In connection with the Central Fund Bill, a difference of opinion arose as to what exactly this specific authorisation implied and I have been at some pains to have it looked up. I find that the origin of the phrase used is, at the moment, lost in obscurity. The specific authorisation has appeared in the  Saorstát Appropriation Acts and Central Fund Acts since the change of Government in 1922, when it was adapted from the British Acts. It has not been possible to ascertain definitely why the Bank of Ireland and the Bank of England were mentioned by name in the British Acts. The question was debated at some length on the Appropriation Bill of 1922 and, to a lesser extent, on the corresponding Bill of 1923. It was stated at that time that the reason for this authorisation in favour of the Bank of Ireland was that the powers of that bank as regards lending or advancing money to the Government were restricted by the Charter under which it was founded as a private banking company and that the enabling provision in the Bill was required to put the bank on the same footing, as regards the lending of money to the Government, as the other banks. It was then affirmed that there would be no point in mentioning the other banks since they, under the Acts governing public companies, could lend to the Government without statutory limit. I raised a doubt as to whether this explanation was sound and as to whether the Bank of Ireland, at the time, was, in fact, restricted by law in its lending powers. I have not been able to satisfy myself that, in fact, that was the origin of the authorisation. In any event, if it were the origin, the Bank of Ireland Act, 1929, which gave that bank all the powers as regards the lending of money enjoyed by other banking institutions in the Saorstát, would seem to have removed any restrictions imposed by the Bank's Charter. The history of the provision in the British and Free State Acts is not clear and I am having it further examined so as to be able to deal adequately with any questions in regard to this authorisation clause that may be sprung on me here or elsewhere. As we want to see what was the wisdom of our ancestors in regard to this question, if any Senator could give us any assistance, I should be only too glad to have it.
Section 3 specifically appropriates to the various services set out in the Schedule to the Bill—Schedule B—the  total amounts granted for supply services since the passing of the Appropriation Act, 1934. The supplementary estimates for the year 1934-35, to the total of £2,170,047, are thus brought within the ambit of the appropriation. The second paragraph of this section gives the necessary authority for the utilisation of certain departmental receipts as appropriations in aid of the specific charges mentioned in the Schedule. This paragraph has been somewhat amended by mentioning at the end the aggregate amount of the sums authorised to be appropriated in aid. This brings the second paragraph of the section into line with the opening paragraph, where the aggregate amount of the grants out of the Central Fund are similarly mentioned.
Section 4 provides for the making of the usual statutory declaration before a person can receive payment in respect of superannuation or other non-effective service. This safeguard is considered necessary to prevent payment in respect of superannuation or other non-effective service being made to any person not entitled to receive such payment.
Mr. Counihan: I wish to refer to Vote 70. The Minister, in discussing the Finance Bill, said that the price of frozen or chilled meat in the British market was 2d. per stone. I am sure the Minister had no intention of deceiving the House when making that statement, but the fact is that no such price obtains. I got the loan of the Minister's Irish Times to look up the markets. I find that the quotation at the Manchester meat market was from 6d. to 7d. per lb. for home-killed beef. That includes Irish cattle as well as British. Chilled meat, hindquarters, sold at from 3d. to 4¾d. per lb—not per stone.
Mr. Counihan: Sometimes scrap meats are disposed of at any price  they will fetch, but you cannot take these exceptional prices as the general rule. The price quoted at Manchester —and it is exceptionally low—is from 3d to 4¾d. per lb. To-day, in the Dublin market, good commercial cattle sold at 18/- per live cwt., and that is less than 4d. per lb. At present, in the British market, our first quality beef is selling at 6d. to 7d. per lb. As a practical man, I know something about the cattle trade and the meat trades, but I have still a good deal to learn. I am in the trade for well over 40 years and I hear a great many Senators, Ministers and others making statements about the live stock trade and quoting statements, which are believed by people who do not know the exact position, which statements are wholly inaccurate. It is quite unfair to make these statements except after expert advice. A responsible person like the Minister for Finance should certainly not make such statements.
Mr. Counihan: I read the editorial and I quite agree with the statement made in it. The editorial was quoting from somebody else but there is a good deal of common sense in what he says. I should be glad to hear that the Minister agrees with some of the statements made, particularly the statement which refers to the only policy which will bring prosperity to this country.
Mr. Counihan: Yes. The Irish Times speaks sensibly as well as the Senator. A great deal has been said by the Minister about what he is doing for the farmers in regard to bounties and subsidies. I think he said that there was £1,350,000 more for bounties and subsidies this year than last year. I may be mistaken as to the figure but it is very far from the fact, according to my reckoning, and I believe I can convince the Seanad that I am right.
Mr. Counihan: I am sorry if I made a mistake. A great deal is made of the boon that these bounties and subsidies are to the farming community and those engaged in the cattle trade. Practically everybody on the Fianna Fáil Benches has been boasting of the great things the Government are doing for the farmers in providing these bounties and subsidies to enable them to carry on. Last year we got a subsidy of 35/- on all cattle exported on which £6 duty had been paid. There was a bounty of 20/- paid on all other cattle.
There was 3/- a head paid on all sheep and lambs. What are the bounties and subsidies this year? We get 20/- on all cattle—and there is a £6 duty paid—and nothing on any other beast, and nothing for sheep or lambs, although we have to pay 10/- of a duty on all sheep and lambs exported. Together with that, under the Fresh Meat Act, the farmer is taxed to the tune of £1 per head for every beast the butcher slaughters in this country, and 5/- for every sheep or lamb. It has been reduced in the last month to 3/- for lambs. I appeal to the Minister to consider that matter and to discuss it with the Minister for Agriculture who, I am sure, has put the proposal up to him before now. There are a great many small sheep that come from the Counties of Kerry, Mayo and Donegal, and the other mountainy districts such as parts of Waterford and Cork, where the tax of 5/- is practically 50 per cent. of the value of the animal in a good many cases, and it is a monstrous thing that these little mountainy sheep should be taxed at the rate of 5/-, particularly as they are produced in the poorest quarter of the country.
I do not want to dwell on that subject. I think the economic war has been sufficiently debated already and I am afraid that I can say nothing new on the subject. I have made all the appeals I can to the Minister and to  the Government, and I want to assure the Minister that any appeal I made was not for propaganda purposes, but to try to get the Government to see the condition of the farmers and to see what this economic policy was leading the country to—utter destruction and ruin, at least, for the farmers. There are a few matters, however, to which I should like to refer. Some time ago, I approached the Minister for Agriculture to give me permission to introduce a Bill to eliminate the warble fly. The Minister for Agriculture did not object to the elimination of the warble fly but I did not get permission to introduce the Bill on account of administrative expenses. I would like the Minister for Finance to see whether it would not be possible to make some provision in this Appropriation Bill to meet the expenses of the administration of such an Act. They could not amount to very much. I think that there are sufficient inspectors already to administer the Act and I do not think it would require any more supervision than is required for the Sheep Dipping Act and other similar Acts which are compulsory on the farmers. This warble fly is doing enormous damage to the cattle trade of this country, and I believe that, before a very short time, if we do not introduce such legislation in this country, we will be prohibited from exporting any cattle to England or the Continent or to any other part of the world. I saw in the press the other day where a request was made to the Minister for Agriculture in England to prohibit the importation into Great Britain from this country of cattle which had indications of warble flyblows on their backs. That was a matter which required serious attention. Of course, the Minister for Finance is always blamed for stopping anything that would cost any money, but I am sure his back is broad enough to stand any abuse of that sort that he may get. I think, however, that the cost in this case would be very small and I believe that, even if it does cost some money, the Minister ought to have the Act passed and put into force.
Mr. Counihan: Not yet, Sir, but I understand that if we introduce and pass such an Act here Northern Ireland would fall into line. Of course, if Northern Ireland did not fall into line with us, the Act would not be quite so effective. There is another matter which I should like to bring under the notice of the Minister, if I am in order, and that is the amount of interest charged by the Agricultural Credit Corporation on loans to farmers. When the Agricultural Credit Corporation was established its main object was to lend money to farmers on long-term loans at a low rate of interest. Now, the present rate of interest is 6 per cent. When the Agricultural Credit Corporation was established, the bank rate was from 7½ per cent. to 8 per cent., and the 6 per cent. charged by the Agricultural Credit Corporation at that time bore a fair comparison. Now, however, the bank rate is 5 per cent. and there is no question about it, but 6 per cent., charged by the Agricultural Credit Corporation, who are supposed to be very much below the bank rate and who were established for the specific purpose of helping the farmers, is a monstrous charge at the present time considering the present price of money and the state of agriculture at the moment. I do not know very much about finance, but looking up the money market, which I occasionally do, I see that the price of money in London yesterday was 15/- per cent., and that three months' bills were something like 1½ per cent. Senator Jameson will correct me if I am wrong.
Mr. Counihan: Well, let us take those figures. I think that the Agricultural Credit Corporation should be able to borrow money, if they have to borrow it, at very much less than the 6 per cent. which they are charging. I would suggest to the Minister that, under present circumstances, he should make a recommendation to the Agricultural  Credit Corporation to reduce their rate of interest, by half, to 3 per cent., and it would be a very good job also if the term of the loans were extended for a longer period than they are at present. Most of the loans granted by the Agricultural Credit Corporation were for ten years, and the interest and sinking fund on that, in nearly all cases, would amount to somewhere about 14½ per cent. That is a charge which no farmer can pay under the present conditions of farming, and I think it is a matter that the Minister should look into. I have also been asked by farmers to request the Minister, if he could do anything in the matter, to expedite the report of the Banking Commission. Many farmers are looking forward to some recommendation from the Banking Commission with regard to their loans which were advanced by banks for the purchase of land during the war years and in previous times. A great many of those farmers—I would say practically all of them—can never hope to meet those loans which were advanced to them for the purchase of land in those days, and there is no use in keeping that millstone around their necks. Some way should be found of liquidating that debt. I am sure that the banks would be very anxious if something could be done for the farmers to have these debts liquidated. At the present time, the banks are not getting either principal or interest in the majority of these cases, and if something were done to settle up I am sure the banks would be glad of it. The banks are entitled to as much as they can get from the farmers, but there is no use in trying to get the whole of what they lent in those days, because it is an impossibility. The farmers are hoping that the Banking Commission will make a recommendation with reference to those frozen loans, and I think the sooner it is done the better, because the credit of the farmers is gone. They have no credit from the banks or from the merchants or the shopkeepers, and it is an impossible position and they cannot carry on. I should be glad if the Minister would look into that matter  and if he could get the Banking Commission to issue an interim report with regard to the loans made by the banks to farmers in the years I have mentioned.
The McGillycuddy of the Reeks: I just want to refer to the Vote dealing with the matter of accommodation for the Gárda Síochána. I am not quite sure which Vote it comes under. I realise, of course, that an awful lot has been done in the way of providing new barracks for the Gárda, but in some of the small towns in the country the barracks still remain of a type which is not at all in accord with the dignity of what is regarded as one of our most important assets in this country, the Gárda Síochána. I think that the provision of proper accommodation should be hastened up where it is necessary. In some of these barracks in outlying districts the accommodation is still of the very poorest type, considering the type of men who occupy that accommodation, and the conveniences are also very poor. Then there is the question of the cells. I know of a case in a local town where an unfortunate fellow was arrested for striking some other fellow with a turf slán, and confined in a cell. This happened on the 9th August last year. Shortly after that, the local fair took place and two tinker women, who were arrested for fighting, were brought in and, as they could not be put anywhere else except in this particular cell, they were put in on top of this unfortunate fellow, and in the morning he was dead. That sort of thing should not be allowed, and I suggest that there should be a careful examination into this whole matter and that things should be hastened a little bit, if it were only for the sake of the dignity of the Force.
There is one other point I should like to mention. In the outlying stations these men have to lead very dull lives, unless there is some great excitement taking place. I suggest that some scheme should be considered whereby they would be provided with wireless and so on. I feel quite sure that the Guards themselves would be very glad if the Government did something  in the matter, and I am quite sure that the general public would approve of it also. Take a station in the Blasket Islands. A fellow has a very dull time in such an outlying place as that, particularly when he comes direct from Dublin. I hope the Minister will look into that matter and see whether something can be done.
Mr. Wilson: I just want to say a word in connection with the point raised by Senator Counihan, although, perhaps, it would be more apt on the Finance Bill. Naturally, those of us in the farming line are anxious with regard to the future of the country, and especially anxious to know how our financial institutions are standing. I had the curiosity last week, on the Vote for the Minister for Agriculture, to examine into the bank balance of a bank that has its headquarters in the South of Ireland, where it showed that the profit last year was only £600 less than the profit this time 12 months. In the case of another bank, which has its headquarters in London, but which is really the National Bank of this country, their profits were only down by the sum of £1,700. These banks have created reserve funds equivalent to, or slightly greater than, their capital, but each of these banks issued considerable sums of money to the public. In the case of one bank, it was £15,000,000 and in the case of the other bank the figure is £10,000,000. Most of that money is advanced to farmers, and I put it to you that none of these farmers are able to pay that money. That particular position will injure the credit of those financial institutions. A 20 per cent. default in advances to customers would mean insolvency for one of those banks. They are lending the depositors' money to the public, and the public through the position in which farmers now find themselves are not able to meet their repayments. Anything that could be done to make the position of the farming community more solvent would be very desirable indeed. It would help the State to carry on, and would make the country more prosperous. I contend  that there is only one means by which you can bring a return of prosperity to the farmers and that is by raising the price of cattle. I am not at all decrying the efforts of the Government in their wheat schemes, their beet schemes or their potato spirit schemes. All these schemes are good in their way but, after all, they only affect a small portion of the population. You have 200,000 acres under wheat, 50,000 acres under beet, and about 50,000 acres under potatoes, but what is all that when you consider that you have about 12,000,000 acres of arable land in the country? I hope the Government will take some steps to raise the price of cattle, because that is the only thing that will bring real prosperity to the country, that will be of benefit to the whole community, and that can save our financial institutions. If the latter are not able to collect their debts, then a very serious position will have come about.
I desired to speak on the Finance Bill yesterday, but as I was put in the Chair that prevented me from doing so. We hear a great deal about the development of industry in the country. I am all in favour of that. It would be a good thing if we could have a balanced economy, with industry prosperous on the one hand and farming on the other. Let us examine for a moment the position of the flour-milling industry. At the present time the price of flour is 10/- per sack more in the Free State than in Belfast. The Minister for Industry and Commerce admitted a difference of 8/- per sack, but for the purposes of easy calculation let us assume that the difference is 10/- per sack. In or about 3,000,000 sacks of flour are consumed in the Free State in a year. That means that the people here are paying £1,500,000 more for their flour because of the fact that we are milling flour here. What do the statistics in relation to the employment given in the flour milling industry reveal? The wages paid to all those in the Free State mills amount to about £320,000, so that the position we have is this: you could pay all these men to stay at home, or to go and play golf, and have your flour  £1,000,000 a year cheaper if you got it from outside the State. What is the use then of talking about the poor people in the slums? They are getting hit severely, and that is because the price of bread is so high. I do not say that the same thing applies to all our industries. I have got several articles manufactured in the Free State, particularly hayforks, and I have found them to be as good an article as you could get elsewhere. Some of the implements manufactured here are good, but some are not. I hope that as things go on our manufactured articles will prove to be as good as those which, in years past, we were accustomed to using. We do not mind if they are a little dearer. All we ask is that they be of good quality.
The question of the rates charged on loans by the Agricultural Credit Corporation was referred to by Senator Counihan. I have had some experience of young farmers borrowing sums of £600 and £700, repayable in 10 years at 6 per cent. As Senator Counihan pointed out, that rate of interest really works out at 14 per cent. per annum. I know that many of these young farmers have not been able to meet their obligations to the Corporation. Some of them are relatives of my own, and the position is that I am paying for them. There must be a great number of young fellows in the country similarly circumstanced. I have always held the opinion that the rate of interest charged is too high. I know that the money which the Corporation is lending was raised at 5 per cent. It takes 1 per cent. to run the business, so, therefore, I suppose, the Corporation must charge 6 per cent. on the money it lends out. At the time the Corporation was set up, money was at 5 per cent. We had a National Loan floated at 95 for £100 worth of stock. Last year the Government floated a 3½ per cent. loan at 97.
Mr. Wilson: I hope that for your next loan you will be able to get money at 3 per cent. I do not see why the Corporation should not get some of  this cheap money to meet this particular problem that I have been dealing with. It is a serious thing for a number of young farmers. They get a loan when going into a farm. They work hard and do everything possible to meet their obligations, but on account of the times we are in they are not able to meet their loan repayments. Then their property is sold and they are thrown out on the road. I think that situation could be met by a reduction in the interest charges and by an extension of the period for repayment.
Mr. Milroy: I desire to have some information on Vote No. 68—Grant in Aid of the Expenses of the League of Nations and for other expenses therewith—£17,500. At the outset I want to say that I am not going to criticise that expenditure. It is a good thing, in my opinion, that this State should be represented at the League of Nations. We all remember the strenuous and unsuccessful efforts made in some parts of the world prior to the creation of this State to secure a recognition of our sovereignty. We did, however, succeed in getting at the League of Nations a full and complete recognition of our sovereignty as a sovereign State, and that, I think, was a great achievement for this nation. I think we ought to have some statement as to what exactly is our policy as a member of the League of Nations. There is a big international and perplexing problem there at the moment between Abyssinia and Italy. Has this State any outlook on the implications involved in that dispute? Has it considered the possibility of any action which may tend to avert warfare, bloodshed and international conflict? I do not know, but as a member of the League of Nations I think we are entitled to have some authentic statement as to the attitude and the opinion of the Government on that question.
There is another matter in regard to the League of Nations which is of much more immediate concern to us. Perhaps it would be unwise to go too deeply into what the Covenant of the  League commits the member-States to in regard to the attitude to be adopted towards member-States which engage in war in disregard of their commitments under the Covenant, but I think that it is not evidence of good statesmanship for the Government of this State, which is a member, simply to ignore that; to let the thing pass without indicating that they have taken note of what is happening. I say that because, in certain eventualities, the fate which threatens one member-State at the present time may possibly be a fate which may threaten this State, and it is desirable that we should not allow a precedent to be established without recording what our attitude is. We should do that so as to provide some basis of a national attitude should such an undesirable contingency in the remote future ever occur here.
Article 22 of the Covenant deals with the question of Mandatories: Control of colonies and territories. Though this may seem at first glance to be irrelevant to the business of this House, I think it is not at all irrelevant in view of the circumstances that exist in the 32 Counties of Ireland to-day. The first two paragraphs of Article 22 of the Covenant are as follows:—
“To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the wellbeing and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant.
“——or their geographical position  can best undertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League.”
I understand that in the near future there is to be a meeting of the League of Nations. I think it would not be at all undesirable if our representative there were to apply for a mandate from the League of Nations to take over the tutelage and control of a certain area within the 32 Counties in which the people do not yet seem to be able to stand by themselves: where there are conditions which seem to be somewhat analogous to the conditions of barbarity alleged by Italy to exist in Abyssinia. I do not think anyone can have any doubt as to the area to which I am referring. I think that the question of the relations between the Twenty-Six Counties and the Six Counties—the dispute between them—is one that involves considerations that might very well be brought before the League of Nations. Things are happening there to-day which must perturb and sadden everyone who desires to see civilised and prosperous conditions prevail there, and who at the same time desires to see in the near future a unification of the different sections in this country.
I am raising this matter, not that I expect that such a mandate will be given to restore order in the Belfast area, but in order to utilise this moment to express what I think must be the abhorrence of all thinking people in this country against what is happening, and repugnance at anything that may have been responsible for initiating these appalling conditions and events. I would not have chosen this occasion to raise this matter were it not that there seems to be evidence of the possibility of a continuation over a prolonged period of these unhappy conditions and disturbances. If that is so, I think this State and the Government of this State cannot shut its eyes to a certain element of moral responsibility in the matter, and, in the unhappy event of these things continuing over a prolonged period, I think the matter will have to be raised again,  perhaps in the Assembly of the League of Nations, which may have more weight than could possibly be expected from a discussion here.
There are one or two other matters to which I want to refer. First I want to go back to a matter which I raised on the Finance Bill and which was referred to again to-day by the Minister in his concluding speech. Section 72 of this Bill deals with advances to the Guarantee Fund. I want to correct an impression which seems to have been gathered from observations both by the Minister and, I think, Senator Fitzgerald that I suggested the non-payment of annuities. I made no such suggestion. I quite agree that it is a common error to fall into nowadays to suggest that the people affected in this matter who are resisting the payment of the annuities to the Free State Exchequer are guilty of the non-payment of annuities. I want to say very clearly and very definitely that I have no sympathy whatever with the idea of non-payment of the annuities. The point that I tried to make yesterday and that I want to urge now—and it is one the Minister did not face up to yesterday and one which is being avoided, I think, generally by responsible people—is this: if the annuities which the purchasing farmers agreed to pay for the purchase of their land are collected by the British Ministry in the form of taxes—if the purchasing tenant discharges his liabilities—is it equitable for this State to extract a further 50 per cent. through the machinery of their collection here? That is the point. That is no argument for the non-payment of annuities. Senator Fitzgerald said yesterday that that might be taken as a precedent for the non-payment of rents by town tenants. I asked for the analogy, not with the intention of interrupting the Senator, but there seemed to me to be no analogy. There would be an analogy in this sense: if the purchasing tenant had paid his landlord the amount which he agreed to pay in respect of the purchase of his house, and if the Government then came along and said: “You will pay another  50 per cent. to us.” This argument does not rest upon the capacity or the non-capacity of the person concerned to pay. It is a question of whether or not, when the person concerned has already discharged his liabilities, there is any justice or equity or any basis upon which the Minister can with moral sanction demand that an additional 50 per cent. of that amount shall be paid into another Exchequer. I am not speaking dogmatically on this matter at all. It is not a matter that I have examined to the extent that I can state all the pros and cons. I am raising it in order to give someone who may be more conversant with the full implications of it than myself an opportunity to answer this question.
If the farmer has discharged the full amount of the obligation he entered into, if every penny of that has been collected from him by the British Exchequer, is it equitable for the State to extract a further 50 per cent., and is the man who, having paid his full liabilities and more in the form of penal taxes—and remember those penal taxes were for the express purpose of collecting these annuities— refuses to pay them again, guilty of any moral wrong? I ask that that question be answered. I do not want to detain the House by a repetition of this matter. The Minister referred to this. He just dwelt upon the question of the injustice that is inflicted upon the community by people not fulfilling their moral obligations in the matter of the land annuities. That is exactly the point, whether or not they have fulfilled their obligations. I see that there is a difficulty, that if a stoppage of these payments is made in an irregular fashion, and later if there is a cessation of the dispute with England, the difficulty of resuming these payments in the ordinary legal way would be very considerable. But I think the point of view of those who are claiming that they have already paid their annuities is not one to be brushed aside or ignored. I think the Minister himself, if he had already paid some commitment that he had entered into, would resent some one coming  along and saying: “You have got to pay another 50 per cent.” I ask the Minister to give his attention definitely to this point and answer the question whether or not it is morally legitimate for this State to extract that further 50 per cent. of the annuities from people who are already paying to the full every penny that they undertook to pay.
Mr. Toal: I intend to speak briefly only on one item in which I am interested: that is local government. I think the Minister will recognise that it is essential that nothing should be done to hamper the working of local government in the Twenty-Six Counties. I am afraid that the reductions in the grants this year, and extra taxation, will embarrass the local authorities to a great extent. The Agricultural Grant, for instance, will be considerably reduced. That is a very serious matter when we take into account that most of the local bodies this year had to increase their rates for local services. In the county that I represent the rates were considerably increased. When we are faced, then, with a reduction in the Agricultural Grants and with increased expenditure it will be very difficult. We know how difficult it is to collect rates at the present time. It is more difficult in our case. We are on the Border, and derating is in full force at the other side. Additional expense has been incurred. There is one item to which I should like to draw the Minister's attention. I am surprised that the Government insists on it. That is the increased rate of stamp duties for the local bodies. For every amount over £2 we must incur the expense of a stamp. That may look a small thing, but when it is totted up it means a very considerable amount, hundreds of pounds to each county council. That is a tax that was never insisted on by any Government up to the present. I hope the Minister will consider that point. I do not know if it is possible for him still to allow us the Agricultural Grant we had heretofore. The Minister knows very well the difficulty of collecting rates, and it is very important that the Grant should not be reduced.
 It is a great encouragement to ratepayers, when they recognise that they are getting considerable grants from the Government to pay rates. I know that this was done with the best intention. I realise that the position of medium-sized farmers with valuations over £20 is becoming very difficult. I am sure the intention of the Government was to give a reduction to encourage farmers with small valuations and afterwards those with valuations over £20, so that they would give additional employment. It is very hard for farmers whose valuation is £20 to increase the amount of employment they are giving to agricultural labourers. I am certain that they would not be able to do so on the prices they are getting for agricultural produce.
We have in parts of the country a great deal of what I call slave labour. That slave labour is given by farmers and their wives and, in many cases, by their daughters, but no allowance is made for their labour. These people work very hard, yet they find it difficult to make ends meet. They are not now allowed privileges that they had heretofore. I calculate that in my county the increase where the valuations are £20, and where no labour is employed, represents 1/9 in the £. That is a very serious position and it has created a great deal of anxiety. Up to this, fortunately, we were in a position to meet our demands, and I hope that will continue. I hope the Minister will encourage these people by ensuring that no increased expenditure will be incurred, and that the grants which were given by the Government will be maintained. We all recognise how important it is that local government should work smoothly. I intended to deal with many other matters but as there were so many speakers to-day I will not go into them now.
I was delighted to see a changed atmosphere in the Seanad. It is a good sign, and shows that we are beginning to realise the position the country is in. It wants the brains not only of the Government but of all thinking men unless it is to go along the road to ruin. Taking up the newspapers  day after day I say that the country is sick of the wrangles and disputes that are taking place in the Parliament. When people see that they think that nothing is going to be done for them. I hope that we will forget some of the past and that men on both sides will co-operate to try to devise a policy which will save the country from ruin. I was delighted to see the change that was here to-day. As one who has been associated with public life for a long time and went through the different phases of our national struggle it is very sickening, now when we have a form of Government of our own—even though it may not be perfect —to see what goes on, instead of all the best brains uniting and showing that they are patriots and are out to serve and save their country.
Mr. MacEllin: Senator Toal finished with a very good sentiment. I agree with him that, instead of having to deal with attacks and outrages, the Dáil should be in a position to discuss the useful work that could be done for the country. As far as I know, the Ministers and the Government have at all times invited constructive criticism. At no time since the Government took office has there been constructive criticism. The Government did not get an opportunity of governing properly, because they were violently attacked right and left. Militant bodies were formed both by the Right and the Left in order to make government impossible. While that mentality prevails amongst those responsible for leading the people into such methods there will be nothing in the Dáil or in the country but bitterness and hatred. The people who encourage these militant bodies are not able to control them. That is the root cause of our difficulties. The law exists for the benefit of all. All Parties should co-operate in giving effect to that law. I do not know how long it will take to reach that stage, but certainly the sooner the Party of which Senator Toal is a member makes an effort in that direction the better.
Senator Toal's colleague, Senator Milroy, developed an argument as to  whether a man has a moral right to pay the annuities or not. The decree of the Government elected by the majority of the people is that they should be paid. While decrees of the Government are there they are entitled to run, and members of the Oireachtas should do everything in their power, publicly and privately, to give effect to these decrees. I understand that 80 per cent. of the annuities have been paid and that it is the other 20 per cent. that is creating the chaos in the South of Ireland. Because the 20 per cent. have decided not to pay their annuities they now want people who have already paid to pay their share as well, through the rates, in the coming year. Is it morally right that these people should be allowed not to pay? Actually Senator Milroy wants the 20 per cent. to let everyone else pay for them. They believe they can get out of paying their debts by using violence. If the men are not violent, then they will collect the women and send them out, probably because they are afraid to go themselves. We are the laughing-stock of the world owing to the way this conduct is tolerated. It would not be tolerated during the régime of the last Government.
Senator Milroy exploded Senator Counihan's argument that the annuities had been paid twice. Senator Counihan stated that prime beef was selling at 4d. per lb. in the Dublin market, while the price in Manchester was 1/6. I say that there is only a difference of 2d. in the price of beef here and in the British market. How then can Senator Counihan contend that the annuities are being paid twice. It would appear from the figures that the tariffs imposed by the British Government are not being paid in full by the people of this country but are being paid partly by British consumers. There is a good deal of ground for that belief. The main plank of the opponents of protection here is that protection would increase the cost of living and that prices would go up. If tariffs are put on here, and if that means an increase in the price of imported articles, surely tariffs would have the same effect in  England. Obviously British consumers must be paying portion of the duty that the British Government imposed on Irish produce. In addition to the prices quoted by Senator Counihan that is another argument to show that the annuities have not been paid already to the British Government. That is the way it strikes me.
The housing programme of the Government has been one of the most successful schemes initiated by it, and has done a great deal of good. Going through the villages one regrets that there has been no system of town planning, and no ingenuity displayed by Irish architects in the planning of houses. What we see are poor imitations of British architectural culture, and in some cases hideous types of German architecture are introduced. Surely we have culture of our own, and we have architects who are capable of thinking for themselves instead of being poor imitators of what is done in other countries. It is time for the Government to intervene, and to ensure that we are not creating slum areas where some of the new houses have been erected. I have been told that these new houses are being relet on a large scale all over the country, and that in some cases two, three and four families live in them. If that is the case, or if it is allowed, we will find that the last position will be worse than the first, and that the erection of the new houses will have had no effect by way of improvement on the housing question. Families put into new houses should not, under any circumstances, be allowed to sublet. A family can be reared in the new houses under proper conditions, instead of having, as in the past, to exist in congested and filthy surroundings. Steps should be taken to see that there is no overcrowding in these new houses.
I am glad to say also with regard to a question which has been raised here in the House for the last couple of years, the matter of the broadcasting, that it is considerably improved. It has been highly satisfactory indeed, since the new Director took it over and certainly, if he continues to make the same progress during the next 12 months as he has since taking over,  there is no doubt but we will have a station that we can feel proud of and to the programmes of which listeners in foreign countries can tune in. I hope the Minister for Finance, in view of his success, will be encouraged to be more generous to the Director in order to make the programmes better in culture and outlook so that they will raise the prestige of the Irish people abroad.
Mr. Baxter: Senator MacEllin was somewhat calmer towards the close of his remarks than when he entered into the discussion. I thought he was inclined to be helpful in continuing on the note which he praised Senator Toal for having struck. I am afraid his note was entirely out of tune——
Mr. Baxter: Very discordant. I was just going to give to the House, as an example, the inference which he drew from the leading article in the Irish Times with regard to the future of our cattle trade in Britain. I do not know whether in the estimation of the Minister, Mr. J.H. Thomas or the editor of the Irish Times stands higher as being the more acceptable from the point of view of the future policy of Britain in regard to the cattle trade of this country, but in April last in the British House of Commons, Mr. Thomas replied to a question by Major Ross of Derry who asked if the Minister would be able to make compensatory restrictions in view of the increase in the quantity of cattle exported from the Free State under the Coal-Cattle Pact. Mr. Thomas replied: “I do not agree,” and he went on to say that “the restriction with regard to the Irish Free State is a restriction due to political reasons,” and to say that he hoped, and the Minister for Finance here has the same hope, that when a settlement is arrived at there will be an entirely different figure. I do not accept the statement about the increase in the number of cattle from the Irish Free State under the coal-cattle agreement because I think it is a satisfactory arrangement. That is the point of view of the Ministry in the British  House of Commons as expressed by Mr. Thomas and it represents the views even of Mr. Elliot.
It is very difficult to discuss an Appropriation Bill without making reference to the Government policy and to that particular aspect of it about which, I believe, every responsible citizen is thinking, if he is frank about his thoughts. It does not matter whether it be the Minister for Finance, the President of the Executive Council or the leaders of the Opposition in the other House or the right or left here, we are all intimately concerned as to when there will be another definition with regard to the relationship of this country with Britain which will re-establish those relations which the Minister for Finance and Mr. J.H. Thomas hope will be brought about in the near future.
Every Act which goes through the Oireachtas bears a particular flavour because of the relationship between this country and England, and, while it is pleasant and satisfactory to have the Minister expressing to-day the view which he expressed, I might point out that it was expressed by him not for the first time to-day, but on a few occasions in the past and that it gave a certain amount of hope to many of our people that there were to be changed conditions. While it is encouraging to have that view, and while it is just as helpful to have the British Ministry state their views, what we and the common people of the country want to know is when are these hopes and desires going to be translated into action? When? Who is going to take the next step? What is the next step going to be? The Minister, in his Budget statement, referred to what other countries were doing—the strife and the war and all that sort of thing. Strife and war and conflict can be waged in different forms, and you can have a war of attrition carried on that need not necessarily spill blood on the streets, highways, or fields, but it can leave men and women and children with wan, pale faces and bloodless cheeks.  Such a war is even more disastrous for a nation's future than the short, sharp conflict that will mean death and the grave for perhaps a few, but will leave something to the others when it is over whereby they can carry on.
It would be more satisfactory if the country could be told by the Minister to-day or by some other responsible Minister, that positive, definite steps were being taken on his behalf to change the situation and to alter the relationship between this country and England. If we are to assume that both countries are to stand pat, this situation may continue for goodness knows how long. How long? How many years? At the end of that time, economically, politically, and even socially there will be changes—altered conditions here, anyhow, whatever about England—and, eventually, terms will be arrived at. To-day, we cannot even visualise what they might be under changed conditions, but no one here, certainly no one on this side, certainly not I, nor, I am sure, any member of our Party, wants an arrangement made with England that would have the slightest tinge of surrender of the nation's rights and in the spirit and atmosphere of this House and in the manner in which the Minister has addressed himself to the points raised, he is not going to make any allegation to the contrary. I realise he can be human, like all of us, when he is not stirred up by some of the feelings which all mortals display at times.
We on this side of the House desire to see peace made between this country and England by means only that would not mean a surrender of the nation's rights, but we are concerned when it is going to be made. We believe it can be made, and, at the same time, we see no action, no visible action at least, being taken here or in England to bring it to a conclusion. It may be that our people feel that they cannot make an arrangement that will not be a surrender. I wonder what are Britain's feelings? To me it seems that there never was a Treaty made between two peoples, unless  between victor and vanquished, that did not mean some surrender on both sides. A treaty made between two nations means that each party has to yield up something of what they regarded as their just claims, and no arrangement can be made without surrender of something which will be regarded by this country or by England as a share of its just rights.
It seems to me that if our Government and this State do not see a way out of the present impasse, if all efforts up to the present have yielded only the dried fruits which we see, other action ought to be taken by them. Senator Milroy has referred to the international situation with regard to Italy and Abyssinia. We are members of the League of Nations and if we cannot settle this dispute with England, which is, from the point of view of our Government, an international dispute, I cannot see why we cannot do as other nations have done— present our note to the League of Nations and invoke the intervention of the League to bring the present situation to an end. There is not going to be any surrender of our rights in doing that and if there is justice in our case as we claim, it can be put to the test. Our people at the end will at least know the worst.
Certainly, it does seem that some action other than along the present lines ought to be taken. The present line that is being pursued, the desire of the Ministry and the hope that the present dispute is going to end sometime, and that this is only a temporary phase through which we will pass, is not satisfactory. It is creating an unhappy condition throughout the country and the disquieting circumstances to which it is giving rise, particularly among the farming community, are something which I believe the Ministry ought to take more cognisance of than I believe they are doing. Whatever they do, whatever efforts they make, internationally or otherwise, to seek to define future relationship between Ireland and England, every peace effort they make will have the wholehearted support and backing of every rightminded citizen in the country.
 Senator MacEllin in his more reasonable moments will agree with me, I think, that farming in this country is passing through a very trying period. The truth is that the seriousness of the situation for the farmer is not being exaggerated and could not be exaggerated. It is all very fine to say there are substitutes for the production of beef and cattle. There is no substitute at all in this country in the way of another line of pursuit for farmers comparable to what they got from the production of beef and cattle. Wheat and beet have been spoken of. Beet has been made possible under the present circumstances, because the predecessors of the present Government experimented, and experimented at very great cost to the taxpayers. Senator Johnson referred to the fact that the Minister's policy and idea were aimed at prosperity for the very great majority of farmers who live on the smaller farms. I could not agree with the truth of that suggestion. Senator Johnson used to be better informed as to the condition of the farmer.
Mr. Baxter: It is not the aim. It may be the intention, but their methods are not bringing it about. The people best off to-day are the people on the best land, but it would be the greatest possible mistake, and it is an error into which members of the Government should not fall, to say that farmers are going to make money by growing wheat or beet. I have figures here from a member of the Oireachtas who is a farmer himself and a beet grower, and his costs show that for an acre of beet supplied to the factory last year, taking the average of ten tons to the acre, which was the factory's own figure, at the price of 37/6 per ton, that farmer would get £18 15s. for his acre, and it would cost £18 10s. to produce it. That takes into account artificial manures, at £4, thinning and singling, at £2 10/-, raising and pulling, at £2 10/-, delivery to the factory, at £4, ploughing,  tilling, rent, rates and farmyard manure. We have the report by a committee of agriculture that, in an experiment of wheat growing, an acre of wheat yielded £9 9/6, while the cost of production was £7 17/-. That experiment took place on average land and it gave a profit of £1 12/-. There was never much money in agriculture in this country except for a limited number of farmers who had good land, who were keen businessmen and were near good markets. Whatever you may say about beet and wheat, there is not a farmstead in Ireland where there is not a cow and a calf. The farmer-Senators on the Government benches know that. We shall never see the day when we shall be able to say that there is wheat and beet on every farm in the country. We ought to remember that the cattle trade was the big trade and that this was a country of flocks and herds away back in the fifth and sixth centuries. I believe that the cattle trade will come back to a position in which there will be a reasonable profit left for the producer.
Mr. Baxter: In Offaly and the producer is a member of the Oireachtas and a good working farmer. He is doing his best to stick to the farm. I shall put Senator Quirke in touch with him if he wishes to discuss the matter. This is something in respect of which there should be no exaggeration. I am not a beet grower, and I do not know anything about the costings of beet.
Mr. Baxter: He has put down thinning at 30/-. There is another question with which I want to deal—that is the question of the land annuities. I do not think that there is any political value to be got out of anything that Senators may say in this House. We try to look at the problems  with which we have to deal from a different angle from that from which a member of a political party would ordinarily look at them. That is my attitude, and I think it is the attitude generally of Senators on these benches. Senator Wilson and the other Senators on these benches who spoke on the Appropriation Bill did not deal with matters from a political angle. I am trying to look at this question as one that confronts the country as a whole. I appeal to the Minister to try to stand away from the situation which has developed out of the past—out of the civil war and the aftermath of the civil war. Farmers were producing against a falling market over a period of years and that market has continued to fall. Before the advent of the present Government, some of us spoke very loudly and strongly about that position. Senator MacEllin says that the farmers are not paying anything which they are not bound to pay. It is true that the law of the State demands that the farmers pay half their annuities to the Irish Government. What is the real situation? Up to the second or third month of this year, Britain had collected from us in penal tariffs £11,757,000. At the same time, the farmers were expected to pay to their own Government £2,000,000 a year for three years— approximately £6,000,000. I do not think that the Government got all that but that is the figure. If there had been no change in the position after the advent of the Government and if we had continued transmitting our annuities to England, the total which we would have sent in the same period would have been £8,877,000. The President himself admits that the British Government have collected from us £11,757,000.
Mr. Baxter: I am trying to deal with the matter as it appears to us in the hope that the Minister and his Party will try to look at it as it appears to us. I am not forgetting about the bounties. How can one forget about the 5/- tax on coal? We are paying taxes to pay the bounties. I do not know what enjoyment the Minister gets out of the payment of 5/- on his coal?
Mr. Baxter: We pay our share of the taxes which go to make up the £6,000,000 for bounties. The Exchequer is trying to get from the farmers half the annuities for the same period, which amounts to £6,000,000. In addition, the British Government collects £11,000,000. If we had continued to send the annuities, we should only have paid £8,000,000. Let us assume that we paid £6,000,000 in bounties and that the farmers will not pay a penny in tax towards that £6,000,000. Surely it must be accepted that there is justice in the case of a farmer who says he is paying much more than he ought to pay—that he is paying twice. I do not grow beet but I grow some wheat, though not much. It is my experience and the experience of my neighbours, every one of whom is an intelligent, industrious farmer, that, after paying annuities and rates, we are unable to maintain the standard of comfort that we maintained up to a few years ago. There are farmers who have other means, farmers who put money by in the past and are drawing on that money. I am speaking of the average  farmer. I am not speaking of farmers like Senator Wilson, who is able to turn his hand from one thing to another. He can go into dairying and get a much better price for his milk than I can get. He can get from 1/6 to 10d. a gallon for his milk, whereas I can get only 3½d. I am the ordinary farmer of the country. My farm could not do what I say other farms are failing to do. It could not pay rates and rent and keep the people who are living on it up to the standard of decency they maintained before the economic war, and I am getting as much off my farm as is being got off any farm of equal size not only in that county but in the country. I would not make statements like that in this House or elsewhere if they were not based on personal experience. These things are written down against one. Senators, like Senator Johnson, will turn them up six or seven years hence and point to what one said in certain circumstances. Of course, they are perfectly entitled to do that. If the situation be as I say, then it ought to be considered by the Minister. The Minister should forget for the moment that certain unhappy things are taking place in some parts of the country and realise that, in counties like my own county, people are striving hard on poor land to meet difficulties that they did not expect to experience at the present time. If the problem were approached in that way, I believe the situation would be different from what it is. The Minister and his Party should put aside the view that the non-payment of annuities is allied with what they consider a political campaign and try to see the situation as it presents itself to us.
Senator Quirke may say that I am misrepresenting the position. Only a week ago, when I was in the hay-field at 9 o'clock, a girl of about 30 years of age came to me with a process for £8 for annuities. She was to appear in the court to-day. The feelings of that girl were really indescribable. She wanted to know what she could do or what advice I could give her. I advised her to go to the sheriff and say she was not able to pay. She has produce which is hardly fit for the  market. If the value of that were realised, it would not meet the demand. A problem like that requires something other than an argument based on political prejudice. I have enough confidence in the Minister's sense of justice to believe that he would be prepared to look at this situation from an angle different from that from which he has regarded it up to the present. It can be argued that, if the annuities are not paid, a serious position will be created for the Exchequer.
I realise the difficulties that may have to be faced, if men cease paying their annuities, when the effort is made to collect them again. I think that could be overcome. I think that a united effort on the part of good citizens could overcome that situation. I believe myself that a united effort on the part of good citizens is required to-day to overcome this present situation, and if the Minister has difficulties because of the lack of security which non-payment of annuities might create for him, it ought not to be beyond the power of the Oireachtas to get itself away from that situation. If it were essential that we should have a secret session of the whole Oireachtas, both Dáil and Seanad combined, to discuss this whole matter and thrash it out with a view to seeing in what way the situation could be met other than the way the Minister proposes, I believe that great good would come from such action as that. The spirit displayed by the leaders of the Government would go a very long way in altering the spirit and outlook of the people in this country. After all, they are the people who have the power. They have power over life and death. They can make property valuable or valueless. All that is taking place.
I am not unsympathetic with the Minister in his difficulties. I appreciate the fact that no Minister in a country like this, and under present conditions, can carry on if there is not sympathy and understanding; but the Minister also, in his way, feels called upon to present his side of the  case and ask for that same understanding. In his Budget speech, he pointed to the fact that, later on this year, he was going to ask the support of the people for a conversion scheme, which he will attempt to carry through on the 1st December. He said:—
“We have control of sufficient resources to enable us to undertake the operation with every prospect of success, provided we are sure of the co-operation, which I am sure will not be withheld, of all sections of the people.”
Now, I urge very strongly that the action the Minister would take on a problem like this, which is much more deep-seated and more serious than, possibly, he can apprehend, would have considerable influence on the success of the Minister's efforts in his conversion scheme later on. I believe it would do a great deal to re-establish that peace which is absolutely essential for the success of any financial undertaking of any Minister for Finance in any country. It would do much more, however. It would re-create another spirit that the country very badly needs and no one, I believe, has more power, or is in a stronger position to play a part or give a lead, than the Minister for Finance himself. In view of the spirit displayed in the discussions here, and, indeed, the spirit displayed generally, I think that the Minister ought to put his best foot foremost and indicate to the House and to the country that, whatever be the rights or wrongs of the matter, or whatever may be thought of the actions which some people have taken—actions for which no responsible person would like to stand—he realises that there is a bigger problem to be faced, and, recognising that the solution of that bigger problem may pave a way to the solution of other problems, he should indicate that he is going to give a lead that the country wants very badly.
Leas-Chathaoirleach: Before you speak, Senator Miss Browne, I should like to say that I understand that the Minister for  Finance has urgent business in the Dáil at about 7.30. The question is whether we will be able to finish the Second Stage of this Bill in time. In any case, I want a suggestion from the House as to whether we should adjourn at 7 o'clock for an hour or so, so as to finish the business on the Order Paper to-day.
Mr. Counihan: I agree with the suggestion of finishing the Appropriation Bill, but I do not think there is any rush so far as the other two Bills are concerned. We have two days next week and I really think that the two Bills coming after this will not require very great discussion. We have adjourned usually at 7.30 and do not sit on Fridays as a rule. The consequence is that Senators make arrangements to transact their ordinary business in accordance with the days on which we sit. I think it is a particularly bad policy to cause business men to break their arrangements in this way.
Mr. MacEntee: If I might intervene for a moment, Sir, I should like to say that, on the assumption that the Seanad usually adjourns at 7 o'clock —although I may be wrong—I asked the Dáil to order business for 7.30, and it would be rather inconvenient if we were to continue on until 7.30.
Mr. Blythe: I should like to know, Sir, whether there is any urgency with regard to this Bill. There are several stages to the Bill, of course, but in reality, so far as this Bill is concerned, there is actually only one stage, and I think it could be dealt with just as well next week.
Mr. Douglas: Can you give us any indication, Sir, as to where we stand in regard to other Bills? I agree with Senator Blythe that, as far as this Bill is concerned, there could be agreement to have only one discussion of the other stages of the Bill and that it could be taken next week, but with regard to the other Bills, there is the danger that, at the end of this month or in August, we shall have far more business than we can get through, and if we are to have a lot of other business next week, I would prefer that we should finish the other Bills to-night.
Leas-Chathaoirleach: The question is whether we should adjourn the remaining business at 7 o'clock until next Wednesday. Seeing that the Minister has made his arrangements, I think that we ought to adjourn, at least so far as this measure is concerned.
Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is the Seanad agreed that we should adjourn at 7 o'clock for an hour and allow the further consideration of this measure to be adjourned until Wednesday next? If the Seanad will agree to that, we could adjourn for an hour at 7 o'clock and then take the other measures on the Order Paper.
Leas-Chathaoirleach: Very good. I take it that the Seanad is agreed that we will adjourn the discussion on this Bill to next Wednesday and that the  House will adjourn now for an hour and take the other measures on the Order Paper when we return.
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